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November 14, 2007

Walter Mondale Memorandum to Jimmy Carter

Filed under: Our Favorite Things — admin @ 3:19 pm

Walter Mondale and Jimmy Carter sitting at desk“In an otherwise masterful document, the Founding Fathers created the vice presidency with almost no thought as to how it would fit into the structure of the new federal government.”

With these words, Richard Moe, chief of staff to Walter Mondale during the latter’s term as Jimmy Carter’s vice president (1977-1981), begins “The Making of the Modern Vice Presidency: A Personal Reflection” (Minnesota History, volume 60, Fall 2006). His essay describes a crucial memorandum from December 1976 in which Mondale, at Carter’s invitation, spelled out his recommendations for making the office an engaged and significant part of the Carter administration.

Mondale and Carter shared the opinion that the vice presidency was, in Moe’s words, a “wasted national asset,” and that there were opportunities for a real partnership with a president willing to delegate authority. Mondale’s memo outlined his thoughts on the role the vice president could play, some specific contributions that he personally could make, and the degree of involvement in the Carter administration that such a relationship would require. Moe’s essay describes how that relationship became a reality.

A copy of that landmark memorandum resides in the Walter F. Mondale Papers at the Minnesota Historical Society. It is reproduced here in two PDF files; one is a searchable transcription of the memorandum, the other presents scanned images of the actual document.

Other documents in the Mondale Papers include subsequent staff reviews and analyses of this new type of vice presidency. The Mondale Papers are scheduled to be publicly accessible in January 2007.

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