SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – A clear chain of command and the peaceful transfer of power are staples of the American system.
But both were not officially outlined until that system had been at work for nearly two centuries, when the 25th Amendment passed.
A precedent had been in place since vice president John Tyler replaced William Henry Harrison, the first President to die in office. But it wasn't until the assassination of President Kennedy, and the subsequent events that played out on national television, that a system was adopted for both permanent and temporary succession of the President.
"What happens if the President is ill or the president is incapacitated?'' said Dr. Richard Pacelle, the head of Georgia Southern University's Political Science Department. "There's nothing in the Constitution that says anything about this. And now we have a provision for this that if the President is incapacitated he can sign a letter where he can turn over the office for however long it takes him to get better to the vice president. But if the president is incapacitated and can't sign the letter we now have a provision for the cabinet to come in and make that judgment.''
Although a vice president had assumed the office of the presidency eight times previously in American history, the 25th Amendment was passed within two years after Kennedy's assassination shocked the nation in so many ways.
It has been used as recently as 2007, when President Bush underwent a colonoscopy and chose to transfer power temporarily to vice president Cheney.
For Port Wentworth now, it's also about giving some kids the miracle of their own place to play.