Presidents, Vice Presidents, and First Ladies of the United States
President of the United States
The president of the United States is the head of state of the U.S., the chief executive of the federal government, and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The United States was the first nation to create the office of president as the head of state in a modern republic.
The 46th and current president of the United States is Joseph R. Biden, Jr. He was sworn in on January 20, 2021.
Requirements to Hold Office
According to Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the president must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years old, and have been a resident of the United States for 14 years.
State of the Union Address
The U.S. Constitution requires the president to give Congress a State of the Union, which is a report that addresses a president's legislative proposals and other plans for the country. There is no requirement stating what form or how often the report occurs; however, it normally occurs annually in the last week of January.
Contact the President
The president does not have a public direct telephone number. You can contact the White House by submitting your comments or questions online.
Vice President of the United States
The vice president of the United States of America is the president of the Senate, and takes over the role of president if the president is unable to perform his or her duties. The vice president will become president if:
- The president dies
- The president resigns
- The president is temporarily incapacitated
- The vice president and a majority of the Cabinet judge that the president is no longer able to discharge the duties of the presidency
Current Vice President
The 49th and current vice president of the United States is Kamala Harris. She was sworn in on January 20, 2021.
Contact the Vice President
The vice president does not have a public direct telephone number. You can fill in an online form with comments.
Order of Presidential Succession
The U.S. Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 outline the presidential order of succession. The line of succession of cabinet officers is in the order of their agencies’ creation.
If the President of the United States is incapacitated, dies, resigns, is for any reason unable to hold his/her office, or is removed from office, he/she will be replaced in the following order:
- Vice President
- Speaker of the House
- President Pro Tempore of the Senate
- Secretary of State
- Secretary of the Treasury
- Secretary of Defense
- Attorney General
- Secretary of the Interior
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of Commerce
- Secretary of Labor
- Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
- Secretary of Transportation
- Secretary of Energy
- Secretary of Education
- Secretary of Veterans Affairs
- Secretary of Homeland Security
Overview of the Presidential Election Process
An election for president of the United States happens every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The most recent presidential election was November 3, 2020.
Primaries, Caucuses, and Political Conventions
The election process begins with primary elections and caucuses. These are two methods that states use to select a potential presidential nominee
Nominee: the final candidate chosen by a party to represent them in an election.. In general, primaries use secret ballots for voting. Caucuses are local gatherings of voters who vote at the end of the meeting for a particular candidate. Then it moves to nominating conventions, during which political parties each select a nominee to unite behind. During a political party convention, each presidential nominee also announces a vice presidential running mate. The candidates then campaign across the country to explain their views and plans to voters. They may also participate in debates with candidates from other parties.
What is the Role of the Electoral College?
During the general election
General Election: a final election for a political office with a limited list of candidates.
, Americans go to their polling place Polling Place: the location in which you cast your vote. to cast their vote for president. But the tally of those votes—the popular vote—does not determine the winner. Instead, presidential elections use the Electoral College. To win the election, a candidate must receive a majority of electoral votes. In the event no candidate receives a majority, the House of Representatives chooses the president and the Senate chooses the vice president.
What is a Typical Presidential Election Cycle?
The presidential election process follows a typical cycle:
Spring of the year before an election – Candidates announce their intentions to run.
Summer of the year before an election through spring of the election year – Primary and caucus
Caucus: a statewide meeting held by members of a political party to choose a presidential candidate to support. debates take place.
January to June of election year – States and parties hold
primaries Primary: an election held to determine which of a party's candidates will receive that party's nomination and be their sole candidate later in the general election.
July to early September – Parties hold nominating conventions to choose their candidates.
September and October – Candidates participate in presidential debates.
Early November – Election Day
Elector: a person who is certified to represent their state's vote in the Electoral College. cast their votes in the Electoral College.
Early January of the next calendar year – Congress counts the electoral votes.
January 20 – Inauguration Day
The First Lady of the United States has traditionally been the wife or other close female relative of the president of the United States. First Ladies are the hostesses of the White House, serve as advisors to the president, and are often involved in social issues. Over the course of American history, the role of the First Lady has changed and evolved.
The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, features a First Ladies exhibition, one of the museum's most popular attractions. Its virtual First Ladies interactive tour provides a visual experience of the First Ladies' gowns and other artifacts.
Current First Lady
The current First Lady of the United States is Dr. Jill Biden.
The United States has had 45 former U.S. presidents. Visit presidential libraries and museums in person or online to learn about former presidents, see important historical documents, and explore interactive exhibits.
Contact Former Presidents
You can send mail or email to the five living former U.S. presidents:
The Honorable William J. Clinton
55 West 125th Street
New York NY 10027
- Jimmy Carter, send a letter to:
The Honorable Jimmy Carter
The Carter Center
453 John Lewis Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30307
Format and Salutations
When sending letters to former presidents, the proper form for addressing the envelope is:
The Honorable (president's name)
The proper form for the salutation in the letter is:
Dear Mr. (president's last name)
Presidential Greetings, Photographs, and Invitations
White House Greetings Request
Contact the White House to request a presidential greeting.
You will soon be able to purchase official portraits of the president online.
Invitations for the White House and All Other Requests
If you would like to extend an invitation to, have questions for, or would like information about the president, the White House, or the status of a request, contact the White House.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They'll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.
Last Updated: March 9, 2023