The Strange Destiny Of a Vice President

He is the second highest-ranking official in the land, and he is also the butler -- or the handyman

A procession trudges along the service road of American history, looking distinguished and wistful: George Clinton, Daniel D. Tompkins, George M. Dallas, William King, Hannibal Hamlin, Schuyler Colfax, William A. Wheeler, Levi P. Morton, Garret A. Hobart, Charles W. Fairbanks, Charles Dawes, John Nance Garner, Henry Wallace, Alben Barkley . . .

These men, Vice Presidents of the U.S., share a strange fate -- a shelved career, high office without power, a political glory all but lost in nonentity, and a galling kind of subservience. Good news: You are the second highest-ranking official in the land. Bad news: You are also...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!