Presidents Day Baby Names: The Veeps

February 16, 2017 nicknamer

An FBF look back at some of the often-forgotten Vice Presidents’ names.

By Nick Turner

It’s no surprise that U.S. vice presidents don’t get a lot of respect in history books. The job doesn’t confer much actual power (unless the commander-in-chief comes to an untimely end), relegating most VPs to the footnotes of American statesmanship.

But when it comes to baby-name inspiration, VPs may actually be No. 1. The men who served as second-in-command have had some truly extraordinary monikers — both first and last names — and several of them could work nicely on a 2017 newborn.

So I went through the 47 names of past and current vice presidents to find the best choices.

First of all, some statistics. The most common first name for a U.S. vice president was John, with five representatives. That was followed by Charles, George and Thomas, with three apiece.

The top last surname is Johnson, with three namesakes (Andrew, Lyndon and Richard). No other last name came up more than once.

A woman has never served as vice president; Sarah Palin (2008) and Geraldine Ferraro (1984) were the only major-party candidates so far.

But what in my opinion were the best VP names of all time? I’ll sort them into three categories.


HANNIBAL: This one is easy. Hannibal Hamlin, Lincoln‘s VP, was named in honor of the third-century general famous for crossing the Alps on the backs of elephants. His full name adds some alliteration, making it a deadly combination. (Unless you’re put off by the Hannibal Lecter connection.)

ADLAI: Adlai Stevenson was Grover Cleveland‘s running mate in 1892 (his grandson, also named Adlai Stevenson, ran unsuccessfully for president three times between 1952 and 1960). I’ve always had a soft spot for this name, and it seems to have won over more converts in recent years. But many parents choose a different spelling or pronunciation. Adley went to nearly 350 kids last year (almost entirely girls). Adlai was given to just 18.

SPIRO: This may be a tough name to love, considering that Spiro Agnew resigned as vice president in 1973 under a cloud of tax-evasion charges. (If Richard Nixon hadn’t resigned a year later, history may have made more of this.) Still, there’s something enthralling about this short yet exotic Greek name.

ELBRIDGE: Elbridge Gerry served under James Madison starting in 1813. His surname gave rise to the term “gerrymandering,” but his first name is just as interesting — and unique. There’s no danger your baby Elbridge would encounter another kid in his class by the same name. The Social Security database has no record of any parents using it last year.

ALBEN: Here’s another name that hardly anyone uses. But it might work as an alternative to the Chipmunks-tainted Alvin. Alben Barkley was the 35th vice president, serving under Truman. Alban is an alternate spelling.

SCHUYLER: This one fits nicely with today’s surname-style naming trends, but it must have been pretty unusual when Schuyler Colfax was born in 1823 (there was at least one other Schuyler Colfax– his dad). Last year, 26 boys were named Schuyler in the U.S., along with 18 girls.

LEVI: Levi Morton was the 22nd vice president, serving from 1889 to 1893. Little did he know his name would surge the charts more than a century later, helped by its use by several celebrities.


American parents are increasingly choosing last names as first names, and the roster of vice presidents provides a wealth of options.

My favorites (in alphabetical order):

  1. Barkley
  2. Breckinridge
  3. Colfax
  4. Dawes
  5. Hamlin
  6. Hendricks
  7. Hobart
  8. Humphrey
  9. Rockefeller
  10. Wheeler

I’d also like to see someone try to pull off Mondale, but it may take time for memories of his crushing presidential defeat to fade.


Who had the best overall name among the United States VPs? This is a tough one, since I do love Hannibal Hamlin and Schuyler Colfax.

But I think I have to go with William Rufus DeVane King, who had a name with panache — even if he didn’t have the personal vigor to match. King died of tuberculosis after only six weeks in office.

About the author


Nick Turner is a writer and editor living in New York City (by way of San Francisco). He and his wife have successfully named three kids. Follow him on Twitter at @SFNick.

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