With vice presidential picks in the news, you might be asking yourself: what, exactly, does the vice president do? For much of American history, the answer was “not much.” But since the end of World War II, the vice president’s job has evolved from constitutional afterthought to indispensable part of the executive branch.
Trace the history of America’s vice presidents with this collection of articles about the country’s second banana. Whether or not Kamala Harris is sworn in as the 49th Vice President of the United States and the first woman to ever hold the office, or Mike Pence gets to keep living at the U.S. Naval Observatory (more on that below), being No. 2 has never been more important.
Despite being a heartbeat from the presidency, this role was surprisingly ill-defined throughout much of the country’s history.
‘His Accidency’: The First President to Die in Office and the Constitutional Confusion That Followed
Was John Tyler really president after pneumonia claimed the life of William Henry Harrison? In 1841, the country wasn’t sure.
John Adams, the first vice president: “I am Vice President. In this I am nothing, but I may be everything.”
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