Whomever was vetting potential veep Paul Ryan for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, overlooked one very important bit of vice presidential trivia. Every vice president whose given and surnames were both “first names” by contemporary standards, saw their president die in office. Could doubly-named Paul Ryan be lethal to a (gasp!) President Romney?
Mind you, what constitutes a name, first or last, is completely arbitrary – especially these days. However, using little more than my own taste and cultural biases, I’ve produced the following list of veeps with a first-name-for-a-last-name and the president who died on their watch.
John Tyler was the nation’s tenth vice president and perhaps the quickest to assume the mantle of Executive and Chief when President William Henry Harrison died after only a month in office. Hence, the Tyler’s nickname the “accidency” (like “excellency”) for being the “accidental president.”
Vice President Chester Arthur also chanced into the Oval Office when president Garfield succumbed to wounds sustained in an assassination attempt. President Arthur was also the first to endure the accusations of “Birthers,” who alleged he was born in Canada.
Henry Wallace was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second vice president, who was removed from the ticket during his re-election campaign, perhaps in a bid to avert the first name curse. It didn’t work – FDR died in his record fourth term and was succeeded by Truman.