The Death of FDR
On April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, 63, President of the United States serving his fourth term, died of a cerebral hemorrhage in his cottage at the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.
Vice President Harry S. Truman took the oath of office as President at 7:09 P.M., in the Cabinet Room in the White House. Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone of the Supreme Court administered the oath.
Shown here is the White House Stenographer’s Diary on the day of FDR’s death.
-from the FDR Library
Be sure to see Truman’s reaction in his post-script on a letter to his sister-in-law written the same day.
Inauguration Fact: Presidents do not need to be inaugurated. In case of the death of a President, the oath of office can be administered by a nearby official.
Vice Presidents John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, and Chester A. Arthur were all sworn in after the death of a President (and none of them were reelected).
Theodore Roosevelt took the oath in Buffalo, NY, after the assassination of William McKinley. In 1923, Calvin Coolidge was at home in Vermont when Warren Harding died and had to be sworn in by his father, a notary public and justice of the peace. Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on board Air Force One after President Kennedy’s death.
And Gerald Ford took the oath of office in the East Room of the White House after President Nixon resigned.
Image: Harry S. Truman taking the oath of office as President of the United States in the Cabinet Room of the White House, following the death of President Franklin Roosevelt, 04/12/1945 (ARC 199062), Truman Presidential Library.
Meanwhile, VP Truman is totally unaware that the world is about “to fall in on [him].”
On this day in 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died of a stroke in Warm Springs, Georgia.
This entry is from the White House Appointment Diaries, 4/12/1945.
April 12, 1945 - This letter was dictated by Truman before President Roosevelt’s death later that same day. Then Vice-President Truman prophetically informs his sister-in-law, May Wallace, that he has more work than he has ever had in the past and seems to have less time to complete it. A handwritten note by Truman at the bottom tells her that the letter was dictated “before the world fell in on me….you know what a blow it was. But - I must meet it.”
Vice President George Bush’s Notes Regarding the Assassination Attempt on President Ronald Reagan, 03/30/1981
This item is a Flight Information Card produced by the 89th Military Airlift Group for use aboard Air Force Two. In addition to information about a flight from Austin, Texas to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, there are notes handwritten by Vice President George H. W. Bush during the flight. These notes record the Vice President’s thoughts after being notified that there had been an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.
On November 22, 1963, during a planned two-day, five-city tour of Texas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while traveling in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas. This statement by President Lyndon B. Johnson was written aboard Air Force One during the flight back to the nation’s capital, just hours after the assassination, and after the the oath of office was administered to Johnson. The President delivered the statement upon landing at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, DC.
Listen to President Johnson’s remarks
Read more at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Funny how history can happen - On October 12, 1973, Gerald R. Ford is nominated to be Vice President by Richard Nixon. He is the first Vice President nominated under the 25th amendment to the Constitution. The appointment comes after Spiro Agnew, under investigation for accepting bribes and income tax evasion while Governor of Maryland, resigns as Vice President of the United States.
On December 6, 1973, Ford is sworn in as Vice President. Nine months later, Richard Nixon resigns as President. Ford takes the oath as 38th President of the United States on August 9, 1974.
Here are Ford and Nixon together, a decade before they were presidents, campaigning for Barry Goldwater’s presidential ticket in 1964.
-from the Ford Library
August 3, 1923 - Calvin Coolidge becomes President.
Calvin Coolidge became the 30th President of the United States in the early morning hours of August 3, 1923, following President Warren G. Harding’s death in San Francisco during his tour of the west. Coolidge was vacationing at his family home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, and was sworn in by his father, a local notary.