While all of the American presidents served our nation in their own
way, some had the ...
I. Washington (precedents)
Term of Office: 1789-1797
George Washington established the presidency as a
combination of dign...
III. Thomas Jefferson (strict constructionist, ironies of power)
Term of Office: 1801-09
Coming to office on a sweep of po...
VII. Andrew Jackson (populist, veto use, conflict w/ Congress, states’ rights)
Term of Office: 1829-37
Being the first pre...
X. John Tyler
Term of Office: 1841-45 Put on the ticket to provide youth and political experience,
Tyler expected, like mo...
XVI. Lincoln (overuse of power?)
Term of Office: 1861-65 Following the call of many Whigs, Lincoln joined the new
XVII. Johnson (Congressional domination, impeachment):
Term of Office: 1865-69 Johnson from the beginning had to...
XVIII. Ulysses S. Grant (corruption and a weakened presidency)
Term of Office: 1865-69 Enjoying a Republican dominated nat...
XXVI. T. Roosevelt (modern liberal, re-escalation of power)
Term of Office: 1901-09 Like many VP’s of the past, ...
XXXII. FDR (economic interference, WWII, term limitation)
Term of Office: 1933-45 Possibly the best American pre...
XXXIII. Truman (keeping modern presidency, intra (1948), inter-party, Korea)
Term of Office: 1945-53 After ending WWII wit...
XXXV. Kennedy (Cold War, diplomatic, de-centralized administration)
Term of Office: 1961-63 Bringing optimism and youth to...
XXXVII. Nixon (Change politics, centralized power, Watergate)
Term of Office: 1969-74 Nixon began the switch of the South ...
XXXVIII. Ford/Carter (Positively Active, yet Interpreted as Weak)
Term of Office: 1974-77 Inflation was occurring due to s...
XXXIX. Ford/Carter (Positively Active, yet Interpreted as Weak)
Term of Office: 1977-81 Carter ran as an outsider and refu...
XL. Reagan (Change politics, populist)
Term of Office: 1981-89 Finally, someone brought out the silent majority ...
XLII. Clinton (Populist, middle ground, Congress, impeachment)
Term of Office: 1993-01
Wishing to deflate the “liberal is ...
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President reading 2015 general

Weak and strong presidents basic.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Published in: Education      

Transcripts - President reading 2015 general

  • 1. 2015 TheStrongandtheWeak Presidents While all of the American presidents served our nation in their own way, some had the gift of pulling our nation together, keeping law and order, leading by example and facilitating growth and prosperity. How would you classify the presidents? Are they strong or weak? Titusville Area School District Mr. Fredrick Smith American Government 302 East Walnut Street Titusville, PA 16354
  • 2. I. Washington (precedents) Term of Office: 1789-1797 George Washington established the presidency as a combination of dignity and professionalism without being royalty. Selecting a wide variety of cabinet members, Washington realized that he had limited knowledge of the law and politics, so he wanted advisors that were experts in these fields. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton were of opposing opinions about the extent of the government. Jefferson felt that the government should restrain itself to what the Constitution said and use a strict interpretation. Alexander Hamilton on the other hand believed that the Constitution was a loose framework and that Washington and Congress should use its elastic clauses to make legislation and agencies according to the situation at hand. Washington would listen to both sides, but would usually side with Hamilton. One important case involved the First Bank of America. The Constitution laid out framework for taxes and a budget, but never specified where the money should be kept. Hamilton wanted to create a government bank that would collect, hold, and distribute government money. Jefferson opposed this because a bank is never mentioned in the Constitution. Washington recommended the bank, and it was established. This created a rift that would later cause Jefferson to leave the Cabinet. Washington also used military might to crush the Whiskey Rebellion (although violence was not needed). When the French Revolution broke out, many, including Jefferson, wanted to aid the revolutionaries to “further liberty.” Washington declared the nation’s neutrality in this event and the following war between Britain and France. Jay’s Treaty was signed with Britain to tie up loose ends left after the Revolution. Americans in general found the treaty appalling and Washington’s popularity suffered. Still popular enough to be reelected, he left after two terms by giving his Farewell Address which warned against entangling alliances with other nations and political divisions, which he saw between his former Cabinet members. Farwell Address: “In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as a matter of serious concern, that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies and heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection….” Preceded By: None State of Residence: VA Spouse: Martha Washington Political Party: None VP(s): John Adams Analysis: 2
  • 3. III. Thomas Jefferson (strict constructionist, ironies of power) Term of Office: 1801-09 Coming to office on a sweep of popularity, Jefferson decided to reel back the government. Leading the opposition of the Federalists, he laid off government workers, soldiers, and sailors (even the Attorney General’s secretary was fired). Cutting back on the budget, he eliminated the deficit and cut back on the national debt. Believing that government was a necessary evil, Jefferson believed that individual rights and protecting even the most unpopular opinions was important for the young nation. Passing the Judiciary Act of 1801, the Congress wished to define a size and structure of the court system, and correct for Adams’s court packing. Reelected with high popularity, the president had to decide on two major issues that conflicted with his principles. The Barbary Pirates of the Northern African Coast had been harassing American shipping since it was no longer under the protection of the British. A small squadron of frigates (small and navigable battleships) sailed to the coast and defeated the pirates. This required building up the military for use other than defending the borders without officially declaring war. Diplomats were also sent to France to discuss the occupation of New Orleans. Jefferson wanted the city signed over by treaty so American merchants could use the Mississippi River. Napoleon was low on funds (due to his warlike nature) and offered to sell all of the Louisiana Purchase for fifteen million dollars. The diplomats agreed and went back to DC to get the approval of the president. Jefferson was unsure what to do. Land purchases were not in the Constitution and it would increase the debt again. The pros of buying the land were numerous. Increased natural resources, property for a growing population, and keeping the land out of foreign hands were all benefits. He decided to go ahead with the deal. French and British navies had been harassing American shipping and impressing (forcing people to serve) sailors. Jefferson retaliated by creating the Embargo Act of 1807 that forbade trade with France and Britain in particular. This hurt American merchants and Jefferson’s popularity declined. Reflecting his disliking for strong central power, Jefferson’s acknowledgements of his life accomplishments on his gravestone did not include his presidency. "It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political..." - First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 Preceded By: Adams State of Residence: VA Spouse: Martha Jefferson Political Party: Dem-Rep VP(s): Aaron Burr, George Clinton Analysis: 3
  • 4. VII. Andrew Jackson (populist, veto use, conflict w/ Congress, states’ rights) Term of Office: 1829-37 Being the first president from west of the Appalachians, and not connected to the elite circle of Revolutionaries, Jackson brought many friends to advise him (called the Kitchen Cabinet). Even his Inaugural Party was filled with farmers, hunters, trappers, and other frontiersman. Modeling himself after the conservative Jefferson, Jackson attempted to roll back the government. The First Bank had expired and had been reestablished as the Second Bank of America. Jackson charged that the bank was a friend of the rich and foreign investors so he vetoed its renewal. Nationalist projects like building roads and bridges were seen as benefiting businessmen, not the average person. He vetoed more legislation than all previous presidents combined. While attempting to cut back on the bureaucracy, the positions the president kept were filled with personal friends and supporters of his campaign. The phrase “to the victor belong the spoils” marked this spoils system of hiring. Tariffs were raised to help increase revenues for the national government (which helped eliminate almost all debt). South Carolina objected to the revenues because Southerners had to import many goods since there were few factories there. The state declared that the nation was still a confederation and they had a right to nullify or void any national law like the tariff. Despite supporting states’ rights and expanding more voting rights to the people, Jackson surprisingly asked Congress for a Force Bill that would have allowed him to use the military to enforce the Tariffs in South Carolina, and invade the entire state if they seceded from the Union over this issue. This put him at odds with the first term vice president, John Calhoun (who supported the nullification). Jackson also authorized the Indian Removal Act which forced the Native Americans of the South, especially Georgia, to leave for reservations in modern Oklahoma. Ironically the Cherokee (the largest tribe removed) had adopted European culture and had helped Jackson win the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 (which boosted him to national fame). Congress, now under control of the Whigs (the opposition party) attempted to censure (official statement saying someone is doing wrong) and weaken him due to their anger over his many vetoes. Jackson remained very popular with the people by pressuring states to lax age and land owning requirements for voting and by proving that a self- educated frontiersman could become president. He also secured the Democratic Party by using political organizations in cities and rural regions to press people to vote for the party candidates. Bank Veto Message, 1832 – “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes…but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages …to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society–the farmers, mechanics, and laborers–who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.” Preceded By: Adams State of Residence: TN Spouse: Rachel Jackson Political Party: Dem VP(s): John Calhoun, Martin Van Buren Analysis: 4
  • 5. X. John Tyler Term of Office: 1841-45 Put on the ticket to provide youth and political experience, Tyler expected, like most vice-presidents, to do nothing. William Henry Harrison had been president for only one month. He had caught a cold at his inauguration and lay sick and dying for weeks. No one was sure as to what would happen upon his death. Vice President John Tyler had been selected to run with Harrison to pick up Southern votes. He was such a secondary figure that he didn’t even stay in Washington for the inauguration, retiring to his home in Williamsburg, Virginia, twenty – one hours away. Daniel Webster, the secretary of state, decided that Tyler should become president, largely to serve as a figurehead, whom the cabinet would control. John Quincy Adams didn’t think that Tyler was suited for the highest office, seeing it as testing the constitution by “a man never thought of for it (being president) by anyone.” Most people thought that Tyler would be the “vice president acting president.” When Harrison died, the cabinet issued the news and sent a letter to “John Tyler, Vice President of the United States.” He arrived in the capital and met with them at Brown’s Indian Queen Hotel. The cabinet said that all matters of state would be brought before the entire cabinet and would be decided by a majority vote; Tyler would have but one vote. They would become the chief executive by fiat. Tyler said that he believed that the power had “devolved” to him and he would be the president. Tyler was determined to show that he was a power and had Judge William Cranch, chief of the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, swear him in. Knowing that possession is nine – tenths of the law, Tyler took over the White House and the presidency. It was a done deal. Even after being kicked out of his own party, and treated as if he was diseased by the Democrats, Tyler existed as a weaned executive. Tyler vetoed almost all of the Whig agenda once taking on the presidential role. His Whig cabinet eventually quit except for Daniel Webster, his Secretary of State (who wanted to finish the Webster – Ashburton Treaty with England). Tyler tried to connect with the Democrats by appointing John Calhoun his next Secretary of State, but it failed. Tyler spent most of his presidency being called “His Accidency.” Tyler’s support of states’ rights gave him moderate support in the South, but virtually none in the North. He actively advocated for the annexation of Texas at the end of his term. Preceded By: William Henry Harrison State of Residence: VA Spouse: Letitia Tyler Political Party: Whig VP(s): Vacancy Analysis: 5
  • 6. XVI. Lincoln (overuse of power?) Term of Office: 1861-65 Following the call of many Whigs, Lincoln joined the new Republican Party to oppose spreading slavery to the new territories of the West. Lincoln beat his former Senate campaign rival, Stephen Douglas and two other major candidates without winning a single Southern state. This proved to the South that their voice wasn’t heard. President James Buchanan sat idly by while the Lower South seceded. When Lincoln took office he ordered all forts to stay occupied by Union troops no matter what. Fort Sumter ran out of supplies and was attacked by the South, triggering the Upper South to leave the Union as well. Many believed that the slave states that stayed with the Union (Border States) did so out of loyalty. Actually, it was because Kentucky was placed under martial law, the secessionist members of the Maryland Legislature were placed under arrest, and an uprising was supported by Lincoln in Missouri. Lincoln also started to accumulate resources and the size of the military without Congress’s approval. Lincoln also knew that in order for the Union to win, he must restrict the rights of those that opposed the war. He suspended habeas corpus and held many suspected anti-war protestors in prison without being charged including government officials, publishers, journalists and others. President Lincoln also threatened war with Europe if it interfered in the affairs of the USA. Leadership of the war was preferably left up to the generals, but he desperately needed a good leader for the army. Constantly firing generals, Lincoln continued believing that they were too slow and not aggressive enough. When he first read of General Ulysses S. Grant’s ability to attack and never suggest surrender, Lincoln knew he had found his commander. Grant from then on controlled the army and most of the war effort. Lincoln also issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in the territories still controlled by the Confederacy. He did not free slaves in the border states or in Confederate territory that had been conquered by the Union. This was considered a military decision to weaken the labor market in the South, to encourage a slave revolt, and to prove to the rest of the world that this was a war to end slavery so other nations should keep out. Running for re-election, Lincoln did not curtail the small Northern Democratic Party from preaching a peace campaign. Despite years of what seemed like infinite bloodshed, Lincoln won his second term. Notwithstanding the actions that are negatively portrayed, Lincoln achieved what appeared to achieve an impossible task. He forged a broken nation back together and finally answered a lingering question: Should the states or federal government be in control? Lincoln did this by strengthening the Federal government and executive branch to a level it had never seen before. Understanding that the nation must eat, he also added onto the executive branch domestically by creating the Department of Agriculture. Abraham Lincoln may still be viewed as an honest and decent man, so therefore he could have been trusted with such expansive powers. Others questioned the extent at which he wished to win the war and if that type of power grab would happen again. Stress led to quick aging and an assassin’s bullet saved Lincoln from a fight with Congress over what he believed should be a peaceful Reconstruction process. Second Inaugural Address, 1864 – “On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came.” Preceded By: James Buchanan State of Residence: IL Spouse: Mary Lincoln Political Party: Rep VP(s): Hannibal Hamlin, Andrew Johnson 6
  • 7. Analysis: XVII. Johnson (Congressional domination, impeachment): Term of Office: 1865-69 Johnson from the beginning had to tackle the task of becoming a replacement president. A conservative Democrat, Johnson hated the rich plantation owners who controlled the South and viewed secession as traitorous. He loved the rest of the Southerners though and was himself a racist. After the assassination of Lincoln, Johnson decided to readmit the Southern states and excuse all Southerners except the wealthy elite. Conservative state legislatures and representatives to DC were elected and refused to officially rescind their secessionist past or abolish slavery. Radical Republicans, a group that was a minority, but had a loud voice, protested and refused to recognize the Southern representatives when Congress convened. Johnson then vetoed the Freedmen’s Bureau and Civil Rights legislation, and spoke out against the 14th amendment. Johnson attempted to campaign around the West for his ideals, but he was such an offensive speaker that he actually cost conservative and moderate Congressmen their seats in the next election. Radicals increased their seats and passed the Tenure of Office Act which forced the president to keep the current Cabinet unless he had the Senate’s approval to fire them. Radicals called an emergency session to implement a military-ruled reconstruction and to oversee Johnson. Secretary Edwin Stanton, who always spoke his mind in an ineloquent way, soon irked Johnson into firing him. The House then impeached Johnson on violating the Tenure of Office Act. Agreeing to support the Radical’s plan for reconstruction and keep his mouth shut, he escaped removal in the Senate. The consequences were a diluted presidency and the frivolous use of impeachment that would not be used again for over a century. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens, prosecuting Johnson, 1868 - “The President justifies himself by asserting that all previous Presidents had exercised the same right of removing officers…a law had been passed by Congress, after a stubborn controversy with the Executive, denying that right and prohibiting it in the future, and imposing a severe penalty upon any executive officer who should exercise it…Did he take care that this law should be faithfully" executed?” Preceded By: Abraham Lincoln State of Residence: TN Spouse: Eliza Johnson Political Party: Rep VP(s): Vacancy Analysis: 7
  • 8. XVIII. Ulysses S. Grant (corruption and a weakened presidency) Term of Office: 1865-69 Enjoying a Republican dominated nation and a war record (called the “bloody shirt or flag”), Grant continued his public service in the White House, easily winning election. Grant might have excelled as a general and graduated from West Point, but he had limited political, diplomatic, administrative, or financial skills. Failed as a businessmen several times, Grant was no better with his own finances. Grant trusted his shifty friends who became his closest advisors. Keeping troops in the South during Reconstruction, Grant failed to use them effectively to protect African-Americans and stop organizations like the KKK from terrorizing them. Numerous scandals broke out that included everyone from his own personal secretary to the Cabinet. Bribes were taken for the sale of Native American land, millions of dollars in taxes were stolen, and Grant (while not involved in the scandals) refused to believe that his friends would do such things and pardoned some of them. Grant would often escape to a nearby hotel where politicians would chase him down to ask favors in the lobby. He would refer to them as “those damn lobbyists (maybe where we get the term from today).” Reconstruction of the South did continue though, Colorado would be admitted as a state, the Fifteenth Amendment would be passed, some prosecutions of Klan leaders would take place, and Grant signed a voters’ rights bill into law. Grant left the presidency relieved, overworked, and poor. Due to his reliance on friends for advisors instead of traditional party leaders, the Republicans (particularly the liberal Radicals) were weakened. The presidency also enjoyed a steady decline in dominance as the twentieth century approached. Preceded By: Andrew Johnson State of Residence: TN Spouse: Julia Boggs Grant Political Party: Rep VP(s): Henry Wilson, Schuyler Colfax 8
  • 9. Analysis: XXVI. T. Roosevelt (modern liberal, re-escalation of power) Term of Office: 1901-09 Like many VP’s of the past, TR or Teddy as he was sometimes called, was supposed to be silenced by being made the second chair of the nation. Progressive, idealistic, young, and brash were all words to describe this popular force from New York. Upon McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt put his own brand on the presidency and rebuilt the presidency to the power that Lincoln had left it three and a half decades earlier. Intelligent and lusting to learn, Roosevelt read constantly and kept many advisors to discuss different subjects. Knowing that big business sometimes was beneficial to the people, Roosevelt did allow some trusts or monopolies to continue to exist. Those that proved more harmful than helpful were busted to pieces. Favoring organized labor, Roosevelt became the first White House friend of the unions, although he was willing to limit them if their strikes crippled the nation's economy. Popular throughout the USA, he easily won election on his own. Continuing to embolden the executive branch, he helped negotiate a peace in the Russo-Japanese War, earning himself a Nobel Peace Prize and a place in international politics for the USA. Roosevelt built on the Monroe Doctrine by adding his own phrase; “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Trumping American influence in the Western Hemisphere, Roosevelt encouraged Panamanians to revolt from Columbia, after the latter country refused to let the USA build the Panama Canal. The new nation of Panama became a partner in the American owned and built canal. Encouraging domestic building, the president established the Newland Reclamation Act to build dams to provide rural areas with water. Regulating bad products for the first time became an acceptable political issue. Signing the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act (after reading The Jungle), Roosevelt cleaned up American foods and medicines. Roosevelt had served with Native and African-Americans in the Spanish-American War. Opposed to racism, he had ended school segregation in New York while governor, invited black community leader Booker T. Washington to the White House for dinner (a first for blacks), and spoke openly against racism. He toned this down though after rioting occurred throughout the South. Environmental conservation was also on the mind of the avid hunter. After all, if all animals were killed off, what would we hunt? The president (sometimes with executive orders and not Congress) started five National Parks and many wildlife refuges. Deciding to follow the two term tradition, Roosevelt did not run a second time. Cabinet member William Taft ran as his successor and won. Disappointed with Taft’s conservativeness (more likely that Taft did not do what Roosevelt wanted), TR attempted to take the Republican nomination; instead he just split the Republican vote, giving Wilson the win. Preceded By: William McKinley State of Residence: New York Spouse: Edith Roosevelt Political Party: Rep VP(s): Henry Wilson, Schuyler Colfax 9
  • 10. Analysis: XXXII. FDR (economic interference, WWII, term limitation) Term of Office: 1933-45 Possibly the best American president or world leader of the twentieth century, FDR led the nation through the Great Depression and WWII. A generation of Americans grew up, knowing no other president. Elected after the Great Depression started, Roosevelt brought something that alluded Hoover; optimism! His First One Hundred Days were ripe with legislation and programs of the New Deal. Public Works, Community programs, and many more ambitious solutions were created to get the nation out of the Depression. Some progress was made, but it was reversed again in the last half of the thirties. Despite that, Americans reelected him repeatedly. He brought together the New Deal coalition. Never before had the saying “politics make strange bedfellows” been more true. Southern conservatives, intellectuals (Brain Trust), African- Americans, Catholics, Jews, Unions, and Liberal Farmers all came together to support him. One mistake he made was after the Supreme Court kept declaring his economic interventions unconstitutional. He wanted to add more seats to the court so he could nominate more men with his ideals. Congress rejected the idea. The Supreme Court though soon changed its tone and stopped voiding his programs. He then started the Lend-Lease Act that helped supply Britain and the USSR at the start of WWII. Roosevelt galvanized the nation on 12/7/41. Quickly the nation’s military was pushed into war mode and so was the economy. Roosevelt left much battle planning to his generals and admirals, but helped plot diplomatic efforts with the USSR and made major war decisions like concentrating on one theatre at a time (Europe first), winning the war then solving the social problems of Europe like the Holocaust, and developing the atom bomb. Roosevelt did check on his favorite generals, and although appearing meddling, usually gave them what they wanted. Roosevelt’s death shocked the nation and the world. A stroke took the life of this polio stricken man. Few knew the fragile health of the man. Mistakes included Japanese internment of a people that never committed any acts of treason, the Yalta Conference which gave too much trust to the USSR, and ignoring the discrimination of many in Germany before the war, just to name a few. Despite these miscalculations historians place Roosevelt close to Lincoln and Washington at the top of the list of our great leaders. First Inaugural Address, FDR, 1933 – ” This is a day of national consecration. And I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Preceded By: Herbert Hoover State of Residence: New York Spouse: Eleanor Roosevelt Political Party: Dem VP(s): Harry S. Truman, Henry A. Wallace, John Nance Garner Analysis: 10
  • 11. XXXIII. Truman (keeping modern presidency, intra (1948), inter-party, Korea) Term of Office: 1945-53 After ending WWII with the decision to drop the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, Truman was under pressure from conservatives to end all New Deal programs and return the reigns of the government over to Congress. Truman refused, partially because a majority of Americans were Democrats and wanted the programs to continue. Truman was also under assault from the more liberal wings of the party for not expanding social programs. China collapsed to communism, which Truman and the blame fell to Turman. He had not intended to let Korea go the same way. Unions began striking again since WWII was over, but it came in a flood. Too many strikes led to anti-union feeling among the rest of the populous, especially due to some clever advertising by corporations like GM. With the bogdown in cooperation in 1946, Republicans took control of Congress for the first time since 1930. Eager to reel the nation back, Senator Taft of Ohio led the charge to conservative pastures. Unfortunately for Taft, he misunderstood the nation’s mood. They were tired of the bickering, not social programs, which is why they elected Republicans. The Taft-Hartley Act was passed to roll back union cooperation with Democrats, making political contributions from dues illegal and permission to start “right to work” states where individuals had the right to drop out of the union among other things. Truman tried to veto, but it was overridden when Republicans combined with Southern Democrats. With a sagging approval rating, Truman’s bid for election looked grim. When he talked about Civil- rights, the South jumped the DNC in 1948 and formed the Dixiecrats or States’ Rights Party. Liberals were tired of a lack of expanding federal power and programs, so they formed the Progressive Party. Republicans, realizing they had miscalculated the need for a conservative voice in the government, nominated moderate Governor of New York Thomas Dewey. Pollsters and politicians alike predicted a Dewey landslide. Dewey was so confident he decided not to campaign that much. When he did, he used vague slogans like “move forward, come with me to the future.” Truman stumped the country making hundreds of speeches. One man so surprised by the president’s enthusiasm yelled out “Give em’ hell Harry!” which stuck with the campaign. Many, including newspapers that already printed the next day’s headlines, thought Dewey had won election- night. Truman not only defeated a popular Republican, but a three way party split, and took back both houses of Congress. This was mostly due to when he campaigned it was against the “do nothing Congress,” not against Dewey. Truman then pushed forward with winning the Korean War, sending the first advisors to Vietnam, desegregated the military, pushed forward Civil Rights (limited), established NATO, helped mold the UN, and the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plans helped rebuild the world to stop communism. The Fair Deal at home sought to raise the minimum wage, push for full employment, and eliminate slums which outraged conservatives. As Korea dragged, so did his approval rating. Truman decided not to run for reelection. Preceded By: Franklin D. Roosevelt State of Residence: New York Spouse: Elizabeth “Bess” Truman Political Party: Dem VP(s): Alben W. Barkley Analysis: 11
  • 12. XXXV. Kennedy (Cold War, diplomatic, de-centralized administration) Term of Office: 1961-63 Bringing optimism and youth to the presidency, liberal Kennedy barely inched by Nixon in 1960. Public admiration grew for the president and his Camelot White House. The first Catholic elected cast light on minorities as he openly talked about supporting Civil Rights and extending anti-poverty programs of the New Deal. JFK was secretly worried about making Southern Democrats mad and it was unknown if these ideas were all just talk on behalf of the more liberal Attorney General Robert Kennedy. The Bay of Pigs (that was planned under Eisenhower) was a disaster, and Kennedy took the blame. Air support was never ordered for the returning Cubans that were trying to take over their homeland with American help. Trying to make peace in the Cold War, Kennedy was afraid of looking soft on communism and he began sending aides to Vietnam to help build a southern democratic resistance. Supplying the Soviet blocked Berlin, and blockading missiles from being placed in Cuba, were strong points against the Reds. Constantly surrounded by various aides Kennedy relied on others to help make decisions, although his own vigor in learning proved him an intelligent and deserving president. Most Americans remember him as a great president, but many historians are reluctant to judge him, since he had so little time in office. Inaugural Address, JFK, 1961: “We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage — and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world… And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man…Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking his blessing and his help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.” Preceded By: Dwight D. Eisenhower State of Residence: Massachusetts Spouse: Jacquelyn Kennedy Political Party: Dem VP(s): Lyndon B. Johnson Analysis: 12
  • 13. XXXVII. Nixon (Change politics, centralized power, Watergate) Term of Office: 1969-74 Nixon began the switch of the South from the Democratic to Republican column. He promised not to push Civil Rights. Breaking the Democratic machine, Nixon won the presidency, and would begin his term at the end of the “American Century” (Economic prosperity after WWII). Despite building his career on anti-Communism and accusing opponents as being Red sympathizers, he formed alliances with China and the USSR, and chose to ignore Cuba. Pulling troops out of Vietnam, Nixon claimed that there was “peace with honor.” This came only after massive bombing campaigns of North Vietnam. Withdrawing brought criticism from the Democrats that it was too little, too late, and that the bombing just stalled the peace talks. Republicans charged that we were leaving communists to run rampant. Most Americans were relieved that the war was over though. Controlling every major decision and materials that flowed through the White House, he did not trust anyone, not even the Republican National Committee. Forming the Committee to RE-Elect the President or CREEP, Nixon intended to have full control over everything. Staff members of CREEP spied on Democratic opponents and broke into DNC headquarters at the Watergate Hotel to look at papers and plant bugs (even though Nixon was extremely popular and re-electable). Washington Post reporters discovered the Watergate break in, combined with a presidential cover- up. Resigning before impeachment due to public/party pressure and revelation of tapes of Oval Office discussions of the Watergate cover-up, Nixon refused to admit wrongdoing and claimed a lack of knowledge about the break in. Economic collapse toward the end of his term due to instability would lead his approval rating and reputation to atrocious levels. Historians rate him as one of our worst presidents because of the corrupt nature of his administration. After his funeral, decades later, historians chose to reconsider. Many remembered a prosperous economy during most of his tenure and that peaceful tasks were achieved and followed by despicable “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Preceded By: Lyndon B. Johnson State of Residence: California Spouse: Thelma (Pat) Nixon Political Party: Rep VP(s): Gerald Ford, Spiro Agnew Analysis: 13
  • 14. XXXVIII. Ford/Carter (Positively Active, yet Interpreted as Weak) Term of Office: 1974-77 Inflation was occurring due to spending on Vietnam and OPEC increasing oil prices. Once Vietnam was over, companies that were once working for the Department of Defense now had to cut back, and we saw high unemployment. Federal Reserve Chairman Volker was unable to create an immediate remedy to the situation. Ford was unable to work with the Democratic majority due to his fiscal conservativeness. Thinking that he was healing the nation, Ford pardoned Nixon for all possible crimes. There were rumors that a deal had been made between himself and the former president. Meanwhile it appeared that he was socially liberal and that displeased most Republicans. Ford appeared to bumble everything from economy to foreign policy. He did not want to appear overbearing or power hungry (opposite from Nixon) which left a power vacuum. Barely re-nominated by his own party, he lost to Georgian Governor Jimmy Carter in 1976. Preceded By: Richard Nixon State of Residence: Michigan Spouse: Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Ford Political Party: Rep VP(s): Nelson Rockefeller Analysis: 14
  • 15. XXXIX. Ford/Carter (Positively Active, yet Interpreted as Weak) Term of Office: 1977-81 Carter ran as an outsider and refused to get inside the “corrupt DC scene” to help straighten the country out. Using optimism and alternative solutions to problems, Carter’s folksiness and lifestyle changes (like wearing a sweater instead of using energy to stay warm) did not appeal to voters in 1980. He toned down celebrations and ceremonies because they seemed snobbish, not because he disliked them. Americans at first liked his down-home nature, but then realized they wanted a leader, not a neighbor to run the country. Three events helped shape the image of President Carter. Carter gave and aging and expensive Panama Canal back to its home country which made it seem like he was appeasing foreigners. A nuclear crisis at the Three Mile Island Plant in Pennsylvania was one of his highpoints. He visited the site immediately afterward and used his experience as a nuclear naval officer to help calm the public. Lastly, the religious government of Iran looked the other way while students stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and took hostages. Both a military rescue and early negotiations failed. The Iranians eventually freed the hostages, but waited until the day Carter left office to give them back just to spite him. An extremely moral man that was ironically not brutal enough like Nixon to end America’s problems, appeared to be one of our best, but was our worst. Crisis of Confidence, Jimmy Carter, 1979 – “The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America. The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else -- public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own. Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past. In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose. The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world. As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning. These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.” Preceded By: Gerald Ford State of Residence: Georgia Spouse: Eleanor Rosalynn Carter Political Party: Dem VP(s): Walter Mondale 15
  • 16. Analysis: XL. Reagan (Change politics, populist) Term of Office: 1981-89 Finally, someone brought out the silent majority of Americans to a roar. Openly opposed to big government, social programs, taxes, overzealous civil rights, and environmentalism, this Republican king would seize the American heart. Increased conservatism swept (especially religious) into the party and Congress. Using an increased military budget to scare off Communism in 3rd world countries, Reagan also used spending to bankrupt the USSR out of existence, and eventually caused the Cold War to come to an end. Ending political weakness, Reagan restored some strength to the presidency and retained the fancy ceremonies that his two predecessors thought were snobbish. Reagan invoked them again so that every American admired and wanted to be president. Speaking of back breaking government agencies and regulations, Reagan focused blame of the economic recession in the early eighties on the federal government (ironically that’s what he was in charge of as president). Populism and great speaking skills allowed him to remain popular even through it was a hands-off presidency. Reagan once scolded an aide for waking him in the middle of the night over a national security issue involving a dogfight between an American and an enemy’s jet and said to only bother him if it was “important.” Some unskilled advisors from Reagan’s circle of friend were also brought to second level cabinet positions. Failing to balance the budget or really even cut the government, Reagan’s utmost task of reeling in the “monster,” was unsuccessful. Debt increased more than ever. Toward the end of his second term, he did become more moderate, but seemingly less sharp in the mind. Vague illegal activity in the Iran-Contra Scandal became sticky when Reagan “forgot” about specific plans of selling weapons for hostage trading and the blame fell to messengers lower in the food chain. These factors led to a declining approval rating, but still high enough for a “third term” through his successor and vice-president; George HW Bush. History would remember most of all, the optimism and humor that brought us out of the dismal seventies. Various Quotes, Ronald Reagan 1981-1989 – • "Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. And recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his." • "I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency -- even if I'm in a Cabinet meeting." • "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" • “…you know there is a ten year delay in the Soviet Union for the delivery of an automobile. And only one out of seven families in the Soviet Union own automobiles. There is a 10 year wait, and you go through quite a process when you are ready to by, and then you put up the money in advance… This man laid down the money, and the fellow in charge said to him: Come back in 10 years and get your car… The man answered: Morning or afternoon? And the fellow behind the counter said: Ten years from now, what difference does it make? And he said: Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.” • “…the story about the two fellows in the Soviet Union who were walking down the street and one of them says: Have we really achieved full communism? Is this it? Is this now full communism? The other one said: Oh no, things are gonna get a lot worse.” Preceded By: Jimmy Carter State of Residence: California Spouse: Nancy Reagan Political Party: Rep VP(s): George H. W. Bush Analysis: 16
  • 17. XLII. Clinton (Populist, middle ground, Congress, impeachment) Term of Office: 1993-01 Wishing to deflate the “liberal is evil” label and bringing the party closer to the middle, were two of Clinton’s goals. This saxophone player took on favored conservative measures that were popular with the public. Welfare reform, school uniforms, not allowing gays to serve in military openly, keeping marriage traditions, bombing Iraq occasionally, reforming affirmative action, balancing the budget, and cutting government were all unusual for a Democrat. To please the left of his party he stood firm for pro-choice voters, refused to destroy welfare or affirmative action, sought to allow gays to serve secretly in military, appointed two very liberal justices to the Supreme Court, helped protect the Muslim minority in Kosovo, and increased funding to Department of Education. Some say the party had lost its liberal roar; others say it was necessary to win elections. Clinton made most of these changes after the Democrats lost control of Congress and was threatened with being a lame duck president after only two years in office. His presidential power was once again threatened after a long investigation by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr, who released a long and documented probe of the Clintons. The only crime listed was when President Clinton testified on tape in a sexual harassment suit. He testified that he had not had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, a White House intern. Later evidence proved otherwise and it was obvious that Clinton had committed perjury. The House impeached him, but the Senate fell far short of the votes needed to remove him from office. The multi-media bashing of Clinton, the multi-million dollar investigation that only turned up perjury, the hypocritical charges by Republicans (some that had committed similar crimes and sins), and other factors caused Americans to become frustrated with Congress and the Republicans’ majority in Congress slipped. Clinton, even after he admitted he lied to the people, retained a 60% + approval rating, one of the few presidents to leave with a higher rating than what he entered with. Preceded By: George H. W. Bush State of Residence: Al Gore Spouse: Hillary Clinton Political Party: Dem VP(s): Arkansas Analysis: 17