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Alternate History

President McCormack

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12:30 PM (Central Time), November 22, 1963: Shots ring out in Dallas Texas.. The assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, is extremely lucky and hits President Kennedy in the head with the first shot. Due to the angle of the president at the time of the shooting and the trajectory of the shot, the bullet exits the front left side of the president's head, passes between Governor and Mrs. Connally (sitting in jump seats just ahead and slightly below the Kennedys), passes through the back of the driver's seat of the presidential limo, and enters the the lower back of the Secret Service agent behind the wheel. The agent lurches forward. Reacting without thinking, the agent takes his foot off of the car's accelerator. It rolls to a stop.

Behind the presidential limo, a chase car full of Secret Service agents slams on its breaks to avoid rear-ending the presidential car. The agents, seeing the president's fatal gunshot wound just seconds before, converge on the limo. Behind the chase car, the vice president's vehicle slams on its breaks as well. The Secret Service agent in the front passenger seat of Vice President Johnson's car is confused at first, and slower to react. Lee Harvey Oswald sees the confusion below, and takes advantage of the opportunity. He sets the crosshairs of his rifle on the back of the vice president's head and squeezes the trigger. The vice president's head explodes just as the president's had. Oswald swung the rifle slightly to the left just as the car began moving again. He quickly squeezed the trigger, not sure if his third shot would be as accurate as the first two. However, the third bullet finds its mark as well. It strikes US Senator Ralph Yarborough in the upper back, and punctures his heart before exiting through his chest. The motorcade, finally back on track, rushes to Parkland Memorial Hospital.

1:42 PM (Eastern Time), November 22, 1963: "My God! My God! What are we coming to?" House Speaker John W. McCormack asked after being told by an AP journalist that the president and vice president had been wounded in Dallas. The speaker had been having lunch in the House restaurant with two staffers. Upon hearing the news, McCormack's aide Dr. Martin Sweig exclaimed "My God, Mr. Speaker, that means you'll be in charge!" McCormack admonished his aide. Telling him not to think about such things during such a time of shock. "We must keep thoughts like that out of our heads, and pray for Jack and Lyndon." Seconds later, several plainclothes Capitol Policemen arrived in the restaurant to provide a temporary protective detail for McCormack, who returned to his office. Within minutes, Secret Service agents arrived, and took positions in and in the corridor in front of the speaker's office.


1:00 PM (Central Time), November 22, 1963: Doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital announce that President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson, and Senator Yarborough have died.

2:07 PM (Eastern Time), November 22, 1963: Chief Justice Earl Warren arrives at the speaker's office to swear John McCormack in as president. McCormack's wife arrived from their suite in the Washington Hotel with a Bible. A news camera and several still photographers were allowed inside the office to record the event. McCormack stood surrounded by his wife,as well as fellow House Democratic leaders Carl Albert, Hale Boggs, and Carl Vinson. The speaker looked pale and tense as he raised his right hand and recited the oath. He was less than one month shy of his 72nd birthday. The oldest man ever to serve as president.

After being sworn in, the new president speaks to members of the press. He expressed his sorrow over the deaths of Kennedy and Johnson, and vowed live up to the great duty he had been called to undertake.

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