Medical Histories of the Vice-Presidents
- Seven Vice Presidents have died in office:
In each case the office remained open because there was no provision to
fill a vacancy in the Vice Presidency. This changed when the
to the Constitution was ratified.
Agnew resigned from office in 1973, the vacancy was
promptly filled by
was nominated as George W. Bush's running mate in 2000, despite a 22-year
history of symptomatic atherosclerosis.
- Partly to avoid hurting his Presidential campaign,
Humphrey did not undergo an aggressive
medical evaluation when he passed blood in his urine in 1968. This was an early symptom of the
bladder cancer that ultimately killed him in 1978.
Sherman was renominated as Taft's running mate in 1912, but died before the election. Taft did not win that year.
The Vice Presidents
- John Adams -- see presidential entry
- Thomas Jefferson -- see presidential entry
- Aaron Burr
- George Clinton
- Elbridge Gerry
- died in office
- His name gave rise to the word "gerrymander"
- Daniel D. Tompkins
- Reputed to be a drunkard 1a, but this is probably unfair
- John C. Calhoun
- resigned from the office in 1832
- Martin van Buren -- see presidential entry
- Richard M. Johnson
- Was elected Vice President by the Senate. No Vice Presidential candidate had received a majority of the electoral vote.
- John Tyler -- see presidential entry
- George M. Dallas
- Millard Fillmore -- see presidential entry
- William R. D. King
- died in office after less than 7 weeks as Vice President -- the shortest term of any Vice-President who did not accede to the Presidency
- John C. Breckinridge
- became a general in the Confederate Army after leaving office, and later Secretary of War for Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
- On Dec. 7, 1863, rumors of his death prompted the New York Times to editorialize his life. Labelling him one of the "basest and wickedest of traitors," this may be the most damning judgment of a nationally-elected figure in American history.
- Hannibal Hamlin
- Andrew Johnson -- see presidential entry
- Schuyler Colfax
- Was not renominated as Grant's running mate 1872 because of corruption questions.
- Henry Wilson
- died in office, in the Capitol building
- Born "Jeremiah Jones Colbath," but legally changed his name at age 20
- William A. Wheeler
- Chester Arthur -- see presidential entry
- Thomas A. Hendricks
- Levi P. Morton
- Adlai E. Stevenson
- lived in three rooms in a Washington hotel. [Manners p. 39]
- Garret A. Hobart
- Theodore Roosevelt -- see presidential entry
- Charles W. Fairbanks
- James S. Sherman
- Died in office, on October 30, 1912 after being renominated for the 1912 campaign. Although Sherman added no particular strength to the ticket, Taft felt that the hurried substitution of President Butler of Columbia University puzzled the voters 2a.
- Taft wrote, on July 10, 1912, "I hear Jim Sherman is quite ill with cardiac asthma, and that his condition is very serious. He does not expect to be back here [in Washington] for a month. He was not looking well when I saw him." [WHT-Helen Herron Taft, July 10, 1912]
- Since 1904 Sherman had suffered from Bright's disease, a serious kidney ailment. During the long session of the Senate in 1912, Sherman's discomfort had been increased by the Senate's inability to elect a Republican president pro tempore who might spell him as presiding officer. He returned to Utica, where his family doctor diagnosed his condition as dangerous and prescribed rest and relaxation. His doctor urged him not even to deliver his speech accepting the nomination, at ceremonies planned for late August. "You may know all about medicine," Sherman responded, "but you don't know about politics." Sherman went through with the ceremonies and spoke for half an hour. Two days later, his health collapsed, leaving him bedridden. By mid-September, Sherman felt well enough to travel to Connecticut, where he checked into an oceanside hotel to recuperate. When reporters caught up with him and asked why he had avoided campaigning, Sherman replied, "Don't you think I look like a sick man?" [Source=US Senate]
- Taft considered naming the progressive governor of Missouri, Herbert S. Hadley, to replace Sherman, but members of the national committee persuaded the president that it would be poor politics to choose someone who was unlikely to carry his own state in the election. So Taft put off the decision and went into the election with a deceased running mate. It mattered little, since the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson, won the presidency handily. Taft came in a dismal third, with only the 8 electoral votes of Vermont and Utah. In January, the Republican National Committee named another New Yorker, Columbia University president Nicholas Butler, to fill out the Republican ticket for purposes of receiving electoral votes, which were counted on February 12, 1913. [Source=US Senate]
- Thomas R. Marshall
- Calvin Coolidge -- see presidential entry
- Charles G. Dawes
- When the Senate voted on the confirmation of Charles B. Warren as Attorney General in 1925, Dawes fell asleep. The vote was a tie. Vice President Dawes, had he been awake, would have cast the deciding vote, but, instead, a major Presidential nominee went down to defeat for the first time in 60 years. Outside Dawes' hotel, a wag put up a sign: DAWES SLEPT HERE 3a 4a
- Charles Curtis
- John N. Garner
- Henry A. Wallace
- Harry Truman -- see presidential entry
- Alben W. Barkley
- Richard Nixon -- see presidential entry
- Lyndon Johnson -- see presidential entry
- Hubert H. Humphrey
- died of bladder cancer. When he was a candidate for president in 1968, he passed blood in his urine. A committee of 3 physicians missed the diagnosis, however, the opinion of the Johns Hopkins physician was correct.
- See: New England Journal of Medicine. 1994;330:1276-1278. PMID = 7993407. It cites:
- Berman E. Hubert: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Humphrey I Knew. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1979.
- Cohn V. We must know about our leader's health. Washington Post. March 26, 1978: C1.
- Solberg C. Hubert Humphrey: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984.
- Clark M, Shapiro D. Humphrey's operation. Newsweek. October 18, 1976: 87.
- H.H.H.'s cystectomy. Time. October 18, 1976: 100-102.
- Humphrey's bladder wall penetrated by cancer. New York Times. October 16, 1976: 6.
- Brody JE. Humphrey's bladder removed in surgery. New York Times. October 8, 1976: I11.
- Spiro T. Agnew
- Gerald Ford -- see presidential entry
- Nelson A. Rockefeller
- died suddenly and unexpectedly. There are salacious stories involving his secretary, Megan Marshak [sp?].
- Is there a picture of his body being carried out of the building in LOOK Magazine, March 5, 1979 on page 39?
- Walter F. Mondale
- Hypertension, controlled with medications [Crispell and Gomez, page 236]
- George H.W. Bush -- see presidential entry
- Danforth (Dan) Quayle
- Hospitalized with blood clot in lung on November 28, 1994.
- Hospitalized with appendicitis on January 2, 1995. Underwent laparoscopic appendectomy. A CT scan had disclosed an enlarged appendix during previous hospitalization.
- Says he will not run for President on February 9, 1995.
- For laparoscopic: [Source=USSurg.com]. For all the rest: [Source=CNN]
- Albert (Al) Gore
- Richard (Dick) Cheney
- Joseph Biden -- see presidential entry
- Michael Pence
- While running for Vice President in 2016, Pence had his physician disclose that Pence suffers from seasonal allergies, heartburn, and (at-that-time) asymptomatic left bundle branch block. [Source=NYTimes]
- 2020-10-02: On the heels of President Trump testing positive for covid, Pence's office announces that he tested negative, and that he has been tested every five days for months. [Source=IndyStar]
- 2020-10-25: Five of Pence's aids test positive for covid. [Source=CNBC]
- 2020-12-18: Received covid vaccination, live on television. The video clip is fun, because the shot-giver's hand is visibly shaking! [Source=NBC News]
- 2021-04: Cardiac pacemaker implanted at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, VA. He had been having "symptoms" in association with a slow heart rate, on top of his previously-disclosed LBBB (left bundle branch block). Source: [Source=Dicardiology.com]
- Kamala Harris
- 2020-10-15: Had to cancel a campaign trip because a member of her flight crew and her communications director tested positive for covid. Harris tested negative three times in that week. [Source=Politico]
- 2020-12-29: Received Moderna vaccine for covid. [Source=Politico]
- 2021-07-19: Tested negative for covid. [Source=Politico]
- 2022-03-15: Harris's husband (Doug Emhoff) tests positive for covid. [Source=Politico]
- 2022-04-26: Tested positive for covid, but had no symptoms. She took Paxlovid. Multiple high-level administration officials caught the disease about this time. She had been "fully vaccinated" and "doubly boosted" (i.e. a total of four shots). [Source=Politico]
Immediately, Republican physicians criticized Harris for taking Paxlovid, because, at age 57, she is below the usual age for it when a person has no risk-conditions. [Source=Politico] Comment: The partisan physicians did not consider that Paxlovid is a low-risk drug that has good odds of reducing the risk of long covid. The nation does not need a Vice President with long covid, so Dr. Zebra agrees with the decision, even if the data are not solid. You'd take it, too. As a second reason, by shortening the course of the disease, Paxlovid reduces the risk of transmission to people around her, and thus minimizes the risk of disrupting the government, because no quarantine is going to be 100% perfect. (There is no 100% certain time to be sure someone is not infectious, even if they are tested.)
- Remini, Robert V. The Life of Andrew Jackson. New York: Penguin, 1990 (hardback 1988).
- Pringle, Henry F. The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography. New York: Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., 1939.
- Dole, RJ. Great Presidential Wit. NY: Scribner, 2001.
- Stoddard, Henry L. It Costs to Be President. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1938.