Chester Alan Arthur

Presidents Who Were Most Prolific Authors In Life Or After Their Deaths

The issue of the intellectual prowess of Presidents is a significant one, in a time of a President who does not display much intellectual interest or talents.

Of course, ability to write and communicate in diaries or in books is not the only area of competence for a President, but we are fortunate that so many Presidents contributed to our nation in their writings.

First, however, is which Presidents did NOT contribute any significant writings in print or in diaries, although many left behind a massive amount of manuscripts, which historians have utilized in their published books on Presidents.

The list would include, chronologically, the following 20 Presidents.

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Rutherford B. Hayes
James A. Garfield
Chester Alan Arthur
William McKinley
William Howard Taft
Warren G. Harding
Franklin D. Roosevelt

A long list of Presidents (24) wrote diaries, Memoirs, or autobiographies, or other published works in their lifetime, or after their deaths, including, chronologically:

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
James K. Polk
James Buchanan
Ulysses S. Grant
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Theodore Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Harry Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Donald Trump

Of all of these 24 who contributed published works, only a few, however, were voluminous, substantial, and could be described as prolific.

John Quincy Adams, with his 69 year diary in 48 volumes, would be one such case.

James K. Polk. with his 4 volume diary, would be another.

Theodore Roosevelt was extremely active as an author, and Woodrow Wilson was an active academic, which explains his large amount of publishing.

Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter, all with long retirements, were prolific, and Carter has continued to be so.

Barack Obama is expected to join this group of prolific authors, and had two books before his Presidency, similar to John F. Kennedy, who clearly would have contributed more, had he not been assassinated.

So this is a summary of the literary intellectual life of our 44 Presidents!

Potential Of 2017 Being Third Time In American History Of Three Presidents, After 1841 And 1881!

There is continued turmoil surrounding the Trump Presidency, with the latest developments, including the growing number of Republicans denouncing Trump for his reaction to Charlottesville; the resignation of businessmen from his various councils; the decision of many corporations and groups to refuse to use Trump properties for their gatherings; the condemnation of military leaders, intelligence professionals, diplomats and arts committee members; and legions of conservatives alienated from the 45th President.

So the possibility exists that Donald Trump, under fire, might resign from the Presidency, before the Robert Mueller investigation can bring charges of Russian collusion against him.

It used to seem impossible to imagine a resignation, but the idea looks more possible by the day.

Were that to happen, and if it happened before the end of 2017, it would mark the third time in American history, that the nation has had THREE Presidents in the same calendar year.

In 1841, losing Presidential candidate Martin Van Buren served until March 4, and then was succeeded by his successful opponent, William Henry Harrison. A month later, on April 4, Harrison died of pneumonia, having been sick beginning on the evening of the inauguration, and having been the oldest President at inauguration until then, and until later when we had Ronald Reagan in 1981 and Donald Trump in 2017. Vice President John Tyler succeeded to the Presidency on April 4, marking three Presidents in little more than three months of the year.

In 1881, outgoing President Rutherford B. Hayes finished his term on March 4, and was succeeded by Presidential winner James A. Garfield, who four months later, on July 2, was shot and seriously wounded by assassin Charles J. Guiteau. With medical malpractice, Garfield suffered greatly over the next two and a half months, and died on September 19, having been in a coma much of the time. Vice President Chester Alan Arthur succeeded Garfield, so in eight and a half months, we had seen three Presidents.

Now in 2017, we had Barack Obama as President until January 20, when Donald Trump succeeded him, and the odds are growing that he could resign before the year’s end, making Vice President Mike Pence the 46th President of the United States before the beginning of 2018.

Gerald Ford, The Right Person To Succeed Richard Nixon, But Is Mike Pence The Right Person To Succeed Donald Trump? NO!

On this day in 1974, the nation was fortunate that Richard Nixon resigned, and Gerald Ford became President of the United States.

We needed someone like Gerald Ford to heal the nation after the Watergate Scandal, and Ford fit the situation very well.

A respectable member of the House of Representatives for 25 years, House Minority Leader for the last nine of those years, and Vice President by appointment for eight months under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, we were fortunate that he was next in line for the Presidency, instead of corrupt Vice President Spiro Agnew, who would have been a disaster in the Presidency, dividing the nation even more than Richard Nixon.

Ford was controversial for pardoning Nixon one month into his Presidency, and it helped to cause his defeat, along with the strong right wing conservative challenge of former California Governor Ronald Reagan, but he had the right personality and instincts, and as a moderate conservative, was able to work with both parties, considering that the opposition Democrats controlled both houses.

Ford was an honest, decent man, and his wife Betty was arguably the most accessible and decent modern Republican First Lady, sharing her private turmoil with alcohol and breast cancer with the nation.

Gerald Ford lost a very close race to Jimmy Carter in 1976, so was the fifth Vice President not to be elected President, the first since Chester Alan Arthur in 1884, but he came to be admired and loved as he aged, and he ended up as the longest living President, when he died at age 93 years and 165 days on December 26, 2006, the same day of the year as Harry Truman died in 1972.

The longevity of Ford will be surpassed by George H. W. Bush if he lives to November 25, just three and a half months from now, and Jimmy Carter will pass Ford’s age on March 15, 2018, although if Bush continues to be alive, it will not break the record of longevity.

Now, however, Mike Pence would be the successor if Donald Trump is impeached and removed, or resigns from office, but Mike Pence is no Gerald Ford. Pence is much more extreme right wing conservative, unlike Ford, and is a religious extremist, promoting church and state combination in government, which is against the spirit of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The policies and programs under Pence, while certainly likely to be somewhat different than Trump, would be dramatically different from those of Gerald Ford.

So one could wish that Gerald Ford could come back from the dead to be available to succeed Donald Trump, but sadly we are going to have to live with a President Pence at some point in the near future.

We can wish him luck, but be prepared to oppose him vigorously in the promotion of his right wing agenda, with less chaos, anarchy, and craziness, but still out of the mainstream of the American people and what they want the policies of our government to be in the future.

Donald Trump Competes With Warren G. Harding And George W. Bush As Least Intelligent President Of The United States!

The more one observes President Donald Trump, the more one realizes that he is one of the most ignorant, ill informed, and least intelligent Presidents of the United States.

Many of our Presidents have been intellectual heavyweights (16), including:

John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
John Quincy Adams
Abraham Lincoln
James A. Garfield
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Woodrow Wilson
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
John F. Kennedy
Richard Nixon
Jimmy Carter
Bill Clinton
Barack Obama

Others, while not intellectually outstanding, were capable of good leadership (13) including:

George Washington
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
James K. Polk
Ulysses S. Grant
Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Harry Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Lyndon B. Johnson
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush

Then, there are others who are mediocre by comparison, but had at least some redeeming qualities (12), including:

Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Andrew Johnson
Rutherford B. Hayes
Chester Alan Arthur
Benjamin Harrison
Calvin Coolidge

And then there are the three Presidents at the absolute bottom intellectually, and all three disasters in office, including

Warren G. Harding
George W. Bush
Donald Trump

At least Harding and Bush were decent human beings, who bumbled their way through the Presidency, but Donald Trump is, in many ways, more ignorant and dense than either Harding or the second Bush.

Harding was a lightweight intellectually, but at least he published a newspaper in Marion, Ohio, before his political career, and he had some outstanding cabinet officers including Charles Evans Hughes and Herbert Hoover.

George W. Bush, we know, read a great deal in the White House, while Trump is not a reader, and hardly gets past a page or two, even of important documents, as we learn that he counts on his top staff people to keep him up to date, and prefers Twitter and watching cable news as his main sources of information. His lack of intellectual curiosity, and willingness to believe conspiracy theories as fact is extremely alarming.

Trump has shown total ignorance of history and science, and is proving to be a true total disaster after only a little more than 100 days in office. He is much more destructive of the image of the Presidency than Harding or Bush could ever be!

48 Vice Presidents, 45 (44) Presidents?

With the inauguration of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, we now have our 45th (really 44th) President, and our 48th Vice President!

Some reading this are saying: “Huh?”

So let’s explain the difference in numbers.

Donald Trump is the 44th person to become President, but Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897, although he also won the popular vote in 1888, but Benjamin Harrison won the Electoral College, the third time out of five (with 2000 and 2016 the 4th and 5th cases) where the popular vote loser won the Presidency.

Now, as to the Vice Presidency:

Several Presidents had two Vice Presidents, and one had three Vice Presidents, therefore making for four additional Vice Presidents more than Presidents.

Thomas Jefferson had Aaron Burr in his first term in the Presidency (1801-1805), and George Clinton in his second term (1805-1809).

James Madison had Clinton stay on as Vice President in his first term, but he died in office in 1812, so only served from 1809-1812, instead of to 1813. In his second term, Madison had Elbridge Gerry as his Vice President, but he served less than two years and died in 1814, so only serving 1813-1814.

Andrew Jackson had John C. Calhoun as Vice President in his first term, but he resigned with three months to go in the term, after being dumped from the ticket for the 1832 election, so served from 1829-1832. Martin Van Buren served in the Jackson second term (1833-1837), and became the last Vice President to succeed directly to the Presidency by election for 152 years, when George H. W. Bush succeeded President Ronald Reagan in the 1988 Presidential election.

Abraham Lincoln had two Vice Presidents–Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865) who he decided to replace for his second election, and Andrew Johnson for six weeks in 1865 until Lincoln was assassinated, and Johnson became President.

Ulysses S. Grant had two Vice Presidents–Schuyler Colfax (1869-1873) who came under investigation for corruption and did not run for reelection; and Henry Wilson (1873-1875) who died in office.

William McKinley had two Vice Presidents–Garret Hobart (1897-1899), who died in office; and Theodore Roosevelt, for six and a half months in 1901, until McKinley was assassinated, and TR succeeded him to the Presidency, and then won a four year term of his own in 1904.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, being elected four times to the Presidency, and prevented from occurring again by the passage and adoption of the 22nd Amendment in 1951, had John Nance Garner (1933-1941) in his first two terms; Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945) in his third term; and Harry Truman for 82 days of his 4th term in 1945, before FDR died, and Truman succeeded him, and then won a full term in 1948.

Finally, Richard Nixon had two Vice Presidents–Spiro Agnew (1969-1973), his first full term and nine months of his shortened second term, until Agnew was forced to resign due to corruption charges, and being replaced two months later by Gerald Ford (1973-1974) under the 25th Amendment, allowing for an appointed Vice President subject to majority approval by both the House of Representatives and the US Senate, with Ford serving nine months before he succeeded to the Presidency upon the resignation of Nixon, due to the Watergate scandal.

Realize that George Clinton served under two Presidents (Jefferson and Madison), and the same for Calhoun, who had served as Vice President to John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), before serving as Vice President under Jackson for all but three months of that term. So as a result, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson only had one DIFFERENT Vice President to add to the total number!

Also, realize that Grover Cleveland, in his separate terms, had two different Vice Presidents, Thomas Hendricks for 8 months in 1885, and Adlai Stevenson I (1893-1897).

Also realize that John Tyler (1841), Millard Fillmore (1850), Andrew Johnson (1865), and Chester Alan Arthur (1881), all succeeded to the Presidency because of the deaths of William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Abraham Lincoln, and James A. Garfield, and never had a Vice President, since there was no 25th Amendment until passage in 1967, allowing Gerald Ford to pick Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President in 1974. And the other four Presidents who had been Vice President, and succeeded due to the deaths of the Presidents in office (Theodore Roosevelt after William McKinley; Calvin Coolidge after Warren G. Harding; Harry Truman after Franklin D. Roosevelt; Lyndon B. Johnson after John F. Kennedy) all were elected in the next term and had a Vice President.

So only 40 men (plus Cleveland in two terms, so called the 22nd and 24th President) in the Presidency chose a Vice President, and only Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, McKinley and Nixon had two Vice Presidents who were unique (not shared with another President), and FDR had three Vice Presidents with his four terms in office. So if you count 41 due to Cleveland’s unique situation, and add seven extra Vice Presidents, you get a total of 48 men who have served as Vice President of the United States!

Myth Destroyed About Third Term Of Same Party In White House Being Historically Unlikely! How About 7 Times And 120 Years Of Our History?

This blogger keeps on hearing that it is highly unlikely for a political party to hold the White House for more than two terms. Most recently, Chris Matthews said this on MSNBC on HARDBALL!

This is totally untrue, as witness the facts, a total of 7 times:

1800-1824—Democratic Republicans Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe–Six terms, 24 years

1828-1840–Democrats Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren–Three terms, 12 years

1860-1884–Republicans Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur (Andrew Johnson elected with Lincoln on “Union” ticket in 1864 was a Southern Democrat, but was never elected)–Six terms, 24 years

1896-1912–Republicans William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft–Four terms, 16 years

1920-1932–Republicans Warren G. Harding. Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover–Three terms, 12 years

1932-1952–Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman–Five terms, 20 years

1980-1992–Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush–Three terms, 12 years

This adds up to 30 terms and 120 years from 1789-2008. So that means 30 terms out of 55 terms, more than half the time and 120 years out of 220 years, more than half the time!

And now in 2016, an 8th time, this time the Democrats with Barack Obama and, likely, Hillary Clinton, will add to the record, making it 33 terms out of 58, and 132 years out of 232 years!

Speakers Of The House Of Representatives Who Sought The Presidency, And Now Paul Ryan?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is second in line for the Presidency after the Vice President under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the third such law.

The first such law, from 1792-1886, put the Speaker third in line for the Presidency, with the Vice President and the President Pro Tempore of the US Senate ahead of him, later reversed in 1947.

The second law, from 1886-1947, did not include the Speaker in the line of succession, but rather the Cabinet officers after the Vice President.

In our history, only one Speaker of the House became President, James K. Polk of Tennessee, from 1845-1849, and he proved to be one of the more significant Presidents, adding more real estate to America than anyone other than Thomas Jefferson.  This was accomplished by treaty with Great Britain over the Pacific Northwest in 1846, and by war with Mexico from 1846-1848, which added the Southwestern United States to the Union.

But seven other Speakers sought the Presidency, including the following:

Henry Clay of Kentucky sought the Presidency in 1824, 1832, and 1844, and is regarded as the greatest single legislator in the history of both houses of Congress.  In 1844, we had the only Presidential election where the two opponents had both been Speaker of the House, Clay and Polk!  Clay lost his three elections to John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Polk.

John Bell of Tennessee was the Constitutional Union Party nominee for President in 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, and lost to Abraham Lincoln.

James G. Blaine of Maine was the Republican nominee for President in 1884 and lost the election to Grover Cleveland, and was also Secretary of State under three Presidents–James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and a full term under Benjamin Harrison.

Thomas Reed of Maine lost the nomination of the Republican Party in 1896 to future President William McKinley.

Champ Clark of Missouri lost the nomination of the Democratic Party in 1912 to future President Woodrow Wilson.

John Nance Garner of Texas, after being Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt for two terms from 1933-1941, lost the nomination of the Democratic Party to his boss, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940

Newt Gingrich of Georgia lost the Republican nomination for President to eventual nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.

So four Speakers were nominated for President, with only Polk winning; and four other Speakers lost the nomination when they sought the Presidency.

Now we may have a ninth such Speaker seeking the Presidency, Republican Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose name is being promoted, despite Ryan’s denial of any interest in running for President.

How Death “Might” Have Affected American History! Eleven Potential “Turning Points”!

Assassinations and assassination attempts, and threats, have affected American History, as is covered in my book, “Assassinations, Threats, And The American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson To Barack Obama”, Rowman Littlefield, August 2015.

But then there are cases, not covered  in my book, of situations that could have occurred and affected American history, that have nothing to do with assassinations.

Witness the following:

In 1857, newly inaugurated President James Buchanan was extremely ill at the time of the inauguration, and almost failed to deliver his Inaugural Address, and was in bed for a few weeks after the inauguration, until he recovered.  It was believed he might have been poisoned by an unsafe water supply at the hotel he stayed at before his inauguration.  Had he died in office, Vice President John C. Breckinridge would have been President, and would have been only 36 years old, the youngest President in American history, and actually elected in November 1856, when he was still 35!

Stephen Douglas, Senator from Illinois, was the Democratic nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1860, a four way race won by Abraham Lincoln, but had Douglas won, he would have died in office three months later, two months after the Civil War had begun, transforming the whole era if that had occurred!

In 1872, Democratic and Liberal Republican Presidential nominee Horace Greeley, who lost the Presidential Election of 1872 to President Ulysses S. Grant, died three weeks after the election, and before the Electoral College met.  What if he had won the election?  It would have meant that Vice Presidential nominee, B. Gratz Brown, Governor of Missouri and, earlier, Senator from Missouri, would have been President!

President Chester Alan Arthur  (1881-1885) succeeded President James A. Garfield after his assassination in September 1881, and finished out the term, but was denied nomination for a full term in 1884, which turned out to be fortunate as Arthur died in 1886, and therefore, would have died in office!

President Grover Cleveland, in his second nonconsecutive term in the White House from 1893-1897, had serious surgery for cancer of the jaw in 1894, done in secret on a boat on the Hudson River, and kept secret until after his death in 1908.  Had he died of cancer, Vice President Adlai Stevenson, the grandfather of Democratic Presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 and 1956, would have been President!

President William Howard Taft (1909-1913)  saw his Vice President, James Sherman, die in office in October 1912, shortly before the Presidential Election of 1912, which Taft lost, in the worst reelection defeat of any President in American history, winning only two states.  But when the Electoral College met, the name of Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler was substituted to count the electoral votes.  However, there was no provision for a replacement Vice President, so had Taft won, he would have had no Vice President for the entire term of 1913-1917!

President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) had a severe stroke in September 1919, and never fully recovered in his last year and a half in the White House, and his wife ran cabinet meetings in his absence, but had Wilson resigned or died, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have become President!

Franklin D. Roosevelt had Henry A. Wallace, his Secretary of Agriculture, as his third term Vice President from 1941-1945, and had he not been lobbied to replace the unpopular Wallace with Harry Truman for his fourth term run for the Presidency, it would have been Wallace who would have succeeded FDR in the Presidency after 82 days of the fourth term in 1945!

FDR’s Republican opponents in the Presidential Election of 1940 were businessman Wendell Willkie for President, and Oregon Senator Charles McNary for Vice President.  Had they won the White House, the nation would have faced losing both of them in the last year of the term–McNary dying in February 1944, and Willkie in October 1944, an unprecedented situation to have had both the President and Vice President in the same term die in office!  And this would have occurred during the height of the battle to win World War II, a very dangerous time for such an occurrence!

Harry Truman’s Vice President in his full term from 1949-1953 was Alben Barkley, who wished to run for President in 1952, but was pushed aside since he was already in his 70s, and it was felt it was not a good idea to have a President of that age come to office.  It was fortunate that this happened, since Barkley died in April 1956, so would have died in office!

President Gerald Ford replaced Vice President Nelson Rockefeller as his running mate in the 1976 election for Senator Bob Dole, under pressure from conservative Republicans led by Ronald Reagan, and lost the Presidential Election of 1976 to Jimmy Carter.  Had Ford kept Rockefeller on the ticket, some think he would have defeated Carter, and if that was so, then Ford would have lost his Vice President in office, as Rockefeller died in January 1979!

 

Anti Immigrant Hysteria: 1840s-1850s; 1870s-1880s; 1920s-1940s And Now! Do We Ever Learn?

Part of the ugly side of the history of America is its record of nativism and anti immigrant hysteria.

In the 1840s and 1850s, it was anti Catholic hysteria against the Irish and the German immigrants fleeing from poverty and political turmoil.  The “American” or Know Nothing Party was formed, had some members in Congress, and had former President Millard Fillmore (Whig) win the state of Maryland (heavily Catholic) in the Electoral College in the Presidential Election of 1856.

In the 1870s and 1880s, it was anti Asian hysteria, mostly Chinese at the time, and often led by Irish who had forgotten the prejudice and discrimination they had faced in an earlier generation,and it led to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, courageously vetoed by President Chester Alan Arthur but passed over his veto by a two thirds majority in the House of Representatives and Senate.

In the 1920s through the Second World War in the 1940s, it was anti “new” immigration, to stop the massive wave of Catholics and Eastern European Jews from coming to America, as well as anti Japanese prejudice, replacing the Chinese who had already been banned from migration to America since 1882.

This led to the horrors of Italians, Jews, and other southern and eastern Europeans denied admission to America during the time of the rise and triumph of Fascism in Italy under Benito Mussolini and Nazism under Adolf Hitler in Germany.

The result was the Holocaust, which America could have worked against by admission of refugees, but just like now, it was Republicans, some Democrats, and conservatives who lobbied against children and women and old people being admitted, due to racism and nativism.

It also led to the forced movement of Japanese Americans into internment camps during the Second World War, as an hysterical reaction to Pearl Harbor being attacked by Japan.

In more recent decades, we have seen growing anti Hispanic and anti Latino discrimination, and now against Muslim and Arab refugees, as if we have learned nothing from our past.

America has been a beacon of hope in a difficult world, and we must not lose our image that the Statue of Liberty represents, so we must salute and applaud President Barack Obama for coming out forcefully against Republican Governors and members of Congress, who are demonstrating the ugliest side of the American experience once again!

Presidents And Vice Presidents Who Lived Into Their 90s In American History

A total of six Presidents and four Vice Presidents have lived into their 90s in American history.

The six Presidents include:

Gerald Ford (93).

Ronald Reagan (93)–45 days less than Gerald Ford.

George H. W. Bush (91 and counting)—111 days older than Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy Carter (91 and counting)—111 days younger than George H. W. Bush.

John Adams (90)–about six months older than Herbert Hoover.

Herbert Hoover (90)–about six months younger than John Adams.

The four Vice Presidents include:

John Nance Garner (98)–15 days short of 99, Vice President in first two terms of Franklin D. Roosevelt  (1933-1941)

Levi Morton (96) who died on his birthday,  and served as Vice President under Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893).  He turned down the Vice Presidency earlier, when James A. Garfield offered the post to him in 1880.  Had he accepted, he would have become President upon Garfield’s death by assassination on September 19, 1881, instead of Chester Alan Arthur.

Gerald Ford (93).

George H. W. Bush (91 and counting)