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In December of 1867, "the House defeated an impeachment resolution" (Carlton, 423), but when Johnson dismissed Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, this was seen as "a deliberate breach of the Tenure of Office Act" which brought new charges against him. However, Johnson ended up serving out his term as President while under much scorn and condemnation. Thus, Johnson failed to live up to Lincoln's ideals and entirely shrugged off all of the responsibility which he had inherited.
On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office after a long illness. His death "stunned the nation and not since the death of Lincoln... had there been such evidence of grief for the loss of a national leader" (Bradley, 364). This was a time of great concern, for the Vice President, Harry S. Truman, was little known to the American public who "openly wondered whether Truman could master the complex problems Roosevelt had left behind"
Carlton, 503). But to everyone's surprise, Truman turned out to a very admirable and wise President, especially when he decided to use the atomic bomb against Japan which quickly brought World War II to a close.
Like most Vice Presidents, Truman knew little about the details of the complex policies of the Roosevelt administration; however, Truman was determined to fulfill the promises of Roosevelt and "quickly demonstrated that he could make some difficult decisions" (Bradley, 365), one being to create the United Nations which Roosevelt considered before his death as mandatory in order to keep the peace in Europe and Asia after the fall of Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire. In this respect as compared to Andrew Johnson, President Truman upheld the ideals and principles of Roosevelt and through his willingness to accept the responsibilities of the office of the President, he brought America into a new era of peace and prosperity between 1945 and 1951 when the Korean War broke out.
On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan left the White House and traveled by limousine to the Washington Hilton hotel, where he was suppose to meet with some important union representatives. After meeting with the union representatives, Reagan stepped out of the hotel and headed for the limousine and just before climbing in, six shots were heard and Reagan was pushed back inside the limousine by a Secret Service agent who at the time was unaware that the President had been shot. The culprit turned out to be John W. Hinckley who had also shot a police officer, a Secret Service agent and Reagan press secretary James Brady.
President Reagan was then rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where doctors discovered he had been shot almost fatally in the lungs, barely missing his heart. According to Harold Whitman Bradley, just before his operation, Reagan blurted out "Who's minding the store?" (467), a reference to Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush who at the time was in Texas. During the operation, Bush who soon realized that he might be stepping into the shoes of the Presidency if Reagan did not survive this assassination attempt by Hinckley which in effect would force him to take on all of the responsibilities of the office of the President.
Interestingly, some twenty years earlier, the U.S. Congress had passed the 21st Amendment which declared that "the President is authorized to transfer his powers temporarily to his Vice President in the case of disability" (Bradley, 468), something which certainly pertained to Bush on that terrible day in 1981. However, Reagan survived quite admirably and was back in the White House in a short length of time after recuperating at the hospital and Bush was spared from taking on the responsibilities of the Presidency. But in 1988, Bush did become President the old-fashioned way -- by being elected to the office which he held for one term, thus fulfilling his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief.
Bradley, Harold Whitman. The United States from 1865. New York: Charles Scribner's
Carlton, William C., Ed. Encyclopedia of the History of the United States. New York:
Thomas, Benjamin P. Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. New York: Barnes & Noble,…[continue]
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