Source: American Monthly Review of Reviews
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Mr. Roosevelt’s Theory of the Vice-Presidency”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 24
Issue number: 4
|“Mr. Roosevelt’s Theory of the Vice-Presidency.” American Monthly Review of Reviews Oct. 1901 v24n4: p. 392.|
|Theodore Roosevelt (political philosophy); presidential succession; vice presidents (fitness for office).|
|Chester A. Arthur; Grover Cleveland; James A. Garfield; William Henry Harrison; Garret A. Hobart; Andrew Johnson; Abraham Lincoln; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; Adlai E. Stevenson.|
|The opening phrase below (“In doing this”) refers to the editorial that precedes this one in the issue. Click here to view this editorial.|
Mr. Roosevelt’s Theory of the Vice-Presidency
In doing this, Mr. Roosevelt was not only true to his quick instinct as to the course that would reassure and satisfy the country, but he was also acting in accordance with his own theory as to the proper relationship between the two offices of President and Vice President. On this subject he expressed himself clearly in an article that he wrote for this magazine during the campaign of 1896. Mr. Hobart had then been nominated on the ticket with Mr. McKinley. In the article to which we refer, published in September, 1896, Mr. Roosevelt reviewed the history of the Vice-Presidential nominations, and criticised sharply the custom “of offering the Vice-Presidency as a consolation prize to be given in many cases to the very men who were most bitterly opposed to the nomination of the successful candidate for President.” Mr. Roosevelt went on to show how, on the death of the elder Harrison, “the Presidency fell into the hands of a man who had but a corporal’s guard of supporters in the nation, and who proceeded to oppose all the measures of the immense majority of those who elected him.” In the case of the death of President Lincoln, Mr. Roosevelt remarks that “Johnson was put on the ticket largely for geographical reasons, and on the death of Lincoln he tried to reverse the policy of the party which had put him in office.” His historical comment upon a more recent case proceeds as follows:
An instance of an entirely different kind is afforded by Garfield and Arthur. The differences between these two party leaders were mainly merely factional. Each stood squarely on the platform of the party, and all the principles advocated by one were advocated by the other; yet the death of Garfield meant a complete overturn in the personnel of the upper Republican officials, because Arthur had been nominated expressly to placate the group of party leaders who most objected to the nomination of Garfield. Arthur made a very good President, but the bitterness caused by his succession to power nearly tore the party in twain.
Mr. Roosevelt’s own theory was that the Vice-President should be selected with very distinct reference to the fact that he might at any moment be called upon to act as President, in view of which he ought, at the outset, to be in recognized harmony with the President’s policy and practical administration, and ought, further, to be kept in touch by close consultation. Under these circumstances, the Vice-President, being part and parcel of the administration, so to speak, would step quietly into the executive office in case of the President’s death, and continue the administration with as little shock, uncertainty, or change as possible. On these matters Mr. Roosevelt expressed himself, in words that have now a peculiar interest, as follows:
The Vice-President should so far as possible represent the same views and principles which have secured the nomination and election of the President, and he should be a man standing well in the councils of the party, trusted by his fellow-party leaders, and able, in the event of any accident to his chief, to take up the work of the latter just where it was left. The Republican party has this year nominated such a man in the person of Mr. Hobart. But nominations of this kind have by no means been always the rule of recent years. No change of parties, for instance, could well produce a greater revolution in policy than would have been produced at almost any time during the last three years if Mr. Cleveland had died and Mr. Stevenson had succeeded him.
One sure way to secure this desired result would undoubtedly be to increase the power of the Vice-President. He should always be a man who would be consulted by the President on every great party question. It would be very well if he were given a seat in the cabinet. It might be well if in addition to his vote in the Senate in the event of a tie he should be given a vote, on ordinary occasions, and perchance on occasions a voice in the debates. A man of the character of Mr. Hobart is sure to make his weight felt in an administration, but the power of thus exercising influence should be made official rather than personal.