Presidential Election Of 1868

Presidents Without Prior Elected Occupation

A total of 6 Presidents have been elected without any prior elected position in government.

Three of them had careers in the military:

Zachary Taylor who was a Major General in the US Army, and served in, and became famous in the Mexican War of 1846-1848, and was elected President in 1848.

Ulysses S. Grant, who was a General in the Civil War, gained the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee to end the war, and was elected President in 1868.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was General of the Army during World War II, and planned the D-Day invasion on France on June 6, 1944, and was elected President in 1952.

Two other Presidents had appointed experience in the US government as Cabinet Officers before they were elected President:

William Howard Taft, who served as Secretary of War under Theodore Roosevelt, and was elected President in 1908.

Herbert Hoover, who served as Secretary of Commerce under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, and was elected President in 1928.

And then, finally, there is Donald Trump, in a category by himself, as Chairman of the Trump Organization, his whole career in real estate, and also a reality star on television, a public figure for decades, but never holding office in any form by election or appointment, or by military service, but elected President in 2016.

“Non Politicians”–Presidential Winners And A Few Presidential Nominees

With three Republican Presidential candidates for 2016 being “non politicians”, people who have never served in a government position on the city, state or national level, the issue arises: have there been any other such candidates in the past?

It turns out that we have had several military generals who never served in a civilian position, that could qualify as “non politicians”.

This includes the following:

Zachary Taylor 1848 (Mexican War)

Winfield Scott 1852 (Mexican War)

George McClellan 1864 (Civil War)

Ulysses S. Grant 1868, 1872 (Civil War)

Winfield Scott Hancock 1880 (Civil War)

Taylor and Grant were elected, while Scott, McClellan, and Hancock were defeated in their attempts to become President.

McClellan did serve as Governor of New Jersey from 1878-1881, AFTER running for President against Abraham Lincoln.  But Taylor, Scott, Grant and Hancock never ran for public office.

Additionally, Horace Greeley, the New York Tribune publisher, ran for President in 1872, as the candidate of the Democratic Party and the breakaway group in the Republican Party opposed to Grant’s reelection, known as the “Liberal Republicans”.  He served very briefly as an appointed member of the House of Representatives, but not by vote of the people, but rather a choice of Whig Party leaders to fill a short term replacement before the election for the next term in Congress.  He served a total of only three months from December 1848 to March 1849, and did not run for the New York City seat.  Technically, one could say he had that political experience, but so little in time, that he could be seen as basically a “non politician” when he ran for President 24 years later, although being the editor of the New York Tribune was certainly “political” in nature.

Then we have Wall Street industrialist and businessman Wendell Willkie, who ran against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, after stirring the Republican National Convention and overcoming much better known Presidential candidates, but while running a good race, he lost, and then supported the World War II effort and cooperated with FDR until Willkie died in late 1944.

And finally, we have billionaire Ross Perot, who ran for President as an independent in 1992 and as the Reform Party candidate in 1996.

So only Zachary Taylor and Ulysses S. Grant were “non politicians” who were elected President.

The odds of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, or Dr. Benjamin Carson being elected President in 2016, therefore, are astronomical!

“Surprise” Presidential Nominees, And Often Winners, In American History

As we are about to enter August, the year before the Presidential Election Of 2016, we find two “surprise” candidates doing very well, if one is to judge by crowds and public opinion polls.

Whether Donald Trump and or Bernie Sanders have a real chance to be the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties is impossible to know this far ahead.

But in American history, there have been many surprise nominees, and or winners of the Presidency.

The examples of this phenomenon follow—17 Presidents and 6 Presidential nominees in 23 Presidential elections:

In 1844, James K. Polk was nominated by the Democrats on the 9th ballot, and went on to defeat the better known and more famous Henry Clay.

In 1848, Mexican War General Zachary Taylor, with no political experience, and no stands on political issues, was nominated by the Whig Party, and elected over Lewis Cass and Free Soil Party nominee, former President Martin Van Buren.

In 1852, little known Franklin Pierce was nominated by the Democrats on the 49th ballot, and went on to defeat famous Mexican War General Winfield Scott.

In 1860, one term Congressman Abraham Lincoln, not in public office in 12 years, was the choice of the Republican Party, and defeated Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell.

In 1868, Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War Union Army hero, with no political experience, was nominated by the Republicans, and defeated Horatio Seymour.

In 1872, the Democrats and a fringe group known as the “Liberal Republicans” nominated well known journalist Horace Greeley, who had never served in public office, losing to President Grant.

In 1892, former President Grover Cleveland, who had lost reelection in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, came back and defeated Harrison, becoming the only President to win, lose, and then win, and therefore, being listed as the 22nd and 24th Presidents of the United States.

In 1896, a former Nebraska Congressman, only 36 years old, William Jennings Bryan, inspired the Democratic convention and was nominated for President, but lost to William McKinley.

In 1904, an unknown (except in New York) state court judge, Alton B. Parker, was the Democratic nominee against Theodore Roosevelt, but lost.

In 1912, President of Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson, nominated on the 46th ballot by the Democrats, defeated President William Howard Taft, former President Theodore Roosevelt (running on the Progressive Party line), and Socialist Eugene Debs.

In 1920, an obscure Senator with no special accomplishments or credentials, Warren G. Harding, was nominated by the Republicans, and defeated Democratic nominee James Cox.

In 1924, the Democrats were deadlocked at their convention for 103 ballots, and finally nominated corporate attorney John W. Davis, who lost to President Calvin Coolidge and Progressive Party nominee Robert LaFollette, Sr.

In 1928, the Democrats nominated the first Catholic Presidential candidate, Alfred E. Smith, but he lost to Republican nominee Herbert Hoover.

In 1932, the Democrats nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been judged as having “no particular qualifications” for the Presidency, and he went on to defeat President Herbert Hoover.

In 1940, the Republicans nominated a businessman with no political experience, Wendell Willkie, after he inspired their convention, but he lost to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1948, President Harry Truman shocked the political world by winning a full term over Republican Thomas E. Dewey, States Rights nominee Strom Thurmond, and Progressive Party nominee, former Vice President Henry A. Wallace. He had been shown to be way behind Dewey in every political poll taken that year.

In 1952, a World War II general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, never having been involved in politics, was finally convinced to run for President, and defeated Democratic nominee Adlai E. Stevenson.

IN 1960, the second Catholic nominee for President, John F. Kennedy, was able to overcome the religion barrier, and be elected over Republican Richard Nixon, the well known and experienced Vice President under Eisenhower.

In 1968, former defeated Presidential candidate Richard Nixon came back eight years after having lost, and he won the Presidency over Hubert Humphrey and American Independent Party nominee George Wallace.

In 1976, a one term Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, considered unknown to most and given little chance for the Democratic Presidential nomination, surprised everyone and was elected over President Gerald Ford.

In 1980, an aging two time candidate for President, Ronald Reagan, ended up winning the Republican nomination, and was elected over President Carter.

In 1992, despite a sex scandal, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton won the Democratic nomination, and was elected over President George H. W. Bush and Independent nominee Ross Perot, even with Bush having enjoyed a 91 percent public opinion poll rating during the Persian Gulf War 18 months earlier.

In 2008, an African American first term Senator, with an Islamic middle name of Hussein, Barack Obama, overcame former First Lady Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and defeated Republican nominee John McCain for the Presidency.

So anything can happen in 2016, with further coverage of the upcoming election being resumed when the Iowa Caucuses take place on February 1.

Until then, this blogger will focus on the promotion of his new book on Presidential Assassinations and Threats. He will give information on the interviews that he will have on radio, tv/cable, the internet, and print media, so that my readers will have an opportunity to investigate my activities over the next six months.

When he has time, he will look at American political, diplomatic and constitutional history solely, as there is much fascinating material that can and should be discussed and analyzed. It will make a look at the future much more significant, as a result of the historical analysis of the Presidency, elections, political parties, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.