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U.S. Presidential line of succession facts for kids

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The United States Presidential line of succession is the order in which government officials replace the United States President if the president leaves office before an elected successor is inaugurated. If the President dies, resigns, or is removed from office, the Vice President becomes President for the rest of the term. If the Vice President is unable to serve, the Speaker of the House acts as President.

Previous lines of succession

The United States Constitution says that the Vice President of the United States is the person who will replace the President if the President is not able to continue.

The laws about succession (after the Vice President) were first created in 1792. The second in line, after the Vice President was the leader of the Senate. The next in line was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1868, during the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, Benjamin Wade was the leader of the Senate. He almost became president, but Johnson was found not guilty by one vote. Johnson had been the Vice President for Abraham Lincoln. He became President after the assassination of Lincoln. Because of Lincoln's assassination, there was no Vice President at the time.

In 1886, after the death of Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks, Congress passed a law that took out the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives from the line of succession. The new person behind the Vice President in line was Secretary of State, followed by other Cabinet members. The leaders of the Senate and House were restored to the line of succession by the Presidential Succession Act of 1947.

Present line of succession

Below is the current line of succession for the President of the United States:

No. Office
1 Vice President
2 Speaker of the House of Representatives
3 President Pro Tempore of the Senate
4 Secretary of State
5 Secretary of the Treasury
6 Secretary of Defense
7 Attorney General
8 Secretary of the Interior
9 Secretary of Agriculture
10 Secretary of Commerce
11 Secretary of Labor
12 Secretary of Health and Human Services
13 Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
14 Secretary of Transportation
15 Secretary of Energy
16 Secretary of Education
17 Secretary of Veterans Affairs
18 Secretary of Homeland Security
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