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Washington, at the age
of 23, fought the first
skirmishes of what grew into the French and Indian War and, in battle, barely escaped bodily injury after four bullets ripped through his coat and
two horses were shot out from under him. John
Adams loathed being a Vice President and was frustrated by the
limitations of the position, but he relished being a President. Thomas
Jefferson was dubbed the "silent member" of Congress and, at
age 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. James
Madison made a major contribution to the ratification of the
Constitution and was later referred to as the "Father of the
Monroe made such a good impression upon Thomas Jefferson that Jefferson
said of him, "Monroe was so honest that if you turned his soul
inside out there would not be a spot on it." John
Quincy Adams, the first President who was the son of a President, urged
the United States to take a lead in the development of the arts
and sciences through the establishment of a national university, the
financing of scientific expeditions, and the erection of an observatory. Andrew
Jackson was fiercely jealous of his honor, engaging in brawls to protect
it, and in a duel he killed a man who cast an unjustified slur upon his wife
Van Buren was President Jackson's most trusted adviser, and Jackson
referred to him as, "a true man with no guile." William
Henry Harrison held office just under a month before he caught a cold
that developed into pneumonia, making him the first President to die in
Tyler was the first Vice President to take over the office of President
by the death of his predecessor. James
Polk was the first candidate who favored the expansion of America
and made it part of his platform. Zachary
Taylor spent a quarter of a century policing the frontiers against
Indians and won major victories at Monterrey and Buena Vista in the Mexican
War. In 1850, Millard
Fillmore signed many significant bills into law, such as, admitting
California as a free state, granting territorial
status to New Mexico, and abolishing the slave trade in the District of Columbia.
Two months before Franklin
Pierce took office, his eleven-year-old son was killed in a train
accident, which he and his wife witnessed. Grief-stricken, Pierce entered the
Presidency nervously exhausted. James
Buchanan was the only President who never married. Abraham
Lincoln had four boys with his wife, Mary Todd, but only one lived
to maturity. Andrew
Johnson was the first President ever to have Congress override his
veto, passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which established African
American citizens and forbade discrimination against them. Ulysses
S. Grant presided over the Government much as he had run the Army,
and brought part of his Army staff to the White House with him. Rutherford
B. Hayes didn't expect to win the Presidency, even though a vast
amount of famous Republican speakers, and even Mark Twain, had stumped for
Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881 by an
embittered attorney who lost out on a coveted consular post.
Alexander Graham Bell tried in vain to
find the bullet with an induction-balance electrical device he had designed.
Garfield later died near the New Jersey seaside on September 19. Chester
Arthur had a well-kept secret he had known since a year after he
succeeded to the Presidency, that he was suffering from a fatal kidney
disease. Publisher Alexander K. McClure recalled, "No man ever entered
the Presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted, and no one ever retired
... more generally respected." Grover
Cleveland was the first Democrat elected after the Civil War, the
only President married in the White House, and the only President to leave
the White House and return for a second term four years later. Benjamin
Harrison conducted one of the first "front-porch"
campaigns, delivering short speeches to delegations that visited him in
McKinley's second term came to a tragic end in September 1901 when a
deranged anarchist shot him twice while he was standing in a receiving line
at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition. He died eight days later. Theodore
Roosevelt, not quite 43, became the youngest President in the
Nation's history. William
Taft much preferred law to politics and aspired to be a member of
the Supreme Court. After his presidency, he served as Chief Justice of the
United States, a position he considered his greatest honor and achievement,
writing, "I don't remember that I ever was President." Woodrow
Wilson asserted international leadership in building a new world
order, presenting the Senate with the Covenant of the League of Nations,
"a general association of nations...affording mutual guarantees of
political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states
alike," but the covenant was rejected by the Senate. Warren
Harding organized the Citizen's Cornet Band, available for both
Republican and Democrat rallies, remarking "I played every instrument
but the slide trombone and the E-flat cornet." Calvin
Coolidge was considered kind and tolerant, permitting himself to be
photographed in Indian war bonnets or cowboy dress, and greeting a variety
of delegations to the White House. A Democratic admirer, Alfred E. Smith,
wrote of him, "His great task was to restore the dignity and prestige
of the Presidency when it had reached the lowest ebb in our history ... in a
time of extravagance and waste...." Herbert
Hoover brought to the Presidency an unparalleled reputation
for public service as an engineer, administrator, and humanitarian. When a
critic inquired if he was not helping Bolshevism by extending aid to
famine-stricken Soviet Russia in 1921, Hoover retorted, "Twenty million
people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!" Franklin
Roosevelt followed the example of his fifth cousin, President
Theodore Roosevelt, whom he greatly admired, and entered public service
through politics. Assuming the Presidency at the depth of the Great
Depression, he helped the American people regain faith in themselves and
brought hope as he promised prompt, vigorous action, and asserted in his
Inaugural Address, "the only thing we have to fear is fear
Truman presented to Congress a 21-point program, proposing the
expansion of Social Security, a full-employment program, a permanent Fair
Employment Practices Act, and public housing and slum clearance. The
program, Truman wrote, "symbolizes for me my assumption of the office
of President in my own right." It became known as the Fair Deal. Dwight
Eisenhower sent troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to assure
compliance with the orders of a Federal court as desegregation of schools
began, and also ordered the complete desegregation of the Armed Forces,
stating, "There must be no second class citizens in this country."
Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage, which won the Pulitzer
Prize in history in 1955. He overtook Theodore Roosevelt as the youngest man elected President,
the first Roman Catholic President, and the youngest President to die in
Johnson won the Presidency in 1964 with 61 percent of the vote and
had the widest popular margin in American history--more than 15,000,000
Nixon succeeded in ending American fighting in Viet Nam and
improving relations with the U.S.S.R. and China. In addition, his
accomplishments while in office included revenue sharing, the end of the
draft, new anticrime laws, and a broad environmental program. Gerald
Ford was the first Vice President chosen under the terms of the
Twenty-fifth Amendment and, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal,
succeeded the first President ever to resign. Jimmy
Carter aspired to make Government "competent and
compassionate," responsive to the American people and their
expectations. His achievements were notable, including an increase of nearly
eight million jobs, a decrease in the budget deficit, expansion of the
national park system including protection of 103 million acres of Alaskan
lands, a bolstered Social Security system, and a record number of appointed
women, blacks, and Hispanics to Government jobs. Ronald
Regan obtained legislation to
stimulate economic growth, curb inflation, increase employment, and
strengthen national defense. He
won a second term with an unprecedented number of electoral votes and, at
the end of his administration, the Nation was enjoying its longest recorded
period of peacetime prosperity without recession or depression. George
H.W. Bush was the youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his
wings, and he flew 58 combat missions during World War II. Bill
Clinton met President John Kennedy in the White House Rose Garden
as a delegate to Boys Nation, and the encounter led him
to enter a life of public service. During his administration, the U.S.
enjoyed more peace and economic well being than at any time in its history,
with the lowest unemployment rate in modern times, the lowest
inflation in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country's history,
dropping crime rates in many places, reduced welfare rolls, a proposal for
the first balanced budget in decades, and a budget surplus. George
W. Bush became the first Governor in Texas history to be elected to
consecutive 4-year terms when he was re-elected on November 3, 1998. During
Bush's administration, he signed into law tax relief that helps workers keep
more of their hard-earned money, as well as the most comprehensive education
reforms in a generation, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.This
legislation is ushering in a new era of accountability, flexibility, local
control, and more choices for parents, affirming our Nation�s fundamental
belief in the promise of every child.
By the end of George
Washington's first term, and much to his dismay, two political parties were
emerging from the one. He retired at the end of his second term worn
weary from politics, and in his Farwell Address, he urged his countrymen to
'forswear excessive party
spirit and geographical distinctions.'
Two hundred and ten years later, and Washington's fears have been realized. Although the two prominent parties, Democratic and Republican, seem to agree more often than disagree on core issues, the parties are very clearly divided on sensitive issues, such as abortion, gay and minority rights, and the mingling of religion and politics.
Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying "There are good men and bad men of all nationalities, creeds and colors; and if this world of ours is ever to become what we hope some day it may become, it must be by the general recognition that the man's heart and soul, the man's worth and actions, determine his standing."
Many of us have admired a President's successes, believing we would have done the same if we were in their shoes, and many of us have been disappointed by a President's failures, knowing we would have done better if given the opportunity. It takes a strong and courageous individual to run for the office of President. But just what is that elusive trait that one must possess to actually become President? And do the presidential candidates of 2008 have what it takes? George Washington's sound advice? "I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man."
What are the top 10 Presidential Qualities and which Presidents possessed them while in office?
C-SPAN conducted a Survey of Presidential Leadership, as the last piece of the puzzle of their American Presidents series, which ran for a year. Historians and viewers were invited to participate online.
The survey rated 10 qualities of presidential leadership, which were established by an advisory team, including Public Persuasion, Crisis Leadership, Economic Management, Moral Authority, International Relations, Administrative Skills, Relations with Congress, Vision/Setting Agenda, Pursued Equal Justice For All, and Performance Within Context of Times. The survey was sent to approximately 90 historians and presidential experts who had already been participating in the American Presidents series and the same survey was also made available to viewers online.
So which past
President was the least 'Presidential' and which seemed to be born to play
the part effortlessly? Read the survey below and find out how well
your favorite past President scored.
Are You a Donkey or an Elephant? Or rather, are you a Die-Hard Democrat or a Staunch Republican?
The folks at
PoliticalHumor.com have devised a quiz to pinpoint your political Id.
Could you be a closet Republican voting as a Democrat? Or are you a
true-blue Democrat? Is there a chance you're a Democrat in Republican
clothing? Or are you a red-blooded Republican? Take the quiz below and find out!
a certain sense, and to a certain extent, he [the president] is the
representative of the people. He is elected by them, as well as congress
is. But can he, in the nature [of] things, know the wants of the people,
as well as three hundred other men, coming from all the various
localities of the nation? If so, where is the propriety of having a
"The President is merely
the most important among a large number of public servants. He
should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is
warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or
inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to
the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that
there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and
this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does
wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an
American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there
must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by
the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile,
but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the
truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even
more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him
than about any one else."
"A year ago, my approval rating was in the 30s, my nominee for the Supreme Court had just withdrawn, and my Vice President had shot someone. Ahhh, those were the good old days." - President Bush
"The president is
really sorry he couldn't be here tonight. ... His book club is meeting." -
Vice President Cheney
have had other offers. But, frankly, Jay, when you refuse to
do nude scenes, it really cuts down on the opportunities.
... I just want to clarify. I have no plans to do a nude
scene. I have no intention to do a nude scene. I don't
expect to do a nude scene. But I haven't made a Shermanesque
statement about it."
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