The Flying Inauguration of the “Sudden President”

The Flying Inauguration of the “Sudden President”
Lady Bird Johnson: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: Elementary School
Time Required: Two to three class periods


President Kennedy was shot and killed on November 22, 1963, resulting in shock and heartache throughout the nation.  During this time, Mrs. Lady Bird Johnson, the Vice President’s wife, was riding behind President Kennedy’s car and could not believe what was happening around her at that very moment.  She felt as though she was viewing a Greek Tragedy but then realized she would have to fulfill a large role that unexpectedly awaited her on that very day as Mr. Johnson was sworn into presidency.


Students will learn about the inauguration process as well as what our constitution states about who succeeds the President of the U.S. when the office is suddenly vacant.

Materials Required:

Computers with internet access, paper, writing utensils, large sheets of paper (optional), LCD projector connected to computer (ideal) for viewing online videos OR inauguration videotapes and television/VCR player.


  1. Have students take a quarter sheet of paper and pencil.  Write down who would become the next president if the current President was removed or had to leave office.  Keep answers anonymous.  Collect or place papers in a box and then write the answers on the board and tally them.
  2. Introduce students by having a discussion about the role of the government when a president is unexpectedly removed or leaves office.
    • Ask what would happen if the President is removed from office.
    • How do you know that the Vice President takes over?
    • Where does it state this?
    • How do you know?
  3. Introduce the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to students. (Use web links below as a resource.)
  4.  Introduce the next step by explaining briefly the events leading to Lyndon Johnson’s emergency inauguration.  Ask students to imagine what it looked and sounded like.  Next, show the students images (link below) of Johnson being sworn into office aboard Air Force One.
  5. Play a video or show images of a recent inauguration (link provided below), or obtain a video tape from the library, etc.
  6. Introduce the concept of a Venn diagram to students by drawing one on the board.  A Venn diagram worksheet can aid students.
  7. Have students (as a group or individually) provide words that describe the differences and similarities between the two inauguration ceremonies. 
  8. Have a discussion and list their ideas on the board with the use the Venn diagram on the board.

Extending the Lesson:

  • Have students draw a diagram showing how they would set up an inauguration ceremony.  You may desire to provide certain criteria for students (security, seating capacity, which century, etc.)

Sources & Resources:


This lesson was developed by Marian Maxfield, Kent State University