Presentation on theme: "Get To Know Your Presidents A Look At The Men Who Make America."— Presentation transcript:
Get To Know Your Presidents A Look At The Men Who Make America
Works Cited: Kelly, Martin. The Everything American Presidents Book. Boston: Adams Media, 2007. Spignesi, Stephen. Grover Cleveland’s Rubber Jaw and Other Unexpected, Unbelievable, but All-True Facts About America’s Presidents. New York: Penguin Group, 2012.
Part I: Presidents of the “Age of Reason” O 1789-1825 O Era inspired by Enlightenment O Representative Authors: Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin O Major Historical Events: Revolutionary War, War of 1812
1: George Washington The Good: As first president, Washington set the standard for success; he worked hard to avoid any division within the nation and advocated international neutrality. The Bad: Washington’s nickname from Native Americans was “Devourer of Villages.” He was notorious for ruthless aggression against Iroquois. The Weird: Washington’s false teeth were not made out of wood; they were made out of human teeth taken from dead soldiers and attached to carved hippopotamus bone.
2: John Adams The Good: John Adams prevented a major war with France, which we likely would have lost, by virtue of shrewd diplomacy. The Bad: Adams was responsible for the “Alien and Sedition” acts, which limited freedom of speech and immigration. He also was the lawyer who DEFENDED the British soldiers responsible for the Boston Massacre! The Weird: Adams HATED Jefferson, who was his vice president. His spiteful and angry last words were “Jefferson still survives!” Weird reality is that he actually died the same day, five hours earlier!
3: Thomas Jefferson The Good: A humble president, Jefferson only ever gave two speeches: his inaugural addresses. His most important accomplishment as president was the Louisiana Purchase, where he bought the west side of our continent for 35 cents an acre. The Bad: Jefferson’s hypocrisy is well known. Despite championing man’s “inalienable rights” of life and liberty, he also owned many slaves. The Weird: Jefferson loved to read and had over 10,000 books, but he also loved to eat. Jefferson was the first person to bring French Fries to the U.S, which he called “Potatoes served in the French manner.”
4: James Madison The Good: A great foreign statesman, Madison’s most notable feat is declaring war on Britain in the war of 1812. Though the war ended in a stalemate, the US was finally free of economic dependence on Britain. The Bad: The war of 1812 was not very popular at first. Many of the southern states threatened to secede from the union due to “Mr. Madison’s War.” The Weird: Madison was a tiny man. He was only 5 feet, four inches tall and weighed only 100 pounds as president.
5: James Monroe The Good: Monroe’s presidency became known as the “Era of Good Feelings.” He was extremely popular and ran for presidency unopposed during his second term. His most famous accomplishment is the Monroe Doctrine, which said that no European power would ever expand into the Western Hemisphere. The Bad: Monroe struggled to deal with issues of race and racism in America. He was a leader in the “Send ‘Em Home” movement, which shipped 1.8 million blacks back to Africa. He named the destination “Liberia” and its capital Monrovia. It still exists. The Weird: When Monroe left the presidency, he was broke. He sold all of his slaves and all of his property to pay off his debts.
Part II: Presidents of American Romanticism O 1825-1861 O Reaction to Industrial Revolution and Enlightenment O Representative Authors: Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau O Major Historical Events: Westward Expansion of Gold Rush and Manifest Destiny
6: John Quincy Adams The Good: Almost nothing. This man was a terrible president. The Bad: He earned the presidency via scandal. His friend Henry Clay ran as a third party to keep rival Jackson from winning majority, then ceded his followers’ votes to Adams. Adams never had the support of congress or American people. The Weird: Adams swam naked in the Potomac every day. He had a pet alligator in the white house tub. He was a slob. His clothes were dirty and unwashed, and he abused his children. One killed himself, another drank himself to death.
7: Andrew Jackson The Good: Under Jackson, the U.S. Government was completely debt free for the first and ONLY time in U.S. history! The Bad: Jackson was a stern, arrogant president. His bullying of southern states is often cited as an early catalyst to the inevitable Civil War. He also was one of the cruelest presidents towards Native Americans, ordering 15,000 Cherokees to leave Georgia on the “Trail of Tears.” The Weird: Jackson had a bullet lodged near his heart for nearly 40 years due to a duel. He often coughed blood and frequently cut himself to relieve the pain.
8: Martin Van Buren The Good: Van Buren had an unremarkable presidency. The Bad: Van Buren’s presidency is primarily marked by an economic depression called “The Panic,” which resulted from Jackson’s overly strict restrictions on banks. Van Buren received much negative criticism for often hosting lavish parties during this depression. The Weird: You can thank Van Buren for the expression “okay.” He was nicknamed “Old Kinderhook” due to his hometown. It shortens to OK. His average presidency became attached to the OK abbreviation, hence its modern usage.
9: William Henry Harrison The Good: Nothing. He only was president for one month. The Bad: Nothing. He only was president for one month. The Weird: Harrison gave the longest inaugural address in history outside during a snowstorm. He became ill shortly afterwards and died of pneumonia. Many believe he was cursed for slaughtering Native Americans at Tippecanoe.
10: John Tyler The Good: As the first “successor” president, he proved that the “successor” could act with as much authority as the deposed. This was an important precedent. He also annexed Texas. The Bad: He really did not do much badly. His cabinet resigned when he took over because they only supported Harrison, but he simply replaced them all. The Weird: Tyler was a fertile fellow. He had 15 children. After being president, he joined the Confederacy during the Civil War and was buried under a confederate flag when he died.
11: James K Polk The Good: Polk is most associated with the term “Manifest Destiny,” which is the belief that it was destiny for the U.S to stretch from Atlantic to Pacific. He annexed Washington and Oregon. The Bad: Polk took the idea of Manifest Destiny very seriously; he went to war with Mexico and fought them for two years in order to gain California and Nevada. He reduced Mexico by 50% of its size. The Weird: Polk had chronic diarrhea every day of his administration as president. He also insisted on carrying around all of his money every day in a briefcase; he was afraid of banks.
12: Zachary Taylor The Good: Not much to say here. Taylor was only president for one year. Taylor was president during tension between north and south and asserted his belief that there would be no new slave states and that the south would not secede but never got the chance to prove it. The Bad: He died because he ate tainted cherries and milk in a time when food sanitation was very poor. The Weird: Taylor spoke with a stutter and spat tobacco juice all over White House carpets.
13: Millard Fillmore The Good: Fillmore was important in opening burgeoning American economic growth into eastern Asia by establishing peace with Japan. The Bad: Fillmore’s legacy will always be the deplorable Fugitive Slave Act, which required the government to return escaped slaves to their masters in the south. The Weird: Fillmore married his own high school English teacher and was the first president to establish a library in the White House.
14: Franklin Pierce The Good: Pierce purchased a large stretch of land which is now Arizona and New Mexico; this purchase completed the current boundaries of the United States. The Bad: Pierce was an ineffectual drunk whose support of Kansas-Nebraska act and proslavery sentiments may have expedited the arrival of the Civil War The Weird: Pierce was known to faint when he got nervous. He once was arrested for running over a woman while he was president. He had Tuberculosis and was frequently spitting up blood.
15: James Buchanan The Good: I cannot find anything good about this man. The Bad: His support of the Dred Scott case in which the Supreme Court ruled slaves to be property and prevented congress from excluding slavery, may have singlehandedly started the Civil War. He hung anti- abolitionist John Brown after his attack on Harper’s Ferry, and ignored Confederate violence. When he left office, the south seceded from the Union. The Weird: He was the only president to never marry; in fact, most historians agree that he was gay. He once wrote, “I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen,” and had a 23-year relationship with Pierce’s Vice President.
Part III: Presidents of American Realism O 1861-1913 O Inspired by brutality of Civil War O Representative Writers: Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, Stephen Crane O Major Historical Events: Civil War
16: Abraham Lincoln The Good: In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in Confederate states still at war. Notice: that does NOT free all slaves. Oh, and he ended the Civil War. The Bad: The reality is that the South seceded from the union because Lincoln was elected as president. He also wasn’t the humanitarian many think he was. He moved thousands of Indians from their homes to reservations in the Homestead Act. He personally oversaw the deaths of over 2,000 Indians during a variety of raids, massacres, and removals. The Weird: Abraham Lincoln was an exceptional wrestler. As a teenager, he lost only one of 300 matches. He is in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.
17: Andrew Johnson The Good: Johnson had the tough task of rebuilding America after Lincoln was killed. He did ratify the 13 th amendment, which made slavery illegal, though he apparently had slaves himself. The Bad: Not very bright and remarkably unpopular, Congress tried to impeach Johnson in 1868, but was unsuccessful by one vote. He also tried to veto the 14 th Amendment, which sought to protect the rights of southern blacks. The Weird: Johnson was a simple man. He was known for drinking, liked to go to circuses, and kept mice as pets (think Lenny from Mice and Men!)
18: Ulysses S. Grant The Good: He was good at killing people in the Civil War. The Bad: Grant’s term was marked by scandal. He appointed friends to political positions, and protected them when they were caught breaking the law. His brother was a swindler and a crook, and manipulated Grant into helping him get rich on gold schemes. He protected whiskey distillers who horded tax dollars. He allowed his friends to pocket earnings off federally funded projects. Woodrow Wilson said, “He ought never to have been President.” The Weird: Despite being a war hero, he was squeamish. Rare meat made him nauseous. He refused to eat chicken. He hated dirty jokes. He also had a strange superstition where he refused to retrace his steps.
19: Rutherford B. Hayes The Good: Hayes protected the rights of Chinese to emigrate to the United States, something Congress tried to end. He also ended Reconstruction, and boosted the U.S. economy with staunch support of hard money (demanding that all dollars be backed by Gold). The Bad: Many claim that Hayes’ removal of troops from the South was too soon, and restored White Supremacy in the south The Weird: Believe it or not, he was the first president ever to see the West Coast.
20. James Garfield The Good: He was only president for three months, but said in his Inaugural Address that “The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizen ship is the most important political change we have known.” The Bad: He really did not have the chance to do anything bad The Weird: After his election but before inauguration, Garfield complained of severe headaches and began having nightmares about being naked and lost. He was overcome with foreboding. He was assassinated after only 3 months of presidency by an obsessed rival.
21. Chester A. Arthur The Good: A cheerful, jolly president, Arthur did little of note, though he did work hard to end corruption of federal civil service, putting stronger requirements and oversight on government jobs. The Bad: Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited any Chinese people from emigrating to the United States for 10 years. The Weird: Arthur was a schoolteacher and principal before he became a politician.
22 and 24. Grover Cleveland The Good: Grover Cleveland was regarded as hard- working and tenacious. His administrations were occupied by regulation of railroad, the treasury, and tariff laws. He worked to lower national debt and decrease deficit spending. The Bad: Grover Cleveland’s second term unfortunately coincided with one of the worst economic depressions in American history. It really had little to do with Cleveland. Cleveland also signed the Dawes act, an incredibly racist document which allowed the government to manipulate Indians into giving up their lands unless they renounced their tribal allegiances. The Weird: Aside from being the only president in history to serve two nonconsecutive terms, he appeared on the now nonexistent $1,000 bill. He is beloved in Hawaii because he refused to annex the state. Weirdest, he had a jaw made of rubber after a tumor was removed.
23. Benjamin Harrison The Good: Harrison believed in everything Cleveland opposed. He imposed high tariffs to protect American industry, used the U.S. Treasury to buy up American silver productions, and spent nearly 1 billion dollars of federal money for the first time in history. The Bad: The same things that made Harrison seem desirable for Republicans made him detestable to Democrats, and his Sherman Silver Purchase Act led to the greatest Depression in American history at this time, which Cleveland had to deal with. The Weird: Benjamin Harrison is the grandson of the 9 th president, William Henry Harrison. He is the first president to have his voice recorded. He was called “Human Iceberg” because he rarely showed emotion.
25. William McKinley The Good: Always meticulously dressed and known for being incredibly polite and charming. He led America into the popular Spanish-American war of 1898, crushing hostilities and asserting control of the Philippines and Cuba. He put all U.S. Money on the Gold Standard (100% backed by gold). He also asserted an “Open Door Policy” regarding trade with China. The Bad: McKinley was assassinated in 1901 by an anarchist named Czolgosz. Czolgosz was electrocuted and had acid poured over his corpse to disintegrate it. The Weird: McKinley showed compassion for his assassin. After he was shot, he saw a group of men violently beating his assassin. He ordered, “Don’t let them hurt him.” His wife was also crazy; she refused to allow ANYTHING yellow into the White House!
26. Teddy Roosevelt The Good: Larger than life – a rambunctious, rowdy man with equal loves of reading and exercise. He memorized entire books, but also boxed and studied jiujitsu. He skinny dipped in the Potomac in the winter. He flew in a Wright Brothers plane. He hunted, fished, and fought. He was commander of the “Rough Riders” and was a hero for his bravery during combat in Cuba. He opened the Panama Canal. His “big stick” diplomacy made the United States a global authority figure. He fought corporate monopolies. He regulated the food industry for the first time. He was pretty much a boss. The Bad: I dare you to find something the most interesting president of all time did wrong. The Weird: Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when a local saloon-keeper shot him. The bullet lodged in his chest after passing through a jacket pocket containing his steel eyeglass case and a copy of his 50 page speech which had been folded in half. He declined immediate treatment and gave his 90 minute speech with blood seeping from the wound into his shirt. “Ladies and gentlemen, I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot,” Roosevelt said, “but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose.”
27. William Howard Taft The Good: Protected American business with tariff laws and antitrust policies. The Bad: Taft was smart, but was a bad politician. He made decisions without regard to his supporters and lost a great deal of support over his career, including that of Roosevelt, which killed his political future. He retired to be a teacher. The Weird: As president, Taft weighed 332 pounds. He got stuck in the white house bath tub and had to order a new one.
28. Woodrow Wilson The Good: Wilson loved speech and debate, and is regarded as one of the best presidential orators. He earned a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins. He was president of Princeton University. Ultimately, Wilson will be best remembered for his role in WW1. Wilson preached Neutrality until German submarines killed American citizens. He declared war and helped create the League of Nations after the war to encourage world peace. The war greatly strengthened American industry. He won the Nobel peace prize. The Bad: He was a terrible racist; he demanded segregation of DC streetcars, segregated the post office, and fired black government employees. The Weird He ratified the 18 th Amendment: Prohibition begins. That sir, isn’t weird; it’s crazy.
29. Warren G. Harding The Good: It would be very difficult to find anything good about Harding. Perhaps only that he died in 1923 before his term was over. The Bad: Harding’s presidency is widely regarded as the most corrupt; he appointed friends to positions of power who abused privileges and, in the worst case, diverted alcohol and drugs from Veterans hospitals to bootleggers. There is no proof that Harding profited, but plenty of proof that he was aware. He also refused to join Wilson’s League of Nations, ultimately destroying it. The Weird: He voted for prohibition, but kept the White House full of bootleg liquor. He also golfed at least twice a week. In a recent poll of Historians, Harding was voted WORST president!
30. Calvin Coolidge The Good: A quiet, witty man, Coolidge believed in limited government and restored credibility to the white house after his predecessor ruined it. He cut taxes, especially on the rich, and added to the prosperity of “roaring twenties.” The Bad: Helping the rich get richer had its consequences; corporate profits went up, but wages stayed down. Inevitably stock speculation resulted in the stock market crash two years after his presidency ended. The Weird: Calvin Coolidge had a mechanical horse installed in the white house, which he rode and pretended to be a cowboy.
31. Herbert Hoover The Good: Honest and optimistic, Hoover tried to help America get through one of its worst crisis to date. The Bad: The Great Depression destroyed America. Hoover was naïve and unwilling to grasp the severity of the situation until too late. He avoided lending government assistance to the unemployed or to businesses. The 1932 “Bonus March” of Veterans humiliated the presidency. Hoover became a symbol of the government’s ineptness and cities of homeless people became known as “Hoovervilles.” His attempt at reelection was the worst defeat in the history of any incumbent president. The Weird: In 1927, Hoover was the first president ever to appear on a TV broadcast.
Presidential Rankings (aggregated results of several surveys) Top 6: Bottom 6: 1. Abraham Lincoln 2. Thomas Jefferson 3. Franklin D. Roosevelt 4. George Washington 5. Teddy Roosevelt 6. Woodrow Wilson 38. Millard Fillmore 39. Franklin Pierce 40. Andrew Johnson 41. James Buchanan 42. Ulysses S Grant 43. Warren G Harding