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Presidential Line of Succession (Vanity)
Former Fetus

Posted on 01/11/2012 10:14:47 AM PST by Former Fetus

Yesterday I was helping my son study for a test in his Government class, and he asked me if I knew what Secretary of State had become President for about 3 hrs. My best guess is Alexander Haig, when he took control after President Reagan was shot and VP Bush was in his way to Texas. Am I right or has there been another case of a Secretary of State becoming acting President. And, if I'm right, why did he jump ahead of the Speaker of the House and President pro-term of the Senate?

These may be very simple questions to y'all, but when Reagan was shot I was a foreign graduate student at the American University in DC. When I studied for the citizenship exam I never read anything about a Secretary of State taking over the reins of the country. So I will appreciate any information.


TOPICS: Government
KEYWORDS: president; secretaryofstate

1 posted on 01/11/2012 10:14:55 AM PST by Former Fetus
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To: Former Fetus
Google which secretary of state became president.
2 posted on 01/11/2012 10:17:50 AM PST by AZLiberty (No tag today.)
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To: Former Fetus

To my knowledge no SecState has become President or acting President in an official capacity.


3 posted on 01/11/2012 10:18:35 AM PST by Rider on the Rain
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To: Former Fetus

Not true. Also, Haig had said something to the effect that he was “in charge, here at the White House” after the assassination attempt. The media ran with it claiming that Haig had claimed that he was President for that period.


4 posted on 01/11/2012 10:19:03 AM PST by rashley (Rashley)
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To: rashley

I think it would be a great debate question, and guess who would be the only person knowing the answer?


5 posted on 01/11/2012 10:22:00 AM PST by nikos1121
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To: Former Fetus

Haig didn’t become acting president. His line, “I’m in charge here,” which I took to mean he was trying to keep things under control at the White House while Bush was traveling, was mistaken to mean he taken over. He hadn’t. Any power transfer would have been to VP Bush (I don’t recall if that was done.) Plus, the Secretary of State is fourth in line after the VP, the Speaker of the House, and the Sentate President Pro Tempore.


6 posted on 01/11/2012 10:23:31 AM PST by Southside_Chicago_Republican ("It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." -- G.K. Chesterton)
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To: AZLiberty; Rider on the Rain; rashley; nikos1121; Southside_Chicago_Republican

Thanks. Apparently it was something that was mentioned in class (and he missed it in his notes) so he can take it up with his teacher! More likely, my son misunderstood the teacher. Thanks anyhow!!


7 posted on 01/11/2012 10:30:27 AM PST by Former Fetus (Saved by grace through faith)
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To: Former Fetus

I am not aware of any instance where a Secretary of State was in command due to succession. There have been several people who once served as Secretary that were elected as President, but none have succeeded to the office besides the Vice-President. Haig stated he was in charge while the VP traveled, but that overlooked the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. I think Haig meant to say, “I’m answering the phones.”


8 posted on 01/11/2012 10:32:05 AM PST by davius (You can roll manure in powdered sugar but that don't make it a jelly doughnut.)
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To: Former Fetus
I see other people have already replied to the effect that "it didn't happen".

Haig was widely criticized for his claim, although I don't think he was actually claiming he was "in charge of the country".

9 posted on 01/11/2012 10:35:17 AM PST by justlurking (The only remedy for a bad guy with a gun is a good WOMAN (Sgt. Kimberly Munley) with a gun)
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To: Former Fetus

The line of succession was changed by Harry Truman in 1945, a couple of months after he succeeded FDR. He inserted the Speaker of the House and Pres of the Senate in front of the cabinet members, and congress approved it. And it was also about that time, I think, that the Secretary of War became the Secretary of Defense (kind of a weasel-wording of the same office).


10 posted on 01/11/2012 10:38:34 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Southside_Chicago_Republican

You’re right. Of course, the MSM hyperventilated over his statement...like the hysterical morons they are!


11 posted on 01/11/2012 10:50:59 AM PST by SMARTY ("The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings. "Henri Frederic Amiel)
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To: rashley

“Also, Haig had said something to the effect that he was ‘in charge, here at the White House’ after the assassination attempt. The media ran with it claiming that Haig had claimed that he was President for that period.”

Yeah, it was one of those things, like the recent “I like to fire people,” that sounds too good to be taken for what it is. Incidentally, I seem to remember an Oliver Stone produced tv movie a few years back which presented Haig and the rest of the bunch as bungling around for a few hours trying to tell their asses from their elbows. Unfortunately, tapes were released around the same time demonstrating it all went down as you might have guessed: in a cloud of boring everyday bureaucracy.


12 posted on 01/11/2012 10:59:58 AM PST by Tublecane
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To: Southside_Chicago_Republican; SMARTY
His line, “I’m in charge here,” which I took to mean he was trying to keep things under control at the White House while Bush was traveling, was mistaken to mean he taken over. He hadn’t.

Actually, he did. After the "I'm in charge" line he detailed his obsolete understanding of the order of succession. He tried to spion it later, but he got it wrong (except below). On the other hand, if one is to be wrong, keeping control away from Tip O'Neill is a good reason to be wrong.

Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of State in that order, and should the President decide he wants to transfer the helm to the Vice President, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending return of the Vice President and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.
13 posted on 01/11/2012 11:09:36 AM PST by Dr. Sivana (May Mitt Romney be the Mo Udall of 2012.)
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To: Cicero
it was also about that time, I think, that the Secretary of War became the Secretary of Defense (kind of a weasel-wording of the same office).

Prior to that, the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy were both cabinet-level positions. The change to "Secretary of Defense" was not only a change of wording, but a combination of two departments into one.

14 posted on 01/11/2012 11:15:32 AM PST by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Dr. Sivana

Aha! Thanks for bringing that back from under the cobwebs in my head!


15 posted on 01/11/2012 11:18:31 AM PST by Southside_Chicago_Republican ("It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged." -- G.K. Chesterton)
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To: Rider on the Rain

Some people claim that David R. Atchison was President of the US for one day (March 4, 1849) because Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore were not sworn in until the next day (since the 4th was a Sunday). Atchison was then President Pro Tem of the Senate. He was never sworn in as President but did talk about the claim in later years, and on his tombstone it says he was President for one day. The claim seems to be generally dismissed—Taylor was President.


16 posted on 01/11/2012 11:20:10 AM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: Former Fetus

Thomas Jefferson, but he had to run for and win it years after serving in that post during the first three years of Washington’s administration (trick answer). The order of presidential succession has never gotten past Vice President and into the realms of Speaker of the House or Secretary of State. John Quincy Adams is another, I think, who became president after previously serving as Sec. of State.


17 posted on 01/11/2012 11:24:47 AM PST by katana (Just my opinions)
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To: Cicero

There was only a 62 year period where the Secretary of State was the second in line of succession to the Presidency, (1885 to 1947). During that period, there were only 6 times that there was a President without a Vice President: Grover Cleaveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge, and Harry Truman.

As far as I can see, none of these Presidents had a period of incapacitation that would have allowed their Secretary of State to be considered “acting President”.


18 posted on 01/11/2012 11:26:01 AM PST by Anitius Severinus Boethius
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To: Former Fetus

When John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton stepped in, took over, made the decisions and gave the orders until Vice President Andrew Johnson could be sworn in. That could have made him “acting” president, if only for a short time.


19 posted on 01/11/2012 11:30:13 AM PST by Fast Moving Angel (Proud Right-Wing Trash -- stick it, Alec.)
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To: AZLiberty

Hopefully we never have to add Hillary to that list!


20 posted on 01/11/2012 11:43:12 AM PST by jimmango
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To: davius

Haig actually claimed that as SecSt. he was next in line behind the VP.Haig had problems with things presidential. in73 he transmitted the order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor to AG Eliot Richardson.He told the AG that the order came from the commander in chief. Richardson had to remin Haig that Nixon was not his CinC as he was not in the military, and then submitted his resignation.


21 posted on 01/11/2012 11:58:22 AM PST by xkaydet65 (IACTA ALEA EST!!!')
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To: davius

Haig actually claimed that as SecSt. he was next in line behind the VP.Haig had problems with things presidential. in73 he transmitted the order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor to AG Eliot Richardson.He told the AG that the order came from the commander in chief. Richardson had to remin Haig that Nixon was not his CinC as he was not in the military, and then submitted his resignation.


22 posted on 01/11/2012 11:58:35 AM PST by xkaydet65 (IACTA ALEA EST!!!')
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23 posted on 01/11/2012 12:05:59 PM PST by RedMDer (Forward With Confidence!)
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