Through hard work and by being in the right place at the right time, Martin Van Buren and George Bush became vice president and were just one step away from the presidency. Yet, the office of the vice president had lost its importance since the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. Van Buren and Bush had to use this office wisely if they planned to follow in the footsteps of Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan. This section traces the actions of Van Buren and Bush while they were vice president, in Van Buren’s case from inauguration day 1833 until his nomination for president in May 1835, in Bush’s case from January 1981 until the autumn of 1987 when he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for president.
For Van Buren, this period was far shorter than for George Bush. Van Buren was nominated in May 1835 to prevent any opposition within the Democratic party from forming and because of President Jackson’s precarious health. Jackson did not want anyone to argue that Van Buren was not his heir apparent. During his twenty-six months as vice president, Van Buren presided over the Senate while important debates over nullification, the Second Bank of the United States, and Indian removal were taking place. A wrong step could have ruined Van Buren’s presidential aspirations. Van Buren also had to contend with being labeled as Jackson’s heir apparent. This label not only angered enemies of Van Buren, such as Webster, Clay and Calhoun, but also Jackson supporters such as Senator Hugh White of Tennessee and Davy Crockett. Van Buren’s probable candidacy was acceptable in the North, but the South was uncertain about the man