Presidential Assassinations

Analyzing the “40s” Presidents As Barack Obama Celebrates His 52nd Birthday!

President Barack Obama celebrates his 52nd Birthday today, and all good wishes to our Commander in Chief!

Since this is his birthday, it brings to mind the fact that Obama is one of only nine Presidents to be inaugurated in his 40s, with Obama being the fifth youngest to be sworn in. The list of “40s” Presidents is as follows:

Theodore Roosevelt 42 years 322 days
John F. Kennedy 43 years 236 days
Bill Clinton 46 years 154 days
Ulysses S. Grant 46 years 311 days
Barack Obama 47 years 169 days
Grover Cleveland 47 years 351 days
Franklin Pierce 48 years 101 days
James A. Garfield 49 years 105 days
James K. Polk 49 years 122 days

Six of these nine Presidents were Democrats, all but Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, and James A. Garfield, who were Republicans.

All but Theodore Roosevelt became President by election, with TR succeeding William McKinley upon his assassination, so while TR is the youngest President, John F. Kennedy is the youngest elected President, although TR went on to be elected to a full term!

Five of these nine Presidents would be ranked in the top 15 of our Presidents, in the view of most scholars and experts—TR, JFK, Clinton, Obama, and Polk.

Cleveland would make a list of the top half of our Presidents, with Grant and Pierce rated much lower on their performance in the White House, and Garfield hard to rate, since he had such a brief term as President, a true loss to the nation that he died so early in his administration!

Tragedy was a factor in many of these “40s” Presidents, including:

Assassination of Garfield and Kennedy
Alcoholism of Pierce and Grant
Short retirement of Polk–103 days
Short life span of Kennedy, Garfield, Polk, TR, Grant, Pierce
Scandals under Grant and Clinton

So becoming President in one’s 40s is a mixed blessing, and one can simply ask Bill Clinton and Barack Obama how they feel about the torment and vicious attacks they have both faced, but how they have managed to overcome their critics and have outstanding records overall in the Oval Office!

178th Anniversary Of Andrew Jackson Assassination Attempt Reminds Us Of Constant Threats Against Life Of Barack Obama

On this day in 1835, America witnessed the first assassination attempt against a President, as Andrew Jackson subdued his own assassin, Richard Lawrence, who fired two weapons, both of which misfired, the odds of such an event being estimated at one in 125,000 attempts!

Sadly, we have witnessed four Presidents assassinated in office—Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. We have seen two Presidents wounded in assassination attempts—Theodore Roosevelt out of office and Ronald Reagan. We have also seen Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Gerald Ford shot at, with the assassins missing their mark. And we have had direct threats against Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, and other, more indirect threats, against other Presidents.

But Barack Obama has had the greatest number of threats of all, averaging 30 per day, according to an an article in the Huffington Post!

So on this anniversary of the first assassination attempt, a prayer for the safety of our President is in order!

Vice Presidents Who Just Missed The Presidency: Hannibal Hamlin, Garret Hobart, John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Spiro Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller

American history records that we have had 43 Presidents of the United States.

What is often NOT recorded is how six Vice Presidents came so close to the Presidency, but circumstances prevented them from doing so.

Three situations involved the timing of the death of the President; while two involved the fortune of two attempted Presidential assassinations failing to succeed; and one involved a Vice President being forced from office before the President in office resigned in disgrace.

Imagine if any of the following Vice Presidents had become President, how it would have changed history!

Hannibal Hamlin was the first term Vice President under Abraham Lincoln from 1861-1865, and then was replaced on the electoral ticket by Andrew Johnson. Six weeks after Hamlin left the Vice Presidency, Johnson became President, upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and is seen by many as a true disaster, possibly the worst President in American history, and in any case facing an unsuccessful impeachment in office which he survived. One might imagine that Hamlin, a former Senator from Maine, would have, somehow, avoided the fate of Andrew Johnson and dealt with Southern Reconstruction in a different way that would have affected the nation long term.

Garret Hobart was Vice President in the first term of William McKInley, but died in office in November 1899, after about two years, eight and a half months in office. He had been a leader in the New Jersey state legislature, and was considered to have added to the Vice Presidency by his regular presiding of the US Senate, his being considered a Presidential adviser, and his being often called an “assistant President”, a new term at the time. Had he not died in office, he would have been on the ticket with President McKinley in 1900, and would have succeeded McKinley as President when McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Instead, Theodore Roosevelt became President, and changed the course of American history in massive ways, and ushered in the Progressive Era!

John Nance Garner had had a long career in the US House of Representatives, and was Speaker of the House, when chosen by Franklin D. Roosevelt to be his Vice President in the 1932 Presidential Election. As President-Elect, FDR was subjected to an assassination attempt in Miami, Florida, on February 15, 1933, just 17 days before the inauguration. Fortunately, the assassin’s bullets did not hit FDR, but instead Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, and FDR was spared. Otherwise, Garner would have become President on March 4, 1933, but with his conservative and southern (Texas) heritage, it is highly doubtful that the New Deal would have occurred, denying us the most important and greatest President of the 20th century, and making one wonder how America would have dealt with the Great Depression.

During FDR’s third term as President, Henry A. Wallace, formerly Secretary of Agriculure, became his Vice President, and actively pursued the issue of civil rights, and also the issue of relations with our World War II ally, the Soviet Union. He alienated conservatives and Southerners in the Democratic Party, and when FDR decided to run for a fourth term, he replaced Wallace with Harry Truman, who became President 82 days after the fourth term began with FDR’s death, and changed the course of history. One has to wonder how Wallace would have conducted himself as President, particularly since he was highly critical of Truman’s Cold War policy toward the Soviet Union after World War II.

Spiro Agnew was Vice President for four and a half years under Richard Nixon from 1969-1973, and was loyal to Nixon, making himself controversial as he attacked liberals and the news media in Nixon’s behalf. But Agnew was forced out by personal financial corruption in the office of the Vice Presidency, as well as revelations about earlier such corruption in the office of the Maryland Governor and Baltimore County Executive in his years in public office before the Vice Presidency. Nixon, himself under attack in the Watergate scandal, did nothing to support Agnew, and Agnew resigned. Had this corruption not been revealed, Agnew would have become President upon the resignation of Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974. Instead, we had the Presidency of Gerald Ford for two years, five and a half months, after Ford had been a member of the US House of Representatives from Michigan, and Minority Leader of the House for almost nine years, with only a goal of someday being Speaker of the House.

When Gerald Ford was President, he chose Nelson Rockefeller , former Governor of New York and three time Presidential aspirant, as his appointed Vice President under the 25th Amendment. Then, Ford was subjected to TWO assassination attempts in Sacramento and San Francisco, California, seventeen days apart in September 1975. Both assassins missed the President, but had either been successful, Rockefeller would finally have achieved what he wanted the most, the Presidency of the United States.

So imagine how Hamlin, Hobart, Garner, Wallace, Agnew and Rockefeller MIGHT have changed the course of American history has they become President–instead of Andrew Johnson, Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford!

Ranking Presidents Affected By Being A One Term Or Two Term President?

The game of ranking Presidents is a continuous topic among historians, political scientists, journalists, and ordinary citizens.

In the upcoming June issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly, Professor Curt Nichols, an assistant professor of political science at Baylor University in Texas, comes up with a new theory and premise about how Presidents are ultimately ranked in history.

Nichols used a statistical method known as regression analysis, utilizing Presidential ranking polls conducted by C Span, the Wall Street Journal, and the Siena Research Institute.

Each poll has different factors in judging Presidential leadership, with C Span having ten.

But Nichols says the rating score of Presidents is ultimately raised if the following six factors are considered:

Number of years served
Wartime leadership
If transformation of political landscape occurs in their term
If they are part of the Founding Fathers group
If they are considered “progressive” and pursue “equal justice for all”
If they are assassinated progressives

At the same time, two factors will decrease the rating scores of Presidents:

If the President is impeached, resigns, or has major political scandals during his administration
If they push the nation into political crisis or are unable to lift the country out of a political crisis

Going by this discussion, Nichols believes that IF Barack Obama is defeated for re-election, he will rank only as “average”, as number 22, between William McKinley and George H. W. Bush.

But Nichols also believes that If Barack Obama is re-elected to the Presidency, he could end up as high as number FOUR, behind Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George Washington, and ahead of Thomas Jefferson!

There is lots of room for debate on the Nichols viewpoint, but it certainly will cause much more discussion and analysis of the men who have been President of the United States.

A few observations here:

If wartime Presidents have an edge, then why is James Madison, William McKinley, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush rated quite low on the rankings list generally accepted?

One term Presidencies that stick out as better include James K. Polk and John F. Kennedy.

Two term Presidencies that are seen negatively include James Madison, Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, and George W. Bush.

So whether having a second term really helps raise the stature of a President is still very debatable.

And whether Barack Obama could end up ranked ahead of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton is something that will be hotly debated into the long term future.