So I've been a little quiet on this site the past couple of weeks because I've been focusing my energy on getting a Veeptopus book off the ground. That's right, all 47 veeps in one handy volume. Not only does it have biographical info on each veep but it also has an introduction and a bibliography by Aaron Mannes, vice presidential historian extraordinaire. And on top of that, the book was designed by Joan Lau, an amazing art director who designed all the graphics for the movie (500) Days of Summer and had hand in designing the opening titles for Mad Men. She's also my wife, so that helps. All the way around, this is a handsome book and I'm hoping that it will impress publishers everywhere. Stay tuned. Hopefully this tome will be available soon at a place near you.
Happy Birthday to William R. King, America's shortest service, most obscure vice president. He was vice president only six weeks before dying of tuberculosis. He was so ill that he took the oath of office in Cuba, where he was recuperating.
He was also the only bachelor veep in American history. King was reportedly inseparable from James Buchanan, who would become American’s only bachelor president. Make of that what you will.
Chief Chief Justice dispenses brutal Old Testament justice.
The beginnings of my latest series, Supreme Court Justices struggle to survive in the savagery and chaos of a post-apocalyptic society.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a robot hand. Don't ask how she got the robot hand. It's a sensitive subject. And you don't want to get her angry.
She wanders the broken wreckage of America on her trusty steed, a dire pig bear named, for reasons only known to our laconic hero, as Spiro.
So I did Taft in a badger suit and then a badger in a William Taft suit. So to follow up on that I did this - William Taft in a William Taft suit wearing a badger mask. And then below, I did the next obvious thing: a badger in a badger suit wearing a Taft mask. What's the next logical step? I'm all ears, guys.
A continuation of my increasingly silly series involving President William Taft and a badger. No, I don't really understand it either. Here, Taft is taking a load off of his feet while in a badger suit. Is he taking a break from some bizarre Eyes Wide Shut-style festivity? A respite from an underground furry convention? You be the judge. And, if you're interested, you can get a print of this here.
I am really stoked about this. It will be the first time all the portraits (the originals, not the prints) will be shown in one place. Stop by and say hi. And if you can make it March 1, the pictures will be up until mid-May or so.
Today is Presidents Day. So while you’re thinking about the sage wisdom and great sacrifice of some of our greatest Commanders-in-Chief, perhaps you could also spare a thought for some of our more forgotten vice presidents, men (and yes, they were all men) who came close to the mantle of power but who would remain forever obscure. Men like William R. King.
He died a mere six weeks into his term from Tuberculosis. He was so sick that he couldn’t make it to Washington for the inauguration. Instead, he was sworn in in Cuba, where he was convalescing.
Men like Henry Wilson, who while serving as Ulysses S. Grant’s veep, suffered a fatal stroke while in a bathtub in the basement of the Capitol. Yes, there used to be bathtubs in the Capitol.
And men like William A. Wheeler, who was so colorless and taciturn that his own running mate, Rutherford B. Hayes, had no idea who he was until he was placed on the presidential ticket.
In honor of these obscure leaders, these historical bronze metal winners, I am throwing the first ever Veeptopus sale.
Type in coupon code, VEEPSPRING2015 and get 20% off any item in the store. Act now because this sale ends February 18.
Today is Aaron Burr's birthday. He might have been the third vice president in American history but he was the first VP shoot someone.
Below is hands down the coolest, most hard-boiled cinematic retelling of the infamous Burr-Hamilton duel. Listening to Burr's self-pitying, self-aggrandizing narration, written by filmmaker Dana O'Keefe, he sounds like a character out of a Scorsese movie.
And, of course, you want to commemorate Burr's birthday, you can buy a print here.
74 years ago today in Lincoln, Nebraska, the moon hung heavy in the starless night sky as an unnatural hush fell on the prairie. Dick Cheney was born. Commemorate the event in any way you deem appropriate - cake, whiskey or the blood of puppies.
If you're in Los Angeles and you want to see a completely amazing art and zine fair then stop by this Saturday. I'll be the guy behind a table with all the vice president and octopus prints.
If there were ever a United States vice president who looked haunted, it was John C. Breckinridge. Look at those otherworldly eyes. You might be forgiven for thinking that he was descended from a raccoon. And indeed, Breckinridge had a life that was high in drama that led him on a long and winding road. It's also his birthday today.
Breckinridge is America’s youngest ever vice president, where he was largely ignored by his boss James Buchanan. When Lincoln was elected, Breckinridge returned to being a senator for Kentucky until 1861 when he jumped ship for the Confederacy. The U.S. government was not happy about his decision. The U.S. Senate cast him out by a vote of 36-0 and charged him with treason. Breckinridge was made a Brigadier General for the South, and after distinguishing himself in battles like Shiloh and Chattanooga, he eventually was appointed the Secretary of War. So when General Lee’s army surrendered in 1865, he knew he had to get out of town or face his treason charges.
Breckinridge fled through the malarial, alligator-infested swamps of Florida, hi-jacked a sailing ship (which is a pretty piratey thing to do) and made for Cuba. Along the way, he fought off a pirate attack, survived two tropical storms and came close to starving before eventually making it to shore. From there he traveled to England. In 1868, President Andrew Johnson pardoned Breckinridge and all other Confederates.
You can check out a print of Breckinridge and many others over at the Veeptopus Etsy Store.
Happy Birthday to Richard M. Nixon. He would be 102.
Nixon fought to be vice president, unlike many of his predecessors.
By the time that Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to run for president, Nixon had made a name for himself as being a dogged foe Communism, a friend to California’s monied class and an utterly ruthless campaigner. He seemed exactly the sort of young, vital politician that the Eisenhower campaign needed to balance off the ticket. Then two months after the Republican convention, the New York Post ran an article about an illegal slush fund for Nixon set up by some of his wealthy supporters. The allegation just about derailed his career. Eisenhower even suggested that he resign. That, however, wasn’t Nixon’s style.
On September 23, 1952, Nixon delivered this “Checkers” speech on national television – an absolute masterpiece of shameless political manipulation. After a detailed rundown on his finances, Nixon admitted that he had in fact received a present from his supporters – a beloved, and adorable, dog named Checkers. Many were appalled by the speech. Journalist Walter Lippmann called it "the most demeaning experience my country has ever had to bear.” Yet Nixon’s plea resonated. 160,000 Americans flooded White House switchboard in support of Nixon. Weeks later, the Eisenhower/Nixon ticket was swept into office.
While Nixon proved to be an able, active and informed vice president, his openly partisan style was also highly polarizing. Hoping for a smooth reelection, Eisenhower considered dropping him from the ticket. The president hoped that he could persuade his underling to leave voluntarily and even offered him the position of Secretary of Defense. Nixon, however, knew that such a career move would be seen as a demotion and declined the offer. Finally on April 16, after weeks of uncertainty, Nixon decided to force his boss’s hand. Summoning some serious brass balls, he walked into the Oval Office in front of his staff and announced, "Mr. President, I would be honored to continue as vice president under you." Nixon stayed on the ticket.
Millard Fillmore's birthday was January 7. He served only 17 months as vice president before his boss, Zachary Taylor - a slave-owner from Louisiana and a hero of the Mexican-American war - suddenly expired. He died either from poison, possibly by fellow slave owners concerned that Taylor might sell them out, or he died from a stomachache after ingesting too much iced milk and cherries. Nobody really knows. They exhumed Taylor's body in 1991 to perform tests but the lab results were inconclusive.
Fillmore went on to be one of America's most forgettable presidents. He presided at a time when the debate over the future shape of slavery was particularly ugly. The compromises he oversaw, including the odious Fugitive Slave Act, probably kept the Union together for another decade, allowing the North to develop the wealth and industry to defeat the South, but they came at a steep moral cost that did little to burnish his legacy. When Fillmore died in 1874, his last words were reportedly, “The nourishment is palatable.”