Woodrow Wilson

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.

99 Years Since America Entered World Affairs In A True Sense, And The Future!

99 years ago, on April 6,1917, the United States Congress declared war on Germany, and America entered “The Great War”, World War I.

Woodrow Wilson, by asking for a war declaration on April 2, took a fateful step that put America on the world stage, and committed us to sending American troops overseas.

It began a century in which America would be engaged in seven wars, and face the headaches and responsibilities of world leadership.

Now, we are hearing candidates, including Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who wish for us to retreat from that commitment to world affairs, as there is total disillusionment with our foreign policy under both Democrats and Republicans.

The world is a dangerous place, and trying to figure out what is best for America’s future in a world of nuclear weapons being spread, and of terrorism a threat all over the globe , is daunting!

We tried a return to isolationism in the 1920s and 1930s, and it was an utter failure and a disaster.

But at the same time, we were drawn into wars that could not be won, including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

So we are in a quandary, with no easy or simple solution as to what our future relationship with the world should be!

Are We On The Road To A 5th Four Way Presidential Election?

In American history, we have had four Presidential elections in which there were four candidates who gained a substantial percentage of popular votes.

The first time was 1824, with Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay.

The second time was 1860, with Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell.

The third time was 1912, with Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs.

The fourth time was 1948, with Harry Truman, Thomas E. Dewey, Strom Thurmond, and Henry A. Wallace.

The first two times, 1824 and 1860, saw the success of new political parties, the Democrats under Jackson by 1828 and the Republicans under Lincoln in 1860.  The third time brought the success of progressivism at its peak under Wilson with Roosevelt’s indirect contributions, and the fourth insured the forward movement in foreign and domestic policy under Truman.

Now in 2016, we could have four candidates, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and potentially Bernie Sanders or Jesse Ventura.  And who can deny that Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney or John Kasich might also be potential candidates?

The first three named above seem almost certain, but there is some speculation that Sanders could run on a independent line, and that Jesse Ventura, the former Governor of Minnesota, might run if Sanders fails to be the Democratic nominee, and decides to avoid an independent run.  If Trump is nominated, the odds of Ryan or Romney or Kasich running as the “Establishment” Republican opponent grows, just as is likely that Trump will run as an independent if he is not the party’s nominee.

Hillary Clinton would win against a split Republican Party, but IF Sanders runs or even Ventura, the potential exists, in a four way race, for anything to happen, including the need to use the 12th Amendment, as occurred in 1824, which would give the Republican nominee the advantage, with the Republican control of the House of Representatives!

Front Runners In Delegates At National Conventions Who Failed To Become The Nominee Of Their Party: William Henry Seward, Champ Clark, And Martin Van Buren!

Senator William Henry Seward of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Republican National Convention in 1860, but Abraham Lincoln won the nomination on the 3rd ballot, and went on to become the greatest President in American history!

Speaker of the House Champ Clark of Missouri was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1912, but Woodrow Wilson won the nomination on the 46th ballot, and went on to become one of the most significant President in American history, and took us through World War I.

Former President Martin Van Buren of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1844, but James K. Polk won the nomination on the 9th ballot, and went on to gain more territory, by peace treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, than any President except Thomas Jefferson!

Seward went on to become Lincoln’s and Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State, and helped to prevent Great Britain or France from recognizing the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and was able to arrange the purchase of Alaska from Czarist Russia in 1867.

Champ Clark remained Speaker of the House, and served eight years, from 1911-1919, one of the longer lasting Speakers in American history, with only five Speakers serving longer than him.

Martin Van Buren could have been the first Grover Cleveland, to have served two non-consecutive terms in the White House, but instead ran for President once again in 1848 as the candidate of the Free Soil Party, and in so doing, undermined the Democratic Party nominee, and helped indirectly to elect Whig nominee Zachary Taylor.  Van Buren became the first former President to run on a third party line, and the Free Soil Party was the first significant third party, winning 10 percent of the national popular vote, and being a forerunner of the modern Republican Party, which formed six years later, in 1854.

A total of  nine times in American history, we have seen the front runner in delegates fail to win the party’s nomination–three times for the Democrats, five times for the Republicans, and once for the Whigs, so if Donald Trump were to be denied the Republican nomination  in 2016, it would be far from unique or unusual!

The First Terrorist Attack: Columbus, New Mexico (Pancho Villa) March 9, 1916!

Most who study American history know of the British attack on Washington, DC on August 24, 1814, during the War of 1812.

They know of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, leading to World War II entrance.

Of course, they know of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, leading to the War on Terrorism.

But almost no one knows of the attack on Columbus, New Mexico, on March 9, 1916 by Mexican bandits led by rogue Pancho Villa, during the period known as the Mexican Revolution.

This attack led to the burning of this town on the Mexican border by several hundred Mexican guerrillas, and the deaths of 17 Americans.

President Woodrow Wilson sent in General John J. Pershing to hunt down Pancho Villa and the guerrillas, but this “Punitive Expedition”, lasting from March 14, 1916 to February 7, 1917 failed to accomplish its mission, and the American troops were withdrawn, after months of protests from the Mexican government about the invasion into their sovereign territory.

This was one of the many undeclared wars in American history, and was unable to fulfill its objective, the capture or killing of Villa, who was later killed by one of his followers in 1923.

So yesterday was the centennial anniversary of this tragic event!

New CNN Presidential Election Series: “Race For The White House”

CNN has begun a new six part series called “Race For The White House”, which will cover six Presidential elections over the next six weeks, each episode an hour in length, and narrated by actor Kevin Spacey.

On Sunday, the 1960 battle for the White House between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon was covered.

Future episodes in some order not known yet include chronologically:

1828–Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams

1860–Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas

1948–Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey

1988–George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis

1992–Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush

It is not clear why these particular elections were chosen, as there are many others, many more interesting and significant, that were not selected, including:

1896–William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan

1912—Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft

1928–Herbert Hoover and Alfred E. Smith

1932–Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover

1940–Franklin D. Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie

1968–Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, George C. Wallace

1980–Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, John Anderson

2000–George W. Bush and Al Gore

2008–Barack Obama and John McCain

This series is well worth watching, after having seen the first episode last night!

 

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!

 

Gregarious And “Loner” Presidents Since 1900; And Remaining Presidential Candidates’ Personalities Assessed!

Presidents have different personalities, with some being very gregarious and outgoing, clearly extroverts: and others being more described as “loners”, who could be cordial in public, but did not like being around government leaders very much, and are clearly introverts.

In the first category, we would include

Theodore Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harry Truman

John F. Kennedy

Lyndon B. Johnson

Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan

Bill Clinton

George W. Bush

In the second category, we would include

William Howard Taft

Woodrow Wilson

Warren G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Richard Nixon

Jimmy Carter

George H. W. Bush

Barack Obama is a unique case, not really fitting into either category clearly, as he can tend to be very gregarious, but also has difficulty dealing with Congress, with one speculating that he has been scarred by the total obstructionism of the opposition.  He tends to avoid “schmoozing”, although the feeling is that he is basically quite gregarious.

So putting Obama in a separate category, notice that 9 Presidents (5 Democrats, 4 Republicans) are considered gregarious, while 9 Presidents (7 Republicans,  2 Democrats) are considered more “loners”.

63 years we have had gregarious Presidents; 45 years we have had “loner” Presidents, and then we have the 8 years of Obama.

Notice that the gregarious Presidents have, as a group, a more positive image in history, than the “loner” Presidents, and they have more often been reelected!

Among remaining Presidential Candidates as of this date, the “gregarious” candidates would include Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, while the more “loner” types would be Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and Dr. Benjamin Carson.

Many Presidents Have Made Court Appointments In Last Year Of Term Or Presidency

The Republican Party is making the preposterous argument that a President, in his last year in office, should not be able to make an appointment to the Supreme Court, when history tells us otherwise.

Just because a President is finishing his time in office does not mean that he has no authority to do his job, which includes appointing judges and Justices!

And what about Presidents running for reelection, with the possibility that he might not be reelected?  Does that mean every President in the last year of any Presidential term should lose his powers to make appointments to the federal judiciary?

History tells us otherwise as witness the following:

George Washington 1796 –two appointments

Thomas Jefferson 1804–one appointment

Andrew Jackson 1836–two appointments, including Chief Justice Roger Taney, who remained on the Court for 28 years

Grover Cleveland 1888–two appointments, including Chief Justice Melville Fuller, who remained on the Court for 22 years

Benjamin Harrison 1892–one appointment

William Howard Taft 1912–one appointment

Woodrow Wilson 1916—two appointments, including the controversial, longest battle, to put Louis Brandeis on the Supreme Court

Herbert Hoover 1932–one appointment (Benjamin Cardozo)

Franklin D. Roosevelt 1940–one appointment  (Frank Murphy)

Ronald Reagan 1988–one appointment (Anthony Kennedy)

Additionally, Presidents have made appointments to the federal district and circuit courts when in the last year in office (Reagan 26 and 7; Clinton 37 and 9; Bush II 26 and 6; Obama 4 and 4).

And from 1947 to 2014, 416 District Court and 79 Circuit Court appointments have been made in Presidential election years.

So the Republican Party has no case for why Barack Obama should not be able to make an appointment, other than that they do not want a liberal replacing a conservative, and bringing the end of the 44 year conservative and Republican dominance on the Court.

But the answer to that is to stop being a crybaby and accept that your reign of dominance is coming to an end, and not too soon.

It is time to move into the 21st century of constitutional law, rather than dwell in the 19th century Gilded Age mentality of the conservatives on the Supreme Court!

 

 

44 Years Of Republican Supreme Court Majority Comes To An End With Death Of Justice Antonin Scalia!

The death of the most right wing Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia, in modern American history, offers Barack Obama and the Democrats a real opportunity to transform the majority of the Supreme Court, which has been with a Republican appointed majority for the last 44 years!

With the appointment and confirmation of Justices William Rehnquist and Lewis F. Powell, Jr. by Richard Nixon in January 1972, the beginning of the fourth year of his Presidency, we have had a Republican appointed majority, and the Democrats have only had a total of four appointments to the Court, as compared to the nine that the Republicans have had.

With nearly a full year until the next Presidential inauguration, there is no excuse for the Republicans to filibuster or to dismiss an appointment without just cause, and the Republicans are playing a very dangerous game in so threatening, within hours after Scalia’s death.  Public opinion is likely to reverberate against them if they follow through and create the longest delay in a Court appointment being confirmed.

The all time record is the 125 days between when Woodrow Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish member of the Court, until his confirmation in 1916.  The second longest delay was when Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork in 1987, and his rejection by the Senate after 114 days.

So to say it will take more than the 342 days when the next President is inaugurated to gain a ninth Supreme Court Justice is totally preposterous, and delays so many decisions, and basically cripples the ability of the Court to do its job, its constitutional duty.

Already, the Republicans have shown they do not believe in doing the government’s business in the House of Representatives and the Senate, so are they now going to do the same with the Supreme Court?

Is this the way for them to convince the nation to give them responsibility for control of both houses and the Presidency, and also the Court for the long term future?

Obviously, the answer is NO, so the chance for a Supreme Court of nine members might very well be resolved with Barack Obama appointing a perceived moderate to the Court, which will be hard for the Republicans to refuse to confirm!

Barack Obama is our President for another eleven months, and constitutionally, he has the right and the responsibility to choose a new Supreme Court Justice, no matter how the Republican Party feels about it!