About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the Pursuit of Power"

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube.

Before we hear from Kate Andersen Brower about her new book, First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents, and the Pursuit of Power, I’d like to invite you know about two other programs coming up here in the McGowan Theater.

On Wednesday, August 1, at noon, Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic will be here to tell us about their new book: Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man. During World War II, the Indianapolis crew was left adrift at sea for five days after being torpedoed by a Japanese sub, and for 50 years the survivors fought for justice and the exoneration of their wrongfully court-martialed captain.

Later, on Tuesday, September 11, at noon, Sean Wilentz will speak about his latest book, No Property in Man: Slavery and Antislavery at the Nation’s Founding, about the political and legal struggles over slavery that began during the Revolution and concluded with the Civil War.  Check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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The Presidential libraries operated by the National Archives and Records Administration contain unparalleled resources for American since the 1930s. The libraries cover the administrations of all Presidents since Herbert Hoover and preserve the records of not just the Chief Executive but of Presidential officials and associates—including the Vice President.  Although often described as “just a heartbeat away” from the highest office, the Vice Presidency for much of U.S. history often seemed like an afterthought.  Early on in his second term as the first Vice President of the United States, John Adams expressed his frustration to his wife, Abigail:  “[M]y Country has in its Wisdom contrived for me, the most insignificant Office that ever the Invention of Man contrived or his Imagination conceived.”  For many decades after Adams, several Vice Presidents would have agreed. In the 20th century, though, ideas about the role of Vice President began to change, and after World War II, the office was viewed as more consequential.

Today we’ve gathered to hear about that change and how recent Presidents and Vice Presidents have worked together. In her latest book, First in Line: Presidents, Vice Presidents and the Pursuit of Power, Kate Andersen Brower, looks at 13 modern Vice Presidents—eight Republicans and five Democrats—from Richard Nixon to Mike Pence.

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Kate Andersen Brower is a CNN contributor who also covered Barack Obama’s first term in the White House for Bloomberg News. She is a former CBS News staffer and Fox News producer.

She has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Time, the Washington Post, and Bloomberg Businessweek and is the author of two previous books—The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House and First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies. Both books were on the New York Times best-sellers list, and The Residence is now being turned into a new Netflix series.

While her earlier books took the reader inside the lives of the White House staff and gave us an in-depth look at the modern first ladies, in First in Line, Brower introduces us to the second-most-powerful men in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kate Andersen Brower.