Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Seven American Presidents Nobody Remembers?

CNN has an article up by Christopher Connolly titled Seven presidents nobody remembers. I have to object to several names on the list. Perhaps the general public does not remember them but to historians studying the American Presidency, a few men on this list are hardly obscure.

Warren Harding - Connolly wrote, "Warren G. Harding is generally regarded as the worst president ever. He was disappointing from the get-go, as the very basis of his campaign was boring. Harding ran on the promise of a 'return to normalcy,' which he (somehow) felt people craved following Woodrow Wilson's bold and visionary term."

The fact that just about everyone except political detractors of the current President Bush consider Harding the worst president ever keeps him off the forgotten list. The worst will always be remembered. (Although James Buchanan is often ranked as worse than Harding should not be forgotten either.)

Chester Arthur - Connolly wrote, "Most people don't know ol' Chesty for anything other than his mammoth moustache. But he should be remembered as a guy who rose to the occasion."

And the occasion he arose to was a massive reform of the civil service system which greatly helped some of the presidents who followed Arthur in office. Presidential historians often reference him and he is actually ranked higher on the list of presidents by historians than the "forgotten" tag would indicate.

John Tyler - Connolly wrote, "John Tyler was up against it from the start. For one thing, he only got to be president because he was the VP under William Henry Harrison, who died of pneumonia following his inauguration speech. Let's put it this way: When your nicknames include 'His Accidency,' you're not destined to make a splash."

As Tyler clearly established that a vice-president assuming a vacant presidential post was actually the president, his actions were huge. The "his accidency" reference comes from those who believed that a vice-president in this situation was actually an "acting" president. Presidents such as Truman and Ford have much to thank Tyler for. Further, Tyler is the only American President to have actually openly committed an act of treason against the USA when he served in the Confederate rebel government. Forgotten? Hardly.

I can not disagree with Connoly putting Fillmore, Hayes, or Van Buren on the list. Hoover is debatable. Why did he not include Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison, or James Garfield on the list though? These men are much more forgotten by historians as presidents.


Greg said...

CNN actually got this article from the magazine Mental Floss which was where I originally read it. I have to agree with you on most of your points, especially regarding Warren G. Harding and Chester Arthur making the list and the exclusion of both Franklin Pierce and William Henry Harrison from the list. One of the ones I always have trouble remembering is Rutherford B. Hayes which is odd considering that Mental Floss devoted a page to him.

napoleon15 said...

Warren G. Harding may have been useless, but did he do any great damage? I could name several Presidents who have done far more damage than he did. Jimmy Carter, for instance.

M said...

"Warren G. Harding may have been useless, but did he do any great damage? I could name several Presidents who have done far more damage than he did."

Teapot Dome anyone?

Dsellers said...

The University of Houston College of Education in conjunction with HoustonPBS just launched this site as a way for those who fought in, or lived through World War II to share their stories. It is also envisioned as a powerful tool for teachers providing them with multimedia clips and interviews as well as personal stories and lesson plans relating to the war.