presidents


My birthday was on Monday, and so I am now the proud owner of two DVD Box sets. The First, given by my girlfriend was Band of Brothers, the World War II HBO miniseries that was made a few years ago and is always shown on veterans and Memorial Day. The second was procured with help from my mother. She gave me a check, which equaled the Civil War Ken Burns documentary.

I realize that I may love history more than most do. And I have often thought that maybe I should go back to school and get a degree in history. And I may do so. I’ve been researching how much it would cost and what schools I should go to and if my already present degree would eliminate the unnecessary courses like science and math. Or if it would be possible for me to take some kind of test in which I could be placed in an advanced class or maybe just audit enough for me to get the degree without having to be admitted to a four-year school. Because I think I would love a history degree for many reasons.

I’ve been tooling around with a book idea, which I plan to first publish here for the sake of just getting my thoughts out there. The title I have come up with is “Thoughts on the Government of the United States of America” based on John Adams Thoughts on Government, and Thomas Jefferson’s Thoughts on the Stet of Virginia. Plus a bunch of anarchist doctrine from Thomas Paine.

But while thinking of all this, I thought about what would have happened if Jefferson had gone with the original John Locke phrase “Life, Liberty, and Property” as apposed to paraphrasing the “Life Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” phrase he got from George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights in which he stated that “all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights of which…[they cannot divest;] namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety…”

I wonder if Jefferson just said property as apposed to the pursuit of happiness whether or not we would have had the Civil War. Slavery would than be arguably protected by the declaration of independence and would have been argued more fiercely at the constitutional convention and argued into law. Thank god Jefferson didn’t want to plagiarize, just paraphrase…

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One of the key arguments I have heard as to why Barack Obama should not be president has been his lack of experience. But what I find so odd is the idea that any one has experience at being president. Out of our first five presidents, one had experience leading men. Washington was a General, Adams lead committees in congress and was a third of the diplomatic team in Europe, Jefferson was a farmer, architect, scientist, writer, lover, jerk, and a horrible wartime governor of Virginia. Madison was a congressmen and writer, Monroe was the same. None of these men, with the exception of Washington had significant experience leading men. Or any before the country’s creation.

But another example sticks out in my mind, which I think is more relevant towards the experience question.

There was a man from Illinois who was awkward, considered two-faced, and only served 2 years on the national level as a lame-duck one-term congressman who could not win re-election. He retired from politics until a major political and social issue arose and required, in this man’s mind, a sudden and determined change. The issue was Slavery, the man Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln can arguably be called our greatest president.

Now, I have no idea what kind of president Obama would be. I haven’t even made a choice on whom I’m voting for, but I will say this, the people currently with the greatest resumes are Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. And look at the good job they’re doing….

biggerbox at Mahablog points out that our president perhaps does not know his history. I sure hope the people who listened to his speech do. If not, this seems like a good reason to keep on blogging.

On July 3, 1826, Thomas Jefferson slipped into a coma. He last words were, “is it the fourth?” Jefferson died the next day, July 4, 1826, 50 years after that fateful day in 1776 that made him famous and wrote that hollowed document that changed America and the World.

On that same day in Quincy, MA, John Adams slumped into his reading chair and died. His last words are quoted as “Thomas Jefferson Survives.”

50 years before this, the two men combined their talents and formed a friendship that helped bring about the American Revolution and our independence. That bond was solidified in 1785, when Jefferson and Adams were both presented to King George III, and George turned his back to them. Neither man forgot the incident, nor did they forget who was standing by their side.

Their friendship went through harsh times during the party wars of post-Washington politics. (I refer to the person, not the place here.)

Jefferson’s epitaph read:
HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

There as no mention of his presidency, a time in his life he most hated.

Adams was the longest living person to hold both the highest offices in the land. He was 90 when he died. And until Ronald Regan broken his record in 1981, he was the oldest president to be elected.

What with Senator Clinton, Mayor Giuliani, DA Branch (…oh, I mean Fred Thompson), and now maybe Mayor Bloomberg, a whole lot of people with residences in New York are running for president. There are rumors of anti-New York bias in the heartland.

But consider this. The following presidents were from New York. I leave it up to you to debate their relative merits:

* Martin Van Buren
* Millard Fillmore
* Theodore Roosevelt
* Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I don’t know much about Van Buren. He was short (nicknamed “Little Magician”) and was elected on the promise that he’d keep the Jacksonian good times going, but the nation fell into Depression on his watch. (See more here.)

My 10th grade American history teacher had Millard Fillmore on his list of the top 5 Americans because Fillmore was the first to put flushable toilets in the White House. He may also be indirectly responsible for bad political satire. Here it says that he was anti-Jacksonian. It’s nice to have contrast. It also says that the Compromise of 1850, regarding the admittance of the new states won from Mexico and their relative free or slave status, was implemented by Fillmore. California was admitted as a free state.

The two Roosevelts I imagine you know a little bit about, but here’s more on Teddu>a? and on FDR.

It could be worse, I guess. I would argue that FDR was one of our greatest presidents, though, so New York doesn’t have such a bad legacy. And FDR co-existed with Al Smith, also from New York, although they didn’t run for president in the same year (Smith ran in ’28, Roosevelt in ’32). Both had governed New York, though. Maybe Smith’s loss was our gain, because he went on to promote the building of the Empire State Building instead of running the country, and that building is one of the top destinations for out-of-towners now. So there, anti-New Yorkers!

But I digress. It looks like New York presidents are a mixed bag. So the lesson may be that where you come from has little to do with how you’d do as president, and maybe that’s something those anti-New York folk should consider when going to the ballot box. Not that this is an endorsement, just saying. New York ain’t so bad.