President Trump, Vice President, Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln discussed on Knowledge@Wharton


There have been eight times in American history when the president has died in office, and the vice president has taken over these were men who are not elected to be head of the country, and in some cases weren't even the first choice of their own party. But yet they vastly changed US history. The men included John Tyler Millard, Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester a Arthur Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, and Lyndon B Johnson, a new book looks at what these men accomplish. And why half of them were actually reelected. The book is titled accidents presidents. Eight men who changed America. It's written by Jared cone CEO of jigsaw at alphabet. Cohen also spent five years as a member of the secretary of state's policy planning staff, and was a close advisor to both Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Jared pleasure to have you with us today. Thank you for having me. Thank you. I have to ask it the top in looking at all these examples one that came. Mind. That was not included. Was Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. Yes, I debated this. When I when I went out to start writing the book, and what I concluded is the thing that was most interesting. And most compelling was the unexpected and abrupt transfer of power. If you look at the Nixon Ford transition, the transition didn't happen, upon the death of the president, it was sort of drawn out, it was it was related to scandal, and resignation and it's abrupt dramatic unexpected death in office that throws the country into a tailspin and abruptly elevates, a man, nobody thought was going to be president, the case afford so long as the Watergate hearings were happening in the lead up to people began to experience the idea and get used to the idea that Ford might become president. So as I mentioned, the top four these gentlemen, that you write about the book actually were re elected, so we have some examples here of vice president who became president who did a very. Good job. But also, you have examples of ones that didn't have a great time as the as the executive. That's correct. And I think what I'm struck by, in writing this book is how we basically wing two presidential. Succession, you don't have the twenty fifth amendment formalizing the fact that the vice president becomes president when their predecessor dies office until after JFK is assassinated. And so you get these men who are thrust in power who were thrown on the ticket, either as punishment in the case of teddy Roosevelt, or because they were the available man in the case of Millard Fillmore, but in each infants they rose to the pinnacle of power some of the most seminal moments in our history. So let's take, you know, ABRAHAM LINCOLN ABRAHAM LINCOLN is absent towards the tail end of the civil war, and we're supposed to get his vision for reconstruction, instead, the bullet of John, Wilkes, booth gives us Andrew Johnson. The last president owns waves who instead of following Lincoln's path ends up resurrecting many elements of the confederacy, we're joined on the phone by Jerry code who is the author of the book access. Dental presidents your comments are welcome at eight four four Warton, eight four four nine four two seven eight six six or if you'd like to comment on Twitter at biz radio one thirty two or my Twitter account, which is at Dan loan, yellow any y Twenty-one. What was the what was the impetus for wanting to do a book like this, because it's interesting when you role as CEO of jigsaw. It sounds like American history is very much an interest of yours when I was eight years old. My parents bought me children's book about the president's and when you're an eight year old and you're reading a book about the president's it's supposed to be innocent experience. But I v in on the eight instances, where president died, and my poor parents had to have conversations about death and assassination, and I never quite let it go. So when my wife was pregnant with our eldest daughter, I needed a nesting activity and decided after a life of reading biographies related to these abrupt transfers empower and collecting presidential memorabilia, including locks of presidential presidential hair, which is weird really? I decided this was going to be my nesting activity, and there's something nice about being CEO of, of an organization in an industry focus in Tirlian on the future, and spending my down time, reading about John Tyler Millard, Fillmore teddy Roosevelt, Alvin caused. It's very therapeutic and good for the soul. Who was of these eight men, who do you think was was probably the most accidental of the accidental presidents? Well, John Tyler certainly was the most accidental because the framers hadn't thought much about the vice presidency and didn't really want one in the first place. The vice president was added at the last minute as an electoral mechanism and William Henry Harrison dies after just thirty days in office. John Tyler has to race back from Virginia, because there's a debate that ensues with the cabinet the that he inherited about whether he's the president or the acting president. Yes. To spend his first month in office debating with congress, why he's not acting president. He ends up setting oppressive. That was followed seven more times, including all the way up to LBJ LBJ becomes president based on the precedent set by John Tyler in eighteen forty one and it ends up disastrous Tyler who's not really a wig. But it's thrown on the ticket to win Virginia, which they lost and give a nod states. Right. As ends up getting kicked out of the party. And in a moment of political rage animosity decides to annex, Texas and precipitate war with Mexico, Harry Truman. Probably the, the most predictable of this group of because of, of the illness issues that are had Harry Truman was both the most predictable, and in many respects the most ill prepared for the moment. And when you read about FDR and Harry Truman, it's endlessly frustrating because Truman during his eighty two days as vice president remember, he's thrown onto the ticket, because the party bosses no FDR is going to die, and they can't fathom the idea of Henry Wallace, who seen as Soviet sympathizer and ultra liberal liberal ending up as. Resident Truman during his eighty two days as president, he meets FDR twice doesn't get a single intelligence briefing, doesn't mean a single foreign leader. Isn't briefed on the Manhattan project isn't read into the war. And then he wakes up on April twelfth nineteen forty five five himself as president at the height of the war in the Pacific. You know, he's trying to figure out how to engage Churchill Stalin's reneging on every one of his promises from y'all to and yet Truman ends up being remarkable success. Yes. To make more seminal decisions, and it's I four months in office and probably any president who came before him, one of the big seems in the book and surrounds, the twenty fifth amendment, which is obviously getting some conversation right now as well. But this goes back in time to the days of, of LBJ JFK. And obviously this assoiation president Kennedy and take us into it for a second. The importance you'd think that the twenty fifth amendment has really had potentially for the presidency if it is needed to be in VO. Act which it has been a couple of times in, in recent years for when presidents have gotten sick. So with the mazing is the twenty fifth amendment gets passed at the end of LBJ's administration. And the first time it gets put into motion is, is actually not that the president the vice president Wednesday or two yak new resigns office. You know, Richard Nixon uses the twenty fifth amendment to replace him with Gerald Ford, and essentially pluck him from Michigan's fifth district. What what's fascinating is of the eight accidental presidents six of the vice presidents who ascended nearly died in office themselves. And yet, there was no provision of replacing the vice president of United States until the twenty fifth amendment. This, this sustained constitutional vulnerability that we left ourselves exposed to for most of the history of the Republic. The time of the twenty fifth amendment should have really been put in place was when Reagan was shot when Reagan was shot in eighty one the cabinet. A decision that, you know, it was a dangerous precedent for them to set to decide that Reagan was disabled. And so they chose not to vote the twenty fifth amendment. That's how you get the kind of elite type moments what's interesting is the twenty fifth amendment has only been exercised in terms of presidential disability for colon Oskoui's literally yet see an instance of the twenty fifth amendment being vote to temporarily discharge the duties of president or the vice president for any instance, other than a colonoscopy, George. George W Bush was one, and I believe President Reagan as well. Correct. Yes, that's correct. We're joined by Jerry Cohen, who's the author of the book, accidental president, your comments, welcome at eight four four Wharton. Eight four four nine four two seven eight six six or if you like Senator comment via Twitter either at biz radio one thirty two or my Twitter account, which is at Dan Loney, Twenty-one, I guess when you look at all of these different examples, the JFK LBJ one is probably one of the most talked about and, and remembered. Because of its timing, and also because of the fact that it was really in the starting to be in the TV agent in, you know, being able to see the video of what occurred. But then you also have to go back to Lincoln because of how that played out the nation by John Wilkes booth, and then also his successor, Andrew Johnson. So when I interviewed Jesse Jackson for the book, he said that when he learned of JFK's assassination, he felt like it was double facination won the president of the United States into civil rights people expected LBJ to be eight disaster for the civil rights movement, and what proved to be true with that the Kennedys were prepared to pay lip service to civil rights. They weren't really willing to back it up with real action. Particularly not in the lead up to the nineteen sixty four election. So I do believe that my write about this in the book that had Kennedy. Not had Kennedy survived. I think it's very unlikely you would have had the nineteen sixty four Civil Rights Act. You know, I also think that we overstate. Late. This idea that Kennedy wouldn't have gone down the same slippery slope in Vietnam, that LBJ did, I think that, that's largely architect by the guardians of Kennedy's reputation. If you look at the history of succession in, in this country, we look at the assassination of JFK as sort of, you know, incredibly dramatic moment in history because it's the most recent and it's also something that played out on television. But when you dig into the impact that assassination had at other times in our history Lincoln Garfield McKinley. There was a similarly dramatic impact and sustained period of mourning that ensued, and we just have forgotten, what that's like we're in the longest period of time without a president dying in office. How do you believe that, that Andrew Johnson should be remembered in his term, you know, following Lincoln? So Andrew Johnson proved to be the biggest disaster of all of the accidental presidents. And when we look at how we wind presidential succession throughout history, we got more or less pretty lucky navigating through except for the Andrew Jackson. They enter Johnson moment. And it was a moment of great significance..

Coming up next