Stop me if you’ve heard of any of these people: Daniel D. Tompkins, Thomas R. Marshall, John Nance Garner,…

Levi Morton

Levi Morton, VP for Benjamin Harrison

Richard Johnson, George M. Dallas, William A. Wheeler, Levi Morton, or Charles Dawes. I can list many more of these people. What do they all have in common?

They’re all former vice presidents of the United States.

This thought (and subsequently, this post) came about while I was playing around with my new phone, the Motorola Droid. There are many applications you can download for the phone, from email services, to games, social media applications, et cetera.

There is one that I downloaded and have enjoyed tremendously. It’s called “The U.S. Presidents”. It’s a cute little educational/trivia app that centers around, you guessed it, the presidents. You can look each president up, see the date they took office, a factoid on each one, et cetera. Being a lover of American History, I figured I would jump right into a quiz. I did fairly (read: passably) well, but one category in particular often had me staring at the screen blankly. The topic? Vice presidents.

As I went through the quizzes, I realized how many of the vice presidents I had never even heard of. Certainly some of them were guessable, especially those vice presidents who took over as president the following term, but there were many that I would have never even guessed. Also interesting was that some presidents didn’t have vice presidents at all. At first this seemed kind-of odd, but then I looked at the list of people who fit into the category (Tyler, Fillmore, Johnson, and Arthur) and realized that they had all taken over mid-term when their president died in office.

It got me wondering why the names and lives of many of our vice presidents have become mere points of trivia, unless you’re a historian, a descendant, history teacher, or if you happen to hail from the same town as one of them.

This saddened me, for some reason. On the senate’s website, there’s a list of all of them. How many had you heard of?


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