I need a discussion board answered.

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You are to read Chapters 11 and 12 in the lectures that I have attached on presidents Thomas Jefferson to Ulysses Grant.You are going to choose Two of the following presidents: Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson James Polk or Abraham Lincoln read the website on your chosen presidents: Thomas Jefferson:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

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Thomas_Jefferson; Andrew Jackson:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Jackson

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;; Abraham Lincoln:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln

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and finally James Polk:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_K._Polk




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(paragraph 1) You are going to compare your TWO presidents as leaders, with their domestic policy, with their foreign policy. Remember that Polk and Lincoln were also war presidents and should be evaluated as war leaders.You are going to rate these two presidents by the following categories: High, above average, average, below average or poor.

( paragraph 2) Finally you are going to rate which of the early presidents from Washington to Grant as the best president and why.



I need about a paragraph and half (maybe a page) on this discussion.

JACKSON TO TAYLOR
The election of 1828 was turning point in American political history. It was a
repeat of the election of 1824 with John Quincy Adams facing Andrew Jackson.
Many consider this the real beginning of modern politics. This was the first
election in American history in which there were no restrictions on voting; you did
not have to be a property owner or you did not have to possess a certain amount
of money. This was the first open election and the farmers of America would take
advantage of this situation. Plus this was the first major personality election in
which voters would learn about the private lives of the candidates and would
become much more interested in their lives and their images than the real issues.
Dirty politics or mudslinging really began with this crucial election of 1828.
There were numerous stories about both candidates. And many of these stories
were true. Stories focused upon the cold personality of John Quincy Adams and
how he was such an extreme loner. Stories told of his best friend being his dog
and his nude bathing in the Potomac River. Other stories told of his problems
with his wife and his children. During his presidency, there was the purchase of a
pool table for the white house; critics called it a gaming table. They indicated that
with government funds a pleasure table was placed in the white house. One story
even called Adams a pimp and said that he arranged women for his foreign
guests.
There were many stories also about Andrew Jackson and most of these stories
were also true. It is an understatement to say that Andrew Jackson was one of
the most colorful individuals ever to run for president. There were the stories
about his smoking habits; he smoked a great deal and if he knew that you did not
like smoking, he would often blow smoke right in your face. Some called him Mr.
Chimney. There were stories about his drinking of alcohol and how he liked to
party with his friends. He was called by his friends: King Dung because he and
his friends would often fall down outside the tavern after a long evening of
drinking and roll in the horse manure. Actually he is considered the only
president to be featured on the label of a bottle of hard liquor. He is found on the
bottle of Old Hickory, bourbon whiskey. Stories told about his bad temper and
how he liked to fight and how he liked to fight duels. Stories told that he was a
womanizer and how he married a pregnant women named Rachael who was
already married and was never divorced. He was always very sensitive about this
situation and would readily fight to defend her honor. Stories circulated about his
career in the military and how he would often display a bad temper to his men.
There were many stories about his health since he had two bullets in his body
from his military career and these bullets had poisoned his system and caused
him to be very thin and to have numerous illnesses, especially constant bouts of
diarrhea. But this man Andrew Jackson appealed to the farmers-common
people- of America. He had the habits of common people and it is those common
people who elected Jackson in 1828 in what is considered the most popular
election in our history. A higher percentage of eligible voters voted in this election
than any other election in our entire history. Andrew Jackson was elected as the
most popular man ever and would leave office in 1836 as an extremely popular
president.
Was Jackson really a common man when he was elected president or was this
just an image? There is no doubt that the origins of Jackson were common and
that the habits of Jackson were common. Jackson was the first president to be
born in a log cabin in the frontier. He had little formal education and his family
was a poor farm family. He held many jobs as he was growing up and then joined
the army and rise quickly within the military. He became an Indian fighter with his
battles against the Creeks during the War of 1812; and he became a military
hero as the upset winner of the Battle of New Orleans during that same war.
When the war was over, Jackson became a successful attorney and plantation
owner. The Hermitage is the plantation home of Jackson in Tennessee. Visit his
plantation home at: http://www.hermitage.org/mans.htm He was then elected to
the senate and in 1828 was elected president of the United States. It is true that
he was wealthy when he was elected president. But he never forgot his common
origins and his common man habits kept him in touch with the common people.
He was more common than not.
Andrew Jackson was responsible for the third and last road to the white house in
our early history. His political formula that would last for years in known as the
Jackson formula. It is a four part formula that involved: a. being born in a log
cabin, b. being a farmer, c. being an Indian fighter, and d. being a military hero.
After Jackson’s election, it would be difficult being elected president without
having some part of this formula. The part of being a military hero would become
the important and longest lasting part of this formula. There would be many
military hero presidents after Jackson.
Andrew Jackson’s election in 1828 is called the rise of common people into
politics. While Jackson is considered the most popular president in our early
history, he is also the most democratic president in our early history. Jacksonian
Democracy has to do with the opening of the basic system of government to
common people. There are many examples of how the government became
more accessible to common people during the presidency of Jackson. Jackson
was elected president in 1828 by average people who voted for the first time;
other common people also came into politics. Take Davy Crockett, for example;
he is part of the Jacksonian Democracy. Here is a man from the west who had
relatively little education and yet he was elected to congress. The inauguration of
Andrew Jackson is another example of the democracy; thousands of farmers
came to Washington, D.C. to share in the victory of Jackson. This was the first
victory for farmers in our history. As Jackson gave his inaugural speech, no one
could hear what he was saying as people were yelling, ” Andy, Andy.” They
wanted to touch Jackson and get close to Jackson; they followed him into the
white house for the inaugural party and they nearly tore the white house apart.
Newspapers described the inauguration day of Andrew Jackson as being similar
to the invasion of Rome by the barbarians.
Jackson himself made policies which made the system more democratic. He
drastically expanded the spoils system and brought more average people into
government. He established a system called rotation where he took men who
had been involved in government for years and who held important positions in
government and he gave them new jobs of lesser importance as he brought his
people into government. He also created the first unofficial cabinet; this cabinet
was referred to as the kitchen cabinet, because his friends met with him in the
kitchen of the white house and gave him advice. Jackson was the most popular
of the early president and Jackson was the most democratic of the early
presidents. In fact, Jackson’s presidency may have featured the high point of
democracy in our entire history.
Jackson is referred to as a president of majority politics. He came in on a high
and he left on a high. His policies were extremely popular and they appealed to a
large number of people. There were three major policies of Jackson that
contributed to his popularity. We have already discussed the Indian policy of
Jackson. Jackson instituted the successful but tragic policy of Indian removal.
The removal of Indians from the eastern United States was a very popular policy
but a very controversial one. He changed the direction of Indian policy and his
staff members began to institute new Indian treaties of removal.
His economic policy was also extremely popular but also controversial and is
open to criticism today. Andrew Jackson had a severe dislike of banks. In 1819
during the depression he had money in a Tennessee state bank and that bank
went out of businesses. He not only disliked banks but he had an intense dislike
of bankers. When he became president he found that he had to deal with the
National Bank of the United States. This bank was initially an idea of Alexander
Hamilton to give the wealthy more control over the economy. It was a
government bank owed by both the government as well as the wealthy. It was
started under George Washington and had been rechartered in 1816. Jackson
had a real dislike of this national bank and of the director of that bank Nicholas
Biddle. Jackson even said that Biddle smelled of money.
The wealthy feared Jackson and wanted him out of office in 1832. They actually
came together under the leadership of Henry Clay from Kentucky and formed a
rival political party known as the Whig party. The Whigs were aware of Jackson’s
attitude toward banks in general and toward the National Bank in particular. They
planned to make the National Bank a campaign by getting Biddle to apply for the
renewal of the bank before the election of 1832. The recharter bill passed
congress in the summer of 1832 and this bill was vetoed by Jackson. He did it for
personal reasons and for the fact that he felt that the bank gave the wealthy too
much control of the economy. This became a major issue in the election of 1832
when Jackson faced Whig leader Henry Clay. The bank was the major issue of
the campaign but it did not stop Jackson from being elected for a second term.
Jackson now interpreted his election as a popular mandate to proceed against
the National Bank that still had four years left. He started removing federal funds
from the bank and began depositing them in select state banks. The National
Bank had been the major agent in aiding business, in stabilizing the currency,
and in curbing inflation. That institution was virtually dead and now inflation and
land speculation increased. Problems with the sale of public land led to
weakened confidence in state banks. By 1837 there were be a depression and
the economic policies of Jackson were greatly responsible for that depression.
While Jackson’s veto of the National Bank was a popular one, it was not a smart
one from an economic standpoint. But this depression would occur after Jackson
left office and it was a problem for his successor.
Jackson’s best day was president was his handing of the Nullification Crisis.
South Carolina was in the midst of a cotton depression during the presidency of
Jackson; those in South Carolina were convinced that the main reason for the
economic crisis was the high tariff sought by northern factory owners that
restricted foreign products from coming into the United States. South Carolina, in
particular, blamed the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 for their present problems. South
Carolina now passed a nullification ordinance in which the state decreed that the
national tariffs did not apply and could not be collected in South Carolina and that
the use of federal force was grounds for secession. Here we another crisis
between the federal government and the south.
Jackson’s response was strong and immediate in this nullification crisis. He
ordered the federal forts in South Carolina to be on immediate alert. He issued a
message to Congress in which he recommended a reduction in the tariff. He then
issued a Proclamation to the People of South Carolina in which he stated that
nullification was an impractical absurdity, that the sovereign and indivisible
federal government was surpreme, and that no state could refuse to obey the
laws of the land or could leave the union. Finally he stated that disunion by
armed force is treason. In South Carolina they called him “King Andy”, while
most Americans were impressed with his strong, immediate response. The crisis
ended when a compromise tariff was introduced in congress. Jackson had
become a very powerful leader during this crisis and most experts consider this
the high point of his presidency.
Jackson had come in on a high and would leave on a high. He is the sickest
president in American history and is one of the most personal and biased. Yet he
is rated the most popular and democratic president in our early history. While
some of his policies are questionable such as his Indian policy and his economic
policy, he remained the ultimate president of majority politics. Here are details on
the
life
and
presidency
of
Jackson:
http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/aj7/about/bio/jackxx.htm He gave more people
policies which they wanted. And there is no question the most impressive aspect
of his presidency was his handling of the nullification crisis. His popularity
allowed him to hand pick his successor in 1836. The Whig party nominated a
series of candidates so that the Democrats could not get a majority and so the
election would again be in the House of Representatives. The Democrats turned
to an experienced politician who was vice president during the second term of
Jackson: Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was the choice of Jackson and that was
all the farmers needed to know. Plus Van Buren pledged that he would follow the
policies of Jackson. In 1836 Van Buren was elected the 8th president of the
United States.
Martin Van Buren was known as the Little Magician for his success at power
politics. He was the first career politician to be elected president. This wealthy
man with a Dutch background was very different from Jackson and that would
hurt his presidency. Jackson was a wealthy man with common man habits; Van
Buren was a wealthy man with wealthy man habits. He did not relate well to the
common people and he was continually compared to Jackson. Davy Crockett
said it best when he said that Van Buren was as opposite to Jackson as dung is
to a diamond. But the major problem that Van Buren would face would be the
Depression of 1837. Van Buren is known in our early history as the depression
president.
The Panic or Depression of 1837 was caused by Jackson’s economic policies.
He killed the national bank and put money in state banks. The only real control
on the economy was gone and the economy went crazy. Cotton prices fell by one
half; unemployment rose along with rent, food and fuel prices. Several banks
began to close; public land sales fell. Many viewed Van Buren as being very
unsympathetic to the common people during this depression. Van Buren
resonded with an Independent Treasury System in which money would be taken
away from state banks and put in a federal government treasury system. But this
system was found to be ineffective. The effects of this depression would last
during the entire term of Van Buren as president and it would remain as his major
unsolved problem. And it would cause Van Buren to remain a below average
rated president.
The election of 1840 would again feature the evolution of modern politics. The
elections of 1800 and 1824 are similar because these were the only two elections
ever held in the House of Representatives. The elections of 1828 and 1840 were
similar in the evolution of modern politics. By the election of 1840 party lines
began to disappear; parties would now resort to tactics that would lead to victory.
The Whig Party now decided to use the Jackson Formula of the Democratic
Party. The Whigs knew that Van Buren was unpopular because of his wealthy
man habits and because of the depression. They knew that the Jackson Formula
appealed to common people so they nominated William Henry Harrison. He was
not born in a log cabin or involved with farming, but he was an Indian fighter and
military hero. He had defeated the nation of Tecumseh at the Battle of
Tippecanoe. The Whigs also decided to create a political slogan that would help
win the election: “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.” This slogan referred to the victory
of Harrison at the Battle of Tippecanoe and also referred to John Tyler from
Virginia who was attempting to get the Southern vote. The Whigs also decided to
turn this campaign into the log cabin campaign. They invented log cabins songs
and sponsored log cabin parties and men and women wore log cabin clothing
and Harrison threw parties in a large log cabin in which hard cider, the log cabin
drink was served. The Jackson Formula worked for the Whig party and in 1840
William Henry Harrison became the first Whig president in American History.
William Henry Harrison is the only non-rated early president. He wanted to give
the image of toughness, so when he went to his inauguration in weather below
zero, he wore little clothing. He also gave one of the longest inauguration
speeches in history because he spoke so slowly. He now developed a bad cold
which became pneumonia and he died in office after only one month. He had the
shortest term in our entire history. The doctors bled him and blistered him and
even used opium, but their efforts failed. Harrison is now the first president to die
in office and John Tyler of Virginia becomes the first accidental president. Refer
to this short biography of the first Whig president Harrison at:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/glimpse/presidents/html/wh9.html
Who is this John Tyler? Few Americans knew him. He would become the second
Whig president and another below average rated president. John Tyler was a
states rights Whig. This means that he stood against most of the major politics of
his party such as the restoration of the national bank and national roads and
canals. During his three years as president he constantly frustrated the politics of
his own party and members of his party even talked seriously in congress of
impeachment. The legacy of Tyler is that he weakened and split his party. Some
of his speeches clearly indicated his philosophy and policies:
http://www.intac.com/~rfrone/history/p10-jt.htm He accomplished little as
president and he is to be remembered for few decisions. One of the more
interesting facts of the Tyler presidency is that he became the first president to
marry in the White House; of course, this marriage raised many questions
because he married a woman thirty years younger than he was. There is no
question that Tyler hurt his party and caused Henry Clay, the leader of the party,
to run for president in 1844. This loss in 1844 would make Clay the only three
time loser in our early history.
The Democrats, however, really lacked a leader in 1844 and they now nominated
a political unknown called a darkhorse. After many ballots they turned to James
Polk from Tennessee. Many Americans had no idea who this Polk was, but they
were impressed with the platform of the Democratic Party. The period of the
1840s is known as the era of manifest destiny in our history; this means in simple
English that this was a period of land greed, expansion, and imperialism.
Americans wanted to expand west and the Democratic platform promised the
acquisition of the Pacific Northwest from England the acquisition of the
Southwest from Mexico. This popular platform led to the election of darkhorse
James Polk; this political unknown became one of our highest presidents in only
one term and he is one of the strongest foreign policy presidents in our early
history.
Polk is both a land president and a war president. He was a good domestic
leader and worked well with congress, but his real accomplishments lay in
foreign policy. Polk first tried to get the Pacific Northwest from England. In those
days the Pacific Northwest included the present areas of British Colombia,
Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. In 1818 the United States and
England made an agreement of joint occupancy which allowed both countries to
occupy this area. England was the country that took this agreement seriously and
set up a series of fur trading posts run by the Hudson Bay Company in this
region. The United States now had only a minor claim to this region; some
Americans lived in the region of Oregon. But this minor claim would not stop
aggressive James Polk. Polk let England know that he wanted all the Pacific
Northwest and would get it. He created the slogan: “54 40 or fight” which meant
that if they did not give us all the Pacific Northwest, we would go to war and get
it.
James Polk used the tactic of power diplomacy with England and it worked. Plus
he was a very smart negotiator. He knew that England needed American wheat;
he knew that the British fur trade in the area was in decline. And he knew that
England would not go to war for a region so far removed from England. His
power diplomacy worked and led to the Oregon Treaty of 1846. This was one of
the most successful treaties in our history. This treaty gave us the present Pacific
Northwest. We got much more of this region than we deserved and this is due to
the aggressiveness and power diplomacy of Polk.
Polk now turned to the Southwest region owed by Mexico. He thought that power
diplomacy would also work with Mexico, but Mexico was still unhappy about
losing Texas to the United States. So the Mexican government refused to
participate in negotiations. Polk now decided that war with Mexico was
necessary. He used the Texas border dispute as an excuse for war and in 1846
he became our second war president and one of our best early war president.
This Mexican War can only be explained in terms of land greed and imperialism.
We wanted land from Mexico and we felt that their military was weak, so we
decided to go to war with Mexico and to take the land. In this period of manifest
destiny, Americans supported this war of imperialism.
Polk was correct in his analysis of the Mexican military and after some early
defeats of the Mexican army in northern Mexico, Polk now expanded the war
goals and tried to get as much of Mexico as possible. We eventually invaded
central Mexico and captured their capitol. We had invaded and conquered
Mexico and now Polk sent diplomat Nicholas Trist to negotiate for Mexican land.
Trist was a realist and he put together the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in which
we purchased the American Southwest. Polk was not happy with Trist or this
treaty. But he supported the treaty, but he did not allow Trist to be paid for his
diplomatic services. Years after Trist’s death, his widow was sent money and a
letter of apology.
James Polk did not run for president in 1848. He had become a very popular and
powerful president, but he said that he achieved what he wanted to achieve and
he left office. Polk is rated high as president. Many today will question his tactics
and even call him unethical. But he lived up to the platform of the Democratic
Party and he acquired the west coast of the United States through power
diplomacy and war. He was a successful land president and a successful war
president. His decision not to run for president hurt the Democratic Party and
now they turned to weak candidate Lewis Cass. The Whig Party had won on the
Jackson Formula and they nominated another military hero. This time it was the
military hero of the Mexican War: Zachary Taylor. Taylor was a Southerner from
Louisiana who was also a plantation owner. He had been a career military man
and had absolutely no political experience or understanding of politics. He was
also very cheap. When a telegram was sent to him collect to inform him that he
was the choice of the Whig Party for president, he refused to pay for the
telegram. Eventually he read in a newspaper that he had been nominated for
president. The Jackson Formula worked again and Taylor would become the
third Jackson Formula president. Zachary Taylor became president during the
period known as the coming of the Civil War. He is also the first of four president
known as the four stooges who as a group make up one of the weakest periods
for the American presidency. Taylor will be followed by Fillmore and Pierce and
Buchanan and then the Civil War would begin.
TAYLOR TO GRANT
The election of 1848 featured the beginning of a weak presidential period in
American history. The four presidents before the Civil War as known as the four
stooges of early American history and they were responsible for the coming of
the Civil War because as a group they created a power vacuum at a critical time
in our history. The stooges begins with the election of Zachary Taylor, the military
hero of the Mexican War. Taylor came at a time when the nation needed a strong
president because congress was becoming increasingly split between north and
south. But they would not get a strong president with Zachary Taylor. He was a
strange mix of slave owner and supporter of a strong national government. Yet
he provided little leadership in his two years as president and was not a
politician. Experts would tell us that he is really the first career military man to
become president in our early history. During a crisis in congress over the
expansion of slavery into the nearly acquired southwest area, he opposed the
expansion of slavery, yet he was a slave owner. Generally he tended to avoid
decisions and in the summer of 1850 he ate unripe cherries and milk. He got very
sick and died in office. For years it was believed that he died of acute indigestion,
but recently there were stories of how he was poisoned. So in 1991 his body was
exhumed and tested and it was discovered that he was not poisoned, but he died
of natural causes. Here are the results of the Taylor scientific investigation:
http://www.ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev27-12/text/ansside6.html It seemed strange
that he would have been poisoned, for he made few enemies while he was
president. Taylor was the third Whig president and is rated low as president. He
now joins John Adams in the lowest category.
When Taylor became the second Whig president to die in office, Whig Millard
Fillmore now became president. Many Americans still today ask the question:
Who is Millard Fillmore? He is actually the most forgotten of the early presidents.
Fillmore was a lawyer from Buffalo, New York. He had been born and raised in
New York state and had some political experience having served in the House of
Representatives. But he was known as a weak speaker and weak politician.
When he became president, even his father questioned his leadership qualities.
Fillmore continued the Taylor tradition; he generally avoided decisions and was a
weak leader president. He did support the uneasy Compromise of 1850 that
solved few problems and he was rejected by his party in 1852. But by 1852 the
Whig party was slowly beginning to fall apart. It is believed that the only real fact
to remember about the Fillmore presidency is that he became the first president
to put a bathtub in the white house. So we have this picture of Fillmore taking a
bath as the nation continues to fall apart. Fillmore is also rated low along with
Taylor.
The election of 1852 featured the Whig candidate who was another military hero
from the Mexican War General Winfield Scott. The Whigs had won two elections
with the Jackson formula and they now hoped that they could win a third election
with the Jackson formula. But Scott was known as a heavy drinker and this would
hurt his chances. Some also felt that his lack of political experience would help
push the nation toward war. The Democrats in 1852 nominated another
darkhorse; their first darkhorse candidate James Polk has become a very strong
president in foreign affairs. The Democrats also wanted to offer a candidate who
would keep the nation together. In essence the Democrats offered a “safe”
candidate in 1852. The darkhorse was Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire. Pierce
was a virtual unknown in 1852 and did little campaigning. But the Democrats
supported the Compromise of 1850 which eased sectional problems in congress,
while Scott was a questionable candidate. In 1852 Franklin Pierce was elected
the fourteenth president of the United States.
Franklin Pierce had some political background in state and national politics, but
he entered office in a very nervous state for his young son had just been killed in
a train wreck. Plus he was married to a very dominant woman. Pierce made few
decisions as president and those ideas he has created more tension between
north and south. He discussed the idea of buying Cuba and making it a Southern
state, so he seemed to be pro-South and to be interested in extending slavery.
On the other hand, he supported the Kansas Nebraska Act which allowed people
in Kansas to decide on whether they wanted slavery or not. This led to fighting in
Kansas between northerners and southerners and created “bleeding Kansas.”
Franklin Pierce was to be a safe president, but he was not particularly safe. He
was dominated by his wife, his ideas created more tension, and he was rejected
by the Democrats in 1856. He is rated a below average president. It is during his
presidency that the Whig party divided into a Southern group and a Northern
group and disappeared. This is the end of the 2nd Republican party; there are
been four Whig presidents: two died in office and two were accidental presidents.
These four presidents are little remembered in American History. All of the Whig
presidents are rated lower and have little influence on our history. It was also
during the presidency of Pierce that a new party started in the Midwest. This was
initially a regional party and the name of the party was the Republican Party. This
party stood against two evils: the expansion of slavery and the Mormons.
In 1856 this new Republican Party nominated explorer John Fremont for
president. He called himself “the glamour boy” of American politics, but his
appeal was regional. The only national party with national appeal was the
Democratic party. This party nominated the best of the four stooges: James
Buchanan. He was elected in 1856 and now this Pennsylvania native became
president at a critical time in our history. Buchanan had a very capable political
background he moved from state to national politics; he was Secretary of State
under Polk and Minister to England during the presidency of Pierce. He was an
honest hardworking politician who wanted to keep the national together, but he
did not have the leadership or ability to accomplish that difficult task. He is to be
remembered as the last gentleman president with his old style of dress. He is the
only bachelor president in American history and some recent research indicates
that he may have been gay. He had eye problems that made him appear cockeyed and he was obsessed with detail. He spent time researching the job of a
man who seems to have ripped off the federal government for a little money; he
himself once refused a check for thousands of dollars because it was off by one
cent.
Buchanan came at a very difficult time in our history and is rated average often
for his efforts to overcome the impending crisis ahead: the Civil War. He seemed
to rely on the courts to make decisions that would keep the nation together.
Actually the supreme court with the Dred Scott Decision made matters worse
when it ruled that slavery could exist anywhere in the United States. He had an
excellent background in foreign affairs, but this was not a time for foreign affairs,
it was a time for extraordinary leadership. Buchanan did not possess that
leadership. He talked of the improving economy and then the economy suffered
a depression. His policies were inactive during this economic crisis. Actually
Buchanan did too little too late to cause the Civil War to be avoided. Many
historians feel that by the time of Buchanan the Civil War was virtually inevitable
or unavoidable. Even the unity of the Democratic Party had fallen apart by 1860.
There was a northern Democratic candidate and a southern Democratic
candidate. The Republican support was primarily in the north and west. Of
course, the fact that the Republicans took control of the House of
Representatives in 1858 also led to the frustrations of Buchanan as president.
The election of 1860 was a sectional or regional election. The election of
Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln became the immediate cause of the Civil
War. Southern states now became to leave or secede from the union. This was
the final tragedy of the presidency of James Buchanan. He knew that secession
was illegal but he decided that the federal government had no power to stop the
southern states from leaving the union. So James Buchanan just watched as the
nation fell apart.
When Abraham Lincoln became president, he faced a real
crisis: the nation was split. He now had to bring the union back together.
It is difficult to describe the life of this man Abraham Lincoln. There is more
written about Abraham Lincoln than any person in the history of the world except
for Jesus Christ. And the myths connected with Lincoln are more numerous and
more believable than the myths connected with the life of George Washington.
We know that Lincoln is the most commercialized person in American History;
there are more monuments and tributes to Lincoln than anyone else. He is so far
the only president to be featured in Disneyland and Disney World. He was a
natural literary genius; he had an excellent sense of humor and he has become
one of the most hated and criticized presidents in our entire history. Who is this
man: Abraham Lincoln and what are some of the myths connected with him?
It is true that Lincoln was born in a log cabin, but he was born in Kentucky, not
Illinois. His family was a farm family that moved to Indiana where his mother
died. Lincoln here received little education, he said, “less than a year altogether.”
But he had the basics of reading and writing. His father remarried and the family
now moved to Illinois. At age 22 Lincoln left home and moved to New Salem,
Illinois, near Springfield. It appeared that he had problems with his father and he
spoke little of his father the rest of his life. He tried various occupations at this
time and even served briefly in the Indian war the Black Hawk War.
The Lincoln myth includes his honesty and his obsession with learning. There
were numerous stories about Lincoln as an honest child; one of those stories
involved his going to the store during a blizzard for his mother. He returned home
with one cent too much in change. He then walked back through the blizzard to
return that money because he was so honest. His obsession with learning also
involved a series of stories such as his reading at night by the fire in the fireplace
and his plowing fields during the day and reading a book on top of the plow at the
same time. Again his honesty was evident even though he had such an
obsession for learning. One day he dropped a borrowed book in the mud when
he was plowing. He was so upset, he worked at various jobs to pay for the cost
of the book. Lincoln has also been pictured as a role model for hard work and
success. Actually he disliked manual labor. He did not like farming and he did try
many jobs such as working on the building of a railroad, and as a river boatman
and even as a store owner, but he failed at these jobs and then he turned to
politics. As with the Washington myth, the stories about Lincoln and his early life
cannot be substantiated and they are believed to be false.
In 1832 Lincoln became a member of the Whig party and was elected to four
successive terms to the Illinois legislature. He now became a lawyer and moved
to Springfield, where he built a successful practice. Now he met Kentuckian Mary
Todd who became his wife; they had four sons but he outlived all of them but
two. Lincoln now was elected to the House of Representatives as a Whig
politician; he was one of the leading voices against the Mexican War. He then
returned to law in Springfield. By this time in his life Lincoln did not believe that
the federal government had the power to end slavery where it existed, but he did
believe that slavery should not be allowed to be extended outside of the South
and into the new territories in the West. He now joined the nearly formed
Republican Party and he ran against Democrat Stephen Douglas for the senate
seat from Illinois. The Lincoln-Douglas political debates are among the best
political debates in our history. While Lincoln was not appointed to the senate, he
did achieve much publicity. Lincoln was the choice of the Republican Party in
1860 and was elected as president. His election would cause southern states to
leave the union and would lead to the beginning of the Civil War.
The Lincoln Myth involves his honesty, his hard work, his obsession with
learning, his ideal relationship with his family even though he was raised by a
stepmother and talked little with his father after he left home, his tendency for
democracy even though he was a Whig, and the myth focuses on the fact that he
was shot on Good Friday. For years he was pictured as the American Christ and
for years Easter was called Black Easter. Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth
president of the United States and he had one of the most difficult tasks of any
president: to bring the union back together.
Abraham Lincoln was the third war president at a time when the four war
president was Jefferson Davis the president of the Southern Confederacy. An
evaluation of Lincoln as president will focus on his role as the president of the
Civil war and will focus on how he solved the basic problems of that war. By the
time that he had become president seven southern states had seceded from the
union. He immediately decided to send supplies to Fort Sumter in the Charleston,
South Carolina, harbor. This fort was a symbol of federal authority in the state
that had first left the union. South Carolina tried to prevent those supplies and
fired on the fort on April 12, 1861, and the Civil War began.
Abraham Lincoln was similar to James Madison in that he did not have a military
background or a good understanding of the military. He tried to understand the
military and tried to be a good commander in chief by reading books about
military planning and strategy. There is no doubt, however, that Lincoln
mishandled the military and was often at odds with his military commanders.
Take George B. McClellan, for example; McClellan was initially supported with
much enthusiasm by Lincoln, but McClellan never lived up to his potential. Still
Lincoln stayed with him too long. It was only late in the Civil War that Lincoln
developed a chain of command idea in which he began to give more authority to
military leaders and in which he took a less direct role in military strategy and
planning. Lincoln finally created the role of what a modern war president should
be.
Lincoln was also accused of being a tyrant and dictator for violating the civil
rights of many Americans and for also violating the constitution. There were over
13,000 arbitrary arrests during his presidency and there was even a fear that he
would postpone the election of 1864. Of course, the Democrats were greatly
responsible for exaggerating Lincoln’s suppression of civil liberties.
In defense of Lincoln, he solved the basic problems of war and was an
outstanding war president and war politician. Lincoln had an outstanding war
cabinet that included all of his major rivals for the Republican nomination for
president in 1860. William Seward was Secretary of State, Salmon P. Chase was
Secretary of the Treasury, Edward Bates was Attorney General, and Edwin
Stanton was Secretary of War. This cabinet often disagreed with him and caused
him many problems, but it is viewed as one of the strongest war cabinets in our
history. Another major problem for Lincoln was the manpower problem. Every
war in our history up to that time had been fought by volunteers; Lincoln initially
turned to the use of volunteers, but he refused to use black volunteers. The Civil
War was the bloodiest war in American history and the volunteers began to
decrease in number. Lincoln now created the draft system to solve the
manpower problem. This draft system was highly criticized and even led to riots
throughout the North, but it was successful in solving the manpower problem. In
addition, Lincoln did use blacks in the military.
Finances were a major problem for Lincoln and for the north. Lincoln used taxes
in the wealthy to get money to support the war effort; he also turned to the sale of
government war bonds. Up to that time in our history paper money was of
different sizes and different colors. Lincoln decided to stabilize the currency by
making money all the same size and color; he created the greenback dollars that
we use today. Lincoln handled the finances of war very well. One of the most
difficult areas for Lincoln was for him to get support for the war cause. He needed
support from the wealthy in the north and from those in the West. Here Lincoln
became a very capable war politician by working with Congress and getting laws
and programs passed that would cater to the wealthy in the north and to those in
the West. He restored the National Bank; Washington had established this bank,
Jackson had killed it, and Lincoln brought it back. He also got congress to pass a
high tariff-tax on imports- that would favor the wealthy factory owners. For those
in the West, he was able to get congress to pass the Homestead Act which gave
those in the West 160 acres of free public land. He also supported education in
the West by a land grant policy of giving land for state colleges throughout the
west. He was able to get support from key elements in the north and west.
As the Civil War was dragging along and while there was pressure on Lincoln to
end the war, Lincoln became an outstanding war politician by creating a new
cause for the war. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation
Proclamation. While this was a limited freedom document, it was clear that
Lincoln was out to end the slave system and out to destroy the South. He then
went to congress and sought a congressional amendment to officially end all
slavery in the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation created a new
interest and new excitement in the war. Finally Lincoln achieved his goal: to save
the union. It took the invasion and conquest of the South to achieve this difficult
goal, but it was achieved on April 9, 1865 when General Robert E. Lee
surrendered to General Ulysses Grant. Lincoln now prepared for the difficult task
of rebuilding the nation: this was known as the reconstruction process. He
believed that the nation should be reconstructed as quickly as possible. In his
second inaugural address in 1865, he urged, “malice toward none” and “charity
for all.” Congress, on the other hand, believed that the South should be punished
for the Civil War and there should be a harsh program of reconstruction. But
Lincoln never got an opportunity to follow a program of presidential
reconstruction. He was shot at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. by John
Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865 and Lincoln died the next morning. Vice President
Andrew Johnson now became president. Lincoln is the only early president to be
assassinated as president; Johnson becomes the third accidental president in
our early history.
Abraham Lincoln is rated high as president. He was the only president to deal
with an internal war known as the Civil War. He was a Midwest farmer with
Midwest values who became an extraordinary war president and war politician.
He did solve the basic problems of war and he did bring the union back together.
He also did start the end of slavery in American history. If he had not been
assassinated, he would have had to deal with the difficult problem of
reconstruction. It is possible that this struggle with congress over reconstruction
would have hurt his rating as president and may have even led to his
impeachment. But that difficult problem now rested with Southerner Andrew
Johnson.
Andrew Johnson was born in poverty in Tennessee and became a tailor for much
of his life before he entered politics. He had the appeal of Jackson Ian
Democracy, but this Southern senator supported the union as Tenneesee left the
union. He was a hero in the north and a traitor in the south. He became a
supporter of Lincoln and was chosen by Lincoln as vice president in 1864 to
show Lincoln’s attempt to bring the nation together quickly. Johnson continued
the policies of Lincoln in reconstruction but he was opposed by Radical
Republicans in congress who began to pass laws to punish the south and to lead
to a military occupation of the south. Johnson tried to stop these laws by use of
the veto but congressmen continued to override his veto. Johnson became
frustrated; he turned to drink and became abusive. Congress now charged that
he broke the Tenure of Office Act when he illegally removed Stanton as
Secretary of War. These charges led to eighteen formal charges of impeachment
in the House of Representatives. Johnson had earned the nickname “King Veto”
through his constant use of the veto. Now he stood before the Senate on trail for
crimes of impeachment. Actually Johnson was just in the way of congressional
reconstruction and they wanted him out of office. When the final votes were
taken, Johnson remained president by one vote. The Senate needed a two thirds
majority to remove Johnson as president. Johnson remained an unpopular
president and is rated a below average president.
In 1868 the only united party was the Republican party. The Radical Republicans
wanted to avoid the problems they had with Johnson. The Republicans now
turned again to the Jackson Formula and nominated Ulysses Grant, a military
hero, the commanding general of the Northern army at the end of the Civil War,
for president. Grant accepted the nomination and would become the last Jackson
Formula president in our early history and the eighteenth president of the United
States. Grant is rated one of the worst American presidents ever and the worst
two term presidents in our history. Why was Grant such a poor president?
Ulysses Grant had no political experience and no political background. He was
unaware of what a president should be. He was similar to Zachary Taylor. These
are career military men who have never been elected to a political position in
their lives and who have no understanding of politics. He had an attitude similar
to John Adams: it was an honor,not a job. This attitude created the Grant
Tradition: the tradition of allowed power in government to shift to congress and
this is where power would remain for years after Grant.
Grant abused the spoils system. He brought some of the most incompetent
individuals into government; they were friends from the military and were
relatives. He saw nothing wrong with rewarding his military buddies and relatives.
Actually the White House became like Camp White House with the number of
military men in the executive department of Grant. Grant also saw nothing wrong
with taking gifts from people and doing favors. By modern standards people
continually bribed Grant. He began to drink heavily and was continually given
liquor as a gift. He loved to smoke cigars and was given more than 20,000 boxes
of cigars during his presidency. His goal was to smoke every cigar in every box.
He was also a womanizer and saw nothing wrong with going to houses of
prostitution. His favorite prostitute was Little Egypt and his relationships with this
lady was well known.
The two term Grant presidency also featured the highest level of corruption and
the largest number of scandals in American History. Grant was not involved with
the corruption and scandals, but he allowed them to take place and was
identified with them. This is why he became increasingly unpopular and would
leave on a low. The scandals first appeared in his first term as president. The
Credit Mobilier Scandal involved congressmen building stock in a railroad
company and giving generous grants of land and money to that railroad
company. The Salary Grab Scandal involved congress trying to give itself a 50%
increase in salary. One of the scandals that showed Grant as president was the
Black Friday Scandal. Jay Gould and Jim Fisk were wealthy men who wanted to
control all of America’s gold. But this was difficult because the United States
Treasury was continuing to sell gold. So Gould and Fisk became friends of Grant
and gave him gifts and took him on a trip to Boston. As a favor, Grant, who had
little knowledge of economics, ordered the treasury to stop selling gold. The price
of gold rose substantially. Congress even investigated this situation and stated
that Grant was a victim of poor judgment, but he was not involved in this scandal.
In 1872 Grant was renominated for president by the Republican party, the
Democrats were still weak and divided and nominated newspaperman Horace
Greeley who had just become a vegetarian and who spent more time on the evils
of meat than the scandals of Grant. Grant was now elected for a second term: a
term that featured more scandals and more corruption on all levels of
government and all levels of society. During his second term there occurred the
Whiskey Ring Scandal and the Belknap Scandal. Orville Babcock was the private
secretary of the president and was involved in stealing government tax money;
this was the Whiskey Ring Scandal. William Belknap was the Secretary of War
and was found to be stealing Indian funds. He was removed from this position
before he was arrested and would go to jail. The scandals and corruption were
hurting Grant’s rating. He was becoming increasingly unpopular and he could not
understand why. He even wanted to be elected for a third term. But the party
rejected Grant and he left office on a low to be rated one of the worst presidents
in our entire history.

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