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May 18, 1963

The year we had no president.

JAMA. 1963;184(7):604. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700200126037

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The title of this monograph has been derived from adding together the number of days the various presidents were disabled and unable to carry out their duties as Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief. There were seven presidents who had periods of disability, from the five days of Zachary Taylor to the 280 days of Woodrow Wilson. The serious gap in the proper functioning of the greatest democracy on earth, which these periods of illness have engendered, gives great pause for reflection on the gap in our Constitution.

In this brief book, Mr. Hansen attempts to present solutions for correcting this defect. All of the presidents who were incapacitated were either sick or victims of assassins' bullets and, therefore, were under the care of physicians. Such a condition places a great responsibility on the attending physicians, not only for the person of the president, but also for the orderly process of government.

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