One Term Presidencies: Seven Significant Leaders Not Appreciated

Tomorrow marks one year to the inauguration of the next President of the United States, and the question arises whether Barack Obama will become another one term President.

Historically, those who have been one term Presidents and lost re-election have tended to go down in history as “losers”, “failures”, and as “insignificant” in American history.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Consider the following cases:

John Adams–one of the most significant Founding Fathers in the Revolution and Federalist Eras, but defeated by Thomas Jefferson in the first political party struggle.

John Quincy Adams–brilliant in diplomacy before his Presidency as one of our greatest Secretaries of State, and exceptional as a Congressman for nearly 18 years after his Presidency, fighting against the evil of slavery, but losing to Andrew Jackson.

William Howard Taft–much underrated President who also served later as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but losing to Woodrow Wilson, and even ending up behind his promoter, Theodore Roosevelt, who ran on a third party line, the Progressive Party, the greatest third party performance in American history.

Herbert Hoover–acknowledged as great humanitarian as aide to Woodrow Wilson during World War I, and as Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, but paralyzed by the Great Depression and slow to react to the massive crisis it presented.

Jimmy Carter–Despite major accomplishments in office, particularly in foreign policy, lost reelection to Ronald Reagan because of the Iranian hostage crisis, but pursued commitment to fighting disease and promoted diplomacy and free elections after his Presidency, and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

George H. W. Bush–very talented as Ambassador to China, United Nations Ambassador, and head of the Central Intelligence Agency before his Presidency, but despite his victory in the Gulf War, he was defeated due to the economic recession and the third party candidacy of Ross Perot, and lost to Bill Clinton.

Another one term President who chose NOT to run for re-election, of course, had a very successful term of office. James K. Polk gained the Oregon Treaty with Great Britain, giving America the Pacific Northwest states, and waged war with Mexico, gaining California and the Southwest states. Worn out by his labors, he chose not to run, and died 103 days after retirement, the shortest retirement period of any President in American history.

So the whole concept that one term Presidents do not matter is shown to be totally incorrect.