AMERICAN NOTES: Heraldic Wing-Lift

John Nance Garner, the man who compared the nation's second highest office to a pitcher of warm spit, was the first Vice President to have an official flag. A decade later in 1948, the Vice presidency had become no more attractive a job, but at least it got its own seal, too. In its center was a rather sickly, droop-winged eagle, clutching one lonely arrow in its left talon. So the Veep's symbol stood, or sagged, for 27 years.

Enter Nelson Rockefeller. The new Vice President publicly complained that the seal was "aesthetically very weak." In private, he was...

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