Description

    "I think it was & is the clear intention of the Constitution that in the event of the Presidents death, the Vice President should act as President, . . . John Tyler, should he live, will, therefore, be President of the United States."

    James Buchanan Autograph Letter Signed with Additional Free Frank Signature. One page with integral address leaf, 7.75" x 12.75", Lancaster [Pennsylvania], May 10, 1841. On April 4, 1841, President William Henry Harrison died after only thirty-two days in office, the first president to do so. His death led to many questions regarding presidential succession that were not specifically addressed by the U.S. Constitution. Buchanan, who would later serve as the fifteenth president, was a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania when he wrote this letter to Meadville, Pennsylvania, postmaster, Daniel Andrews, addressing his own thoughts regarding presidential succession, in part:

    "I think it was & is the clear intention of the Constitution that in the event of the Presidents death, the Vice President should act as President, until the end of the term for which the President was elected. Congress have no power to act in the matter until after the death, removal, resignation or inability, 'both of the President & Vice President': and such was the construction placed upon the Constitution by the Act of congress of March the 1st 1792. That Act provides only for an election in case both the President & Vice President have died &c &c before the end of the four years. John Tyler, should he live, will, therefore, be President of the United States until the 4 March 1845."

    Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution, addresses the death or removal of a president, but due to its language, the scope of the vice president's power remained in question. Was he simply the acting president or was he, in fact, the new president of the United States? When John Tyler, Harrison's vice president, took the oath of office, he firmly maintained that he was the president, but many members of Congress and several members of his cabinet believed that he was only the acting president. The matter would not be officially resolved until the passage of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment -- 126 years later (February 1967).

    A second, free frank signature appears on the integral address leaf. Large areas of staining are seen in places at the intersections of the usual folds, though the text remains wholly legible. The folds have weakened in places and show some paper loss (on the letter portion), one of which touches the Buchanan's signature, but have been repaired on the verso. Paper loss along the folds of the address leaf has not been repaired. Mounting remnants are also evident on the verso.


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    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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