With Presidents Day coming up on Monday, it is a good time to reflect on which Presidents were transformative in domestic policy making.
The list of Presidents who made a real difference in domestic affairs would include the following, chronologically:
George Washington—under whom a National Bank and protective tariff, promoted by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, were adopted, having a long range effect on America’s growth.
Thomas Jefferson—under whom recognition of the wisdom of Alexander Hamilton’s economic policies was recognized.
Abraham Lincoln—under whom a promotion of the transcontinental railroad, adoption of the Homestead Act providing free land for settlers, revival of a centralized banking system, and the enactment of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, occurred.
Theodore Roosevelt—under whom conservation of natural resources became a major policy, the first regulation of meat, food and drugs took place, the first intervention in labor disputes without an anti labor attitude evolved, and first anti trust law suits succeeded in breaking up monopolies.
Woodrow Wilson—who accomplished the most domestic reforms until his time, including labor laws, agricultural credit legislation, the Federal Reserve being created, and the first regulatory commission for big business (the Federal Trade Commission) was created.
Franklin D. Roosevelt—under whom the New Deal transformed America domestically with a myriad of programs, including labor laws, Social Security, agricultural aid, and public works programs, with anti trust law suits being pursued.
Lyndon B. Johnson—under whom the Great Society programs, including ideas of Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy not accomplished in their terms in the Presidency, were passed into law, including civil rights, education, Medicare, the War on Poverty, and numerous other programs, including consumer and environmental legislation, the most change since the New Deal.
Richard Nixon—under whom the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Occupational Safety Health Administration, and Affirmative Action were passed into law.
Barack Obama—under whom a national health care law was passed, the most significant legislation since the 1960s.
Other Presidents who had an impact, to a lesser extent, include:
William Howard Taft
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush