Presidents, Vice Presidents, and First Ladies of the United States

Find contact information and other facts about presidents, vice presidents, and first ladies, past and present.

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. 

Current President

The 45th and current President of the United States is Donald J. Trump. He was sworn in on January 20, 2017.

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 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. However, you can contact the White House by submitting your comments or questions online.

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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/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 48th and current Vice President of the United States is Michael R. Pence. He was sworn in for a four-year term on January 20, 2017. 

Contact the Vice President

The Vice President does not have a public direct telephone number. However, you can fill in an online form with comments.

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First Ladies

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 activism. 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 Melania Trump.

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Former U.S. Presidents

There are currently five living former U.S. Presidents. Four of the former Presidents have a Presidential Library where you can view important historical documents and explore interactive online exhibits. The Presidential Library of former President Barack Obama is being planned.

Information on former Presidents is available from the Library of Congress.

Contact Former Presidents 

You can send mail and sometimes email to some of the living former U.S. Presidents:

Find the contact information for former President George W. Bush

To contact former President Bill Clinton, send a letter to:

           The Honorable William J. Clinton
           55 West 125th Street
           New York NY 10027

To contact former President George H.W. Bush, send a letter to:

          Office of George H.W. Bush
          PO Box 79798
          Houston TX 77279-9798

Find the contact information for former President Jimmy Carter.

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)

Further information is also available through Presidential Libraries and Museums.

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Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day occurs every four years on January 20 (or January 21 if January 20 falls on a Sunday) at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC.  On this federal holiday, the President-elect and Vice-President-elect are sworn in and take office.

The Vice-President-elect is sworn in first, and repeats the same oath of office, in use since 1884, as Senators, Representatives, and other federal employees: 

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Around noon, the President-elect recites the following oath, in accordance with Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The inauguration is planned by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.   Nine common activities typically occur:

For more information on the history of presidential inaugurations, explore the inaugural materials from the collections of the Library of Congress.

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Order of Presidential Succession

The U.S. Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 give guidelines for the presidential order of succession.

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

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Overview of the Presidential Election Process

An election for President of the United States occurs every four years on Election Day, held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The next Presidential election will be held on November 3, 2020. 

The election process begins with the primary elections and caucuses and moves to nominating conventions, during which political parties each select a nominee to unite behind. The nominee also announces a Vice Presidential running mate at this time. The candidates then campaign across the country to explain their views and plans to voters and participate in debates with candidates from other parties.

During the general election, Americans head to the polls 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 the majority, the House of Representatives chooses the President and the Senate chooses the Vice President.

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 debates take place.
  • January to June of election year – States and parties hold primaries and caucuses.
  • July to early September – Parties hold nominating conventions to choose their candidates.
  • September and October – Candidates participate in Presidential debates.
  • Early November – Election Day
  • December – Electors cast their votes in the Electoral College.
  • Early January of the next calendar year – Congress counts the electoral votes.
  • January 20 – Inauguration Day

For an in-depth look at the federal election process in the U.S., check out USA In Brief: ELECTIONS.

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Last Updated: February 22, 2017

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