As you all know by now, i have a strong dislike for counterfactual history. I find it entirely useless, as a matter of fact. So you can rest easy. I am not going to try and construct some "what if" scenario featuring the gentleman from Ohio ascending to the executive office.
But not so very long ago, Senator Wade came within one vote of doing exactly that. During the 1868 impeachment trail of Andrew Johnson, Wade was serving as president pro tem of the Senate. Since the vice president's seat was vacant, then Wade was next in line should something happen to Andy Johnson. Something...for example...like a conviction in an impeachment trial.
But too bad for Ben Wade. It seemed a few of his fellow republican colleagues thought him a touch too radical for the job. His ascendency would surely have secured his nomination for president in '68 - and many thought he was too radical to win. What's more - he was pro-labor and favored a high tariff. This made northern business interests cringe. And what's worse - I don't think his colleagues liked him very much at all. I'm not sure how Mrs. Wade felt.
Sure, pleny of people would have loved to sack AJ, but not if it meant filling his seat with Ben Wade. In the end, he missed it by a tad - only one vote short of the 2/3 necessary to make him president.
Some alleged that Senator Ross of Kansas - the deciding vote - may have been helped along by promises from the Johnson camp. Ben "the Beast" Butler launched an inquiry to check in to such matters, but nothing really came of it.
Poor Ben Wade just couldn't catch a break.