Tag Archives: William A. Wheeler

Trivia Question: The Presidential Candidate Who Did Not Know His Running Mate by Gregory Hilton

The book “Game Change” will be released on Tuesday and it reveals that Joe Biden had never heard of Sarah Palin when she was selected as the GOP candidate. That is not unprecedented. When Republicans selected future President Rutherford B. Hayes he promised the New York delegation they could pick the vice presidential candidate. The Empire State had a crucial role in nominating Hayes, and it was the most powerful delegation at the GOP Convention.
The NY Republican Party of 1876 was divided into two warring factions, and it was necessary to find a relative unknown on whom both factions could agree. Hayes went to sleep and his running mate was nominated by acclamation the next morning. When Hayes was informed the selection was William A. Wheeler, he replied “I am ashamed to say this, but who is Wheeler?”
He was a NY Congressman who was an early champion of civil rights, and his honesty and integrity were praised in John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage.” Unlike many who have served as President and Vice President, Hayes and Wheeler developed a close friendship during the White House years. Hayes later wrote, Wheeler “was one of the few Vice Presidents who were on cordial terms, intimate and friendly, with the President. Our family was heartily fond of him.”