The thread about Kaiser Wilhelm becoming king of England got me thinking about whether a similar sort of situation could have happened in our own nation’s history. The 12th amendment popped to mind.
Under the Constitution as originally drafted, the runner-up in the presidential race got to be Vice President. After the disastrous pairings of Adams/Jefferson and Jefferson/Burr, the 12th amendment scrapped this idea and replaced it with separate tickets for both offices. When one looks at the presidents who died in office, it becomes evident that quite a few things would have worked out differently, and i’ve thought of a number of things that would have worked out different;
1841 - Martin van Buren re-assumes the presidency after the death of Harrison.
1865 - George McClellan succeeds Lincoln.
1881 - Winfield Scott Hancock becomes president after Garfield is shot.
1901 - William Jennings Bryan succeeds McKinley. Very interesting.
1921 - James M. Cox succeeds Harding. In the real world, Cox’s running mate was a young FDR; the AU President Cox may well have worked him into his administration.
1945 - Thomas Dewey becomes president when FDR dies. So a “Dewey defeats Truman” headline is still possible in '48.
1960 - Richard Nixon succeeds JFK.
1972 - Nixon can’t run for reelection because he’s already served two full terms by now, so a different Republican would have to run against McGovern. The two other candidates in the real-world '72 GOP primary were anti-war liberal Pete McClosky and anti-detente conservative John Ashbrook - either one of them would have made for an interesting candidacy. This means a Ford presidency is also highly unlikely.
1981 - The assassination attempt on Reagan briefly leaves Jimmy Carter as Acting President.
2001 - Al Gore, remaining as Vice President under the Bush administration, casts the tie-breaking vote in the Senate delivering a Democratic majority for the entirety of the 107th Congress.
Any other interesting could-have-beens anyone can think of?