Succession to the Presidency

Archive Report

Call for Change in Law of Succession

When President Roosevelt died in office, April 12, 1945, and was succeeded by Vice President Truman, the man next in line of succession to the presidency was Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., then Secretary of State.1 Next after Stettinius came Henry Morgenthau, Jr., then Secretary of the Treasury.2 Neither had ever held an elective office; neither commanded any considerable following among the people. This was the situation when President Truman sent a special message to Congress, June 19, urging early revision of the Presidential Succession Act of 1886 “in the interest of orderly, democratic government.”

The President recommended two principal changes in the law which places the line of succession in the Cabinet: (1) that the Speaker of the House ...

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