Monday, March 19, 2012

He Was The President?

There have been 44 Presidents of the United States of America, from 1789 until today. Now every kid in America has had to write or do some type of project about one of this fine men, but beyond that what do we really learn about the Presidents? Sure, we learn about Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan and so on. But what about the other guys? There are many Presidents that are surely worth remembering but then there are some that really no one, not even the  kids who did their 5th grade report on them remembers. I have compromised a list of the Top Ten Most Forgettable Presidents. Now, how does one complete a list like this? I looked around some history books, news articles, surfed Wikipedia pages and searched for other peoples opinions then weighed my options heavily and thus this list was created. So without further ado, here are ten men who are hardly ever remembered as being President.

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President Millard Fillmore, aside from looking like a heavy set Alex Baldwin, there is not much left to say about him. He was President Zachary Taylor's VP and would then receive his parties nomination in 1850. Most people don't really discuss that time period in American history, well because one topic trumps them all: slavery. Like any good President, Fillmore tried to take control of the issue but fell extremely short. He helped oversee the creation of The Compromise of 1850 and would be the tie breaking vote in it's passing. Unfortunately for him, it fell short of its purpose and it was mainly Fillmore's fault. The Compromise was like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. So with that failure and the fact Fillmore allowed slavery to be used in the newly gained Mexican Territories is what lands "The American" in our number 10 spot.

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Old Rough and Ready, President Zachary Taylor. The only reason President Taylor is landing in  the number 9 spot is because, well he is a damn war hero that's why. Taylor rode the wave of his time served as a General in the Mexican American War all the way to Washington D.C. However, Taylor never had time to establish himself amongst the great Presidents as he died in office. Since Taylor was only President for a year no one ever really looks back at his polices of the foundation he built for his term. So just based on his short term is what lands him on this list.

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Many people only know the name Chester A. Arthur from the Die Hard With A Vengeance movie reference. From the beginning of his Presidency, Arthur was a big weirdo. After taking the oath of office the next thing on the Presidents agenda would be moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but Arthur refused. See Arthur was too busy remodeling his home and would not leave until it was finished. That's strike one, strike two came that Arthur was a very vocal anti-bigamist and in his failure and refusal to enforce the 15th Amendment. But strike three comes from his lack luster efforts in stopping the Jim Crow laws. He actually never did anything about them and I might have just given him too much credit by using the word effort. Hopefully President Arthur is happy having most American's remember him as the namesake for a school Detective John McClane had to save, and placing him at number eight on our list.

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The name James Polk will always be tied to the greatest high school running back of all time, Al Bundy. That's right the same Polk High that Al Bundy lead to and scored four touchdowns in the 1966 Chicago City Championship is named for our own President James Polk, who finds himself in our number seven spot. But Polk really didn't do anything bad during his time Presidency. He guided the U.S. to victory during the Mexican American War and set the standard for expansion policies. Under Polk the U.S. was doing pretty well for itself. However, Polk goes almost forgotten but amongst historians he is usually ranked amongst the greatest Presidents of all time, and has been called the, "least known consequential president."

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This gentlemen above can lead to hours long debates and I bet most people would have no idea who he is. John Hanson will sit in the middle of our list at number 6 because I am not sure we can really consider him President. Hanson was the Presiding Officer to the Continental Congress from 1781-1782. His powers were granted to him by the Continental Congress and the Articles of Confederation, both of which would have approved or denied any of Hanson's actions. The reason Hanson is on this list is because he did help in the forming of the role of President even though he never really was. Many people will argue that he was the first American President, but they can never win and that honor will always go to President Washington as he was the President of an independent American nation. Hanson, in a modern sense, can he seen almost as President of the Senate, thus not making him a President, but definitely giving him honorable mention as one of America's forgotten leaders..

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When people hear the name Hoover, Herbert Hoover is never the first thing to come to mind, I always think of the Hoover vacuum. Yet, Herbert Hoover was quite a successful President. He pushed for "economic modernization" and strongly backed the Efficiency Movement. He also called upon the American people to volunteer as he felt it was beneficial to the American society and culture. But Hoover has been overshadowed by the Great Depression and Franklin Roosevelt. What most people don't know about Hoover is that he tried to curb the Depression as it was starting. First and most famously he started the construction of the Hoover Dam and other public works programs. He changed the taxing systems, increasing the top tax bracket from 25% to 63% along with increasing corporate taxes. He also allowed the passing of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which effectively lowered import and export tariffs. Unfortunately for Hoover and America, this help came a little to late and nothing would be able to stop the Great Depression for destroying the American economy and Hoover's chances for re-election. It is because of the Great Depression that Hoover has become a forgotten President which places him at number 5.

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William Henry Harrison has the shortest presidential term to date, 32 days, so as you can see it's pretty easy to have forgotten about him. Harrison, however, is pretty interesting. He served the shortest term but delivered the longest inaugural speech, about 2 hours longs. And Harrison was a tough guy as well, before he was elected President at 68 years old, he was quite the military man being involved in many frontier battles, most famously the Battle of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812. Harrison's rough and toughness carried over to his inaugural day speech as he stood in the rain without a coat, umbrella or any other type of protection from the elements. That would ultimately lead to him catching pneumonia and dying only a month into his term and almost erasing him from our memories as President and landing him in the number 4 spot.

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Its only fitting that the next man would be Harrison's replacement, President John Tyler. He was even dubbed "His Accidency" by his own and opposing party. Tyler vetoed all his party's proposals and pretty much turned his back on the Independent party ideals. Although his domestic policies were terrible he was very active in his foreign policy practices. He passed a boarder treaty with England and a trade agreement with China. However, the crowning jewel of Tyler's presidency was hes never ending quest to annex Texas. Tyler would had leave office knowing he had no chance of re-election and would not try his hand at politics again until the Civil War.

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Yes, that is Warren G. Harding and not just a younger picture of Thomas Edison. Harding won the 1920 election by the largest popular vote ever based on his "America First" campaign. Harding was a true politician giving powerful positions to his buddies, then known as the Ohio Gang. He didn't do well on the world stage, undoing President Woodrow Wilson's work with the League of Nations. But domestically he wasn't so bad. He worked with striking railroad and mining unions, established the first child welfare program, reorganized the Veterans Bureau and unemployment dropped by 50%. Harding is often seen as one of America's worst Presidents, mainly do to his foriegn policies but I think he was never able to achieve all his domestic goals as he died in office in 1923. 

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Finally, our number one most forgotten President is... President  William "Big Papi" Taft. That's right Taft is perhaps unknown to most Americans but he was America's largest President. Taft was one large American standing over 6 feet tall and weighing well over 300 lbs. But aside form his physical prowess Taft wasn't a half bad President. In fact people felt he'd be such a good President he was hand picked for the job and groomed until ready. During his term Taft passed the 16th Amendment, pushed for trust busting, reformed the civil service system and many other progressive actions as he was a student of Teddy Roosevelt. As for his foriegn policies Taft tried to expand America's economic reach into Asia and South America under his "Dollar Diplomacy" acts. But Taft goes forgotten being overshadowed by his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt and his successor Woodrow Wilson. But amongst historians he is usually ranked around number 20 on the President's list.

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Ok, so what do we take away from this list? Well for starters we really need to brush up on out U.S Presidents. But more importantly there is always something a President does that they will forever be remembered for. We've heard some pretty bad things and some very good things. I think for us to look back at the Presidents and need at least 50 years before we can judge their Presidency. In our recent history we have seen that both President Bush and President Obama have both been called the worst President's ever but what do we know? We are looking at the now and not the long term. I'm sure at the time these 10 men were never called the worst President ever, it takes time to be the worst or best President ever and it takes a future generation to make that call when seeing the outcome of all a President's work. 

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