From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession

From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession

From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession

From Failing Hands: The Story of Presidential Succession

Excerpt

The operation of the provisions relating to presidential succession is one of the most important and fascinating aspects of the Constitution of the United States. It is an integral and dramatic part of the story of Presidents and Vice-Presidents of this country. This book attempts to set forth a detailed account of presidential succession as reflected in the deaths and serious illnesses of Presidents, in the crises implicit in these events, and in the continuing growth in importance of the second office of the land—the vice-presidency.

Opening with a summary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the succession of Lyndon B. Johnson to the presidency, the book traces the history of presidential succession from the colonial governments in which our form of government is largely rooted, through the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the state ratifying conventions and the early congresses, and on to the many occasions when the torch of presidential authority passed from the hand of the President to his constitutional successor and to those occasions when the torch should have passed but failed to pass to the successor. Because a history of presidential succession requires it, the book also treats the development of the office of Vice-President. Improvements in the succession mechanism and the vice‐ presidency are discussed, and the succession provisions of state and foreign governments are examined in the context of succession crises involving state governors and world leaders.

In the writing of this book my greatest debt of gratitude is to my wife, Emalie, without whose suggestions, research, editing, footnoting, and constant encouragement the book would not have been written.

I am deeply grateful to Professor Paul Freund of the Harvard Law School, one of the foremost constitutional authorities in the United States, for consenting to write the Foreword.

To my close friend, Joseph T. C. Hart, who painstakingly read and criticized the manuscript and assisted with many of the details . . .

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