James Garfield

The Presidency And Native Americans

A recent article on History News Network has rated Presidents on “Integrity and Humanity in Dealing with Native American Nations”, a significant analysis of how the “original” Americans have been treated by American government.

It is not a positive picture overall, and we have had Presidents who were particularly horrid in their treatment of native Americans, and others who had a more open minded and considerate reaction to the plight of native Americans.

The list of Presidents who are seen as villains includes:

Thomas Jefferson
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
Andrew Johnson
James Garfield
Theodore Roosevelt
Donald Trump

The list of Presidents who are seen as reformers includes:

John Quincy Adams
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Gerald Ford
Bill Clinton
Barack Obama

Overall, sadly, native Americans were treated with violence, disrespect and paternalism, with their lands stolen, and forced out of their ancestral lands!

Is It Unusual For Three Or More Consecutive Terms For A Political Party In The White House? NO!

The myth has been promoted that it is “unusual” for a political party to keep control of the White House for more than two terms, eight years, but nothing could be further from the truth!

In the first political party system, the Federalists held power for 12 years (1789-1801) under George Washington and John Adams, although the name “Federalist” did not exist formally until 1794, after the battle between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson created the first party system.

The Democratic Republicans then held power for 24 years (1801-1825) under Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe.

The newly constituted Democratic Party held power for 12 years (1829-1841) under Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren.

The newly constituted Republican Party held power for 24 years (1861-1885) under Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, and Chester Alan Arthur, although Andrew Johnson was never a Republican, but rather a Democrat put on the national ticket for election reasons by Lincoln in 1864, and Johnson having a disastrous relationship with the Republican Congress, and facing impeachment proceedings.

The Republican Party then held power for 16 years (1897-1913) under William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, and William Howard Taft.

The Republican Party then held power for 12 years (1921-1933) under Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.

The Democratic Party then held power for 20 years (1933-1953) under Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

The Republican Party then held power for 12 years (1981-1993) under Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

So political parties have held control of the White House for more than two terms a total of EIGHT TIMES, ranging from 24 years twice, 20 years once, 16 years once, and 12 years four times!

Also realize that Grover Cleveland and Al Gore won the national popular vote in 1888 and 2000, but lost the electoral college. Had they become President, then there would have been 12 straight years of Democrats from 1885-1897, assuming Cleveland might have gone for a third term in 1892, instead of trying to return to the White House; and if Al Gore had won in 2000, it would have been at least 12 straight years of Democrats from 1993-2005, and potentially a second Gore term in 2004!

The Best Hope For The Republican Party For 2016: Governor John Kasich Of Ohio!

It is becoming very clear that the best hope for the Republican Party to regain the White House in 2016 is NOT Jeb Bush, is NOT Chris Christie, is NOT Rand Paul, is NOT Scott Walker and is NOT anyone else being considered other than the sitting Governor of Ohio, John Kasich.

Of all of the potential GOP candidates for the Presidency, it is John Kasich who has the most distinguished record of accomplishments, who has made very few flubs or blunders, who has avoided making stupid statements up to the present, who has come across as a serious possibility from the state that is the ultimate “swing” state, Ohio.

NO Republican President has won office without winning Ohio, and from 1868 to 1923, there were SIX Republican Presidents from Ohio—Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, and Warren G. Harding.

The Republican National Convention will be in Cleveland, and what could be more dramatic than nominating the sitting Governor of Ohio in Ohio?

Kasich has the most years of experience of anyone on the Republican side, having 18 years in Congress, and risen to the Chairmanship of the House Budget Committee, before leaving Congress, being an anchor for awhile on Fox News Channel, then working on Wall Street, before winning two terms as Governor of the “Buckeye” state.

No one is trying to claim that Kasich has made no mistakes, but compared to everyone else in the race, Kasich is the highest quality. While in Congress, he supported the Brady Assault Weapons Ban legislation and angered the National Rifle Association. He angered Tea Party groups by accepting Medicaid expansion, one of a very few Republican governors who have done that.

Kasich has worked against abortion rights, and has been shown to be anti union, typical of Republicans on the other hand, but he has also come across as an independent guy, who some have said has been influenced by the fact that his parents, killed tragically in an auto accident, were Democrats.

Kasich was considered as Bob Dole’s Vice Presidential running mate in 1996 but Jack Kemp instead was the choice of the Republican Presidential nominee. In 1999, he considered a Presidential candidacy but dropped out and endorsed George W. Bush. He could have stayed on in his Congressional seat and easily retained it, but decided after 18 years, it was time to move on. Had Dole picked him, he would have been only 44, and had he had a more serious Presidential bid in 2000, he would have been 48. Now he will be 64 in 2016, still young enough to be vibrant!

Kasich is also a reasonable man, a pleasant man, and avoids the image of arrogance and elitism that so many other Republicans exude. One can imagine a President Kasich, and if forced to do that, would be better able to live with it, as he is not a Tea Party Movement guy, not a Religious Right guy, not a libertarian! In fact, he is a bit of a skeptic about religion in politics, and has changed his religious views over his lifetime from Catholic to Anglican. He is in the mainstream of America, and is the best that the GOP has to offer, assuming former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman does not change his mind and decide to run after all!

Presidential Candidate Losers Become Secretaries Of State

If one cannot win the White House, there is always the consolation prize of being the leader of the Presidential cabinet, as Secretary of State.

So we see a distinguished list of Presidential candidate losers who took on the most important and most publicized cabinet agency, the State Department. What follows is the list of these distinguished public servants and the national election that they lost.

Henry Clay (1824) was Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams.

Daniel Webster (1836) was Secretary of State under William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore.

Lewis Cass (1848) was Secretary of State under James Buchanan.

James G. Blaine (1884) was Secretary of State under James Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison.

William Jennings Bryan (1896, 1900, 1908) was Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson.

Charles Evans Hughes (1916) was Secretary of State under Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

John Kerry (2004) was Secretary of State under Barack Obama.

Centennial Of Gerald Ford’s Birth: A Time To Honor Our 38th President!

Today is the centennial of President Gerald Ford’s birth, and a moment to celebrate and honor our 38th President.

Gerald Ford will never go down as a great, near great, or above average President, being ranked right in the middle of our 43 Presidents, but he made a vast difference to our nation.

Gerald Ford demonstrated decency, humanity, courage, conviction, and decisiveness when such attributes were needed.

Gerald Ford became President by accident, having had no desire or ambition to be President, but steadying the ship of state after the Watergate Scandal led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Thank goodness the nation had found out about the corruption and venality of Vice President Spiro Agnew, forcing his resignation, and the implementation of the 25th Amendment, just passed and ratified six years earlier.

Nixon picked Ford as Agnew’s successor due to his popularity with both his Republican colleagues and the respect and high regard that he was held in by the opposition Democrats, who controlled both houses of Congress.

Ford had served 25 years in the House of Representatives from Grand Rapids, Michigan, and had been the Republican leader in the House for nearly nine years, when he was tapped for the Vice Presidency.

Ford had always had the ambition to become Speaker of the House one day, if only the Republicans were to gain control of the House, which they did not do for 40 years from 1955-1995.

Ford had to “walk on eggs” for the eight months of his Vice Presidency, being there to help Nixon but not be too closely associated with him, and he acted totally in an appropriate manner.

Gerald Ford was a likeable “regular guy”, and graced us with his First Lady, Betty Ford, a truly elegant woman who dignified and added to the role of First Ladies during her two years and five months as a woman of principle, courage, and openness not typical of most earlier First Ladies.

Gerald Ford served only two years, five months and eleven days, a total of 895 days in the Oval Office, the fifth shortest duration of any occupant in the Presidency, with shorter terms of Warren G. Harding, Zachary Taylor, James Garfield, and William Henry Harrison.

Ford faced tough challenges with the decision to pardon Richard Nixon; The Mayaguez Affair with Cambodia; the difficult Recession of 1974-1975, the worst since the Great Depression; the challenge for the 1976 Republican Presidential nomination by former Governor Ronald Reagan; and the difficult election campaign against former Governor Jimmy Carter.

Ford also faced the unbelievable threat of two assassination attempts within seventeen days in September 1975, fortunately ducking bullets twice in an heroic manner.

Ford stood out as a moderate conservative who always could work across the aisle with his rivals, the Democrats, something that would not be admired today by the Tea Party Movement element which has damaged the heritage, tradition and future of the Republican Party.

If Gerald Ford were here today, he would be shocked at the social conservatism of the religious Right and the venal attacks on Barack Obama by conservative ideologues, and would probably not be accepted in the GOP of 2013 as legitimate!

Gerald Ford outlived Ronald Reagan by six weeks, and remains, as of now, our longest lived President, and it is appropriate to wish him a happy 100th birthday!

And I am thrilled to announce that later this week, I will be visiting the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with my younger son, and am thrilled that the timing is such as to coincide with the Centennial of Gerald Ford’s birth! I am looking forward to learning more about the historical contributions of our 38th President, who deserves our respect and thanks!

The Biggest Loss Of A President Ever, Never Had Chance To Show His Brilliance—Our 20th President, James A. Garfield (1881)

America has suffered the loss of eight Presidents who died in office, four by natural causes, and four by assassination.

Each one was a loss, but the greatest loss is clearly James A. Garfield, our 20th President, who served four months before being wounded by an assassin, Charles Guiteau, and proceeded being the victim of medical malpractice and ignorance, and died after 80 days, much of it in a coma.

Sure, the death of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy were horrible losses, but all three had already made major contributions.

Sure, the death of William Henry Harrison after a month, and Zachary Taylor after 16 months, was a loss, but both, who had served as military heroes in wartime, did not have the same potential to have a dramatic impact upon history.

Sure, the death of William McKinley by assassination was a tragedy, but it caused America to have Theodore Roosevelt as President.

The death of Warren G. Harding led to Calvin Coolidge, who was certainly an improvement.

But the death of Garfield in 1881 was a case of a man who did not have a chance to show his brilliance, as pointed out yesterday in the Washington Post.

Garfield was born into poverty, but became a professor, Civil War general, businessman, and member of the House of Representatives, elected to the Senate at the same time he became President by a narrow margin, and the only President, therefore, to go directly from the House of Representatives to the White House.

A “dark horse” nominee who really did not want the Presidency, he gave a powerful Inaugural Address on March 4, 1881, speaking up for African Americans and civil rights, and also in his brief term, pushing hard for civil service reform.

Garfield appointed famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass and three other African Americans to posts in his administration, and he was said to have the ability to write in Greek and Latin with both hands, an amazing feat!

Garfield was a man of principle and conviction, and there are various memorials in Washington, DC and elsewhere in honor of a man who only served briefly in the Presidency, and a visit to his home in Mentor, Ohio, as this author has been fortunate to visit, is indeed a memorable event!

So as much as the loss of other Presidents is hard to deal with, the Garfield story is, in many ways, the most tragic!

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!

Rapidly Growing Polarization Threatens Safety Of President Obama And Vice President Biden!

As the fury and anger of critics of President Obama and Vice President Biden on so many issues—the debt ceiling, gun control legislation, Cabinet nominees, gay rights, immigration reform, climate change, and foreign policy controversies (including a nuclear Iran, the Syrian Civil War, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea)— continues to escalate to dangerous emotional levels, the safety of both men is, more than ever, a subject of great concern not often directly talked about publicly.

The argument could be that both the President and Vice President have exceptional Secret Service security, and that we need not worry.

But as one realizes as we begin the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination this coming November 22, no security detail can guarantee the safety of any President, Vice President, or anyone else.

There is always the “lone wolf” out there, ready to sacrifice himself to gain glory, to make a political point, to act out hatred of someone, knowing they will be part of the American history story forever, as much as John Wilkes Booth, Charles Guiteau, Leon Czolgosz and Lee Harvey Oswald—the assassins of Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy, respectively!

And the rhetoric that has become “normal” these days is far greater than it was even when John F. Kennedy was traveling to Dallas, Texas, almost 50 years ago.

And we have talk show hosts on radio and Fox News Channel who thrive on building hate and animosity and conspiracy theories, and will stop at nothing in their hateful and divisive rhetoric!

And we have the power of pressure groups, and not just the National Rifle Association, but many others, who ratchet up the stress and tension by making it seem like the world will end, due to the federal government passing legislation or extending executive authority, as if we are Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Soviet Union, or Communist China, when our history and our heritage have nothing to do with the history of those nations!

As we come up to the second inauguration of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, we all need to do a lot of praying that the polarization which exists will not lead to a greater tragedy which solves nothing, and just would show the depths of the threats we face from right wing wingnuts who want to set back the progress of America, and are delusional about the world they live in!

September 17, and Mid September: A Momentous Time Historically In America

Today, 225 years ago, 39 delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the Constitution, hoping it would keep America united as a nation.

150 years ago today, the fears they had of an America dividing reached its peak of death and destruction, with the Battle of Antietam, which killed and wounded more soldiers on one day than any other battle of the Civil War, and indeed, more than on D Day on June 6, 1944.

And four years ago, after the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, the stock market was reeling from its greatest collapse since the Great Depression of 1929, putting us into the Great Recession, which although technically over, still has an impact on America and its Presidential election in 2012!

Mid September has been a bad time for America historically, with the death of President William McKinley by assassination on September 14, 1901, and the death of President James Garfield by assassination on September 19, 1881, as additional moments of trial and tribulation!

Unpleasant Presidential-Vice Presidential Ties Throughout American History

It has become evident that in many cases, no love is lost between sitting Presidents and Vice Presidents, who often link up for electoral reasons, but often have poor chemistry in working together. And many times, a President has wished to “dump” his Vice President, when running for another term in office, and a few times has done so.

Examples of unpleasant Presidential-Vice Presidential relationships include:

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, with Jefferson, the opponent in the 1796 Presidential election, becoming Vice President, but leading to the 12th Amendment in 1804, to prevent any future such combination. The two men fought each other bitterly, and opposed each other again in 1800.

Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, “tied” in electoral votes in 1800, forcing the election to the House of Representatives, leading to Alexander Hamilton’s endorsement of Jefferson and trashing of Burr, and causing Hamilton’s death in a gun duel with Burr in 1804. Jefferson had no relationship with Burr, after Burr tried to “steal” the election, and he was “dumped” in 1804.

John Quincy Adams and John C Calhoun, who were rivals in 1824, had totally different views of the protective tariff, with Calhoun switching to support of Andrew Jackson and running with Jackson in 1828.

Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun were elected together in 1828, but Calhoun broke with Jackson over the protective tariff, resigning, and creating a potential threat of civil war, with the Nullification Crisis of 1833, resolved by a compromise devised by Henry Clay. Jackson even threatened to kill Calhoun if he promoted secession of South Carolina from the Union.

William Henry Harrison, elected with John Tyler in 1840, had totally divergent views since Tyler was a Democrat running on the Whig Party line, and Tyler succeeded to the Presidency when Harrison died after one month in office in 1841, and the Whigs made Tyler’s life miserable.

Abraham Lincoln and his first Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, elected in 1860, hardly knew each other, and the indications are that Hamlin had no major role in the administration, and was replaced by Andrew Johnson on the ticket for 1864 for political reasons.

Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, elected together in 1864, with Lincoln picking Democrat Johnson to help win support in the North, then was assassinated, and succeeded by Johnson after six weeks of the second term in 1865.

James Garfield and Chester Alan Arthur were elected together in 1880, from different factions of the Republican Party, and when Garfield died from assassination wounds six months into office, Arthur finished up the rest of the term from 1881-1885.

Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Marshall were elected together in 1912, but Marshall was “kept out of the loop”, and when Wilson suffered a stroke in 1919, was denied access to the President by Mrs. Wilson, never knowing the extent of Wilson’s incapacity for the rest of the term to 1921.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his first Vice President, John Nance Garner were elected to two terms together in 1932 and 1936, with Garner unhappy with the New Deal programs, and wanting to succeed FDR in 1940, and alienated when FDR ran for a third term in 1940.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his second Vice President, Henry A. Wallace were elected together in 1940, but Wallace was “dumped” by FDR in 1944, to please Southern Democrats unhappy with Wallace’s advocacy of civil rights for African Americans, and his backing of close relations with the Soviet Union.

Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were elected together in 1952 and 1956, but Ike wished to “dump” Nixon in 1956 although that did not happen, and he was less than supportive of Nixon in 1960 and 1968.

John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, elected together in 1960, were never close, having been rivals for the Presidential nomination, with LBJ feeling slighted by Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General and brother of the President, and rumors swirling that he would be “dumped” in 1964, if Kennedy had lived.

Lyndon B. Johnson and Hubert H. Humphrey were elected together in 1964, but with Humphrey feeling mistreated by LBJ, and unhappy as Vice President, seeing himself trapped, and being undermined when he was the Presidential nominee in 1968, and LBJ working against him when Humphrey ran against Richard Nixon.

Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were elected together in 1968 and 1972, with Agnew feeling “used” by Nixon to do his “dirty work” against the news media, and gaining no support from Nixon when in legal trouble over accepting bribes, leading to his resignation in 1973. Agnew refused to speak ever again to his former boss.

Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were never close, and the Bushes were never invited to the White House by the Reagans, after their two victories in elections in 1980 and 1984.

George H. W. Bush and Dan Quayle were elected together in 1988, with obvious discomfort by Bush as to Quayle’s performance in his term of office as Vice President, and considered “dumping” him in 1992, but not done in that losing re-election effort.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore, elected together in 1992 and 1996, got along well, but after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a growing divide occurred between the two men, and Gore decided not to have Clinton help him in the Presidential campaign of 2000, and then the two men had angry words in a confrontation in the Oval Office after the defeat.

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, elected together in 2000 and 2004, originally worked well together, but Bush then ignored Cheney’s advice often in the second term, and refused Cheney’s request that Scooter Libby be given a pardon. Cheney, in his memoir, made clear that his relationship with Bush had cooled.

So often, the relationship between President and Vice President has been a very difficult one, an interesting aspect of American history!

Exceptions to this were the close relationship of Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller between 1974 and 1977, although Rockefeller was “dumped” from the ticket in 1976 for Bob Dole, a move that Ford later said he did for political reasons, and greatly regretted; the extremely close ties between Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale between 1977-1981, with Mondale practically a “Co President”; and the present relationship between Barack Obama and Joe Biden since 2009.