Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thirty-first President: Herbert Hoover - 2 comments

Hoover's presidency coincided with the Great Depression, and sadly that's just about all that we remember him for. It's too bad, really, as he was a successful mining engineer, humanitarian (organizing volunteer forces to help victims and refugees of World War I), and had a spotless career of government service.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thirtieth President: Calvin Coolidge - 0 comments

Coolidge was Harding's VP, and assumed the office after the President died. He was reelected for the next term. He was notoriously shy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Twenty-ninth President: Warren G. Harding - 1 comments

Warren G. Harding was widely considered good-looking, so you can assume I haven't done the man justice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Twenty-eighth President: Woodrow Wilson - 0 comments

As a former professor, Woodrow Wilson was noted for his quiet fair-mindedness. He was nominated by his party because they expected him to be easy to dominate, but surprised them with a reforming streak that endeared him to the American public. He was reelected for a second term, and tried to keep the US out of World War I.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Twenty-seventh President: William Howard Taft - 0 comments

The march of mustaches continues!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Twenty-sixth President: Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. - 5 comments

Teddy Roosevelt! Oh man, it's tough to draw the 'Rushmore Presidents.' Everybody knows exactly what they should look like.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Twenty-fifth President: WIlliam McKinley - 1 comments

Another assassination! Being President was a dangerous time between the Civil War and the turn of the century.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Twenty-third President: Benjamin Harrison - 0 comments

We just recently learned about Rutherford B. Haye's disputed election (Hayes lost the popular vote but won the needed electoral votes through a congressional committee and some backroom dealing), and now we come to another dynastic President, whose family connections got him into the running, and then helped him win a rigged election. Our modern-day election worries seem tame by comparison.

Benjamin Harrison was Old Tippecanoe's grandson (I think you can see the resemblance), and had a rather undistinguished political career before his candidacy for President. In the election of 1888, groups of electors literally sold their votes to the Republican party in New York and Indiana. The fraud was exposed at the time, known now as the Blocks of Five. Despite this blatant fraud and losing the popular vote by a wide margin, Harrison took the office anyway. He was promptly replaced at the end of his term by the rightful victor, Chester A. Arthur.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Twenty-second (and Twenty-fourth) President: Grover Cleveland - 4 comments

As every schoolchild knows, Grover Cleveland is our only President to have served two non-consecutive terms in office. He was defeated in 1888 by Benjamin Harrison, and then returned in 1892 to oust Harrison from office. Cleveland's early career included being the Sheriff of Erie County, the Mayor of Buffalo, and the Governor of New York.

Little-known fact (at least to us po' folks): Grover Cleveland used to be on the One Thousand Dollar Bill.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Twenty-first President: Chester A. Arthur - 5 comments

Do we need to disuss anything beyond this President's admirable facial hair? Probably not.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Twentieth President: James A. Garfield - 1 comments

James A. Garfield was the second President to be assassinated, and served the second-shortest term in office (after Ben Harrison, who caught a cold at his inauguration). He was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, who then exclaimed, "I did it and I want to be arrested! Arthur is President now!"

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Nineteenth President: Rutherford B. Hayes - 0 comments

Rutherford B. Hayes! Hayes gets presidential points for 1. his very-fun-to-say name, and 2. his excellent facial hair. Chosen to counter Grant's notoriously corrupt administration, he was famous mostly for being inoffensive.

Hayes' election might ring some bells. His opponent in the election, Samuel J. Tilden won the actual popular vote (by around a quarter million), and the counts were hotly contested. At the time, a candidate needed 185 electoral votes to win: Tilden had 184, Hayes had 165, and 20 electoral votes from four states (one of them Florida) swung in the balance, contested based on charges of fraud and intimidation. A congressional committee was formed to give out the disputed votes. The committee was formed of 7 Republicans, 7 Democrats, and a supposedly 'swing' voter, Supreme Court Justice Bradley. Bradley, who was known for Republican leanings, tipped the scales to Hayes, but not before back-room deals assured both sides that Hayes would end the military occupation of the South.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Eighteenth President: Ulysses S. Grant - 0 comments

Grant earned his fame as the leading Union general during the Civil War. As president he was known to be amiable and scrupulously honest - but those character traits didn't extend to his administration. His political allies built a byzantine structure of patronage and cronyism, as can happen after wars.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Seventeenth President: Andrew Johnson - 1 comments

Andrew Johnson, our seventeenth President, took up the office when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson never selected a Vice President to fill his old position, in part because of his shaky relationship with both parties. While elected on a National Union ticket for Abe's second term, Johnson himself never allied with any party, and earned the ire of all of them.

That party status issue was emblematic of of Johnson's presidency. As President, he managed the first phase of the Reconstruction, throwing the Radical Republicans into a serious distemper. They rallied the legislature and impeached Johnson - twice, actually - but failed to rally enough votes to eject him from office.

Johnson never attended any school, ever, and claimed that his wife taught him to read and write.