Oath of office of the Vice President of the United States

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Vice President Mike Pence being administered the oath of office by Clarence Thomas on January 20, 2017.

The oath of office of the Vice President of the United States is the oath or affirmation that the Vice President of the United States takes upon assuming the vice-presidency but before he or she begins the execution of the office. Just before the president-elect takes the oath of office on Inauguration Day, the vice president-elect will step forward on the inaugural platform and repeat the oath of office. Although the United States ConstitutionArticle II, Section One, Clause 8—specifically sets forth the oath required by incoming presidents, it does not do so for incoming vice presidents. The constitution—Article VI, Clause 3— simply requires that they, along with all other government officers (federal and state; elected and appointed), pledge to support the Constitution. Since 1937, Inauguration Day has been January 20 (was March 4), a change brought about by the 20th amendment to the Constitution, which had been ratified four years earlier. The vice president's swearing-in ceremony also moved that year, from the Senate chamber inside the Capitol, to the presidential inaugural platform outside the building.[1]

Text[edit]

I, (state your name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.[2]

Background[edit]

The 1st Congress passed an oath act in May 1789, authorizing only U.S. senators to administer the oath to the vice president (who serves as the president of the Senate). Later that year, legislation passed that allowed courts to administer all oaths and affirmations. Since 1789, the oath has been changed several times by Congress. The present oath repeated by the vice president, senators, representatives, and other government officers has been in use since 1884.[1]

When the vice presidency was established in 1789, and for the century that followed, the Vice President was sworn in on the same date as the president, March 4, but at a separate location, typically in the United States Senate, where he holds the office of President of the Senate. Up until the middle of the 20th Century, the Vice President-Elect nearly always would be sworn in by the highest-ranking officer of the US Senate which was the outgoing vice president or the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate. Sometimes, although not always, a short address would be given by the new vice president to the Senate.

The oath of office has been administered most by the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate (last in 1925) for a total of 20 times. Others to give the oath of office include the outgoing Vice President (last in 1945) 12 times, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (last in 2017) 9 times, the Chief Justice of the United States (last in 2001) 6 times, U.S. Senators that are not President Pro Tempore of the Senate (last in 1969) 5 times, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (last in 2005) 4 times, a US judge twice, and a US Consul once with one time being unrecorded. Former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger has given the oath the most times with three.

Of the 59 times the Oath of Office has been administered, 47 times have been at some location in the United States Capitol. The White House has seen 3 oaths of office, and Congress Hall in Philadelphia twice. The following locations all had the oath administered once in that location: Federal Hall, Old Brick Capitol, Havana, Cuba, a private residence in New York, and the Number One Observatory Circle. Reflecting the relative lack of importance of the office in the early 1800s, there are two instances where the location of the Vice President's oath of office is unknown.

Due to Vice President-elect William King's deteriorating health, a bill signed on March 3, 1853, the last day of the 32nd United States Congress, allowed for the oath to be administered to him as he rested in Cuba.

Oath-taking ceremonies[edit]

Date Vice President No. Location Administered by
June 3, 1789
(Term began April 21)
John Adams 1st Federal Hall
New York, New York
John Langdon
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
December 2, 1793
(Term began March 4)
John Adams 2nd Congress Hall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
John Langdon
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1797 Thomas Jefferson 3rd Congress Hall
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
William Bingham
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1801 Aaron Burr 4th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol James Hillhouse
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1805 George Clinton 5th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol John Marshall
Chief Justice of the United States
March 4, 1809 George Clinton 6th Unknown with no record given in the Journal of the Senate of the United States Unknown
May 24, 1813
(Term began March 4)
Elbridge Gerry 7th Appeared before the US Senate on May 24, 1813 with a document stating the Vice President already "having taken the oath as prescribed by law" John Davis
United States District Court Judge
March 4, 1817 Daniel D. Tompkins 8th Senate Chamber, Old Brick Capitol John Gaillard
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 3, 1821
(Term began March 4)
Daniel D. Tompkins 9th Tompkins' Residence, Tompkinsville, Staten Island William P. Van Ness
United States District Court Judge
March 4, 1825 John C. Calhoun 10th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Andrew Jackson
US Senator
March 4, 1829 John C. Calhoun 11th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Samuel Smith
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1833 Martin Van Buren 12th House Chamber, United States Capitol John Marshall
Chief Justice of the United States
March 4, 1837 Richard Mentor Johnson 13th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol William R. King
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1841 John Tyler 14th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol William R. King
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1845 George M. Dallas 15th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Willie P. Mangum
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
*March 5, 1849
(Term began March 4)
Millard Fillmore 16th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol David R. Atchison
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 24, 1853
(Term began March 4)
William R. King 17th Havana, Cuba William L. Sharkey
US Consul
March 4, 1857 John C. Breckinridge 18th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol James M. Mason
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
*March 2, 1861
(Term began March 4)
Hannibal Hamlin 19th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol John C. Breckinridge
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1865 Andrew Johnson 20th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Hannibal Hamlin
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1869 Schuyler Colfax 21st Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Benjamin F. Wade
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1873 Henry Wilson 22nd Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Schuyler Colfax
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1877 William A. Wheeler 23rd Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Thomas W. Ferry
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1881 Chester A. Arthur 24th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol William A. Wheeler
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1885 Thomas A. Hendricks 25th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol George F. Edmunds
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1889 Levi P. Morton 26th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol John J. Ingalls
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1893 Adlai Stevenson 27th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Levi P. Morton
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1897 Garret Hobart 28th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Adlai Stevenson
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1901 Theodore Roosevelt 29th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol William P. Frye
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1905 Charles W. Fairbanks 30th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol William P. Frye
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1909 James S. Sherman 31st Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Charles W. Fairbanks
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1913 Thomas R. Marshall 32nd Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Jacob H. Gallinger
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1917 Thomas R. Marshall 33rd Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Willard Saulsbury
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1921 Calvin Coolidge 34th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Thomas R. Marshall
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1925 Charles G. Dawes 35th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Albert B. Cummins
President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate
March 4, 1929 Charles Curtis 36th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Charles G. Dawes
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1933 John Nance Garner 37th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Charles Curtis
Vice President of the United States
January 20, 1937 John Nance Garner 38th United States Capitol Joseph Taylor Robinson
US Senator, Senate Majority Leader
January 20, 1941 Henry A. Wallace 39th United States Capitol John Nance Garner
Vice President of the United States
January 20, 1945 Harry S. Truman 40th White House Henry A. Wallace
Vice President of the United States
January 20, 1949 Alben W. Barkley 41st United States Capitol Stanley Forman Reed
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
January 20, 1953 Richard Nixon 42nd United States Capitol William F. Knowland
US Senator
*January 20, 1957 Richard Nixon 43rd White House William F. Knowland
US Senator, Senate Minority Leader
January 20, 1961 Lyndon B. Johnson 44th United States Capitol Sam Rayburn
Speaker of the House of Representatives
January 20, 1965 Hubert Humphrey 45th United States Capitol John William McCormack
Speaker of the House of Representatives
January 20, 1969 Spiro Agnew 46th United States Capitol Everett Dirksen
US Senator, Senate Minority Leader
January 20, 1973 Spiro Agnew 47th United States Capitol Warren E. Burger
Chief Justice of the United States
December 6, 1973 Gerald Ford 48th House of Representatives Chamber, United States Capitol Warren E. Burger
Chief Justice of the United States
December 19, 1974 Nelson Rockefeller 49th Senate Chamber, United States Capitol Warren E. Burger
Chief Justice of the United States
January 20, 1977 Walter Mondale 50th United States Capitol Tip O'Neill
Speaker of the House of Representatives
January 20, 1981 George H.W. Bush 51st United States Capitol Potter Stewart
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
*January 20, 1985 George H.W. Bush 52nd White House Potter Stewart
Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
January 20, 1989 Dan Quayle 53rd United States Capitol Sandra Day O'Connor
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
January 20, 1993 Al Gore 54th United States Capitol Byron White
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
January 20, 1997 Al Gore 55th United States Capitol Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
January 20, 2001 Dick Cheney 56th United States Capitol William Rehnquist
Chief Justice of the United States
January 20, 2005 Dick Cheney 57th United States Capitol Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House of Representatives
January 20, 2009 Joe Biden 58th United States Capitol John Paul Stevens
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
*January 20, 2013 Joe Biden 59th Number One Observatory Circle Sonia Sotomayor
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
January 20, 2017 Mike Pence 60th United States Capitol Clarence Thomas
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Notes[edit]

Entries in the above list with an asterisk indicate the official legal oath of office for terms of office that began on Sunday instead of the public ceremonial swearing-in the following day.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Vice President's Swearing-In Ceremony". The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
  2. ^ 5 U.S.C. § 3331