John Adams

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!

Presidential Retirements

Of our 44 Presidents of the United States, 16 of them have had retirements lasting 15 years or more.

This statistic comes to mind as we celebrate the 93rd Birthday of Jimmy Carter, and root for him and George H. W. Bush to beat the record of longevity of Gerald Ford (93 years, 165 days) and Ronald Reagan (93 years 120 days), which Bush will surpass on October 11 and November 25, and Carter will surpass on January 30, 2018 and March 16, 2018.

The President with the most retirement years is Carter, who will reach 37 years out of office on January 20, 2018.

Herbert Hoover had 31 and a half years in retirement, followed by Gerald Ford with just a month short of 30 years.

John Adams had four months more than 25 years, and will be passed by George H. W. Bush in May 2018.

Martin Van Buren had about the same retirement time as Adams with 25 plus years, and Bush will soon pass him as well on the list.

Millard Fillmore, Harry Truman, and Richard Nixon each had close to 20 years in retirement.

James Madison and John Quincy Adams each had about 19 years in retirement

Thomas Jefferson, William Howard Taft, and John Tyler each had about 17 years in retirement.

Bill Clinton will soon finish 17 years in retirement, and will, therefore, pass Jefferson, Taft, and Tyler in 2018.

And Ronald Reagan had a few months more than 15 years in retirement, although much of his retirement was spent in a state of dementia and Alzheimers Disease.

Jimmy Carter Becomes Fourth President In A Row To Hit Age 93! And New Age Records For First Ladies Too!

President Jimmy Carter turns 93 today, and it is a moment to celebrate!

Carter and his Vice President, Walter Mondale, have survived as a combo longer than any Presidential-Vice Presidential team, an amazing 37 years come next January 20.

Mondale will be 90 in early January, so Carter and Mondale will be the second team where both have reached the age of 90, after Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Longevity has been an amazing situation in so many ways, as now we have four straight Presidents–Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush–who will have reached 93.

Only two other Presidents reached 90 and died at that age–John Adams and Herbert Hoover.

Additionally, however, two other Presidential-Vice Presidential nominee teams reached the age of 90 for both men—George McGovern and Sargent Shriver, who were the Democratic team in 1972; and Gerald Ford and Bob Dole, who were the Republican team in 1976, with Bob Dole still alive at age 94. And Bob Dole also was the Republican Presidential nominee in 1996.

And only in the Presidential Election of 1980 did we have all four on the ballot—President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale–and nominees Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush—live to the age of 90 and beyond and be in the Presidency and Vice Presidency, if Mondale survives until his 90th birthday on January 5, just three months away.

Amazingly, George H. W. Bush will pass Ronald Reagan in longevity of age on October 11, and Bush will be the longest lived President, beyond the age of Gerald Ford, who outlasted Reagan by 45 days, on November 25.

And Carter, who seems in better health than Bush, despite Carter’s having had brain cancer diagnosis more than two years ago, but being in remission, seems likely to outlive Bush, if he can survive Bush by less than four months, a total of 111 days!

Also, with Rosalyn Carter having reached the age of 90 in August, it is now reality that four straight Presidents who reached 93, also saw or are seeing their First Ladies having accomplished reaching the 90s—Rosalyn Carter now 90; Barbara Bush now 92; and Nancy Reagan who lived to 94, second longest lived First Lady, only behind Bess Truman, who was 97; and Betty Ford who reached 93, fourth longest, with Lady Bird Johnson being 94, but a few months less than Nancy Reagan, so third longest lived. So six First Ladies, all since World War II, have managed to reach the 90s, an amazing fact!

July 4th And Four Presidents

July 4 is our national holiday, and many Americans are unaware of the fact that four Presidents are connected to the holiday.

Three Presidents died on July 4:

Thomas Jefferson in 1826 early in the day.

John Adams shortly before midnight in 1826, uttering that his writing pal Jefferson still survived, but he had died early on that day, which happened to be the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence they both participated in creating!

James Monroe in 1831, making him the third and last Founding Father to die on Independence Day.

And then, there is Calvin Coolidge, who was born on the 4th of July in 1872, 145 years ago!

Every 4th of July, this author wonders if any of the six living Presidents will join Jefferson, Adams, or Monroe in passing away, but it has never happened since 1831, and the odds are long against it happening on that precise day.

Instead, we have 93 year old George H. W. Bush; nearly 93 year old Jimmy Carter (on October 1); 71 year old George W. Bush (on July 6); 71 year old Bill Clinton (on August 19); 71 year old Donald Trump (reached on June 14); and 56 year old Barack Obama (on August 4).

George H. W. Bush 93 Years Old Today, Third President To Reach 93, After Ronald Reagan And Gerald Ford!

President George H. W. Bush is 93 years old today, making him the third President to reach that age, after Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

Ford has the record of longevity, 93 years and 165 days; and Reagan had 93 years and 120 days, so Ford outlasted Reagan by 45 days.

If Bush is still alive on November 25 of this year, he will surpass the Ford longevity record.

On October 1, Jimmy Carter will be 93 years old, and if he survives to March 16 of 2018, he will surpass Ford’s longevity as well.

So we have had three Presidents in office since 1974 who have reached 93, and all four Presidents from 1974 to the beginning of 1993 will have reached that age in the next three and a half months.

That is an amazing record, and only two other Presidents reached the age of 90–John Adams at 90 and 7 months and Herbert Hoover at 90 years and 2 months.

The “Middle” President: From Washington-Adams-Jefferson To Bush II-Obama-Trump

Now we can say that five times in our history, we have had three Presidents in a row, where the “middle” President of the set of three stands out as dramatically worse or better than the President before and after him.

First, we have George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, with Adams being seen historically as less in reputation than the other two Presidents.

Second, we have James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Johnson, with Lincoln being the success between two total failures in the Presidency.

Then, we have Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, with Taft seen historically as less in reputation than the other two Presidents.

The fourth example is Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, with Bush seen historically as less in reputation than the other two Presidents.

And now, we have the fifth example, of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, but this time, as with the second case, it is the “middle” President, Barack Obama, who far outshines the other two Presidents!

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!

“Change” Elections: 1800, 1828, 1860, 1896, 1912, 1932, 1960, 1968, 1980, 2000, 2008, And Now 2016?

America has now had 58 Presidential elections, and it can now be said that 12 of them, about 20 percent, have been transformational elections.

In 1800, for the first time. the “opposition” won the Presidency, when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams.

In 1828, the “common man”, Andrew Jackson, was elected over John Quincy Adams, and all white males over 21, whether or not property owners, were able to vote, and Jackson was perceived as representing the western frontiersman and the urban worker.

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln’s victory ushered in a new political party, the Republican Party, as dominant for the next half century, and the Civil War developed out of the split over slavery and its expansion between the Union and the Confederacy. But the sectionalism of that period still exists in many ways in 2017.

In 1896, William McKinley’s victory over William Jennings Bryan promoted the growth of industry and urbanizastion over the previously predominant agricultural and rural nature of America, but in reality, that conflict still exists in 2017.

In 1912, the high point of progressive reform, and the evolution of government playing a major role in the economy from that point on, became a long term reality, with three Presidents–the past President Theodore Roosevelt; the incumbent President William Howard Taft; and the future President Woodrow Wilson—all competing in promoting what one could call the most reform oriented election, with all three Presidents being “progressive” to different degrees.

In 1932, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s victory over Herbert Hoover, was the time of the beginning of Democratic Party dominance, and ever bigger national government, even beyond the Progressive Era of the early 20th century.

In 1960, the election of John F. Kennedy was the triumph of overcoming the “religion issue”, as our first non Protestant President, a Roman Catholic from Massachusetts, was accomplished.

In 1968, the election of Richard Nixon marked the beginning of a turn to the Right, although Nixon actually continued and expanded elements of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson in domestic affairs.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan’s victory marked the sharpest turn to the Right since Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s, and began an era of conservative government, that in many respects, continued under his successors, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

In 2000, the Supreme Court intervention in the Florida vote count, and the awarding of Florida to George W. Bush by 537 votes, giving him the Presidency, was a revolutionary change that changed the course of history, when Al Gore won the popular vote by more than a half million, and with the economy having improved during the Clinton years, should have led to Gore in the White House.

In 2008, Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain was a sharp turn to the left after what were arguably 40 years of conservative government to different degrees, including under Democrats Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and Obama overcame the race issue, in becoming the first African American President.

And now, in 2016, Donald Trump’s victory MIGHT be a sign of another “change” election, with the white working class voting for Trump, giving him the victory in the Electoral College, even though rival Hillary Clinton won the biggest popular vote margin of a losing candidate (2.85 million), greater than many Presidents won on their road to the White House,

But it may eventually be seen as a “fluke” election, and may not be long lasting, and only time and events will tell us what the reality is.

Presidential Family Members And The American Presidency

The growing influence of Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, is a significant factor in Donald Trump’s approach to the Presidency.

His reliance on and loyalty to his daughter and son in law demonstrates the power of family.

Other Presidents have also utilized family members as follows:

John Adams relied on John Quincy Adams as Ambassador to Prussia.

Woodrow Wilson had his second wife, Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, conduct cabinet meetings after he had a stroke in October 1919.

Franklin D. Roosevelt relied on his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, for advice on so many domestic and foreign policy issues, and in his last two years, his daughter, Anna, also was available to assist him.

Dwight D. Eisenhower used his son John Eisenhower as a staff aide in the White House.

John F. Kennedy had the most prominent relative in his brother, Robert F. Kennedy, serving as Attorney General of the United States for the entire time of the Kennedy Presidency.

Lyndon B. Johnson leaned on his wife, Lady Bird Johnson, for much advice.

Ronald Reagan followed the advice of his wife, Nancy Reagan, on a host of issues, including developing a relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Bill Clinton utilized his wife, Hillary Clinton, on a proposed national health care program, as well as a host of other issues.

Barack Obama capitalized on the advice of wife Michelle Obama, as they were a very close couple.

But notice how mostly it was First Ladies who were engaged in helping their husband, with only John Quincy Adams, Anna Roosevelt, John Eisenhower (children) and RFK (brother) as important aides to the President, and Ivanka and Jared are in many ways unique in their growing role, with only RFK being of an equal or greater significance.

C Span 2017 Presidential Survey: Presidents Who Dropped In Stature Include Five Democrats, One Republican, One Democrat Who Became A Whig

The CSpan 2017 Presidential Survey saw several Presidents who dropped dramatically in stature and reputation over the history of the three polls in 2000, 2009, and 2017. This is defined as four or more slots in decline.

Woodrow Wilson (D) dropped from 6 to 9 to 11.

Andrew Jackson (D) dropped from 13 in 2000 and 2009 to 18 in 2017.

Grover Cleveland (D) dropped from 17 to 21 to 23.

Jimmy Carter (D) dropped from 22 to 25 to 26.

Rutherford B. Hayes (R) dropped from 26 to 33 and then up slightly to 32.

Martin Van Buren (D) dropped from 30 to 31 to 34.

John Tyler (D to W) was 36, went up to 35 and then dropped to 39.

At the same time that five Democrats dropped in the polls, 8 of the top 15 in the poll were Democrats (FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Wilson, Obama, Polk, Clinton), to 4 Republicans (Lincoln, TR, Ike, Reagan), 2 Democratic Republicans (Jefferson, Monroe), and 1 Federalist (Washington).

With only four Republicans in the top 15 (all in the top 10), the only other Republicans in the top 20 are McKinley (16) and Bush Senior (20), with the other three in the top 20 being Democratic Republican Madison (17), Democrat Andrew Jackson (18), and Federalist John Adams (19).