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Who's Next In Line?

This is John Francis Kelly.  As of March 2017, he's the Secretary of Homeland Security.  He's last on the presidential succession list.  If this man ever becomes Acting President?  No offense to Secretary Kelly, but our nation is in serious, serious trouble!

So, at any given time... who was the next one in line?

Below is an unofficial list, using either the Constitution or the appropriate supporting federal law in place at the time (the Presidential Succession Acts of 1792, 1886 or 1947, as the case may be), of Presidents of the United States together with the person next in the line of succession, when each assumed that role, and the office which the latter person held which placed them next in the presidential line.

For the first 23 years of our national government, the Vice President was "next in line" with respect to presidential succession, but that changed with the death of Vice President George Clinton on April 20, 1812.  In the two centuries since, on over eighty occasions the person "next in line" has changed, with many people serving in the role on multiple occasions and even due to serving in different offices.

Franklin Pierce would see the most changes as to who was "next in line," with six changes involving five people, none of which would be "second in command" for a period longer than eight months.  The administrations of James Madison and Harry S Truman would each have four "next in line" transitions, as would the administration of George W. Bush if you include the two periods in which Vice President Cheney acted as President.

Key to Positions "Next in Line"

VP - Vice President of the United States

PPT - President Pro Tempore of the Senate

SPKR - Speaker of the House of Representatives

STA - Secretary of State

TRE - Secretary of the Treasury

Date Began
Date Ended
President "Next in Line" Notes
04-30-1789
03-04-1797
1.
George Washington
1.
John Adams, VP
03-04-1797
03-04-1801
2.
John Adams
2.
Thomas Jefferson, VP
03-04-1801
03-04-1805
3.
Thomas Jefferson
3.
Aaron Burr, VP
03-04-1805
03-04-1809
Thomas Jefferson
4.
George Clinton, VP
03-04-1809
04-20-1812
4.
James Madison
George Clinton, VP Vice President Clinton died
04-20-1812
03-04-1813
James Madison
5.
William Harris Crawford, PPT
03-04-1813
11-23-1814
James Madison
6.
Elbridge Gerry, VP Vice President Gerry died
11-23-1814
11-25-1814
James Madison
7.
Langdon Cheeves, SPKR PPT vacant
11-25-1814
03-04-1817
James Madison
8.
John Gaillard, PPT Gaillard elected PPT by Senate
03-04-1817
03-04-1825
5.
James Monroe
9.
Daniel Tompkins, VP
03-04-1825
03-04-1829
6.
John Quincy Adams
10.
John Caldwell Calhoun, VP
03-04-1829
12-28-1832
7.
Andrew Jackson  
John Caldwell Calhoun, VP Vice President Calhoun resigned
12-28-1832
03-04-1833
Andrew Jackson
11.
Hugh Lawson White, PPT
03-04-1833
03-04-1837
Andrew Jackson
12.
Martin Van Buren, VP
03-04-1837
03-04-1841
8.
Martin Van Buren
13.
Richard Mentor Johnson, VP
03-04-1841
04-04-1841
9.
William Henry Harrison
14.
John Tyler, VP President Harrison died
04-04-1841
05-31-1842
10.
John Tyler
15.
Samuel Lewis Southard, PPT
05-31-1842
03-04-1845
John Tyler
16.
Willie Person Mangum, PPT
03-04-1845
03-04-1849
11.
James Knox Polk
17.
George Mifflin Dallas, VP
03-04-1849
03-05-1849
None - See "President Who?" for an explanation
03-05-1849
07-09-1850
12.
Zachary Taylor
18.
Millard Fillmore, VP President Taylor died
07-09-1850
07-11-1850
13.
Millard Fillmore
*none* VP, PPT and SPKR vacant
07-11-1850
12-20-1852
Millard Fillmore  
19.
William Rufus DeVane King, PPT King elected PPT by Senate
12-20-1852
03-04-1853
Millard Fillmore
20.
David Rice Atchison, PPT
03-04-1853
04-18-1853
14.
Franklin Pierce
21.
William Rufus DeVane King, VP Vice President King died
04-18-1853
12-04-1854
Franklin Pierce
22.
David Rice Atchison, PPT
12-04-1854
12-05-1854
Franklin Pierce
23.
Lewis Cass, PPT Served one day as PPT
12-05-1854
06-09-1856
Franklin Pierce
24.
Jesse David Bright, PPT
06-09-1856
06-10-1856
Franklin Pierce
25.
Charles Edward Stuart, PPT Served one day as PPT
06-10-1856
01-06-1857
Franklin Pierce  
26.
Jesse David Bright, PPT  
01-06-1857
03-04-1857
Franklin Pierce
27.
James Murray Mason, PPT
03-04-1857
03-04-1861
15.
James Buchanan
28.
John Cabell Breckinridge, VP
03-04-1861
03-04-1865
16.
Abraham Lincoln
29.
Hannibal Hamlin, VP
03-04-1865
04-15-1865
Abraham Lincoln
30.
Andrew Johnson, VP President Lincoln assassinated
04-15-1865
05-07-1865
17.
Andrew Johnson
31.
Schuyler Colfax, SPKR
05-07-1865
03-02-1867
Andrew Johnson
32.
Lafayette Sabine Foster, PPT
03-02-1867
03-04-1869
Andrew Johnson
33.
Benjamin Franklin Wade, PPT
03-04-1869
03-04-1873
18.
Ulysses Simpson Grant
34.
Schuyler Colfax, VP
03-04-1873
11-22-1875
Ulysses Simpson Grant
35.
Henry Wilson, VP Vice President Wilson died
11-22-1875
03-04-1877
Ulysses Simpson Grant
36.
Thomas White Ferry, PPT
03-04-1877
03-04-1881
19.
Rutherford Birchard Hayes
37.
William Almon Wheeler, VP
03-04-1881
09-19-1881
20.
James Abram Garfield
38.
Chester Alan Arthur, VP President Garfield assassinated
09-19-1881
10-10-1881
21.
Chester Alan Arthur
39.
Samuel Jackson Randall, SPKR
10-10-1881
10-13-1881
Chester Alan Arthur
40.
Thomas Francis Bayard, PPT Served three days as PPT
10-13-1881
03-04-1883
Chester Alan Arthur
41.
David Davis, PPT
03-04-1883
03-04-1885
Chester Alan Arthur  
42.
George Franklin Edwards, PPT  
03-04-1885
11-25-1885
22.
Stephen Grover Cleveland
43.
Thomas Andrews Hendricks, VP Vice President Hendricks died
11-25-1885
12-07-1885
Stephen Grover Cleveland
44.
John Griffin Carlisle, SPKR PPT vacant
12-07-1885
01-19-1886
Stephen Grover Cleveland
45.
John Sherman, PPT Sherman elected PPT by Senate
01-19-1886
03-04-1889
Stephen Grover Cleveland
46.
Thomas Francis Bayard, STA 1886 Act became law
03-04-1889
03-04-1893
23.
Benjamin Harrison
47.
Levi Parsons Morton, VP
03-04-1893
03-04-1897
24.
Stephen Grover Cleveland  
48.
Adlai Ewing Stevenson, VP  
03-04-1897
11-21-1899
25.
William McKinley
49.
Garret Augustus Hobart, VP Vice President Hobart died
11-21-1899
03-04-1901
William McKinley
50.
John Milton Hay, STA
03-04-1901
09-14-1901
William McKinley
51.
Theodore Roosevelt, VP President McKinley assassinated
09-14-1901
03-04-1905
26.
Theodore Roosevelt
52.
John Milton Hay, STA
03-04-1905
03-04-1909
Theodore Roosevelt
53.
Charles Warren Fairbanks, VP
03-04-1909
10-30-1912
27.
William Howard Taft
54.
James Schoolcraft Sherman, VP Vice President Sherman died
10-30-1912
03-04-1913
William Howard Taft
55.
Philander Chase Knox, STA
03-04-1913
03-04-1921
28.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson
56.
Thomas Riley Marshall, VP
03-04-1921
08-02-1923
29.
Warren Gamaliel Harding
57.
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr., VP President Harding died
08-02-1923
03-04-1925
30.
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
58.
Charles Evans Hughes, STA
03-04-1925
03-04-1929
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr.
59.
Charles Gates Dawes, VP
03-04-1929
03-04-1933
31.
Herbert Clark Hoover
60.
Charles Curtis, VP
03-04-1933
01-20-1941
32.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
61.
John Nance Garner, VP
01-20-1941
01-20-1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
62.
Henry Agard Wallace, VP
01-20-1945
04-12-1945
Franklin Delano Roosevelt  
63.
Harry S Truman, VP President Roosevelt died
04-12-1945
06-27-1945
33.
Harry S Truman
64.
Edward Reilly Stettinius, Jr., STA Secretary Stettinius resigned
06-27-1945
07-03-1945
Harry S Truman
65.
Henry Morgenthau, Jr., TRE STA vacant
07-03-1945
01-18-1947
Harry S Truman
66.
James Francis Byrnes, STA Byrnes confirmed by Senate
01-18-1947
01-20-1949
Harry S Truman
67.
Joseph William Martin, Jr., SPKR 1947 Act became law
01-20-1949
01-20-1953
Harry S Truman
68.
Alben William Barkley, VP
01-20-1953
01-20-1961
34.
Dwight David Eisenhower
69.
Richard Milhous Nixon, VP
01-20-1961
11-22-1963
35.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
70.
Lyndon Baines Johnson, VP President Kennedy assassinated
11-22-1963
01-20-1965
36.
Lyndon Baines Johnson
71.
John William McCormack, SPKR
01-20-1965
01-20-1969
Lyndon Baines Johnson
72.
Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr., VP
01-20-1969
10-10-1973
37.
Richard Milhous Nixon Spiro Theodore Agnew, VP Vice President Agnew resigned
10-10-1973
12-06-1973
Richard Milhous Nixon
74.
Carl Bert Albert, SPKR  
12-06-1973
Richard Milhous Nixon
75.
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr., VP Ford confirmed as VP; Nixon resigned
08-09-1974
12-19-1974
38.
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr.
76.
Carl Bert Albert, SPKR
12-19-1974
01-20-1977
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, VP Rockefeller confirmed as VP
01-20-1977
01-20-1981
39.
James Earl Carter, Jr.
78.
Walter Frederick Mondale, VP
01-20-1981
07-13-1985
40.
Ronald Wilson Reagan
79.
George Herbert Walker Bush, VP
George H.W. Bush Thomas Phillip O'Neill, SPKR Bush acted as President
07-13-1985
01-20-1989
Ronald Wilson Reagan
81.
George Herbert Walker Bush, VP
01-20-1989
01-20-1993
41.
George H.W. Bush
82.
James Danforth Quayle III, VP
01-20-1993
01-20-2001
42.
William Jefferson Clinton
83.
Albert Arnold Gore, Jr., VP
01-20-2001
06-29-2002
43.
George Walker Bush
84.
Richard Bruce Cheney, VP
Richard Bruce Cheney John Dennis Hastert, SPKR Cheney acted as President
06-29-2002
07-21-2007
George Walker Bush
86.
Richard Bruce Cheney, VP
Richard Bruce Cheney Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi, SPKR Cheney acted as President
07-21-2007
01-20-2009
George Walker Bush
88.
Richard Bruce Cheney, VP
01-20-2009
01-20-2017
44.
Barack Hussein Obama
89.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., VP
01-20-2017
Present
45. Donald John Trump   90. Michael Richard Pence, VP  

 

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