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OBAMA WASHINGTON NIXON JFK REAGAN JEFFERSON ROOSEVELT LINCOLN CLINTON

NEW
Book of

US PRESIDENTS Discover the iconic leaders


who shaped history

CARTER BUSH EISENHOWER HOOVER CLEVELAND MADISON TRUMAN ADAMS WILSON


Welcome to
Book of

US PRESIDENTS
In 1789 George Washington was elected as the irst president of
the United States and helped to usher in a new era in world
history following the epochal events of the American
Revolutionary War. Since then, the history of the United States,
and indeed the world, has been shaped by the people who have
held the nations most powerful oice. From inspirational leaders
like Abraham Lincoln to lawed and controversial igures such as
Richard Nixon, the White House has played host to some of the
most iconic individuals in history. The All About History Book of
US Presidents proiles each and every one of them. With detailed
features on every president, from Washington to Obama, this
book ofers a compelling insight into the people that shaped the
United States as we know it today. We hope you enjoy it.
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All About History Book of US Presidents 2016 Imagine Publishing Ltd


ISBN 9781785462566

Part of the

bookazine series
US Presidents

54

Contents
8 The birth of the 62 Andrew Johnson
US presidency
64 Ulysses S Grant
12 George
Washington 66 Rutherford
B Hayes 130 138
20 John Adams
68 James A Garfield
24 Thomas Jefferson
70 Chester A Arthur
28 James Madison
72 Grover
30 James Monroe Cleveland
32 John Quincy 74 Benjamin
Adams Harrison
34 Andrew Jackson 76 William
McKinley
38 Martin 94
Van Buren 78 Theodore
Roosevelt
40 William Henry
Harrison 82 William
Howard Taft
42 John Tyler
84 Woodrow Wilson
44 James K Polk
88 Warren G
46 Zachary Taylor Harding
48 Millard Fillmore 90 Calvin Coolidge
50 Franklin Pierce 92 Herbert Hoover
52 James Buchanan 94 Franklin D
Roosevelt
54 Abraham
Lincoln 98 Harry S Truman

6
Contents

104 136

118

78
102 Dwight D
Eisenhower
104 John F Kennedy
114 Lyndon B
Johnson
12 142
118 Richard Nixon
126 Gerald Ford
128 Jimmy Carter
130 Ronald Reagan
134 George HW Bush
136 Bill Clinton
138 George W Bush
142 Barack Obama

7
US Presidents

The birth
of the US
presidency
Discover the origins of the US presidency and how
a single elected person becomes one of the most Franklin D Roosevelt was elected for an
unprecedented third term in 1940, the
powerful leaders in the world one and only time this has occured

The Mayflower carried around 100


pilgrims to the new world, arriving in
Provincetown, Massachusetts in 1620

T
he birth of the US presidency came off debts and it become apparent that Congress
about back in 1776, when a group of lacked the power to do anything about it. This
13 British colonies on the east coast resulted in many citizens recognising the need
of North America, acting through to strengthen the government and give it more
the Second Continental Congress (a power to act in such circumstances.
convention of delegates from each of the The result was that in 1787, the Constitutional
colonies), declared political independence Convention convened to strengthen the central
from Great Britain during the American government and, after much wrangling from all
Revolution. The resulting independent states sides, the Constitution was written up to create
acknowledged the need to coordinate their a more perfect union between the states. With
efforts in distancing themselves from the the formation of centralised governments often
British, and its monarchy, and the Articles of being settled by all-out war in other countries,
Confederation (a formal agreement among the the fact that that Constitution was created
13 newly formed states that served as its first under a blanket of calm by all parties concerned
constitution) was established to form a link felt somewhat unique in world history. If the
between them. delegates failed in what they were trying to
However, over time it became apparent that the achieve, however, it would send a message that
Articles of Confederation didnt provide enough a government couldnt be created with calm
power for a centralised government. Of course, debate, and that such agreements would always
Congress could form its own determinations be subject to conflict or pure chance.
and regulations, but it couldnt enforce any laws To protect against giving the central
or taxes upon its citizens. In fact, Congress had government too much power, the delegates
so little power that state delegates often didnt writing the Constitution added something
bother to turn up and vote on key matters. ground-breaking: the Bill of Rights. This limited
Things came to a head in 1786 when a group of the power of the federal government in the
farmers in Massachusetts rebelled against paying US and protected the rights of all citizens

8
The birth of the US presidency

United States
Congress
The president of the United
States leads the executive branch
of the federal government, which
is legislated over by Congress
The United States Congress, over
which the president presides, is the
legislature of the federal government of
the United States and consists of two
houses: the Senate and the House of
Representatives. Congress meets at the
Capitol Hill building in Washington DC
and the senators and representatives of
both houses are chosen through election
and members are usually affiliated
to either the Republican Party or the
Democratic Party (and very rarely to a
third party).
Congress consists of 535 members
(435 Representatives and 100 Senators),
all of whom can vote in political
matters. The House of Representatives
and Senate are equal partners in the
legislative process and legislation cannot
be enacted without the consent of both
houses although the Constitution
does grant each house some unique
powers. For example, the Senate can
ratify treaties and approve presidential
appointments, while the House of
Representatives can initiate bills for
raising revenue.
The Articles of Confederation was drawn up
to acknowledge the need for the colonies to Members of the House of
distance themselves from British reign Representatives serve two-year terms
and represent the people of a single
constituency, or district, and these
Barack Obama is the 44th President of
the United States, but will stand down districts are apportioned to states by
in January 2017 after two terms population using United States census
data. Each state has a minimum of
one congressional representative and
two senators the latter being elected
for six-year terms. The President of
the United States has the power to
convene and adjourn either of both
houses of Congress under extraordinary
circumstances and is responsible for
dictating the legislative agenda of the
party for which they are affiliated.

The United States Congress is the


bicameral legislature of the federal
government of the United States

9
US Presidents

The origins
by safeguarding democracy and upholding Seal of the It is believed that the use of presidential seals began around
personal freedoms and rights. On 17 September President of the the 1850s. It was certainly recorded that Rutherford B Hayes

1787, the final form of the Constitution was United States was the first president to use the Seal of the President of the
United States on official White House invitations in 1877. Since
Discover the meaning behind the then it has undergone a few alterations.
approved at the Constitutional Convention in
design of the official seal used by
Philadelphia, then ratified the following June. It The stars
the president of the United States The ring of stars on the seal reflects the total number of states
was then that George Washington (who was a that comprise the USA. Two extra stars were added in 1959
and 1960 to reflect the admissions of Alaska and Hawaii as
delegate for Virginia at the time of the Second states. The shield features 13 stripes to signify the 13 original
Continental Congress in 1775 and elected American colonies.
commander-in-chief of the Continental Army) The motto
was unanimously elected president. Washington Adorning the scroll in the middle
of the seal are the words, E
was always outspoken in his views against pluribus unum. This is a Latin
British regulations and his was also among the phrase meaning One out of many
and it alludes to the union of the
loudest voices to acknowledge that the nation, states and formation of the federal
under the Articles of Confederation, was not government. The motto was
suggested in 1776 by Pierre Eugene
functioning very well. Widely admired for his du Simitiere to the committee
strong leadership qualities, Washington oversaw responsible for developing the seal.

the creation of a strong, financially astute national


The eagle
government and was elected for a second term, The eagle featured on the seal is
clutching an olive branch (to signify
eventually retiring at the end of his second term peace) in one foot and a cluster of
and therein establishing a tradition that lasted arrows (to signify the acceptance
of the need to protect the country)
until 1940, when Franklin D Roosevelt was in the other. The olive branch
elected for an unprecedented third term. features 13 olives and 13 leaves
and there are 13 arrows in total, all
In 1951, the 22nd Amendment was adopted, relating to the original 13 colonies.
prohibiting any president from being elected
for a third term (each term lasts four years). The Other colonial
references
amendment also prohibits anyone from being Look closely and you will find other
references to the 13 colonies within
elected to the presidency more than once (if the seal. There are 13 stars around
they had previously served as president or acting the eagles head beneath an arc of
13 clouds. The design is encircled
president for more than two years of another by the words, Seal of the President
persons term as president). of the United States.

To date, 43 people have served 44


presidencies (counting Grover Clevelands two
nonconsecutive terms separately) spanning 56 Taking the oath
full four-year terms. The current US President, Following the 20th Amendment, the president is constitutionally required to take
Barack Obama, was re-elected for a second term presidents term in office begins at noon on the presidential oath, which consists of the
in office in November 2012 and is currently 20 January of the year following the election. following words: I do solemnly swear that I
Known as Inauguration Day, this date marks will faithfully execute the office of President
serving the 57th term, which is due to end in
the beginning of the four-year terms of of the United States, and will to the best of
January 2017 after which the 45th President both the president and the vice president. my ability, preserve, protect and defend the
will be sworn in. Could this be the first time that Before executing the powers of office, a Constitution of the United States.
a woman is elected?

Defining moment O Plymouth Colony established


The ship, the Mayflower, arrives at what
The English invasion 1607 is now Provincetown, Massachusetts
In 1607, Jamestown in southeast Virginia becomes the from Plymouth, England carrying around
first permanent English settlement in America. The House 100 pilgrims bound for Virginia to
establish a permanent colony in North
of Burgesses, the first legislative assembly of elected
America. Before disembarking from
representatives in Amercia meets for the first time in the ship, the male passengers, around
Virginia. This body was created as part of an effort to 41 in total, had to sign the Mayflower
encourage English craftsmen to settle in North America. Compact, an agreement that formed the
Around the same time the first African slaves are brought basis of the colonys government. By
into Jamestown. 1650, colonial population is estimated at
over 50,000.
1620

Timeline
1500
O Discovering the New World O The Boston Tea Party O The American Revolution
Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, backed A group of colonial patriots disguised as A war of independence is fought between the
by the kingdom of Spain, embarks on the first of Mohawk Indians board three ships in Boston British government and the 13 British colonies
four separate voyages to the New World, landing Harbor and dump more than 300 crates of tea on the eastern coast of North America.
in the Bahamas on 12 October 1492. In 1513, overboard as a protest against the British tea On the morning of 19 April 1775, shots are
Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon makes tax. This tax was just one of the Townshend exchanged between colonial militiamen and
landfall on the coast of Florida, which results Acts designed to collect revenue from the British soldiers in the towns of Lexington
in the Spanish settlement of Saint Augustine colonists in America by putting customs duties and Concord and the revolution begins. This
becoming the very first permanent European on the importing of glass, lead, paints, paper conflict would last until 1783 when the Treaty
colony in North America. and tea. of Paris was drawn up to bring it to a close.
1500s 1773 1775

10
The Pentagon in Washington DC in the
Federal District of Columbia

The powers of
the president
The president of the United States is one of
the worlds most powerful people, who holds
a dominant position in international relations
with an unparalleled ability to exert influence
and project power on a global scale. The role
of president includes being the commander-
in-chief of the United States Armed Forces
(which includes the worlds largest nuclear
arsenal), and leading the executive branch of
the federal government, as well as being in
charge of the worlds largest economy.
Article II of the US Constitution (which,
over 200 years after it was first written up,
still governs the United States), vests the
executive power of the United States in
its president. This power also includes the
responsibility of appointing federal executive,
diplomatic, regulatory and judicial officers
and concluding treaties with foreign powers
with the advice and consent of the Senate.
The president can also grant federal pardons
and reprieves and is largely responsible for
dictating the legislative agenda of the party
to which they are affiliated (Republican or
Democratic). The president also directs the
domestic and foreign policy of the United
States. The duties and responsibilities of the
Grover Cleveland served two terms as
president but, unusually, not consecutively president have increased substantially since
the formation of the United States.

Defining moment O Shays Rebellion erupts


A group of farmers from New
Defining moment
The Declaration of Hampshire to South Carolina
take up arms to protest against
The forming of the US
Independence 1776 the high state taxes and the Constitution 1787
The 13 colonies, consisting of Delaware, Pennsylvania, subsequent stiff penalties The Constitutional Convention, made up of
New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, enforced for non-payment. delegates from 12 of the original 13 colonies (the
Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, Congress lacked the power Rhode Island representative failed to attend),
New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island and to do much about it, which meets in Philadelphia to draft up what will
Providence Plantations, declared independence from resulted in a lot of people become the US Constitution. The session was
arguing for the need to
Britain and formed the United States. Though the presided over by George Washington. The draft,
strengthen the government
new states were independent of one another, Congress and give it more power to act which was originally a preamble and seven
was established to establish a link between the states. in such circumstances. articles, was submitted to all 13 states and came
However, it lacked the authority to create laws and taxes. 1786-1787 into effect when ratified by nine of them.

1791
O Articles of Confederation O Treaty of Paris
The need for unity among the new states created by Signed in Paris by representatives of Defining moment
the American Revolution and the necessity of clearly King George III of Great Britain and
defining the powers of the Continental Congress and the United States of America, the George Washington elected 1789
the individual states led Congress to entrust the drafting Treaty officially ended the American George Washington is unanimously elected first President of
of a federal constitution to a committee. The resulting Revolutionary War and secured the United States in a vote by state electors. The US Constitution
document, the Articles of Confederation, submitted by independence for each of the 13 goes into effect and meets for the first time at Federal Hall
the committee, provoked much argument over tax and former British colonies. With peace in New York City. Washington is officially inaugurated as
land issues and was subsequently revised before being established, the states began to
President on 30 April. In 1791, the first ten amendments to the
adopted by Congress. concentrate on internal affairs.
1777 1783 Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, are ratified.

11
US Presidents

1789 1797

George
Washington
An instrumental figure in world history,
1
GEORGE WASHINGTON
Non-partisan, 1732 1799

Hailed by many as the


greatest US president
Brief
Washington was the United States first and Bio
of all time, George
Washington served as
commander-in-chief of

arguably greatest president the US Continental Army during


the American Revolution. He
then went on to become the
first US president, serving from

L
1789 to 1797. Today Washington
ong Island was supposed to be a success. being a brilliant military strategist, Washington remains an icon of liberty and
The enemy was stronger and greater in actually lost more battles than he won. He was no freedom, and is one of the most
recognisable faces in the world.
number but the rebels had got there first. Alexander or Caesar, but an entirely different kind
The commander had prepared everything for of hero altogether one who persevered in the face
his foes arrival in New York, strengthening of devastating failure for his men and country.
his batteries and placing his generals perfectly. But Born on 22 February 1732, George Washington
the British had broken through. First Sullivan fell, was the son of a slave-owning tobacco planter.
then Stirling, and the commander could only watch George received a mixed education from a variety
as the lives of his brave men were brutally wiped of tutors, and plans for him to join the British Royal
away. Knowing all was lost he ordered his men to Navy were cut short when his mother objected.
retreat before the carnage could reach them. As Fate instead led Washington to become a
relentless rain pelted down he used the surveyor, and he travelled for two years
cover of darkness to help conceal his surveying land in the Culpeper,
soldiers as they climbed into every In his Frederick and Augusta counties. This
available boat he could get his hands final will, position began a lifelong interest
on. He waited until the last man in landholdings, and he purchased
was on board before he boarded
Washington his first piece of land as soon as his
himself. As the boat drew away the freed all his sizable income filled his pockets.
commander looked back through the slaves And when his older brother died
thick fog that had descended over the in 1752, Washington inherited not
bay. The mist had concealed them from only his fathers vast lands, but also the
the British, his men were safe, but Brooklyn position of major in the Virginia militia.
had been lost. It would not be long until Washingtons natural
This is not the story of a failed general, forgotten leadership and drive would send him straight into
by the history books, but instead that of the the heat of battle. At a staggering 188 centimetres
most glorified and worshipped president in US (62) tall, the young man towered above his
history George Washington. Just as his men contemporaries, and Virginias Lieutenant General
were hidden by the fog that grim morning in Robert Dinwiddie saw fit to use his imposing but
Brooklyn, today Washington himself is cloaked and inspiring nature to try to persuade the French
obscured by layers of myths and legends. He has to remove themselves from land claimed by
become an almost messianic figure in the United Britain. When they refused, Washington returned
States, a legend of justice and freedom, a brilliant with a small force and attacked the French post
commander who led his underdog army to the at Fort Duquesne, killing the commander and
greatest victory in US history. But as with most nine men and taking the others as prisoners, all
legends, the stories are not always true. Far from in 15 minutes. The event had huge international

12
George Washington

13
US Presidents

Making
History
Three reasons Washington is
the USAs greatest leader
Virtue
1 Washington twice gave up the chance of
ultimate power. First at the end of the
The Boston Tea Party was a response to the Tea Act enforced by the British government, and resulted in the passing of
the Intolerable Acts, which in turn helped to spark the American Revolution
Revolutionary War when he surrendered his role as
commander in chief, and again when he refused to
rule as president for a third term. When George III
was presented with the idea of Washington doing implications, and Great Britain and France began was now one of Virginias wealthiest men and
this, he said, If he does that he will be the greatest to pump forces into North America The French he concentrated on expanding and making the
man in the world.
and Indian War had begun. In a matter of minutes most out of his plantation. Little did he know that
the name Washington became synonymous with revolution was bubbling, and soon he would find
Commitment to country three things bravery, daring and recklessness. himself back on the battlefield in what would
2 Washington did not become involved in
the hostile arguments and squabbling of Washington was rewarded for his become the most famous war in American history.
political debates, but instead acted as quick thinking by being appointed Washington wasnt the most likely of
a peacekeeper between the groups. A true non- commander in chief and colonel revolutionary leaders; although he
partisan, his primary aim was always the betterment
of the country, rather than any personal gain. of the Virginia Regiment, the opposed the controversial Stamp Act
first full-time American Washington of 1765, during the early stirrings
Persistence military unit. With command was very fond of of revolution he was actually

3 Washington was not the most gifted military


leader; he suffered multiple losses and
of a thousand soldiers,
Washington was tasked
dogs and gave them opposed to the colonies declaring
independence. It wasnt until the
personal humiliations, but his determination with defending Virginias unusual names such passing of the Townshend acts
to persevere in spite of repeated setbacks inspired
his soldiers to do the same, which resulted in him frontier, and he demonstrated as Tarter, True Love of 1767 that he took an active
creating one of the most celebrated underdog his resolve and forthright role in the resistance. In an act of
success stories in world history. and Sweet Lips
approach as his unit engaged in rebellion he encouraged the people
20 battles over 12 months. But his of Virginia to boycott English goods
reckless attitude and inexperience until the acts were repealed. However,
was demonstrated when his unit when the Intolerable acts were passed in 1774,
exchanged friendly fire with another British force, Washington decided that more forthright action
killing 14 men. needed to be taken.
His time commanding an army had taught Passionate and charismatic, Washington was
Washington many things how to bring the best an obvious choice to attend the First Continental
out of his men, the importance of stamina and Congress. Although the delegates appealed to the
bravery, as well as discipline and training. It had crown to revoke the intolerable acts, they didnt
also given him valuable insight into the British even make a dink in the steely British armour,
military tactics, and his struggles in dealing with and a Second Continental Congress was called the
government officials convinced him that a national following year.
government was the only way forward. However, A lot had changed in a year, and Washington too
when Washington retired from service in 1758, as had undergone something of a transformation. The
far as he was concerned his time on the battlefield battles at Lexington and Concord had shown the
was over. colonies that they were capable of taking on the
In 1759 Washington married the intelligent might of the British, and when Washington arrived
and wealthy Martha Dandridge Custis and in Pennsylvania for the state meeting dressed head
The French and Indian War had profound and far- together with her two children they moved to the to toe in military gear, it sent a strong message: he
reaching consequences, including the creation of an plantation of Mount Vernon. Enjoying the newly was prepared for war. So was Congress. It formed
enormous national debt in Britain
inherited wealth from his marriage, Washington the Continental Army on 14 June 1775 and it

Timeline
1754
O French and Indian War O Stamp Act O Townshend Acts O Boston Massacre
The French and Indian War was part of a much The resulting national debt of the Seven Years The Townshend Acts were a series of acts This incident occurred when a heckling
longer conflict between Great Britain and War in Britain had reached 130 million by 1764. passed by the British Parliament upon crowd gathered around a British guard,
France, known as the Seven Years War. The Britain also needed a way to pay for its army in the colonies in North America. These who was joined by eight more soldiers. The
war was fought in the north of North America North America and decided the colonies should acts placed duties on vital, high-volume soldiers fired at the crowd, killing three and
between the colonies of the two powers, ending subsidise it. The Stamp Act forced citizens to imported items such as glass, paints, paper wounding others. Two more later died of
with France losing its territory in North America. pay taxes on documents and paper goods and and tea. The money raised was intended their wounds. The soldiers were arrested
However, funding the war created a huge was immediately unpopular as it was carried out to pay to keep governors and judges loyal, for manslaughter but released without
national debt in Britain and gave France a good without any consent. The outrage soon turned and to set a general precedent that the charge, which helped foster the anti-British
reason to support American independence. violent and the tax was never collected. British had the right to tax the colonies. sentiment in the colonies.
1754-1763 1765 1767-1770 1770

14
George Washington

Washingtons ability to evacuate


his army from Long Island
without any loss of life or supplies
stunned the British

Adjusted
for inflation, George Washington
Washington was fought with the British in
the assault on the French-
the wealthiest US held Fort Duquesne

president of
An illustration of all time
Washingtons home
in Mount Vernon

1775
O Boston Tea Party O First Continental Congress O The Battles of Lexington and Concord The Battle of Bunker Hill O
In an effort to force the colonies to accept Delegates from 12 of the 13 British colonies in When American intelligence learned that Set during the Siege of Boston, this battle saw
the Townshend duty on Tea, Britain passed America met at Carpenters Hall in Philadelphia British troops planned to march on Concord, the British mount an attack against the colonial
the Tea Act, allowing the East India Company to discuss ways to halt the Intolerable Acts. they were quick to assemble their forces and troops stationed in Bunker Hill and Breeds Hill.
to ship its tea to North America. In defiance, They made plans to refuse to import British take up arms against them. However only Although the British were victorious, the heavy
protestors boarded the ships and threw goods until their grievances were met. When 77 militiamen faced 700 British at Lexington losses suffered by the redcoats led it to be a
chests full of tea into Boston Harbour. these efforts proved unsuccessful, a Second and were quickly defeated. The British hollow victory, and it proved the Americans
Parliament responded harshly, by passing the Continental Congress was held the next year continued to Concord to search for arms, but could hold their own against their foes in battle.
Intolerable Acts, which took away the rights to prepare the country for the impending they were forced back by 500 militiamen, Shortly after the conflict, King George III officially
of the state of Massachusetts to govern itself. American Revolutionary War. winning the colonies their first war victory. declared the colonies to be in a state of rebellion.
1773 1774 1775 1775

15
US Presidents

had to rely on his own intelligence and courage

Valley Forge to have any hope of snatching victory from his


seasoned, experienced rivals.
Pennsylvania, 28 January 1777 This inexperience manifested itself in the
The cold today was worse than it has ever been. The crippling defeat the commander suffered during
crowded wooden huts provide shelter from the biting the Battle of Long Island. In an effort to seize New
wind, but the cold passes between the slats, through
my threadbare shirt and nestles in my bones. My quest York, the British general William Howe unleashed
to procure a set of shoes continues to be unsuccessful. a devastating campaign that Washington failed
I thought that after marching through the snow in bare to subdue. So great was the British attack that
feet someone would take pity on me but there are no
supplies coming. The food too is running low. For the Washington was forced to retreat his entire army
past week I have only eaten firecake a sticky, bland across the East River under cover of darkness.
abomination of water and flour that fills my stomach
but leaves the soul ravenous.
Although this feat itself was remarkable, for
I shouldnt complain I am one of the lucky few the self-critical leader it was a swift and brutal
untouched by the diseases that ravage the camp. So reminder of his own inadequacies as a general,
many men have been plagued by itchy rashes and
blisters or fevers that refuse to calm. The only relief and he quickly realised this war would not be
here are the brave few women who wash and mend easily won.
our uniforms, or sometimes simply provide a shoulder But the British had a crippling weakness, too.
to men who have no will to go on.
They were simply too sure that they were going to
win. Howe so fatally underestimated the will of the
needed a leader. Reluctant and somewhat modest, American troops and their reckless leader that he
Washington did not see himself as a leader capable left his Hessian soldiers at Trenton, confident that
of leading such a vitally important force, but for the war would be won in the next few months.
those around him there was no other choice. With Washington, on the other hand, was acutely aware
proven military experience, a devoted patriot and of the morale of his soldiers. After the defeat in
a strong, commanding presence, Washington was New York and the subsequent humiliating retreat,
appointed commander in chief of the force that they needed something positive in order to inspire
would take on the mightiest nation on Earth. them, and fortunately Trenton was right there for
It did not take long for the new commander to the taking.
prove his worth. In early-March 1776, Washington
turned the Siege of Boston around by placing
artillery on Dorchester Heights, low hills with Rebels
a good view of Boston and its harbour. The Organisation
perfectly placed, powerful cannons forced the
British to retreat from the city, and the American There were 35,000 continentals in the United
States with 44,500 militia. Their French allies
commander moved his army into New York City. increased their numbers with 12,000 French soldiers
Even the critical British papers couldnt deny the in America and 63,000 at Gibraltar. They also had
53 ships in service throughout the war. George
skills of the captivating and exciting new leader Washington was commander in chief and Nathanael
who seemed capable of repelling their great Greene served as major general.
empire with ease.
Victory and gossip aside, in truth Washington
Weapons
was out of his depth. He had commanded men
before, but only a force of a thousand soldiers far When the war began the colonies did not have
a professional standing army of any kind, with
from the tens of thousands at his disposal now. He many colonies only able to supply minutemen
had only fought in frontier warfare, far removed who were required to equip themselves with
from the open-field battles he now faced. He had most carrying rifles. The armys weapon of
choice was the flintlock musket and they also
never commanded legions of cavalry or artillery carried bayonets.
he was constantly learning on the job. Washington

Resources
The Continental Army suffered from massive supply
issues. Supplies were repeatedly seized by British
patrols. They also had to combat a primitive road
system, which resulted in regular shortages of food,
clothing, ammunition, tents and a host of essential
military equipment, constantly pitching the odds
against them.

Morale
The rebels greatest weapon was the belief in their
grand cause fighting for their liberty from the
oppressive British Crown. It was this strong morale
belief in their cause that encouraged American
leaders, who knew they were facing a well equipped
and disciplined foe, to push on despite multiple
crippling defeats.

16
George Washington

Washington and his


Redcoats men crossing the
Delaware River

Organisation
The plan was one only Washington could Americans had a chance of besting the mighty
There were 56,000 British redcoats in North have thought up bold, gutsy and downright British Empire, and France openly allied itself with
America along with a combined force of 52,000
loyalists, freed slaves and natives. They also had dangerous, he led his soldiers across the perilous the rebels.
78 Royal Navy ships at their service. William Howe and icy Delaware River on a freezing Boxing While General Howe concentrated on capturing
served as commander in chief, but there were many
decorated generals and officers such as Thomas Day in 1776. Only 2,400 of his men were able to key cities, Washington had a revelation. Although
Gage and Henry Clinton. make it across without turning back, but it was individual battles were important, the key to
enough. Completely unprepared for the attack, victory was not military success, but instead his
the Hessians at Trenton were overwhelmed and ability to keep the heart of the resistance alive and
Weapons
swiftly defeated by Washington and his men. pumping. This was something out of British hands
The British army depended on the .75-calibre A few days later the commander led a counter- and solely in his own.
flintlock musket popularly known as Brown Bess.
They also carried bayonets and, occasionally, short- attack on a British force sent to attack his army This spirit of rebellion faced its most challenging
barrel muskets. The redcoats also used cannons to at Princeton, achieving another small but obstacle yet over the long winter of 1977. For
great effect, to the degree that if an American unit essential American victory. six long months the soldiers at the
was without cannon, they would not face a cannon-
supported British troop. Meanwhile, the British redcoats military camp of Valley Forge suffered
still believed the rebellion could thousands of disease-ridden deaths.
be stopped like a cork in a bottle. Washington With starvation rife and supplies
Resources Howe thought that by taking remains one low, many feared the horrendous
Although British soldiers were better equipped than control of key colonial cities, of the tallest and conditions would force the
their American counterparts, they were fighting the river of rebellion would desperate army to mutiny.
away from home, and supplies could take months
turn into a drought and the
biggest presidents at Washington himself faced
to reach their destinations. Many British had to rely
on loyal locals supplying them with food and praying population would surrender to 1.88m (62) and immense criticism from the
the vital supplies would survive the 4,800km
(3,000mi) trip across the ocean.
British rule. When Howe set his 90kg 200lb) American public and Congress,
sights on the revolutionary hub of who urged him to hurry the war
Philadelphia, Washington rode out to effort, while behind the scenes anti-
Morale meet him, but, perhaps with his previous Washington movements gained ground.
The British believed they could easily steamroll victories clouding his judgement, the commander Washington simply replied: Whenever the public
the rebels and this underestimation of their was outmatched and Philadelphia fell to the gets dissatisfied with my service [] I shall quit the
foe cost them dearly. The war was also British. However, the colonists cause received a helm [] and retire to a private life. The critics soon
expensive, and support at home was mixed at
best. For many soldiers struggling in terrible major boon when British General Burgoyne was fell silent.
conditions away from home, there was little forced to surrender his entire army of 6,300 men Although the conditions had been testing,
motivation to fight.
at the Battle of Saratoga. It seemed that major to put it mildly, the soldiers emerged from the
world players were finally beginning to believe the winter in good spirits. Washington demonstrated

17
US Presidents

that his sting was stronger than ever when his back from their outer defences, which left them
forces attacked the British flank attempting to open for the Americans and French to use. As the
leave Monmouth Courthouse. Although the battle colonists began to set up artilleries, the British
ultimately ended in a stalemate, Washington had pelted them with steady fire. In spite of this and at
finally achieved what he set out to do since the some great risk to himself, Washington continued
beginning of the war hold his own in a pitched to visit and motivate his men on the front line,
battle. This was massive for the Americans; and by 5 October the commander was ready to
it proved the growing Continental Army was make his move.
developing its skills at an alarming speed, and if the As a vicious storm raged, Washington grasped
horrendous winter they had emerged from had not his pickaxe and struck several blows into the dirt
crushed them, what chance did the British have? that would become the new trench the Americans
The French seemed to share this attitude. would use to bombard the British. By 5pm on 9
On 5 September 1781, 24 French ships emerged October, the Americans were pelting the British
victorious against 19 British vessels at the Battle with a relentless stream of cannon fire. The
of Chesapeake. The success prevented the British British ships were sunk and soldiers deserted en
from reinforcing the troops of Lord Cornwallis, masse. More American trenches were dug as they
who was blockaded in Yorktown, Virginia, and gained land, and when Washingtons men rushed
allowed crucial French troops to pour into toward the British redoubt, they overwhelmed the
the Continental Army, bringing vast supplies surprised redcoats. As Washington rained artillery
of artillery with them. This was exactly the fire down on the town, Cornwalliss attempts at
opportunity Washington needed, and he didnt escape across the York River were unsuccessful
plan to let it go to waste. and he finally surrendered.
With the British army trapped and exposed, and Little did Washington know that the victory
his own swelling in size, Washington led his men he had secured at Yorktown would lead to the
out of Williamsburg and surrounded Yorktown. ultimate surrender of British hostilities, the end
From late-September the Continental Army moved of the war and ultimately American freedom. The Capitol in Washington,
DC, under construction
steadily closer to the redcoats, forcing them to pull On 3 September 1783 the Treaty of Paris was

Siege of
Yorktown British surrender
Early in the morning on 17
October the British surrender,
and by 19 October the men
are taken as prisoners of war.
Cornwallis refuses to meet
with Washington, claiming to
be ill while his army lay down
Naval blockade their weapons, a crowd of
civilians eagerly watching on.
The French victory at the
Battle of Chesapeake allows
admiral De Grasse to set up
a blockade that prevents
any chance of Cornwallis
escaping by sea. This news
encourages Washington to
march toward Virginia and The American assault
corner the British officer.
Using the French to distract the British
attention, the Americans march toward
redoubt #10. They chop through the
British defences with axes then charge
with their bayonets. Although the
redcoats attempt to fight back, they
are overwhelmed by the colonists.

The irst attack


The British pull back
from their outer
defences, which the
American and French
forces take advantage
of. They set up artillery
and dig trenches, and by
9 October they begin to
bombard the redcoats.

18
George Washington

Washington
myths cut down
We get an
expert opinion
on the myths
surrounding this
legendary man
Stephen Brumwell is
a freelance writer and
independent historian living in Amsterdam. His
book, George Washington: Gentleman Warrior,
won the 2013 George Washington Book Prize.

He had wooden teeth


George Washington was plagued with dental
problems from his twenties, and by 1789, had
just one of his own teeth remaining. He owned
several sets of false teeth, but none was crafted
from wood. Instead, Washingtons dentures
Washingtons incorporated a variety of materials bone, sea-
horse, or hippopotamus ivory, and human teeth
choice to decline to fixed by lead, gold and metal wire. The belief that
serve a third term as Washingtons false teeth were wooden probably
originated in the brown-stained appearance of
A depiction of
Washingtons entry president became an surviving examples apparently owing to his
into New York in 1759 fondness for port wine.
unwritten rule for
all presidents He cut down a cherry tree
until 1940 and confessed to his father
Perhaps the best known of all the legends spun
around Washington, the cherry tree story first
surfaced in a biography written after his death by
Mason Locke Weems. Concerned with portraying
Washington as an exemplary role model for his
countrymen, Parson Weems concocted the fable
of the six-year-old hatcheting his fathers prized
cherry tree, and then deflecting parental wrath by
frankly confessing to the deed with the words I
cant tell a lie, Pa.

Washington was
a moonshiner
While theres no proof that Washington set up illicit
liquor stills to make moonshine, he was certainly
Washington has been immortalised on Mount in the forefront of American whiskey production.
Rushmore along with Thomas Jefferson, On the advice of his Scottish farm manager, James
Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln Anderson, he established a whiskey distillery at
Mount Vernon in 1797. By the year of Washingtons
signed between representatives of both countries, Washington quietly attended the Constitution death, 1799, this was producing almost 41,640l
(11,000gal) of rye and corn whiskey, making it the
which proclaimed that Britain recognised the Convention held in Philadelphia in 1787. There largest US distillery of its day.
independence of the United States. With victory he sat and listened silently to the proceedings,
declared, Washington disbanded his army and speaking only once. However, his prestige spoke He threw a silver dollar
wished farewell to the men who had valued him volumes and those gathered there agreed the across the Potomac River
not only as a leader, but also a fellow soldier. On 23 national government needed more authority it Standing 188cm (62) tall, and with a well-
December 1783, in an action that would define him needed a figure strong and commanding enough muscled physique, young George Washington was
renowned for his strength. Yet even Washington
in the history books, he resigned as commander to maintain control. Washington was unanimously in his prime would have struggled to hurl a silver
in chief of the army and humbly returned to his chosen to fulfil this role. He became president dollar across the Potomac River, which is more
home in Mount Vernon. of the convention in 1787, and by 1789 he was than 1.6km (1mi) wide opposite his Virginian home
at Mount Vernon. Also, silver dollars were only
However, without him his country was unanimously elected once more, but this time as introduced in 1794, when Washington was already
struggling. With nobody to unite them the states the first-ever president of the United States the in his sixties.
fought and squabbled among themselves over only one in history to receive 100 per cent of the
boundaries and inflicted harsh taxes on their own votes. He would serve two terms as president from He wore a wig
citizens. The ex-commander watched from afar 1789 to 1797 until he would yet again relinquish Although wigs were fashionable during
Washingtons lifetime, he never wore one,
as the land he had led to freedom struggled to the power he could so easily have exploited. In the preferring to keep his own hair, which was reddish-
support itself. He was dismayed, but hesitant to spring of 1797, he finally returned to his precious brown, long and tied back in a tight queue, or
act. It wasnt until an armed uprising known as Mount Vernon, realising, perhaps more so than any pigtail. However, Washington regularly used the
white hair powder that was customary among men
Shays Rebellion took place in Massachusetts that one of the many people who supported him, that of his wealthy social class, especially for formal
Washington was finally persuaded to step into the ultimate power in the land of the free could not lay occasions, and this gave the impression of a wig,
apparent in many of his portraits.
limelight once more. solely in one mans hands indefinitely.

19
US Presidents

1797 1801

John
Adams
A Founding Father, a vice president and a
president, John Adams was a formidable figure
in the early days of the USA

B
orn in Quincy, Massachusetts on 30 October while the second imposed a tariff on glass and
1735, John Adams was the eldest of three tea imported into the colonies. This angered many
brothers. The Adams family traced their Americans, with Adams being just one of them.
ancestry back to the first generation of His response was to write articles for the Boston
Puritan settlers who came from Wales to land Gazette, claiming that the act deprived his people
in New England in the early 17th century. Adams of the right to be taxed by consent. Fast-forward
father, Deacon John Adams, a farmer, craftsman five years, though, and Adams was defending the
and shoemaker, saw education as paramount to
his sons upbringing as John enrolled at a school
British soldiers for their role in an event known as
the Boston Massacre.
2 JOHN ADAMS
in nearby Braintree. The drive for education By 1774 Adams had seemingly calmed his Federalist, 1735 1826
seemingly did the trick, as by the age of patriotic views and had knuckled down to
When George
16, John Adams was on his way to a concentrate on his law studies. His Washington stepped
scholarship at the prestigious Harvard dedication paid dividends and later Brief down from presidency
University, just like his father
Adams that year he was successfully Bio in the spring of 1797,
before him. served on elected to the Massachusetts
John Adams was voted
in to lead the country. Narrowly
Adams began life at Harvard 90 committees Assembly. Things got even better elected over fellow Founding
in 1751 and studied for four when he was chosen as one of Father Thomas Jefferson,
in the early days of Adams successfully kept the
years, receiving both an the five men to represent the young United States out of
undergraduate and a masters in
government, more colony at the First Continental wars with European powers in
Law. After graduation, the next than any other Congress on 5 September 1774.
the post-Washington era. His
policies polarised the nation and
few years were spent teaching at a congressman Meeting in Philadelphia, men from he lasted exactly three years in
grammar school in Worcester while all colonies except Georgia met to the White House.
contemplating what to do with his life. discuss what they saw as intolerable
He married his third cousin Abigail Smith acts from the British government towards
and toyed with the idea of joining the government, their homeland.
but eventually decided that the best course of The following year the rebellion against British
action would be to move to Boston and undertake rule stepped up a gear when Congress met for
further studies in the hope of being a lawyer. While a second time and subsequently established
living in Boston, Adams became known as an the Continental Army. Adams, now wielding
advocate for the patriot cause due to his opposition a substantial amount of power, chose George
of the 1765 Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts Washington as commander-in-chief of the army
of 1767 that George III imposed on his empires as war broke out in 1775. Adams influence grew
colonies in America. The first act ordered that every further when Congress permitted his idea of each
American colonist had to pay tax on every piece colony taking on an independent government in
of paper from legal documents to newspapers May 1776. The workaholic Adams was serving on

20
John Adams

The Presidents House in Philadelphia


was the official residence of both George
Washington and John Adams before the
latter moved to the White House in 1800

Life in the
time of John
Adams
The American Revolution
Eight years of war leads to American
independence from Great Britain. An event in
which Adams was instrumental, 13 of British
Americas colonies rebelled against the Crown
and the first shot was fired on 19 April 1775
at the battles of Lexington and Concord.
Surrender came at Yorktown in October 1781.

The French Revolution


The American version wasnt the only
revolution in Adams life. The movement
began in France in the late 18th Century and
culminated in the storming of the Bastille in
1789 and the execution of the King Louis XVI
in 1792. The First Republic was formed and the
rise of Napoleon had begun.

Jacobite Rebellion
Bonnie Prince Charlie arrives in the Highlands
determined to reclaim the British Crown for
the exiled House of Stuart. After reaching as
far as south as Derby, British divisions are
recalled from the continent and the advance
loses momentum. The rebellion ends at the
Battle of Culloden in April 1746.

The trans-Atlantic slave


trade declines
The African slave trade triangle began in
the 16th Century but by the late 1800s it
is declining. The 1791 Haitian Revolution
is a large-scale slave uprising and by 1803
Denmark is the first to ban the slave trade.
Britain follows suit in 1807.

Samuel Johnson
dictionary published
On 15 April 1755 lexicographer Samuel
Johnsons Dictionary of the English Language
is published. Taking over eight years to
compile, it lists 40,000 words, each with
detailed definitions. A great scholarly
achievement, the French equivalent took 40
scholars 55 years to complete.

21
US Presidents

The Boston
Massacre
Despite its name, this event was more
of a street fight. In 1770, patriotism
was running through the colonies after
further taxation from the British Crown.
On the evening of 5 March an argument
broke out between British private Hugh
White and a group of patriots outside the
Custom House in the town of Boston.
As the spat escalated, a mob of around
50 colonists berated and then attacked
the group of British Redcoats. Throwing The five-man draft committee present the Declaration of Independence
sticks and stones, the British soldiers were to Congress. Adams is the man with his hand on his hip
antagonised and after one was knocked
down by a projectile, they began firing. over 90 committees and wrote the prelude to what now the oldest of its kind in the world. Desiring
Using their rifles, the soldiers ended up
would become the Declaration of Independence, further alliances with France, Congress sent
killing three of the Bostonians with another
eight were injured (two of which died of and later seconded Richard Henry Lees resolution Adams back to Europe along with his two sons,
their wounds). of independence. The movement for freedom from John Quincy and Charles. Despite being forced to
A meeting was called to discuss the the British was underway and Congress appointed divert to Spain after a leak, and having to make the
events and resulted in the angry locals Adams to draft what would be the final declaration. rest of the journey to Paris by land in mid-winter,
demanding the trial of the soldiers for He would complete this job with Thomas he made it to the French capital. Sadly the
murder. A trial was called and John
Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Robert R French ministers only desired to work
Adams, despite being well known as a
staunch patriot was chosen as the British
Livingston and Roger Sherman, and with Franklin (whose relationship
lawyer. He defended the British, stating it was approved on 4 July. Adams final had soured with Adams) and not
that their lives were potentially in danger, The fiercely patriotic Adams, as he was too forceful in
eventually leading to six being found not Adams was given the title
words were his approach. Adams also had
guilty and two charged with manslaughter. of head of the board of Thomas Jefferson little luck in negotiations in
The Boston Massacre only intensified the
American distrust of the British and helped
war and ordinance in 1777, survives. Sadly he Amsterdam, but the well-timed
personally supervising the American victory at the Battle
sow the seeds of revolution. didnt know that his old
constant development of the of Yorktown convinced the
Continental Army. While war friend had died just Dutch banking houses to secure
was raging, Adams utilised his hours earlier a loan with the US. As the war
negotiating skills and managed to continued to turn in the patriots
persuade the French to ally with the favour, the French attitude became
Americans and use their ships against warmer to a Franco-American alliance. The
the Royal Navy. Domestically he was busy writing Peace of Paris in 1783 secured their support and
the Massachusetts constitution, which went on was a triumph of Franklins diplomacy and Adams
to be the template for other states to follow and is determination. With the war finally over, the men

Defining moment
Stamp Act crisis
1765
Passed by the British in May, the Stamp Act debatably
initiated mainstream political activism in the American
colonies. John Adams was just one of the colonists who
was appalled at the act and three months later his essay A
Also known as the Incident on King Dissertation on Cannon and Feudal Law appeared in the
Street, the Boston Massacre was a key Boston Gazette. Inspired by the perceived unfairness of
event in Adams law career and his
started his apparent pro-British stance the act, Adams argued that it was unconstitutional and his
that would later dog his presidency writings influenced, among others, the Sons of Liberty group.
Men took to the streets to riot and intimidate tax collectors
and Adams was now seen by many not as not just a lawyer,

Timeline but as an agitator.

1735
O John Adams born O Enrolment at Harvard O Early writing career O Marriage to O Boston Massacre O Entry to
The future second president Going against his fathers Always a man who Abigail Smith On 5 March, the young Continental Congress
of the United States is wishes for him to enter believed in the pen being The following year Adams lawyer faces his toughest After a period in the
born to John Adams Sr government, Adams, mightier than the sword, marries his childhood task to date as five Massachusetts Assembly,
and Susana Boylston in aged 16, instead gains a Adams begins his fledgling sweetheart and third colonists are killed by Adams represents his colony
Massachusetts. He is the scholarship at Harvard to writing career at local cousin, Abigail Smith. They British soldiers a scuffle in at the very first Continental
eldest of three brothers and study law. He eventually newspapers writing under end up having five children the town of Boston. Adams Congress in 1774. He is
has ancestry in Wales, from graduates in 1755 with a false name, honing the and stay together happily is elected to defend the instrumental in the creation
where his Puritan ancestors both a bachelors degree skills that would define his married for the rest of soldiers, and successfully of the Continental Army a
emigrated in the 1630s. and a masters. later work. their lives. argues for their acquittal. year later.
1735 1751 1763 1764 1770 1774

22
John Adams

passing secretary of the treasury Alexander bribe to the USA. Many called for war, but Adams
Hamiltons new financial plan. Washington didnt was reluctant to drag the US into yet another
seek a third term as president in 1796 and after a conflict and stubbornly maintained his countrys
hotly contested election against friend and rival neutrality. Despite his best efforts, an undeclared
Thomas Jefferson, Adams despite accusations of conflict known as the Quasi-War ensued. Arising
pro-British leanings became the second president from a diplomatic episode known as the XYZ
of the United States by a narrow margin in 1797. Affair, the French ordered the seizure of American
Upon assuming the presidency, the federalist merchant ships after negotiations broke down. The
Adams tried to get Jefferson on board, battles were limited to naval attacks and
but he declined. This would be the fledgling US Navy performed well,
the first of many issues to befall capturing many French privateers
Adams regime. His plump and vessels. Even though he
The first problem the new appearance avoided war, Adams stressed the
president had to address was earned Adams importance of the armed forces
to pick up the pieces from and is credited with establishing
Washingtons tenure. Adams
the nickname His the US Navy as a force as well as
biggest mistake was to keep the Rotundity while he guiding the young USA through a
same cabinet that Washington was president tough post-Washington period.
had. A federalist almost only by The episode with France was
name, he was left to deal with what ultimately a deathblow to Adams
was a faltering Congress. The cabinet popularity, turning the Federalist Party
Adams is portrayed as more of a political theorist than a turned out to be extremely disloyal to their against him. In the 1800 election he failed in his
politician per se, which hindered his tenure as president
president and often openly opposed him. The ruling re-election campaign to Thomas Jefferson.
returned to the newly established and independent of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 aimed at In post-presidential life, the once-determined
United States of America. stiffening national security and ending newspaper patriot and American political behemoth lived a
Back in the New World, Adams found himself as libel, but ended up decreasing his popularity even quiet existence on his family farm. He continued
a leading candidate for the presidential election of more, despite these ideas actually being passed by to correspond with old friend Jefferson and finally
1789, the first one in the countrys fledgling history. Congress prior to his presidency. Foreign policy was reconciled with him in 1812. The two men both
George Washington was the unanimous choice a tricky venture during his administration. It initially passed away on the same day on 4 July 1826, the
and successfully gained the presidency, but Adams favoured good relations with Britain, but an ongoing 50th anniversary of American independence. John
did take on the vice-presidency as a consolation, feud between France and Britain had now broken Adams had six children and his son John Quincy
ahead of Messrs Franklin and Jefferson. Adams out into full-scale war. Negotiations with France became the sixth president of the US, adding to his
didnt take kindly to his new role and saw it as the then disintegrated further after the French offered a fathers legacy in US politics.
most insignificant officethat ever the invention
of man contrived or his imagination conceived.
In his new occupation, Adams supported all the
major initiatives in the new government, including
The episode with France was ultimately
containing the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 and a deathblow to Adams popularity
Defining moment Defining moment
Boston Tea Party XYZ Affair
1773 1798
John Adams was not in town on the fateful December night of A diplomatic incident involving France and the United
the Boston Tea Party and was shocked when he heard of what States, this was a significant moment in Adams
happened the next day. He was understandably concerned presidency. The French government was struggling to
at how the British would react but nevertheless believed finance its wars and as the USA had now allied with
action such as this was both inevitable and significant, and Britain under the terms of the 1794 Jay Treaty, the country
so ultimately supported it. He felt that Britain would not take decided to attack US merchant shipping. In response,
the colonists demands seriously until forced to do so. Adams Adams sent three envoys to France but they were unable
wrote: This destruction of the tea is so bold, so daring, so to meet with the foreign ministers and were instead
intrepid and so inflexible, and it must have so important approached by three other ministers who became known
consequences and so lasting that I cant but consider it an as X,Y and Z. An agreement wasnt made until 1800 when
epocha in history. an undeclared war, the Quasi-War, raged for two years.

1919
O Declaration of O Trips to Europe O Treaty of Paris O Vice president O President of the Death O
Independence signed Adams travels to Europe Along with Benjamin In March, George Washington United States At the age of 90,
The game-changing in order to meet with the Franklin and John Jay, is elected as the inaugural On 4 March, Adams is Adams passes away. His
declaration announced that British, the French and Adams signs the Treaty of president of the new United sworn in and with his death marks the 50th
the 13 American colonies the Dutch, seeking peace Paris, ending the war with States, with Adams chosen Federalist Party, gets anniversary of the signing
were now independent but also aid. His biggest Britain after the victory as his vice president. Adams straight to work, creating of the Declaration of
states and no longer part success is with the Dutch, at Yorktown and formally sees his position as almost the US Navy Department Independence and comes
of the British Empire. 56 who offer a $2 million loan recognising the United pointless, given his lack of and passing the Alien and only a few hours after the
men sign the document, following the American States as indepenent of practical authority, however he Sedition Acts shortly after death of his friend and
including Adams. victory at Yorktown. the British Crown. remains in the job until 1797. arriving in office. rival, Thomas Jefferson.
1776 1779-1782 1783 1789 1797 1826

23
US Presidents

1801 1809

Thomas
Jeferson
He wrote the Declaration of Independence, but
did Thomas Jefferson truly believe that all
men are created equal?

T
homas Jeffersons earliest memory was when, The Declaration of Independence was ratified
at the age of two, he was carried in the arms by the Continental Congress on 4 July 1776, after
of a black slave to his familys new home a which Jefferson returned to Virginia and saw
tobacco plantation. During his childhood, it out the rest of the American Revolution in local
was expected that the young boy would grow government. He supervised the creation of a state
up to become a typical Virginian slave owner, just constitution and revised the legal system before
like his father, but Thomas was keen to pursue a becoming governor of Virginia. He was in charge
life beyond the plantation. He loved reading and when the British invaded and sacked the state
had a keen interest in science, linguistics and capital, Richmond, in 1781; Jefferson narrowly
natural history, and it was in law that he would first escaped being captured by the Redcoats. Had the
make his mark, being admitted to the Virginia bar author of the Declaration of Independence been
in 1767. imprisoned by the British, it would have
It was a time of flux in North been a huge propaganda victory for
America. When the American Nearly the colonial masters.
Revolution began in 1775, With the end of the war,
a quarter of
Jefferson was appointed a Jefferson was again sent to
Virginian representative in the Declaration of Congress. The delegates were
the Continental Congress at Independence draft building a new country, and
Philadelphia. He had been as one of the United States
hand picked by John Adams, an
that Jefferson wrote of Americas most renowned
early leader of the independence was removed by Founding Fathers, Jefferson was
movement, to join him on a Congress given a special task dispatched
committee that was tasked with as minister to France to solidify
writing a Declaration of Independence. relations between the two nations.
This was to be Jeffersons finest hour. He Jefferson spent four years in Paris until he
was asked to pen the draft that the committee was recalled in September 1789, just as the French
discussed, and in doing so became the primary Revolution was gathering pace, having witnessed
author of one of historys most iconic documents. the storming of the Bastille.
However, Jefferson did not get it all his own way. Jefferson was a firm supporter of the French
His original draft stated: We hold these truths to Revolution and intended to return to France as soon
be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created as possible, but his plans changed when the new
equal and independent. It was Benjamin Franklin president, George Washington, asked him to serve
who rewrote the preamble, changing it to the as the first secretary of state. It was here, at the very
famous: We hold these truths to be self-evident, heart of American politics, where Jefferson hoped to
that all men are created equal. influence the future shape of his country.

24
Thomas Jefferson

3 THOMAS JEFFERSON
Democratic-Republican,
1743 1826

A seminal figure in
American history,
Brief Thomas Jefferson was
Bio the primary author
of the Declaration of
Independence, as well as the
nations first secretary of state
and its third president. Born in
Virginia, he would later graduate
from the College of William
and Mary, before acting as a
wartime governor and minister
to France. His organisation of
the Louisiana purchase greatly
expanded American territory.

25
US Presidents

Thomas
Jefferson died
on the same day
as John Adams, his
opponent in two
presidential
elections

Jeffersons
likeness is familiar
to many as one of
the four faces on
Mount Rushmore

Although the American Revolutionaries


were united in their opposition to colonial rule A problem of Jeffersons own making
from London, they were not in agreement as
to how the new United States should function was his attitude to Native Americans
after independence. Two factions began to
develop. One, led by Secretary of the Treasury then in force stated that as he was the candidate Jefferson stood against Adams for a second
Alexander Hamilton, wanted a strong, central, with the second-highest number of votes, Jefferson time in the 1800 presidential election, this time
national government. They became known as would become vice-president. beating him and becoming the third president of
the Federalists. Jefferson was alarmed by the Jefferson was still unable to prevent Federalist the United States of America. Jefferson resided
mounting power of central government; instead policies from being passed, however, and took the in the White House for two terms, between 1801
he wanted greater rights for the individual states dramatic step of writing the Kentucky and Virginia and 1809, a period during which the United States
in the union. Like-minded individuals began to Resolutions with his fellow Republican leader expanded beyond the original 13 colonies. Under
gather around him and they collectively became and political ally James Madison. They kept their the Louisiana Purchase, 828,000 square miles
known as the Republicans. authorship secret for good reason. The resolutions were bought from France for $15 million, doubling
Jefferson was unable to prevent the Federalists they had penned declared that Congress could the size of the country. Westward expansion also
from dominating government and stepped down not exercise powers unless they were specifically began, with Jefferson approving the Lewis and
in 1793, stating a desire to return to family life. granted by the states, and that the over-arching Clark expedition to the Pacific coast.
However, when George Washington declined to power of Congress could necessarily drive Back in Washington, DC, Jefferson was finally
stand for a third term as president in 1796, the these states into revolution and blood. Jefferson able to dismantle much of the Federalist system
new country lost its unifying leader. Jefferson was actively raising the possibility of rebellion constructed by Alexander Hamilton. It was a
returned to the front line of politics, standing on a against the government of which he was vice- deliberate strategy, named the Revolution of
Republican platform in the presidential election, but president. Had his authorship of the resolutions 1800 by Jefferson, and helped the Republicans
lost out to his former revolutionary colleague and been uncovered, he could conceivably have been become the pre-eminent force in the land.
now Federalist opponent John Adams. The rules impeached for treason. Jeffersonian Republicans would dominate

26
Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson was interested in


science and natural history, as the
equipment in this portrait shows

Jefferson drafted the Declaration of


Jefferson (in red) presents a draft of the Independence with help from four others,
Declaration of Independence to Congress including John Adams and Benjamin Franklin

national politics for the next 25 years under to use force: If ever we are constrained to lift in his career, Jefferson made attempts to ban it in
Jefferson and his two successors, James the hatchet against any tribe, we will the Western Territories.
Madison and James Monroe, while never lay it down until that tribe is Rumours also abounded that Jefferson was in a
the once dominant Federalists exterminated, or driven beyond long-term relationship with one of his own slaves,
faded away. When the the Mississippi. Sally Hemings, and had fathered several children
However, the Jefferson original Library Although Jefferson never by her. DNA evidence suggests this claim is likely
administration was not without went as far as waging war to be true, although the proof is not conclusive.
its problems. His first vice- of Congress burned against the Native Americans, The relationship probably began after the death
president, Aaron Burr, was a down, Jefferson offered his ideas signalled a troubling of Jeffersons wife, when she was aged just 33,
thorn in his side, going as far as attitude to other races that possibly when Jefferson was minister to France
his personal library as
mortally wounding Alexander has been used against him by and Hemings travelled there with his daughter.
Hamilton in a personal duel. a replacement modern critics. Its a similar case Jefferson embarked on 17 years of political
When Burr fled west and was in the subject most commonly retirement after leaving the White House in 1809,
embroiled in plots to seize control used to censure Jefferson slavery. although he kept busy befitting his interest in
of US territory, Jefferson wanted Burr to Jefferson was one of the biggest education and learning, he helped to found the
feel the full wrath of the law, but the president was slaveholders in Virginia, owning more than 600 University of Virginia. He died on 4 July 1826, 50
enraged when he was acquitted. people over his lifetime and taking part in both years to the day that his greatest achievement, the
A problem of Jeffersons own making was his buying and selling of slaves. However, Jefferson Declaration of Independence, was ratified. However,
attitude to Native American peoples, who were was a reluctant slaveholder. His original draft Jefferson was much more than just the author of
a barrier to his dreams of westward expansion. of the Declaration of Independence included a the worlds most famous declaration. He not only
Jefferson advocated peaceful assimilation with passage that was critical of the slave trade, but it helped to win independence for the American
the tribes to the west, encouraging them to was removed by Congress. During his presidency, colonies, he was a key influence in helping to shape
give up their traditional nomadic lifestyle and the international slave trade was banned, stopping the United States as it is today and remains an
culture. If this did not succeed, he was willing the importation of new slaves from Africa; earlier American hero.

27
US Presidents

4 JAMES MADISON
Democratic-Republican,
1751 1836

Born in Virginia as a
British citizen, James
Brief Madison would go on
Bio to be a fundamental
figure in the founding
of the United States, He was
instrumental in the creation of
both the Constitution and the
Bill of Rights, and he served as
the nations fourth president,
successfully leading the country
through the War of 1812.
Madisons
portrait
appeared on the old
$5,000 bill, but this
has not been printed
since 1946 and has
been recalled
since 1969
1809 1817

James Madison
The so-called Father of the Constitution led the US into a grizzly
war with the British and emerged as a respected statesman

J
ames Madison, born in Virginia in 1751, grew militia as Virginia began preparing for the
up the eldest of 12 children. Perhaps it was American Revolutionary War. However, it soon
this that helped shape his presidential abilities, became apparent he wasnt cut out for a military
for he did not have much of a commanding career and turned his attention to a political one
presence otherwise: at just 54 Madison instead, participating in the framing of the Virginia
remains the shortest president to date, and he Constitution in 1776, serving in the Continental
was frequently described as sickly and pale. At his Congress and eventually becoming a leader in the
inauguration Washington Irving even described Virginia Assembly.
him as but a withered little apple-John. During this time, he met Thomas Jefferson,
But despite his shortcomings in stature and who would later become the third president of the
charm (he was known also as a quiet, timid United States, and the pair became lifelong friends.
individual), Madison displayed an astonishing Jefferson helped give Madisons political ideas some
attention to detail and a strong work ethic. A credence, particularly those following the colonies
student of history and government at Princeton declaration of independence from Britain in 1776.
(then known as the College of New Jersey), he The Articles of Confederation in essence the first
was appointed a colonel in the Orange County constitution of the United States soon followed,

28
James Madison

but to Madisons dismay they gave the bulk of American ships from travelling to foreign ports
power to individual state legislature, meaning states and stopping exports from the US. Unsurprisingly,
could act like individual countries, rather than it proved economically disastrous for American
as part of a union. Madison felt this put national merchants, and was suspended in 1809 when
Congress in a position of weakness, unable to Jefferson left office.
manage federal debt or a national army. Despite this oversight Madison became the
He believed that the United States needed a United States fourth president, but still he
strong federal state, where no one government continued to face problems from overseas. Britain
faction had greater power than any other. Madison and France continued their attacks on American
presented his ideas for the first time in May 1787, ships following the embargo, impeding US trade
at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. and routinely supporting Native Americans in
He envisioned a government with three distinct battles against US settlers.
arms legislative, executive and judicial which The situation escalated, and Madison declared
would form the basis of the US Constitution. war on Britain in 1812. But the US was nowhere
This vision lead to his nickname as Father of the near ready for such an enormous event. Congress
Constitution, although he repeatedly countered didnt have an army, nor did it have the money to
that the Constitution was not the offspring of a procure one, and several states, rallying against Relations between the US government
single brain but actually the work of many heads Mr Madisons War made it clear their militia was and Native Americans were consistently
strained throughout Madisons presidency
and many hands. forbidden from joining the campaign.
Federalists supported the new Constitution, Yet despite the ongoing trade issues, military
but after it was sanctioned in 1788 and the new campaigns and widespread distrust of his foreign Life in the
government became functional, Madison
then elected to the newly-formed
policies, Madison ran for re-election against
Federalist candidate DeWitt Clinton, time of James
US House of Representatives
found himself at odds with
Its
commonly
and won. But the War of 1812 still
raged on and in August 1814
Madison
the Federalists on a number Madison and other political Newfound nationalism
thought Madison After the War of 1812 the United States began
of issues. As a result, he and figures were forced to flee
Thomas Jefferson founded the was a Freemason, but Washington DC as British
to assert a newfound sense of nationalism, and
the US would rally around national heroes such
United States first opposition in a letter to a friend troops invaded and burned a as Battle of New Orleans commander Andrew
political party, the Democratic- in 1832 he claims he number of important American Jackson, and take particular pride in symbols
Republican Party, in 1792. buildings, including the White of national pride, such as Francis Scott Keys
was a stranger to poem The Star-Spangled Banner.
Interestingly, Jefferson, Madison House, the Capitol as well as the
and later, James Monroe, were Freemasonry Library of Congress.
the only Democratic-Republicans to Finally, tired of fighting, Britain North and south
become presidents, as the party split into and the United States negotiated an end The economies of the north and south had
been vastly different since the earliest colonial
competing factions during the 1820s. to the war in the form of the Treaty of Ghent,
days. The climate of the south was conducive
When Jefferson became president, he appointed signed in December 1814. However this treaty to crops and sprawling plantations, while
Madison as secretary of state, a position which he was not signed before US troops won a significant the fast-moving rivers of the north powered
used to help acquire the Louisiana territory from victory at the Battle of New Orleans, where 4,732 machinery and gradual industrialisation.
the French in 1803, effectively doubling the size of American soldiers took on 11,000 British militia
the United States. and won decisively, slaughtering 700 British men, Home life
But trouble was brewing across the pond. capturing 500 soldiers and wounding 1,400 more. The average familys home during this period
As Great Britain and France warred with one The American side, however, saw just seven killed was extremely modest. Most had dirt floors,
children would share beds and kitchens were
another, American vessels were frequently caught and six wounded. This major victory helped shine
used for both preparing food and warming
in the middle, routinely stopped and seized to a positive light on the controversial war, and after the house until the invention and patent
prevent Americans from trading with the enemy. two terms in office, Madison left Washington of the cast-iron stove in the 1830s cooking
Diplomatic efforts failed, so Jefferson and Madison in 1817 hailed for his triumphs, rather than was almost always done in an open hearth.
simply enacted the Embargo Act of 1807, forbidding remembered for his mistakes. Bathtubs were nearly unknown at the time.

A hard-knock life
Life was particularly difficult for children, who
A poorer president from the ages of just six or eight would be
Madison left his presidency a poorer man than he was when expected to be up before dawn to complete
he entered, due to the financial collapse of his plantation. tasks necessary for day-to-day life. Boys would
Some historians believe that his growing debt was the main chop wood, make repairs, hunt for food and
reason he prevented his personal notes from being published tend to farm animals, while girls would spend
in his lifetime he knew they were worth a great deal and long days cooking, cleaning, sewing and caring
wanted wife Dolley to have a financial cushion if needs be. for young and elderly family members.
In his later years, though, he became obsessed with
straightening out and modifying documents, changing dates Getting ahead
and adding sentences where he saw fit. The relationship between settlers and Native
Dolley sold the papers to Congress in 1848, not realising Americans was tense for many years, and
that her son, John Payne Todd, had kept a number of more for a long time into the 19th century white
valuable notes for himself, which he sold periodically to various Americans feared the so-called savages,
creditors to pay debts until his death in 1851. with local authorities often placing handsome
bounties on the scalps of natives.

29
US Presidents

5
JAMES MONROE
Democratic-Republican,
John Marshall, 1758 1831

the legendary
A noted hero of the
Supreme Court chief War of Independence,
Brief James Monroe
justice, was James Bio presided over an
Monroes classmate in extended period of
peace and prosperity for the
primary school United States when he was
elected as the countrys fifth
president, though his attitude
towards slaves and Native
Americans has somewhat
tarnished his reputation since.

1817 1825

James Monroe
James Monroe swept into the presidency based on his heroic acts in the
Revolutionary War, but his time in office was dubbed the Era of Good Feelings

A
fter George Washington, James Monroe Battle of Trenton. In 1776, the depleted band of
might be the most named-after president. revolutionaries led by George Washington had
His name adorns 17 counties, two US cities, suffered multiple military defeats and was down
and one foreign capital city. to 3,000 men. Washington famously ordered
His life began on a plantation in Virginia. the force to cross the Delaware river and march
When Monroe was 16, his father died and he through a noreaster snowstorm to take on the
inherited the land and slaves. He left plantation mercenary Hessians. Monroe and his battalion
life to enrol at the College of William and Mary, rushed through artillery fire to disable damaging
which was gripped by revolutionary fervour. He grapeshot cannons. Monroe took a musket ball to
gained notoriety when he and a handful fellow the shoulder and suffered a severed artery in the
students launched a raid on the Virginia Royal attack, usually a fatal wound at that time, yet he
Governors mansion and secured hundreds of recovered fully.
rifles to arm the local militia. In the Revolutionary After the war, Monroe practiced law. He was
War, Monroe played a starring role in the not particularly interested in the profession,

30
James Monroe

but he pursued a degree because he saw it as pursuing the Seminoles deep into Spanish
the best path to wealth and political standing. territory. His brutal actions in crushing the
George Washington appointed him minister to Seminoles prompted a congressional inquest,
France in 1794, where he attempted to curry but Monroe scuppered the investigation. Despite
favour with revolutionary France. In this task the incursion, Spain agreed to sell Florida to the
he failed, as the French sensed that the United United States.
States was friendlier with the United Kingdom Monroes lasting achievement was his
(their wartime enemies at the time), and Monroe eponymous doctrine, a resounding statement of
was humiliatingly stripped of his post. In 1801, American hegemony in the Western Hemisphere.
President Jefferson again sent Monroe to France It was not a statement of his exclusive creation
to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase, and he however; he was inspired by the latent American
succeeded in securing the gigantic tract land from isolationism that had underscored the nations
Napoleon. Later, as governor of Virginia, Monroe creation, and Secretary of State John Quincy
brutally suppressed Gabriels Rebellion, hanging Adams is acknowledged to have been the sole
dozens of suspected rebellious slaves. This author of the non-colonialisation provision. Yet
experience would inform his feelings on sending Monroe took the initiative (with British support)
James Monroe was a firm believer in the
freedmen back to Africa. to declare that the Americas would be henceforth slave trade, with dreams of becoming a
Monroe became Americas fifth president in free of European intervention. large plantation owner, which he achieved

1817, winning a near-unanimous vote after the A lifelong slave owner, Monroe is not
opposition Federalist party failed to name a
candidate. Monroes reputation as a war hero
remembered for his charity. He regularly split
up families and sold off troublesome slaves. He
Life in the
helped him secure the office after the disastrous successfully realised his dream of being a large time of James
War of 1812, in which the British burned down
both the White House and the US Capitol.
plantation owner, but he never administered
it directly. His plantation floundered, and his
Monroe
He sparked a time of relative national unity by deputies drove the slaves harshly to extract Good Feelings abound
making political appointments with no regard money from the land. He suffered from financial The Era of Good Feelings followed the
for party lines. His popularity was unabated difficulties after his retirement owing to his failure of the Federalist Party, which was the
principal opposition to Monroes Democratic-
even when the US suffered the financial shock lavish lifestyle, and like Jefferson, he sold slaves
Republicans. For a brief period, political parties
of 1819 and when Missouri failed in a bid for rather than freeing them after his death. One of had little effect on American politics. Monroes
statehood. An amended proposal later saw Monroes curious projects was his desire administration is fondly remembered, as he
Missouri enter the Union as a slave to relocate free American blacks to avoided major conflicts and expanded the
state alongside the free state of Africa. This was not an idea born country peacefully.
Maine, with the stipulation that of benevolence, but rather a
any future states entering the For five months in fear that a large population A lasting compromise
union would be free above of freemen would inspire The Missouri Compromise provided a simple
latitude 36/30 north. This
1814-15, Monroe served slaves to rebel. The American rule for determining whether an incoming state
compromise was uneasy, but simultaneously as Colonization Society brought would be free or slave-owning. Inevitably, the
compromise was complicated when westward
nevertheless persisted for secretary of state and together an odd coalition
expansion rendered the fixed latitude system
more than three decades. secretary of war of Quaker and evangelical unworkable, but it placated both sides while
Domestically, Monroe abolitionists and slave owners it lasted.
courted controversy when he who opposed abolition, but
sent General Andrew Jackson to saw a benefit in the removal of
pursue Seminole Indians well into free blacks. Monroe was a sponsor
Violent incursions
Spanish territory in Florida. During the and founding member of the society, and into Florida
war of 1812, the invading British forces armed he lobbied congress to financially support the James Monroe believed that Native Americans
should progress from a hunter-gatherer to
and trained thousands of Seminoles. After venture. In the end, 30,000 free blacks migrated
an agrarian civilisation, but his strategy to
the war, the Seminoles continued harassing to what is now Liberia. He remains the only assimilate them was derailed when his general
American sailors, prompting Monroe to retaliate. president to have a foreign capital Monrovia Andrew Jackson brutally suppressed the
General Jackson interpreted his orders liberally, named after him. Seminoles in Spanish Florida.

Looking eastward
The Monroe Doctrine American politics were dominated by relations
James Monroes most lasting contribution with France and the UK, with each enjoying
to American foreign policy was the doctrine periodic favour in Washington. Monroes
which bears his name (although it wasnt friendliness to France caused him to be
called that until the 1850s). In collaboration denounced by opponents as a French agent
with the British, who were interested in and a traitor.
shackling colonial Spain, the Monroe Doctrine
was a three-pronged statement of intent:
no further European colonisation in the New Fears of slave rebellions
World would be permitted, the US would As Virginia governor, Monroe was targeted in
abstain from involvement in European affairs, a gigantic slave rebellion which failed to fully
and European nations would be prohibited materialise. Nevertheless, the fear of such an
from meddling with governments in the event informed his future thoughts on slaves
Western hemisphere. and his advocacy of the freedmen migration
to Liberia.

31
US Presidents

Passing the
bar exam in 1791
and then becoming
president in 1824 meant
that Adams was the
first lawyer-president
in US history

6 JOHN QUINCY ADAMS


Democratic-Republican,
1767-1848

Serving as the sixth


president of the
Brief United States, John
Bio Quincy Adams can be
remembered as much
for his work outside the Oval
Office as from within. Being
raised by his former president
father John Quincy grew up
a skilled diplomat and forged
many US links in Europe. His
presidency would be marred
by vicious attacks from his
opponents, who blocked many
of the policies he tried to pass.

1825 1829

John Quincy
Adams A well-meaning president whose private life
often overshadowed his term in office

J
ohn Quincy Adams was arguably the best over yet, however, and he spent time in Denmark,
prepared president in US history. Son of Finland and Sweden, where he became fluent in
Founding Father and president John Adams, he French and Dutch. Upon his return he studied
began his political career as a small child. The at Harvard and became a practising attorney in
young John Quincy travelled overseas with his Boston, after passing the bar exam in 1791.
father on a regular basis first to France and then Initially a member of the Federalist party like
the Netherlands on diplomatic missions, witnessing his father, he wasnt always willing to toe the
first-hand a nation taking its first steps in the world. party line. He would vote for policies that he
Settling down for a few years, he studied at Leiden personally supported like the Louisiana Purchase
University before setting off again, this time to and Jeffersons Embargo Act that the party was
Russia with Francis Dana to obtain recognition for against. In 1808, he left the Federalists and joined
the United States, aged just 14. His travels were not the Democratic-Republican Party.

32
John Quincy Adams

To his credit, the proposals Adams set out


were ambitious and far reaching. These included
building a network of canals and highways that
would connect different sections of the country
together; a full survey of the entire US coastline; the
acquisition of public land for conservation efforts
and building astronomical observatories. Adams
believed that these policies would help foster an
enterprising spirit of commerce and scientific
thought. In addition, he also proposed solutions to
universal problems, such as the establishment of a
A map showing the results of the 1824 presidential
election, which was won by John Quincy Adams uniformed system of weights and measures.
Although he wasnt short of grand ideas, the
After a youth spent amongst the political circles reality of Adams term was very different. Many
in Europe, Adams had amassed a very impressive people found his proposals completely unrealistic
public service record. One action that would stand for a young America to act upon. His political
out above all of others was his crafting of the opponents seized on them to heap scorn and
Monroe Doctrine in 1823. After the Napoleonic disdain on the new president, sensing that he had
Wars had ended, several countries in Latin America pushed for these policies to help grow the power
revolted against their former masters and declared and influence of the Federal Government. This in This portrait of John Quincy Adams was
independence. The Monroe Doctrine stated that turn led to accusations of elitism and neglect of created posthumously by GPA Healy around
the year 1858
the United States would block any European the common man. At the head of the opposition
countries attempting to stop these independence was the slighted Andrew Jackson, who managed
movements. While the document made to have his allies win majorities in both Life in the
large claims, it was largely disregarded
internationally as the US, a fledgling
Houses of Congress. With this in place
it was almost impossible for Adams time of John
Adams was a
country, did not have the political
or military power to back it up. talented linguist;
to pass any of his legislation, and
for what little he did get through,
Quincy Adams
What saved it was that it fell he was fluent the funding supplied fell Slavery was legal
in line with Britains larger Pax woefully short. Before the civil war slavery was legal in all
in French, Dutch, parts of America and even the Founding
Britannica to enforce neutrality Struggling through his
on the seas. This is a document Greek and Latin, four-year term, John Quincy
Fathers and first five presidents owned at least
one slave. It was not until the Emancipation
that was to have a long reaching and proficient in Adams was soundly beaten in Proclamation in 1863 that it became illegal.
legacy as many in the US have German the 1828 election. It was a bitter
used the Monroe Doctrine to justify and personal fight with both sides
intervention in Latin America during becoming ruthless. A low point was
A melting pot
The New World was still calling people from far
the 19th and 20th centuries. reached when Jacksons wife was accused and wide to its shores. You could find people
In the election of 1824, despite losing the popular of bigamy. Nevertheless, after the defeat, Adams of Dutch, Irish, Scottish, English, French,
vote to Democrat Andrew Jackson, John Quincy entered the House of Representatives and enjoyed a German and Spanish descent, as well as many
Adams was elected as president. After no majority long political career. other nationalities, on American soil.
could be reached in the Electoral College, Henry In 1848, Adams made his final contribution
Clay put his votes behind John Quincy, a move that to his country. He had taken to the floor of the A new country
outraged Jackson and caused him to decry this House of Representatives to argue that veterans In the early 19th century, much of the
corrupt bargain. who served in the Mexican-American war should American West was still unclaimed and free. It
As it turned out, Adams had inherited a lot of be honoured by the government. Interestingly, he would stay this way until the late 1840s, when
his fathers temperament. He was stubborn, aloof, was against the war but saw the US government the promise of gold started to lure more and
more adventurers into the wild.
independent and ferocious in his convictions. These as obligated to honour the men who had put their
traits would not set him in good stead for making lives on the line. During his speech, he suffered a
political alliances both within his own party and massive cerebral haemorrhage. He passed away two Pistols at dawn
outside it. Indeed the odds seemed to be stacked days later on 23 February 1848. Surrounded by his Duelling was a popular way to settle disputes
between disenfranchised gentlemen at this
against him as his numerous political opponents family he uttered his last words: This is the last of
time. One famous duel between politicians
were set on making him a one term president. Earth. I am content. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr sparked
many sermons moving to have the practice
abolished as Hamilton was mortally wounded
Victories in the slave trade by a pistol shot.
Throughout his life, Adams would put his long-standing anti-slavery
sentiment into action. He held that slavery was a terrible evil and
preached its total abolition. His first victory came when he ruled The White House
that petitions against slavery be heard in the House despite a gag The iconic residence and primary work space
rule saying they could not. In later life, Adams would champion a for the president was completed in 1800.
case which saw slaves who mutinied against their Spanish masters Before its construction, the presidents had
be freed, which went against the government line of deportation. stayed in a number of cities including New
As well as winning the mens freedom, Adams never took a fee for York and Pennsylvania. However, the building
fighting that case and used it as a platform to preach the evils of had to be partially rebuilt in 1814 as marauding
slavery to a wide audience. British troops set fire to it and destroyed much
of the interior.

33
US Presidents

1829 1837

Andrew
Jackson
A crack shot, serial duellist and war hero, 7 ANDREW JACKSON
Old Hickory was probably the toughest Democrat, 1767 1845

A no-nonsense
president the US has ever seen Brief frontiersman from a
humble background,
Bio Jackson was also

W
a lawyer, judge,
hen Jackson was born on the western his side, he could be a loyal friend and comrade, businessman, congressman,
frontier of the Carolinas, the 13 American but if you opposed him, then God help you. For senator and general before
becoming a controversial but
colonies were still part of the British one thing, Jackson was a notorious and successful
enormously popular president,
Empire. The War of Independence that duellist. This approach extended from the personal serving two terms. He was one
began eight years later was to be one of sphere into his wider attitudes: you were either his of the original American self-
made men, the first western
the formative events of his life. The other major people, or you werent, and he was ruthless and president, and he changed the
influence on Jackson was his location at the cruel to those on the other side. way politics was done in the
frontier; he was always in a sense a frontiersman, By the time Jackson was a young man making young republic.
and in time he was to become the champion and his fortune in the new territories west of the
embodiment of all those Americans living at the Appalachian mountains, his qualities were already
rough edge of things. obvious, most notably self-reliance, intelligence
Jacksons childhood was hard from and deadly some would say murderous
the beginning. His father died determination. Having studied law,
before he was born and his family Jackson he qualified for the bar in 1787
was poor. The rest of Jacksons fought a and quickly set up in Nashville,
immediate family died during number of duels then a small town in what was
the war, leaving him a tough shortly to become the new state
orphan and veteran at the age of
and was shot at least of Tennessee. Wealth, reputation
15. He blamed the British for the three times in the and political influence rapidly
loss of his family, but that was chest, arm and followed. Not all of Jacksons
not the sole cause of his lasting new acquisitions were admirable;
shoulder
hatred for them. The fighting in he became a slave owner and
the Carolinas was particularly savage, remained an unapologetic defender of
with guerrilla-style tactics being employed the American Souths peculiar institution
on both sides. It is said that when Jackson and throughout his life. It may be that this attitude sat
one of his brothers were captured while serving comfortably with his us and them view of the
with a troop of irregular soldiers both were too world, although of course it was not unusual in that
young to serve in the regular army a British time and place.
officer commanded him to clean his muddy boots Jackson met his wife, Rachel Donelson Robards,
and then beat him with a sabre when he refused. not long after his arrival in Nashville. It was a
Jackson reputedly bore the physical scars for the genuine love match and the couple remained
rest of his life, while the emotional effects were devoted, but Rachel was already married when
evident in his tendency to hold a grudge. they met and the circumstances of their marriage
A defining characteristic of Jackson was his were to be used to stir up controversy and slander
with him or against him attitude. If you were on later on, when Jackson fought for the presidency.

34
Andrew Jackson

Jacksons wife Rachel Donelson died just


days after he was elected in 1828

Life in the time


of Andrew
Jackson
An American continent
Although the term Manifest Destiny wasnt
coined until 1845, the year in which Jackson
died, it expressed the principle of US
expansion throughout North America that he
supported. The notion that it was the duty
and destiny of the United States to spread its
special republic helped justify ruthless and
sometimes brutal territorial growth.

The Trail of Tears


The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was part of
a move to expel Native Americans from the
southeastern United States, pushing them
westward. It was motivated by the desire for
new land. In 1838, the Cherokee were forcibly
removed from their lands in Georgia and, ill-
equipped for a winter journey, thousands died.

Courting popularity
Until Jackson came along, it wasnt the custom
to actively campaign for the presidency;
electors were supposed to make a rational
choice based on qualifications. Even if there
was some humbug in this and mudslinging
was nothing new, the 1828 election changed
how things were done. It was also one of the
dirtiest in US history.

The spoils of victory


In the spoils system (which is still in practice
to this day), new presidents appointed
their own people to government posts,
replacing the office holders appointed by
their predecessors. The phrase to the victor
belong the spoils was coined in justification of
Jacksons appointments. In fact, he was fairly
moderate in his patronage.

Cooking up policy
The term kitchen cabinet was first used to
describe Jacksons informal group of advisers,
aiding and advising him in parallel to his official
government cabinet. The phrase is still used to
describe informal or personal government and
is still mostly meant critically.

35
US Presidents

The War of 1812 This caused him particular pain, even if it did not
stop his ambitions.
Men like Jackson may have welcomed Jacksons political rise began in earnest as
the war as an opportunity for personal Tennessees statehood approached in 1796. In
glory and the expansion of US territory
rapid succession, he was a delegate at the state
and perhaps vengeance against the
hated British but it was not universally constitutional convention, became the states
popular. Economically, it was disastrous for first Congressman and was elected to the Senate.
maritime trading states on the seaboard, Jackson hated his time in Washington and left
while not all Americans viewed Britain his posts in disgust. The scholarly, gentlemanly,
with hostility. After the invasion of Canada cliquish politicians in the capital were definitely
proved disappointingly inconclusive and
not us for him, and he viewed them with deep
Washington DC and the White House
were burned by British troops, enthusiasm
suspicion. Sometimes this attitude is explained
for the war ebbed especially in areas as Jacksons dislike of the wealthy in favour of The Battle of Horseshoe Bend resulted in an
ordinary people, but in fact much of his early legal overwhelming victory for Jackson and his forces over
affected by the ruinous naval blockade. the Creek Native Americans
The defeat of Napoleon in Europe could practice revolved around debt collection, and he
only mean more British forces on the way. won friends and allies among rich creditors in it anywhere near Canada, Jackson would certainly
In fact, the Treaty of Ghent was signed Tennessee while consistently opposing never regret how things turned out.
late in 1814, ending hostilities, and a war
debt relief measures. He also built a The government was slow to call
that had been a small sideshow in world
affairs drew to a close almost. From an considerable fortune for himself. on Jackson and his militia, and his
American perspective, the most significant It seems possible that his real Jackson first action was against the Creek
action was still to come. News of the treaty dislike was for old money and Nation Native Americans, who
had yet to arrive in the US and the battle the social and intellectual
survived an were allied with the British.
for New Orleans was fought on and off pretensions of the old elite, assassination attempt After around five months
in December 1814 and January 1815, with
the main British assault beginning on 8
in some ways unchanged in 1835 after both his campaigning over 181314, the
January. The improbable American victory since the revolution. assailants pistols misfired. decisive and bloody Battle
in the Battle of New Orleans not only Back in Nashville, Jackson of Tohopeka (also known as
established Jackson as a national figure was soon appointed as
The odds against a Horseshoe Bend) ended the
momentous enough it did much to a judge of the Tennessee double misfire were threat from the Creeks, who
restore unity and national feeling. Supreme Court, where he astronomical suffered terrible losses. Jackson
served for six years. In 1802, he then moved against the Spanish
was elected major general of the territory of Florida, without orders. The
state militia, which was to open the pretext was that Spain was Britains ally
way to his greater ambitions, turning him into a against France in Europe. In fact, he wanted the
national figure a decade later. Many Americans territory. His early focus on Canada and his interest
were unhappy when war broke out between the in Florida reflected one of his most important
United States and Great Britain in 1812, but Jackson political positions he believed that there was no
was not one of them. Even before it was declared, room for anywhere but the United States in North
he was recruiting new militia volunteers for a America, and by that he meant total domination
future attack on Canada. Although he never made of the continent by white Americans. The British,

Defining moment
Jackson shoots and is shot
1806
In 1806, Jackson got into a quarrel with Charles Dickinson,
another keen duellist and a famously good shot. Dickinson
fired first and Jackson was hit in the chest, near the heart,
with some ribs broken. Jackson gathered himself and then
coolly shot his opponent, after re-cocking his pistol when
it didnt cock fully. Although he was allowed to do this
Jackson leads the American forces at according to the rules of engagement, it was frowned upon,
the Battle of New Orleans in 1815
and the incident both enhanced and damaged Jacksons
reputation tough but lacking in magnanimity. The chest
wound troubled Jackson severely for the rest of his life.
Timeline
1767
O Shots are fired O First sign-up O Joining the bar O Tennessee becomes O War breaks out
Hostilities commence at the The thirteen-year-old After studying law in a state As major general of the
Battles of Lexington and Andrew Jackson signs up Salisbury, North Carolina, Jackson moved to Tennessee militia, Jackson
Concord, with British troops with the revolutionary Jackson is admitted to Tennessee eight years fights the British and
forced back to retreat to their militia in the Carolinas as the state bar. Practising before it became a state the Red Sticks, forging
base by colonial militia. The he is not old enough to law formed the first part and it would become his reputation as an
American Revolutionary War officially register. He and of his career, although he his political base and adept commander and
had begun and a year later the one of his brothers act would shortly move west his home. A prominent notoriously feisty leader.
Declaration of Independence as couriers and are later to pursue his burgeoning figure, Jackson sat on its His successes lead him to
would be signed. captured by the British. political ambitions. constitutional convention. become a national figure.
1775 1780 1787 1796 1812

36
Andrew Jackson

Spanish and French had to leave, and the Native principles of government. They believed that it president himself had been affronted by political
Americans were to be moved ruthlessly westward. would and should always be them who guided manoeuvring to force his hand in the matter.
Having stirred up trouble in Florida, Jackson America. Jackson, the first to have been born into Effectively, he killed the US bank. This almost
shadowed a British army to New Orleans, where poverty, was more direct and rarely quibbled about certainly caused the disastrous Panic of 1837, a
he was to make his name. Among the defenders laws or philosophical principles when he could act financial crisis followed by a lengthy recession.
of the city who Jackson assembled were some instead he had a vigorous, rambunctious style, This decision of Jacksons was a clear failure and
pirates, which raised a few eyebrows; however, he used the presidential veto often, and generally discredited his partys anti-central bank stand.
probably had more in common with them than the expanded the role of the president. This His retirement was largely quiet and full
Washington stuffed shirts he loathed. The decisive was what was to become known as of honours, with Jackson never losing
factor in the Battle of New Orleans may well have Jacksonian Democracy, and it his popularity; as ever, he was lucky
been a British logistical failure the ladders for changed American politics forever. and had left office by the time of
scaling the ramparts didnt arrive, leaving the Even if it was the manner of
During the 1812 the financial crash. There were
soldiers stuck below the American guns to be Jacksons presidency that was to war Jacksons men certainly qualities to admire
slaughtered but Jackson took the credit and was leave an enduring legacy, there nicknamed him Old in him, but they were mixed
instantly a hero. were notable actions too. In his Hickory because of with darker elements. He had
After another highly questionable attack on first term, Jackson squashed the frontier virtues and vices,
Florida in 1817 as the military commander of the a threat to federal authority
his toughness the being capable, resourceful and
southern district, Jacksons attention turned to the from South Carolina, but then name stuck courageous, but casually violent
presidency, and in 1822 the Tennessee legislature failed to enforce a Supreme Court and careless of the rights and lives
nominated him as their presidential candidate. decision against Georgia. The state of Native Americans. In some ways,
The election of 1824 left Jackson more of an angry had appropriated nine million acres of it is easier to say what he was against
outsider than ever. He received the most votes of Cherokee land that lay within its borders after gold than what he was for: the British, old money
the four candidates, but no one had the required was discovered there. The Cherokees appealed to the and gentlemen, anyone in the North American
majority, so the decision went to the House of US Supreme Court and won, but then the president continent who wasnt a white US citizen, central
Representatives, who chose John Quincy Adams, a refused to act. This was to end in the forcible banks and anyone who crossed him. It is fitting to
Washington insider and one of them. evacuation of around 15,000 Cherokees, on foot, repeat the Earl of Clarendons judgement on Oliver
In 1828 Jackson not only revenged himself on leading to the death of around a quarter of them: the Cromwell, who also emerged from relative obscurity
Adams with an emphatic election victory, he was Trail of Tears. Jacksons differing reactions to state in wartime: as he had all the wickedness against
also instrumental, together with his allies, in forming defiance were telling. which damnation is denouncedso he had some
the modern Democratic Party. He was to serve two In Jacksons second term he failed to renew the virtues which have caused the memory of some
terms, being re-elected in 1832. This was a new national banks charter; Jacksonian Democrats were men in all ages to be celebrated; and he will be
style of politics, with a new power base, populist in suspicious of old elite vested interests, and the looked upon by posterity as a brave bad man.
the old states and with a strong influence from the
new western territories. The previous six presidents
had been scholars, philosophers and statesmen
from the most prestigious old colonies; they had
He had a vigorous, rambunctious style
broad political experience and a grounding in the and used the presidential veto often
Defining moment Defining moment
The Battle of Tohopeka A corrupt bargain?
1814 1824
Also known as the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, this was There were four presidential candidates in 1824: Andrew
the final and decisive engagement of Jacksons campaign Jackson, John Quincy Adams (son of second US president,
against the Red Sticks (Upper Creeks), part of the Creek John Adams), William H Crawford and Henry Clay. All
Nation, during the War of 1812. It was notably bloody. The except Jackson were Washington insiders. Jackson
US forces numbered a little over 3,000, including some received the largest percentage of the popular vote and the
Native American allies. Against them were around 1,000 most electoral college votes (41.4 per cent and 99), with
Red Stick warriors in a strong fortified position. Jackson had Adams coming a decent second (30.9 per cent and 84).
his men surround the fortifications and after an ineffectual With no one receiving the required majority, the House
preliminary bombardment they mounted a hand-to-hand of Representatives had to choose from the three highest-
assault. Jacksons forces took only light casualties, but polling candidates. The fourth candidate, Clay, supported
John Quincy Adams was Jacksons opponent in two
approximately 800 Red Sticks were killed. The treaty that Adams, who won. Clay was then made secretary of state, bitterly contested presidential elections
Jackson then forced on them was devastating. leading to accusations of a corrupt bargain from Jackson.

1845
O First-time president O President again O The national debt is O Financial panic sweeps An unlikely death O
Running against the After a successful paid off the nation Surprisingly, Jackson
incumbent, John Quincy first term, Jackson is In 1835, Jackson finally There were many causes died a peaceful death,
Adams, Jackson wins a re-elected with a slightly succeeded in paying off of the financial crash, but despite living a life full of
healthy majority of the reduced share of the the national debt, one Jacksons killing of the US fights, duels, shootings
popular and electoral popular vote (54.2 per of his major long-term bank was almost certainly and an assassination
college votes: 56 per cent cent), but with hugely ambitions as president. one of them. However, he attempt. He died at
and 178 versus 43.6 per increased support from It was a singular feat and was no longer president his plantation home in
cent and 83 to become the electoral college spoke of his ingrained and managed to escape Tennessee, known as
Alamy

president for the first time. (219 votes). hatred of debt. the consequences. the Hermitage.
1828 1832 1835 1837 1845

37
US Presidents

8
MARTIN VAN BUREN
Democrat, 1782 1862

Of Dutch ancestry
but born in New York,
Brief Martin Van Buren
Bio rose from a modest
economic background
Martin Van Buren to become an adept politician.
spoke Dutch at He was instrumental in the
formation of the Democratic
home, and is the only party and served as vice
president to Andrew Jackson
president who spoke before being elected as his
successor. Van Burens time in
English as a second offie was blighted by crises, but
language his political legacy lives on in
the Democratic Party of today.

1837 1841

Martin Van Buren


He was nicknamed Martin Van Ruin by his critics, but Van Buren
helped to lay the foundations of politics as we know them today

T
he two happiest days of Martin Van Burens Small in stature but impeccably well-dressed
life were, according to the eighth president and presented, Van Buren quickly demonstrated
of the United States, those of my entrance the qualities that would take him to the very top
upon the office and my surrender of it of American politics. He negotiated the fractious
perhaps an unsurprising sentiment, since his political environment of New York and built a
single term in office was fraught with challenges. political organisation that stressed unity and loyalty
Van Buren, of Dutch descent, was born at the to Jeffersonian principles, which favoured states
end of 1782 to a family of modest means. His rights over a strong federal government.
father was a tavern keeper in Kinderhook, New Gradually, he made his way from the New York
York. His fathers premises were frequently used State Senate to the New York attorney generals
for local government gatherings, giving Van Buren office and then to the US senate. Van Buren
his first taste of politics. The family couldnt afford disagreed with the politics of president John
to send him to college, but he managed to get an Quincy Adams whod won a contentious election
apprenticeship in a law office and began studying in 1824 and so he helped form a coalition of
law independently. He became a lawyer, joined the Jeffersonian Republicans, backing war hero Andrew
Democratic-Republican Party and began his career Jackson in the 1828 election. This coalition emerged
as a minor county official. as a brand-new political entity: the Democratic

38
Martin Van Buren

business failed, and thousands lost their lands as


well. Thus began five years of the worst depression
in US history to date, and Van Burens continuation
of Jacksons deflationary money policies did
little to help the situation. But he wasnt entirely
ignorant of the issue, and in an attempt to confront
the countrys economic woes he proposed the
establishment of an independent treasury to
handle the federal funds that had been
His passed to state banks, and cut off
wife died 12 federal expenditures so completely
the government was forced to
years into their sell the tools it had used on
marriage, leaving him public works.
Party. Jackson won the election, four sons to raise. Two The measures passed
and rewarded Van Buren for went on to become Congress, although a bitter
A political cartoon shows Andrew Jackson
his support and loyalty by debate drove many of the more riding the Democratic donkey while Martin
appointing him secretary of state, his personal conservative democrats into the Van Buren follows

referring to him as a true man secretaries opposing Whig Party. Meanwhile,


with no guile. Though he resigned
as part of a cabinet reshuffle in 1831, Van
Van Buren was dealing with a
number of other divisive issues: the
Life in the
Buren became minister to Britain. Then in 1832 annexing of Texas, which he was against; the time of Martin
Van Buren earned the Democrats first nomination
as vice president, where he ran with Jackson on
growing tensions between the US and Great Britain
over the Canadian border, where his measured
Van Buren
a platform that strongly opposed the recharter of approach only earned him the resentment of The US expands
the Bank of the United States. The Democratic those demanding more aggression; and a long war Texas was incorporated into the United States
Party easily defeated the opposing Whig Party, and against Floridas Seminole tribe. in 1845, and while the majority of Texans were
in favour of the annexation, political leaders
Jackson would pick Van Buren as his presidential Given these challenges, its little surprise that
from both major parties had concerns about
successor four years later. Van Buren lost his re-election bid in 1840, and in introducing the vast slave-holding region into
Van Buren took office in 1836, he used his 1844 he tried and failed to gain the Democratic an already volatile political climate.
inaugural address to hold the then-prosperous presidential nomination. Come 1848, he ran as
United States up as an example to the rest of the candidate for president for the Free Soil party a
world. But just three months later, the country was short-lived group comprising former Democrats
Financial ruin for many
Almost the entire country felt the effects of
gripped by The Panic of 1837 the worst financial and anti-slavery members of the Whig Party. He the Panic of 1837. Out of 850 banks in the
crisis that the US had ever seen at that point. received just 10 per cent of the vote, and failed to US, 343 closed entirely and 62 failed partially.
The 19th century cyclical economy of boom win a single state. Unemployment levels were as high as 25 per
and bust was nothing new, but financial measures Martin Van Buren spent much of the rest of cent in some areas.
implemented by Jackson had put extra strain his days travelling, before returning home to
on the economys pattern. Having closed the Kinderhook to write his memoirs. He died in 1862, Transportation was
Second Bank of the United States, restrictions on aged 79, and while his presidency was troubled, it revolutionised
inflationary practices had been removed for some should not be overshadowed by the considerable Construction on the 584km Erie Canal began
banks and wild speculation about land based on contribution he made to American political in 1817, heralding the first transportation
easy bank credit had swept across the country. development. Playing a key role in the creation system between the eastern seaboard (New
To counteract this, Jackson issued a Specie Circular of the Democratic Party and the second-party York City) and the western interior (Great
in 1836, requiring land to be purchased with hard system, Van Buren left a permanent mark on Lakes) that didnt require portage. It was
considerably faster than carts pulled by
money. People panicked. Hundreds of banks and American politics.
animals and cut transport costs significantly.

The Mormon War


After Joseph Smith organised the Church of
Latter Day Saints in 1830, he revealed the
Second Coming of Christ was near, and urged
his followers to relocate to a town in Missouri.
Tensions rose between the Mormons and
the towns original settlers, and war broke
out, killing many. As a result, around 10,000
Mormons were forced to relocate to Illinois.

The divisive issue


Slavery was a hotly-debated political issue at
the time, with southern slave owners at odds
with northern abolitionists. Van Buren made
significant strides in anti-slavery frameworks
A map showing the result of the 1832 during his lifetime, and slavery was outlawed
presidential election, won by Andrew Jackson. throughout the entirety of the US just three
Van Buren was Jacksons running mate
years after his death.

39
US Presidents

9 WILLIAM HENRY
HARRISON
Whig, 1773 1841

The son of a Founding


Father, William Henry
Brief Harrison spent his
Bio formative years in the
army, gaining fame for
his handling of Native American
tribes in the northwestern US.
He was eventually elected as
president, but his time in office
turned out to be the shortest
in history as he died just one
month after his inauguration.
Harrison
was the first
sitting president
to the photographed,
when his picture
was taken on his
inauguration day
in 1841

1841 1841

William Henry
Harrison
Serving the shortest presidential term, Harrisons legacy lies in his
military and political campaigning tactics

W
illiams father Benjamin signed the family connections to become an ensign officer
Declaration of Independence and was in the regular infantry, he proved resourceful by
governor of Virginia during the 1780s. commandeering around eighty roustabouts from
His mother Elizabeth descended from the streets of Philadelphia. He enlisted them all and
one of the Virginia colonies earliest then took them to Fort Washington in the Northwest
and most prestigious families. As the youngest of territory near presentday Cincinnati. On 20 August
seven children with little prospect of inheriting 1794, at the Battle of Fallen Timbers along the
his familys plantation, Benjamin decided that Maumee River in Ohio, his legion defeated tribes of
Williams future was to become a doctor, and sent Native Americans which had been supported by the
him to Pennsylvania to study medicine. When his British. This ended the ongoing Northwest Indian
father died in 1791, the eighteen-yearold William War, gaining much of Ohio for American settlers
fulfilled his dream of joining the military. Using thanks to the Treaty of Greenville.

40
William Henry Harrison

The Battle Of Tippecanoe


Tenskwatawa (17711836), the brother of Tecumseh,
ignored his brothers advice not to attack at the Battle of
Tippecanoe, launching a surprise one in the small hours.
After two hours of fighting Harrisons forces prevailed,
having lost 62 of their 1,000 men to Tenskwatawas 50
or so men from about 600. The warriors retreated to
Prophetstown, refusing Tenskwatawas encouragements
to attack again, and wisely evacuating their families just
hours before Harrison showed up and ordered his army
to confiscate the towns supplies before putting it and
further hopes of peace to the torch. Even the dead were
exhumed and scalped. For winning this battle, the hero
Harrison was nicknamed Old Tip.

Tenskwatawa was one of the Native


By 1800, Harrison had left the military and of various northwestern cities. Unfortunately this American leaders that Harrison fought
against at the Battle of Tippecanoe
accepted a position from President Adams as was to be the summit of Harrisons career, either
governor of the Indiana Territory of the former militarily or politically.
Northwest Territory. During the next twelve years Harrisons life was thereafter an agonisingly Life in the
he showed great skill in implementing President
Adams chief reason for giving him the job: legally
drawnout tragedy magnified by the enduringly
poor health of his wife Anna and the death of six of
time of
securing as much land as possible from Native his ten children. The 41 year old then resigned his William Henry
Americans. Harrison exploited the tribal chiefs
propensity for poverty, corruption or a weakness
commission and settled on a farm near Cincinnati,
seeking offices for the next quartercentury with a Harrison
for alcohol, to push through seven treaties in which rabid thirst as former President John Adams put Child of the revolution
they ceded their lands. The culmination of this it. As a congressman, Harrison served two terms As the last British subject to become
came in 1805 when, after hospitable drinks, chiefs between 1816 and 1828, latterly as senator. His president, and a selfdeclared Child of the
of the Sac tribes sold the United States 51 million ambassadorship to Colombia stumbled, and with Revolution, Harrison was born two years
acres for one cent per two hundred acres. It surely mounting debts and out of office, he made whiskey before the American Revolutionary War
was ignited by the Battles of Lexington and
has to rank among the meanest deals ever closed for a short time before renouncing it.
Concord in Massachusetts.
in the land of opportunity, and as white settlers Following a narrowly unsuccessful bid to become
moved onto these new territories, the Native president as the Whig candidate in 1836, after The noise maker
Americans grew more and more incensed. losing to Martin Van Buren, his ambition finally Tenskwatawas (The Open Door) original
The situation leading to outright conflict began paid off in the election of 1840. The incumbent Van name was Lalawethika (The Noise Maker).
in September 1809 when Harrison offered to buy Buren was seen as incompetent and lordly, and After a series of visions that centred on the
three million acres for almost two cents per acre. despite Harrisons aristocratic roots, the Democratic idea of the Americans as the spawn of an evil,
seadwelling Great Serpent from Algonquian
Tribes named as sole owners of the land were not press characterised him as an alcoholic yokel in a
tradition, he became The Prophet as his
invited to negotiations, and Tecumseh, a Shawnee log cabin. Untrue as this was, instead of denying it, preaching grew more militant.
chief, began travelling to rally warriors to join Harrisons Whigs positively spun the myth into a
him in resisting what he saw as encroachments folksy, humble image for Old Tip, and the log cabin Killed by his doctors?
by settlers. Tecumseh took the traditional Native campaign which trumpeted his ordinariness and The sick presidents cure regime included
American view that all lands were communal, produced the first campaign slogan, Tippecanoe bleeding, purging, doses of calomel containing
and began threatening chiefs who had signed and Tyler, too. From the 80 per-cent voter turnout poisonous mercury, caster oil, snake weed
root, crude petroleum, camphor, brandy,
the treaty. When Harrison met with him and his Harrison won a landslide in the electoral college,
opium, and laudanum. Perhaps unsurprisingly
warrior elite on 15 August 1810, the drawing of though in the popular vote only six per cent therefore, some historians have blamed this
weapons on both sides and harsh words could have separated him and Van Buren. for hastening Harrisons death.
sparked a war right there and then. A year later At 68, not only was he the oldest person to have
another meeting took place in which Tecumseh been elected president at the time, he was also The zeroyear curse
assured peace, earning Harrisons respect as one of twice the average American lifespan. Yet almost a The dying Tenskwatawa supposedly cursed
those uncommon geniuses. The mutual goodwill, month later he was dead. His inauguration was in Harrison in the aftermath of the Battle of the
Thames in 1813. Every subsequent president
however, was insufficient to prevent forces from freezing weather on 4 March 1841, during which
elected in a year ending in zero died in office
being rallied on both sides, and on 7 November he spoke for almost two hours without wearing from 1840 until the 1960s, including the
1811, the Battle of Tippecanoe took place on tribally a coat or hat. This was then followed by a round four who were assassinated. Ronald Reagan
sacred ground in Indiana at which Harrisons of receptions in his wet clothes, which seemed (1911-2004) broke the chain by surviving an
army was victorious. After war broke out with the foolish, perhaps showing how Harrison felt obliged assassination attempt, as did George W Bush.
British and their Native American allies in 1812, and to live up to his war hero image. Harrison made
following several battles, major general Harrison of executive appointments for a few days afterwards, The president who never
the Northwest forces, defeated the British (as well taking them very seriously, before catching a cold really was
as killing Tecumseh) at the Battle of the Thames in which quickly turned into pneumonia and pleurisy. Harrisons relevancy is as the predominant
soldier and statesman in the emergence
present day ChathamKent, Ontario on 5 October Feeling harassed by the multitude of people
of todays Upper Midwest from the former
1813. The boost to American morale, and the now- calling upon him, he was the first president to Northwest Territories. His presidency is mostly
national reputation of its commander who had die in office. Within two decades the Whig party relevant for preventing the congressional
scattered the tribes, allowed Harrison to bask in fractured into the existing Democrats and the new Whigs from consolidating power as a result of
adulation during a banqueting and carousing tour Republican party. his unexpected death.

41
US Presidents

John
10 JOHN TYLER
Independent,
Tyler fathered 1790 1862
more children than
Hailing from one
any other president: of the wealthiest
Brief Virginian families,
eight with his first wife Bio John Tyler was
Letitia, and seven actively involved
in politics from an early age.
with his second When he unexpectedly became
president after the death of
wife Julia William Henry Harrison, his
strong independent views led
to him being disavowed by the
Whig party, to which he had
previously been affiliated.

1841 1845

John Tyler
Dubbed His Accidency by opponents, John Tyler was a president
without a party, but still achieved several significant political feats

J
ohn Tylers presidency was something of an His political career saw him serve in the Virginia
accident. Taken in by the Whig party in a bid legislature from 1811 to 1816 and the US House of
to capture the southern vote, he only assumed Representatives from 1817 to 1821. He was elected
office after the death of President William to Congress as a Democratic-Republican and never
Henry Harrison, who passed away from wavered from his conviction that the Constitution
pneumonia after just a month in the White House. must be strictly construed: he favoured states
The 10th president was therefore never meant to rights and opposed policies granting additional
have an entry in the history books, but he made an powers to federal government. The politics of the
indelible mark nonetheless. popular Andrew Jackson represented everything
Born into a prominent family in Charles City Tyler hated, and when Jacksons government tried
County, Virginia, Tyler grew up with eight siblings, to restrict slavery in the new states west of Missouri
all receiving the best education money could buy. Tyler saw it as such an abuse of federal power that
He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1809 he resigned in disgust.
and when his father became governor of Virginia, After undertaking extensive political work
used his fathers contacts to gain a position in the in his home state, where he became revered
Virginia House of Delegates aged just 21. as a champion of the south, Tyler returned to

42
John Tyler

The Harrison-Tyler ticket won the White House


with an impressive vote of 234-60 and around
53 per cent of the popular vote. Harrison was
inaugurated on March 4 1841. Just one month later,
he died from pneumonia.
At 51 years old, John Tyler, henceforth dubbed
His Accidency, was younger than any previous
president, and his single term in office was far from
trouble-free. In his new role, he soon found himself
up against the Whigs legislative agenda, and even
though he kept Harrisons cabinet in place, all but
one resigned after Tyler vetoed ills designed to
create a new national bank. To make matters worse,
the president was disavowed by the Whigs, who in
1843, tried but failed to impeach him.
But despite his unlikely position and the
adversity he faced when he got there Tyler
racked up an impressive list of achievements
during his time as president. In 1841 he
signed the Preemption Act, which
catalysed western settlement by
As of 2015, Tyler allowing citizens to stake a claim
has two living on public land and buy it from
Alamy

An etching of John Tyler during his time as


grandsons, making the government. Then in 1842
president, circa 1841
he ended the long-running
Washington in 1827, reluctantly
him the earliest former Seminole War in Florida
supporting Jacksons re-election
in 1832. But it wasnt long before
president with living
grandchildren
and settled ongoing disputes
between the US and Britain
Life in the time
he became frustrated, and twice he over Canadian border issues two of John Tyler
brazenly condemned the president factors that had dogged Martin Van Florida becomes a state
on the Senate floor for what he Burens time in office. In 1844 Tyler Florida became the 27th state of the US,
considered to be an abuse of power. He soon oversaw the signing of the Treaty of Wanghia, officiated by John Tyler on his final full day as
left again, this time bandying with Henry Clay and which gave America access to Asian ports, thus president. At the time almost half of the states
Daniel Webster in their newly formed opposition broadening its import and export markets, and in population were enslaved African Americans
Whig Party. 1845 he signed a bill annexing Texas. On his final working on large cotton and sugar plantations.
The failure of the next president, Martin Van full day as president, Tyler signed a bill making
Buren, to clean up Jacksons economic mess gave Florida the 27th state. Inventions abound
The US saw a large number of pivotal
the Whigs the opportunity for power come the Despite his considerable contribution to the
inventions during this period, including Morse
1840 election. Their presidential candidate William United States burgeoning growth and prosperity, Code, the electric doorbell, the combine
Henry Harrison was portrayed as a humble, salt-of- Tylers eventual death in 1862 was not publicly harvester, the lock-stitch sewing machine and
the-earth frontiersman (despite the fact that he, like acknowledged by the US government. With the the circuit breaker.
many of the Whigs, was highly educated and it was nation on the brink of civil war, he chaired a peace
in fact Van Buren who came from humble roots), conference in Washington, DC in an attempt to Cherokee displacement
while John Tyler was put up for vice-presidency, preserve the Union, but once war broke out Tyler In 1838, the forced removal of the Cherokee
hoping to garner support from southern states. As voted in favour of Virginia seceding from the Nation from the southeastern United States
Harrison had fought at the Battle of Tippecanoe, United States. He was considered a traitor to the along the Trail of Tears resulted in more than
4,000 Native American deaths.
the party used the slogan Tippecanoe and Tyler Union upon his death, which also served to signal
too, implying flag-waving nationalism with a hint the last gasp of old Virginian aristocracy in the
of southern sectionalism. White House.
Civil war in Rhode Island
The Dorr Rebellion, 1841-1842, was a failed
attempt to enforce broader democracy in
the US state of Rhode Island, where a small
A leader without followers rural elite were in charge of government.
Despite Tylers apparent luck in landing the presidency, The rebellions leader Tomas Dorr was later
he was none too humble upon his succession. After being found guilty of treason against the state
reminded of Harrisons practice of making policy by majority and sentenced to hard labour and solitary
vote, he told his Cabinet: I beg your pardon, gentlemen; I confinement for life.
am very glad to have in my Cabinet such able statesmen as
you have proved yourselves to be. And I shall be pleased to
avail myself of your counsel. But I can never consent to being
Mexican-American War
From spring 1846 to autumn 1847, a war
dictated to as to what I shall or shall not do. I, as president,
raged between the United States and Mexico.
shall be responsible for my administration. I hope to have
Initiated by the US disputing where the
your hearty co-operation in carrying out its measures. So long
border of newly-annexed Texas fell, the battle
as you see fit to do this, I shall be glad to have you with me.
resulted in Mexicos defeat and the loss of
When you think otherwise, your resignations will be accepted.
approximately half its national territory in the
All but one of the members resigned.
north. Thousands of lives were lost.

43
US Presidents

11 JAMES K POLK
Democrat, 1795 1849

When Americas
11th president took
Brief office, he declared
Bio his intention to
acquire the Oregon,
Californian, and Mexican
territories, to cut tariffs, and to
strengthen the US treasury. He
accomplished all of his goals,
yet his legacy of expansionism
divided the country and set the
stage for the Civil War.

1845 1849

James K Polk
During his short time in office, James Polk oversaw the greatest territorial
expansion in US history, stretching the nations lands from coast to coast

J
ames Knox Polk was born in a log cabin in governor of Tennessee nine months earlier. When
North Carolina, the first of ten children. His the frontrunners announced their opposition to
early professional years were spent as a trial annexing Texas, the pro-annexation Polk swept
attorney, and he would later recruit colleagues into the lead. In 1845, he was elected president on
from his legal career in his political life. He a platform of radical westward expansion, which
notably elevated his friend Gideon Pillow to would later be dubbed Manifest Destiny.
brigadier general during the Mexican-American James Polk was not averse to conflict, so when the
War, who proved an infamously inept commander. issue of the Oregon territory arose, pitting the young
Polk was elected to the House of Representatives American nation against the United Kingdom, he
at the young age of 29. During his time in Congress, threatened war. The large and mostly unpopulated
he gained notoriety for a speech in which he tract of land had been jointly governed by the US
suggested that the president be elected directly and the UK for 30 years when Polk entered office.
by popular vote. As speaker of the House, he A democratic Congress clamoured for the entire
was frequently insulted by political opponents, northwest of the American continent (stretching
but notably he never took part in a duel, as was up to Alaska), but Polk was willing to settle, and
expected in that era. His nomination for the he agreed to divide the territory along the 49th
presidency was a shock he had lost a race for the parallel. The immense tract of land encompassed

44
James K Polk

force of 4,000 troops to march to the Rio Grande,


an area that was still disputed between the
two nations. When Mexican troops fired on the
American soldiers, whom they believed to be an
invading force, Polk appeared before Congress and
proclaimed that Mexicans had shed American
blood on American soil.
He had his war. Mexico was politically divided and
unprepared for the conflict. The first US war fought
on foreign soil saw American troops occupy large
swathes of territory, establish a maritime blockade,
and march towards Mexico City, facing minimal
resistance. In 1848, Mexico formed a government
Polk and his wife, Sarah Childress Polk, whom he capable of negotiating, and agreed to the Treaty of
married in 1824 Guadelupe Hidalgo. The agreement ceded a gigantic
region of the west coast to the US, including all of
modern-day Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and parts of present-day California, Nevada, Utah, and most of
Montana and Wyoming. New Mexico in exchange for a nominal payment.
Not satisfied with this expansion, Polk presided Mexico may have been more averse to signing the
over the last chapter in the annexation of Texas. The treaty had they known that significant caches of gold GPA Healys portrait of Polk was painted
large territory was governed by four separate entities had been discovered in California just days earlier. circa 1858, almost a decade after the former
presidents death
between 1820 and 1845. First belonging to the The acquisition reignited the long-running vicious
Spanish Empire for 300 years, later part of Mexico, debate over slavery in new states, which would
Texas rebelled in 1836, as the settlers declared rumble on until the Civil War 15 years later. Life in the
themselves part of an independent republic. In the
1840s, faced with debts and military harassment
James Polk is considered one of the most effective
presidents in the pre-Civil War era, having expanded time of James
from Mexico, Texas sought to join the United States.
The proposition bitterly divided Congress, as the
executive powers, especially with regard to leading
the military and negotiating treaties. He set ambitious
K Polk
northern Whig party feared the effects of admitting goals and achieved them all. He was ardent in his Manifest Destiny reigns
a large slave-owning state into the Union. The desire to expand the American state westward, even The doctrine that Americans had a divine right
question of Texas loomed large over the at the cost of conflicts entered into under to colonise the entire continent dominated
politics, and the little-known Polk successfully
presidential election of 1844. Polk ran on false pretences. And the question of
rode that platform to the presidency. He
a platform of admitting both Texas Polks whether slavery would be allowed in would expand American territory by one third
and the disputed Oregon territory first case as a the new territories redoubled the in his single term.
into the Union, thereby placating existential debate in an already
the northern Whigs (who were
lawyer saw him fragmented political environment.
defend his father Famine and immigration
happy to accept the non-slave- Polk, a southern slave owner, had no The Irish potato famine began in 1845, causing
owning Oregon territory). Polk from a charge of qualms about admitting Texas as a millions of Irish immigrants to begin their
won a narrow victory but he public fighting slave state into the Union. pilgrimage to the US. Nativist sentiment was
nevertheless interpreted his win as James Polk was not known for high at the time and the immigrants suffered
a mandate to pursue an expansionist his lively personal life or charisma, from discrimination for decades.
policy of Manifest Destiny. Under his and he banned music, dancing, and
guidance, Texas was quickly accepted into the gambling from the White House during his term. Inching towards civil war
Union as a slave state, deepening the rift between He was infamously sober, with one contemporary The Fugitive Slave Law is passed as part of the
the north and the south, and angering Mexico, remarking that Polk was the victim of the use of compromise governing the status of slaves in
which believed it to be their sovereign territory. water as a beverage. newly acquired territories, allowing southern
states to pursue escaped slaves in the north.
Polk was a radical expansionist, believing in Towards the end of his term, the stress of the
This would galvanise the north against slavery
the divine duty of Americans to expand further job weighed on Polk heavily, and he contracted and deepen the rift which would lead the
westward. Envisioning future lucrative maritime cholera on a farewell tour. His untimely death, very country down a path to civil war.
trade with the Far East, he set out to buy California soon after leaving the presidency, led historians to
and New Mexico. When Mexico rejected the suggest that he was the only President to have died
Social movements abound
American overtures, Polk was outraged, and he of overwork. He holds the record for the shortest The mid 1800s saw the rise of advocacy
decided to seek an excuse for war. He sent a retirement of any President just 103 days. groups devoted to womens suffrage and the
abolition of slavery. The emergent Temperance
movement would eventually lobby successfully
for Prohibition.
The Mexican-American War
The defining moment of Polks presidency was an invasion
of Mexico which secured the entirety of the American
A shift to
southwest and established the modern-day border with Jacksonian democracy
Mexico at the Rio Grande. Polk won a resounding military Andrew Jackson and his acolytes promoted
victory and ignored American calls to annex of Mexico, universal suffrage for all white males in the
instead striking a deal to force a purchase of over half of first half of the 19th century. Requirements
Mexicos territory for a nominal sum. that voters be taxpayers or property owners
were dropped by 1850.

45
US Presidents

12 ZACHARY TAYLOR
Whig, 1784 1850

Born into old money,


Zachary Taylor
Brief established himself
Bio as a brilliant military
mind, distinguishing
himself in various conflicts
throughout the early 19th
century. His nationwide
popularity led to him being
elected as 12th US president,
but he was ill-suited to the job,
and his time in office was cut
short by his untimely death.

1849 1850

Zachary Taylor
Taylor impressed in the military, but when it came to the White
House he was out of his depth

A
s a military man, Zachary Taylor was an himself. His lack of knowledge and experience in
inspirational leader. But as a president he the field showed throughout his presidency.
was far from that. To be fair, he never sought Taylor was born on 24 November 1784, on a
the presidency; other parties came to him, plantation in Orange County, Virginia. His family
requesting he be their candidate, and for were prominent planters of English ancestry. They
good reason. After his involvement in the Mexican- were also well-known slave holders, a fact that
American War, he became a war hero and a would later help him both gain supporters and lose
celebrity of sorts across the United States. However, them. Later on in Taylors childhood, his family
he had no political background, and few political upped sticks and migrated to Louisville, Kentucky.
beliefs. Upon his appointment as president he had The family was relatively wealthy; they owned
never registered to vote, amazingly not even for 10,000 acres of land throughout the state, and kept

46
Zachary Taylor

any at all), but he soon realised that he identified


with the partys governing policies, which were as
follows: the president should not be able to veto a
law, unless that law was against the Constitution;
that the office should not interfere with Congress;
and that the power of collective decision-making,
as well as the Cabinet, should be strong. At first,
Taylor insisted he had no interest in campaigning
for president, but the Whig Party eventually wore
him down.
As a candidate, he had a lot of desirable qualities.
The fact that he was a war hero was attractive
The California Gold Rush to voters from the north, and his background in
Just over a year before Taylors presidency, a
slave-holding meant he appealed to many from
discovery on the opposite side of the country
sparked one of the most significant events in the the south. In 1848, Taylor ran for president with
history of the United States. Gold nuggets were prominent New York Whig Millard Fillmore, who
found in Californias Sacramento Valley, and as was chosen in an attempt to repair relations with
news spread thousands of potential gold miners northern Whigs who were furious that the partys
flocked in from all over the country, wanting to candidate was a slave-owning southerner. The
get in on the action. The sudden Gold Rush did Taylor rose to the rank of major general
reconciliation must have worked, as the pair were before he was elected to serve as president
wonders for California. The population increased
tenfold and, by 1852, a total of $2 billion worth of voted into office, and Taylor became the 12th
precious metals had been extracted from the area.
Fast success from the state became known as the
President of the United States.
During his military years, Taylors nickname
Life in the time
California Dream. was Old Rough and Ready, which was attributed
to both his enduring fighting spirit and his
of Zachary
general slovenly appearance. But the astounding Taylor
26 slaves in order to cultivate the most developed leadership skills he displayed to his troops were
In Washington we trust
areas. Due to the fact that they lived out in the almost nonexistent in his short time as president. The United States of America got its first
middle of nowhere, Taylors formal education was While he was in office, slavery was a topic hot on ever president in the form of Founding
pretty sporadic. most Americans minds, and Taylors slave-holding Father George Washington. He was sworn in
On 3 May, 1808, when Taylor was 23, he joined background did little to help him. However, while to presidency on the balcony of New Yorks
the US Army and received a commission he didnt work towards making slavery Federal Hall on 30 April 1789 before entering
the Senate chamber to deliver his legendary
as a first lieutenant of the Seventh illegal, he was opposed to the creation
inaugural address.
Infantry Regiment, an event of new slaves.
that would shape the rest of On Independence Day, 1850, Vive la France
his adult life. He worked his Taylor is the third Taylor attended a joyous and While the United States were welcoming
way up the ranks until he shortest-serving US elaborate ceremony marking their first Founding Fathers, the people of
was promoted to captain the erection of the Washington France were rising up against their oppressors
in 1810. In his downtime,
President, beaten only Monument. It was of course with the start of the French Revolution. It
he followed in his fathers by James A Garfield the middle of summer and
started with the storming of the Bastille on
14 July 1789, an event that was witnessed by
footsteps and became a and William Henry scorching hot. To cool down, he American ambassador Thomas Jefferson.
slave-holder with his own Harrison enjoyed a bowl of cherries and a
plantation in Louisville, pitcher of cold milk. Within hours My, my, at Waterloo
which he bought for $95,000. of finishing the snack, he started to On Sunday, 18 June 1815, the Battle of
He continued buying plantations experience severe stomach pains. Five Waterloo was fought in Belgium, and Napoleon
and slaves until he had 200 men days later, he was dead. and the French army were finally defeated by
two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition
working for him. In 1811, he was called back For many years, the cause of Taylors death
under the command of the Duke of Wellington
into service and sent to the Indiana Territory, remained unknown. Some believed that hed and Gebhard Leberecht von Blcher.
where he assumed control of Fort Knox and suffered from gastroenteritis, aggravated by
managed to restore order to the garrison. He Washingtons open sewers. But others wondered if Slaves no more
was applauded by his superiors, and a long and his demise had come as a result of his opposition While Taylor kept slaves on his plantations in
successful military career followed, leading armies of new slave land, and the deadly enemies Kentucky, slavery was being made illegal once
in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War in 1828 that had made him. Theories of a possible and for all in New York. In 1703, more than 42
percent of New York households held slaves.
and the Second Seminole War in 1837. Then in assassination were concocted and spread, leading
Over a century later in 1827, the last of the
1846, Taylor commanded American forces in the many to believe that the cherries and milk he citys slaves were finally freed.
Mexican-American War. His victories, especially had enjoyed that 4 July had been laced with
those where his troops were greatly outnumbered, arsenic. The mystery remained unsolved for 141 By the telegram
were the talk of the land and he was branded a years. Eventually, determined to uncover the On 24 May 1844, inventor Samuel FB Morse
war hero. truth, a historian managed to convince Taylors made history when he sent the first ever
telegram. The message in question was sent
Taylor finally found himself dabbling in descendants to allow his body to be exhumed.
over an experimental line from Washington,
politics in 1846 when the members of the Whig Upon examination, there was no evidence of foul DC to Baltimore, and read, What hath God
Party wanted him to stand as a candidate in the play. It wasnt poison that had killed him, as many wrought? Telegrams soon became a popular
presidential election. Before this point, Taylor had suspected, but cholera: a disappointing end to the method of communication, used in countries
not made his political beliefs public (if he had mysterious demise of a disappointing president. around the world.

47
US Presidents

13 MILLARD FILLMORE
Whig, 1800 1887

The last of the Whigs,


As a member of the Brief Millard Fillmore rose
from a poverty-
Whig Party, Millard Bio stricken upbringing
to become the 13th
Fillmore was the last president of the United States.
US president not to be Rising tensions between
northern and southern states
associated with either marred his time in office
however, and his presidency is
the Democratic or generally viewed unfavourably
by modern scholars.
Republican parties

1850 1853

Millard Fillmore
From rags to riches, Fillmore showed how hard work and
perseverance could make the American dream come true

D
espite the PR spiel of many early US principles, Fillmore was soon elected to the state
presidents, Millard Fillmore was one of very assembly, and became a close ally of powerful New
few to have been born in a log cabin, in New York political boss Thurlow Weed, who supported
Yorks Finger Lakes region. The second of his run for the House of Representatives in 1831.
nine children and the eldest son, Fillmore He served four terms in Congress, but decided
grew up in extreme poverty, enduring all the not to run for re-election after 1843. Weed
hardships afforded by life on the frontier. encouraged him to run for governor of New
After two years of brutal apprenticeship to a York, and although he was unsuccessful Fillmore
cloth maker taken to help keep the family solvent continued to strengthen his position in New York,,
Fillmore moved to New Hope, New York aged helping to establish the University at Buffalo and
17. Obsessed with throwing off the shackles of his serving as its first chancellor. In 1847 he was
former poverty, he threw himself into self-taught elected to the prestigious position of New York
education, stealing books to enrich his studies. comptroller (chief financial officer), overseeing and
His hard work paid off, and in 1823 he was revising the citys banking system.
admitted to the New York bar, beginning his In 1848, the Whig Party groomed Fillmore as
political career with the Anti-Masonic Party as its next vice presidential candidate. They hoped,
a young lawyer. With democratic libertarian during a period fraught with tension over slavery

48
Millard Fillmore

The Compromise of 1850 would define Fillmores


presidency. The legislation comprised a package
of five separate bills: admitting California to the
union as a free state, settling the Texas boundary
with compensation, granting New Mexico territorial
status, abolishing the slave trade in Washington, DC
and putting federal officers at the disposal of slave
owners seeking runaway slaves.
Fillmore was opposed to slavery personally, but,
confronted with vociferously opposing factions,
he all-but ignored the issue in states where slavery
already existed, thinking it better to preserve the
union than invite further conflict. This coupled
with his consistent authorisation of federal force The Great Famine in Ireland drove
to return fugitive slaves only infuriated northern hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants
to seek a new life in the United States
abolitionists including those in his own party. As
such, the compromise is generally remembered for
prolonging sectional clashes rather than effectively
addressing any deeply rooted problems.
Life in the
Fillmore upset southerners by refusing to back time of Millard
an invasion of Cuba, which would have expanded
slavery into the Caribbean. Having disgruntled
Fillmore
issues, that Fillmores northern pro-business stance previous supporters in both the north and south, Womens lib
would act as the yin to presidential candidates he was overlooked in 1852 for re-nomination by the Amelia Bloomer (creator of the bloomer
undergarments) became famous for her
Zachary Taylors southern yang: the party needed Whig Party. It was a blow at the time but the party
womens rights newspaper The Lily, and the
widespread appeal. broke down when it became clear the compromise first ever national womens right convention
A hard-fought election ensued, and while the was merely temporary. Tired of the conflict, took place in Worcester, Massachusetts in
pair who didnt even meet until after the election Fillmore refused to join the Republican Party, and October 1850. Despite vocal naysayers,
were ultimately successful, they could not instead turned his attention to the short-lived delegates from 11 states attended.
have been more different in personal Know-Nothing Party, where he accepted
politics. Aggrieved with Fillmores presidential nomination. After The creation of a
abolitionist sympathies, Taylor Fillmore finishing third behind Democrat
snack legend
pushed him into the Senate, fell in love with James Buchanan and Republican
Fed up with a customer who kept complaining
denying him any real political John C Fremont, Fillmore that his fried potatoes were too thick and
influence. However, the
his teacher, Abigail retired from politics and died soggy, New York chef George Crum decided
Senate was beginning to Powers, when he was 19, in 1874 after suffering a stroke. to slice the potatoes so thinly they couldnt be
debate several bills addressing but refused to marry her Largely remembered for his eaten with a fork. The customer was ecstatic
slavery, and it would be failure to adequately address about the new chips today called crisps
until he had properly which came to be known as Saratoga chips.
through these Fillmore that sectional conflict, Fillmore
would leave his mark. established himself nonetheless played an important
When President Taylor took ill as a lawyer role in expanding the United Irish immigration
suddenly and died on July 9 1850, States economy. He opened trade The potato famine took hold of Ireland in
1845, initiating mass immigration to the US.
Fillmore was left to assume the role with Japan, restored diplomatic relations
Records show that in 1850 a record 369,980
of the United States 13th president. It was a with Mexico and backed a transcontinental people made the then-perilous journey across
difficult transition as Taylors cabinet resigned, and railroad. He also worked tirelessly to keep the the Atlantic. Irish women accounted for 70 to
Fillmore appointed Daniel Webster as his secretary Hawaiian Islands out of European hands. Alas, 80 per cent of American domestic servants.
of state, clearly positioning himself with moderate these efforts are often overshadowed by his
Whigs who supported legislation designed to quell ambivalent stance towards more pressing issues, Mental illness becomes
tensions between slave and free states. which ultimately cost him his career.
commercialised
So-called lunatic asylums were popular
throughout the United States during the
The Compromise and Civil War 1850s, intended originally for stressed-out city
While some would argue that the Compromise only made
dwellers in search of relaxation. But jaunts
pre-existing sectional divisions more obvious and failed to
to such establishments were very costly, and
address the root of the issue, many historians agree that the
asylums soon began opening their doors to
legislation played a major role in postponing the American
more seriously troubled individuals at the
Civil War for a decade.
request of officials.
However, the delay in hostilities meant the free economy
of the northern states had more time to industrialise, and
by 1860 had added miles of railroad, steel production and Interior design
factories, not to mention grow its population. The southern Style in 1850s the US was very much
states, dependent on slave labour and crop production, dominated by European trends. Having not
lacked the ability to industrialise as well. Come the outbreak yet established American style, consumers
of war, the north was considerably better able to supply, wanted French clothing and English furniture in
equip and man its armed forces. Victorian fashions. Well-made, quality English
furniture was highly sought-after and expensive.

49
US Presidents

14 FRANKLIN PIERCE
Democrat, 1804 1869

Though he came
from a proud
Brief military family and
Bio distinguished himself
as an outstanding
lawyer, Franklin Pierces time in
the White House was dogged
by poor decision-making,
increasing tensions over the
issue of slavery, and persistent
doubts over his suitability for
the office.

During
the 1852
election Pierce was
disparagingly called
the hero of many a
hard-fought bottle
by his Whig
opponents
1853 1857

Franklin Pierce
An amiable, pliable nonentity who became president by accidents of
circumstance, Pierce left the country lurching towards civil war

A
t 12 years old, a homesick Franklin Pierce taught, but his father envisaged a career in law,
walked from school to his home in so Pierce read law in Massachusetts and New
Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Upon his Hampshire, then started a law practice back in
return, his father Benjamin, a county sheriff his hometown of Hillsborough. Bright and with
who had served in the Revolutionary War, an amiable presence and a deep voice, he gained
fed him then drove him back to school until, when fame as an attorney, and it was natural that he
a thunderstorm broke, he ordered Franklin out of followed his father into public service. He did
the carriage to walk the rest of the way. It was the so 1828 when, just as his father was voted out
turning point in my life, Pierce later noted, going of office, he was elected as Hillsborough town
from a misbehaving pupil to one who worked to moderator, and to the New Hampshire Legislature
improve his grades. the following year. At just 27, and on a platform
During childhood, his family entertained war opposing unconstitutional banking expansion and
veterans, which may have inspired him to establish protection for the state militia, he was the youngest
a militia company that performed a drill on the speaker of the House in the states history by 1831.
campus of his college in Brunswick, Maine, calling Pierces career and his personal life ran in happy
a strike when the college president told them parallel, for as well as becoming a Democratic
to stop. During and after his graduation year he congressional representative for New Hampshire

50
Franklin Pierce

in the winter of 1832, he became engaged to Jane eventually manipulated into supporting it. As anti
Appleton, a ministers daughter. On 9 November slavery and proslavery settlers established their own
1834 they were married. I have been leading a legislatures in Kansas, violence broke. Recognising
very agreeable life wrote Pierce of Washington life, the proslavery government at Lecompton, Pierce
alluding to the start of a dark dance with alcohol. ordered the antislavery government at Topeka to
Just over a year later, their first child, Franklin, lived disband and sent troops to maintain order. The
only three days. Already a frail and shy person, consequence of the presidents miscalculation over
Janes loathing for the Washington political scene the biggest domestic issue he faced alienated him,
only amplified her melancholic predisposition. and was a big stride towards civil war.
After having served five terms, they returned to In overseas matters, Pierce was an expansionist
New Hampshire in 1838, but tragically their second whose small successes were undercut by naive
son died from typhus two years later. A third son, decisions. He alienated the British by expelling An engraving showing Pierce departing the
Benjamin upon whom Jane doted after his birth in their ambassador over American enlistments in the Willard Hotel on the day of his inauguration
1841 gave her a reason to stay robust. United Kingdoms war against Russia. In Nicaragua,
After a loss of face in the Mexican-American War,
Pierce returned to practising law, doing so superbly.
an ad hoc regime set up by the military filibusterer
William Walker was recognised by Pierce, until the
Life in the time
Pledging to never again leave his family, he was
unwilling to seek office again, yet knew that his
transport tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt persuaded
him to send Navy forces to make Walker surrender.
of Franklin
position as de facto leader of the New Hampshire Worse still was the Ostend Manifesto, a justification Pierce
Democratic Party would be threatened if he did of the forceful seizure of Cuba from Spain if they Friends at Bowdoin
not. Having allowed friends to campaign for him refused to sell the island to the United States, a From Bowdoin College, Pierce became lifelong
as the partys presidential nominee, he was aghast situation of benefit to southern slavetraders and friends with the writer Nathaniel Hawthorne,
at winning. In the presidential election of 1852, owners. Its serving as a rallying cry for abolitionists who wrote many allegories including The
House of Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter,
despite the division of his party over the question was disastrous for Pierces administration which
and whose death Pierce was present at. Also
of slavery, and being labelled a cowardly alcoholic sympathised with the southern cause, and at that time he befriended the poet and
by his former commander, the Whig candidate weakened his Democrat Party, which, between educator Henry Longfellow.
Winifred Scott, Pierce won by a landslide. Of the that and the Kansas farrago, lost almost every state
thenyoungest elected president (at only 48), The outside the South at the midterm congressional
New York Tribune said, We have fallen on great elections of 18541855. At next years Democratic
A cowardly commander?
Hoping to emulate his father, Pierces
times for little men. national convention James Buchanan was chosen command of a brigade in the Mexican
Wanting a more efficient and accountable as the presidential nominee instead of President American War faltered when his horse was
government, President Pierce implemented civil Pierce, a unique humiliation. Shortly before Pierce shot out from underneath him, giving him a
service examinations, and made the Interior left office, his secretary BB French remarked, knee injury, and the reputation of a coward
Department and Treasury more systematised and Whoever may be elected, we cannot get a poorer for looking like he had fainted. While still
wounded he attempted to fight, yet hated war
averse to fraud and corruption. By nominating cuss than now disgraces the presidential chair!
in all its aspects.
cabinet members from all his partys factions he Pierce subsequently returned to New Hampshire to
tried to rectify divisions over the slavery issue that speculate in property.
were undermining the Democrats. Slavery was While travelling in Europe, he kept his hand in Barnburners and Hunkers
The two opposing factions of the New York
banned or regulated in western territories under politics, further eroding his reputation by revealing
state Democratic party in the 1840s were
the Missouri Compromise of 1820. But since more his support of southern secessionist states. Despite the radical, antislavery Barnburners (such
settlers wanted slavery, the KansasNebraska Act of denouncing alcohol a decade earlier as a body as Martin Van Buren), and the Hunkers,
1854 nullified this agreement by permitting these destroying, heartbreaking habit, he succumbed to who favoured state banks and tempering the
newly created territories to decide whether to allow it, writing After the White House what is there to slavery issue. One such was Horatio Seymour,
slavery. In the Senate and the country the act was do but drink?. the Democratic presidential candidate who lost
rancorously fought between thirdparty Freesoilers, Much like his time in office, Pierces personal to Ulysses S Grant in 1868.
abolitionist Jayhawkers, and proslavery supporters. life had been riddled with trauma. He entered into
Pierce found the act unappealing and not his presidency in mourning, after the tragic death of Ghastly railcar tragedy
responsibility, but in seeing it as a problem of being his last-remaining son, which arguably tainted the As the new President Pierce and family
conciliatory to the southern slave states, he was future outcome of his presidency. travelled to Washington on January 6, 1853,
their train derailed killing their one last child,
11-yearold Benny. Jane believed it to be
Gods retribution for her husbands ambition,
Uncle Toms Cabin while Franklin wondered, How I shall be able
In the year Franklin Pierce became president, Harriet to summon my manhood, and gather up my
Beecher Stowes novel Uncle Toms Cabin was published. energies for the duties before me is hard
It was mainly inspired by the life of Josiah Henson, to see.
who escaped slavery in 1830 and founded a settlement
and school for other fugitive slaves in Canada before
publishing his autobiography in 1849. In Stowes novel, An Amiable Fellow
Toms story of escape and recapture is strongly infused President Pierce liked to walk alone on the
with Christianity and abolitionist sentiments. The books streets of Washington and socialise. He once
great impact on abolitionism is encapsulated by Abraham told a stranger, You need no introduction to
Lincolns (apocryphal) remark upon meeting Stowe: [the White House], it is your house and I am
So this is the little lady who started this great war. It but the tenant for a time. The only time that
became the United States second bestselling book after his safety was compromised was when a
the Bible. drunk man threw an egg at him. Pierce did not
press charges.

51
US Presidents

15 JAMES BUCHANAN
Democrat, 1791 1868

An affluent lawyer and


a prominent member
Brief of government
Bio throughout the
first half of the 19th
century, James Buchanan
became president at a critical
point in the history of the US.
Unfortunately his attitudes
toward slavery and inability
to satisfy the various factions
fighting throughout the country
would lead directly to civil war.

James
Buchanan had
the nickname Ten
cent Jimmy after he
said ten cents was fair
daily pay for manual
labourers

1857 1861

James Buchanan
Regarded as one of historys biggest presidential failures, James Buchanans
ignorance of sectional conflict drove the country to civil war

B
orn into a well-to-do Pennsylvanian family, House of Representatives, and come 1832, when
James Buchanan was well-educated in his Andrew Jackson was elected to his second term as
youth, and after graduating with honours president, Buchanan was appointed as his envoy
from Dickinson College where he was to Russia a move that some have argued later led
nearly suspended for bad behaviour he indirectly to his election as president, and perhaps
studied law. In 1812, he was admitted to the bar. even to the outbreak of civil war.
His long political career began when he was In this role, Buchanan proved himself to be an
just 23, when he was elected as a member of the adept diplomat, and so he was later appointed as
Federalist Party to the Pennsylvania House of minister to Great Britain by President Franklin
Representatives. He later won a seat in the US Pierce. Slavery was becoming an increasingly

52
James Buchanan

The Dred Scott decision


The Dred Scott decision was pivotal legislation
that significantly contributed to the worsening
of sectional fighting in the period before civil
war. The case, Dred Scott vs Sanford, was
brought to the courts by African American slave
Dred Scott, who had lived in the free state of
Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin before
moving back to the slave state of Missouri. In
his appeal he hoped to be granted freedom.
The hearing was led by pro-slavery Chief Justice
Roger B Taney, who declared that blacks had
no rights which the white man was bound to
respect and that they were not meant to be
included in the Declaration of Independence.
Abolitionists were outraged, and the decision
propelled the issue of slavery even further into
the political agenda.

divisive issue across the United States during address, Buchanan again asserted that slavery was
this time, and Buchanan showed his sympathy a matter for states and territories to decide, not
for southerners, helping to block the Wilmot the federal government, and concluded that the
Proviso, which proposed banning slavery in matter would be easily resolved both speedily and A pro-slavery poster appeals to Kansas
any territory acquired from Mexico during the finally remarks that historians argue indicate his settlers to rally behind their cause
Mexican-American War. He also helped to draft fundamental misunderstanding of the issue at hand.
the 1854 Ostend Manifesto, which outlined plans
for America to acquire Cuba from Spain. While it
He appointed a cabinet of both northerners and
southerners in the belief that this balance would
Life in the
was never acted upon, the proposal resulted in help keep the peace, and two days after he was time of James
protests from anti-slavery northerners who feared
Cuba would become a slave state. It was clear
sworn in the US Supreme Court handed down
its Dred Scott decision legislation designed to Buchanan
that Buchanan had absolutely no moral end the debate once and for all which Sectional danger
objection to slavery. stated that the federal government Sectional tensions were fraught during
In 1854, President Pierce signed had no power to regulate slavery Buchanans presidency, and violence between
the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which Buchanan is in the territories, and denied factions was common. Abolitionist John Brown
made both into new territories the only president African Americans the rights tried unsuccessfully to stage a massive slave
uprising in Virginia, resulting in his conviction
and allowed settlers to decide to have remained a of US citizens. Buchanan
of treason and death by hanging.
for themselves whether theirs hoped the ruling would put
would be a free or slave state.
bachelor his whole life. the matter to rest, but it only
He was briefly engaged Mod-cons become
Interpreted as political apathy, served to escalate tensions,
Pierces support for the act to a woman, but many with southerners applauding
mainstream
Advances in technology meant homes became
meant he was overlooked for historians believe the decision and northerners more comfortable, with the period seeing the
renomination, and in 1856 the protesting in horror. He further invention of toilet paper and the electric stove,
Democrats chose James Buchanan
he was gay upset the north by supporting the plus cleaning items such as the vacuum cleaner
as their presidential candidate simply Lecompton Constitution, which would and dustpan.
because he had been living abroad at the have allowed Kansas to become a slave state.
time of the controversial bills signing and hed had When Republicans won a plurality in the House Transatlantic talk
Telecommunications saw an important
nothing to do with it. His perceived neutrality was in 1858, every significant bill they passed fell before
milestone with the first trans-Atlantic telegraph
designed to appeal to abolitionists and pro-slavery southern votes in the Senate or a presidential veto. cable. Buchanan inaugurated the creation with
advocates alike. The Federal Government had reached a stalemate, an exchange of greeting with Queen Victoria,
However, in the general election Buchanan and all Buchanan could do was tell states but a weak signal meant the service was shut
maintained that slavery was an issue to be decided threatening secession that, while they had no legal down in just a few weeks.
by individual states and territories the same right to do so, the government could not prevent
stance that has cost Pierce his career. It was likely them. He then resorted to a policy of inactivity, The Postal Service
The Pony Express came into being in 1859,
only because his Republican challenger John largely avoiding the escalating issue until the end
delivering for the first time messages,
Fremont believed that slavery should be banned of his term, where he left the White House with the newspapers, mail and packages across the
outright that Buchanan on the back of support nation on the brink of civil war. Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains
from the south won the election. In a bid to salvage his reputation, Buchanan and from Sierra Nevada to Sacramento by
By the time Buchanan came to the White House, published a memoir, Mr Buchanans horseback, using a series of relay stations.
debates around slavery had reached unprecedented Administration On The Eve Of Rebellion, where
intensity, with both factions advocating violence he laid blame for his administrations failures The Panic of 1857
Overexpansion of the domestic economy and
and often resorting to it a number of abolitionists on abolitionists and Republicans. The book was a declining international economy plunged the
had been murdered in Kansas, and in retaliation, ignored, with all eyes by then on Buchanans world into the first global economic crisis in
five individuals associated with the pro-slavery successor Abraham Lincoln, who had been left to 1857. Banks in New York closed in October and
party were massacred. Yet in his inaugural clear up a frightening political mess. didnt reopen until 12 December.

53
US Presidents

1861 1865

Abraham
Lincoln
Politically, the president of a country waging
war on itself ought to have failed, yet Abraham
Lincoln is revered for his leadership

T
he bombardment began at 4.30am. Cannon they were in office and many others in government
batteries stationed around the harbour at were slaveholders.
Charleston in South Carolina launched salvo However, opposition to slavery was growing on
after salvo upon a small island fort. By 11am, moral, political and religious grounds. Many of the
a fifth of its buildings were on fire. Soon Northern States had abolished it by 1800. It was
after midday, the forts flagpole was struck, and soon to be outlawed by the British Empire, too.
Old Glory, the national flag of the United States, As the abolition movement grew, inhabitants of
fell. For the structure under fire was Fort Sumter, a the Southern States took to defending slavery as
stronghold of the Federal Government in the first a paternalistic institution, and a positive good,
state to secede from the Union. The commander even using biblical references in their arguments.
of the fort, Major Robert Anderson, had In reality, slavery in the South was the driving
refused to surrender it to General PGT force of the regions economy. Plantation
Beauregard of the Confederate army, owners, particularly in the cotton
and the cannons were lit. It was During fields, relied heavily upon slave
12 April 1861. The American Civil the Civil War, labour. It wasnt going to be given
War had begun. Lincoln would up easily.
The besieged fort remained After the war with Mexico
under fire for 34 hours
personally test fire ended in 1848, the borders of
before Anderson surrendered. rifle prototypes the American Republic became
Somehow, no one perished in the outside the White finalised. Expansion into the new
actual attack. Yet, unmistakably, territories to the west began, but
House
the forces of the Confederate States disputes about whether they should
of America had opened fire on the become free or slave states were fierce,
forces of the United States of America. The and at times violent. Various compromises
nation was divided and at war with itself. How had and short-term fixes gave some stability, but the
it come to this? ultimate problem was crystallised by a speech on
Perhaps it was inevitable given the contradiction 16 June 1858 in Springfield, Illinois. It was given
between the words in the 1776 Declaration of by the newly formed Republican Partys candidate
Independence and the morality of those who wrote for the Illinois Senate seat. He argued: A house
them. The Declaration stated that it was a self- divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this
evident truth that all men are created equal. Yet government cannot endure permanently, half
its guiding author, Thomas Jefferson, and many slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to
other signatories were themselves slave owners. be dissolved. I do not expect this house to fall.
Indeed, the Constitution of 1787 permitted slavery. But I do expect it will cease to be divided. The
As many as eight presidents owned slaves while candidates name was Abraham Lincoln.

54
Abraham Lincoln

16 ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Republican, 1809 1865

Born in rural Kentucky


into relative poverty,
Brief Abraham Lincoln
Bio would go on to forge
a successful career
as a lawyer before eventually
becoming one of the most
celebrated leaders in US history.
As president, he led the Union
to victory in the American Civil
War, abolishing slavery and
reuniting the country. He was
famously assassinated by John
Wilkes Booth just months after
being elected to a second term.

55
US Presidents

Frederick
Douglass and
the Abolitionist
Movement
Born into slavery in 1818, Frederick
Douglass escaped to become a leading
campaigner to end the practice and a
significant African-American leader of the
19th century.
The son of a slave woman and an
unknown white man, Frederick took the
surname Douglass after a second, and this
time successful, escape from bondage.
Living in New Bedford, Massachusetts,
he married and became involved in the
abolitionist movement, delivering moving
lectures on the brutality of his upbringing.
Encouraged to write his autobiography,
a powerful indictment of slavery, the
book revealed he was a fugitive slave,
forcing him to flee to England. Supporters
purchased his freedom, allowing Douglass
to return in 1847. He quickly set up an anti- Lincoln meets with the Unions military leaders,
including General George McClellan at their
slavery newspaper, which continued under headquarters in Maryland in 1862
various names until 1863.
During the civil war, Douglass lobbied
for African-Americans to be allowed to Born in 1809 to a poor Kentucky farming family, Within the space of two years, he was selected as
fight. After the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln was raised in a single-room log cabin. the Republican Partys Illinois nomination for the
he recruited for the 54th Massachusetts
With minimal formal education, he virtually US Senate.
Infantry, the first regiment of black
soldiers. At wars end, he turned to taught himself, later earning a living through Lincolns opponent was the sitting US senator
campaigning for black rights, going on to various manual jobs. After the Lincoln family of the Democrat Party Stephen Douglas. The pair
hold several government posts before his moved to Illinois, he applied his mind to learning contested seven debates, which were extensively
death in 1895. the law, eventually passing the bar exam reported in newspapers across the country.
in 1836. Lincoln made enough of a Lincolns closely argued proposition of
success of his profession to earn prohibiting the extension of slavery
a good living. He married Mary in the new territories frequently
Todd, the daughter of a wealthy To date, forced Douglas on to the back foot.
Kentucky slaveholder, in 1846 Lincoln is the Despite that, Douglas prevailed
and later served a single term when the state legislature (which
in the House of Representatives
only president to at that time elected US senators)
as a Whig party member. The obtain a patent voted 54-46 in the Democrats
Whigs, though, were a waning favour. However, the positions
political force. A new grouping, Douglas had adopted in countering
the Republicans, which opposed the Lincolns arguments angered his partys
extension of slavery to the newer states, members in the Southern States, which later
appealed to Lincoln. He joined them in 1856. proved costly.

In 1862, the Union army


The 54th Massachusetts
accepted freedmen and Infantry Regiment at the
escaped slaves Second Battle of Fort Wagner

56
Abraham Lincoln

to him. Hardening their position, they selected then without yourselves being the aggressors. And
current vice-president John Breckinridge, a staunch so they proved to be at Fort Sumter. Perhaps
pro-slavery man, to also stand. inevitably, then, war it was.
With slightly less than 40 per cent of the Four more states Virginia, Arkansas, North
national vote, Lincoln garnered enough state Carolina and Tennessee quickly joined the other
electoral votes to become the Unions 16th rebels, making it 11 against the Unions 23. The act
president. Yet in the Southern States, where his of firing upon the flag was seen as treasonous, even
name often didnt even appear on the ballot paper, by Lincolns Democrat adversaries like Douglas,
hardly anyone voted for him. Fuelled by and after the fall of Old Glory at Fort Sumter,
a sense of unfairness, within days of the North now had a reason to go to
Lincolns victory South Carolina war. Its aim was to put an end to
An 1860 electoral map of the United States. Republican
organised a secession convention. secession and save the Union. The
states are red, Southern Democrats green, Northern
Democrats blue and Constitutional Unionists orange
Lincoln signed
On 20 December 1860, the state Souths objective was far simpler:
left the Union. legislation creating it merely needed to survive.
In contrast, despite losing the Senate race, Before the new presidents the US Secret Service The Confederacy was
Lincoln won widespread acclaim as an eloquent inauguration on 4 March 1861, on the very same suffering from a much smaller
debater for Republican values. When his party Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, population and was massively
sought a candidate to run for president in 1860, it Georgia, Louisiana and Texas
day that he was weaker in terms of industrial
turned to the poor farmers boy from Kentucky. also seceded. The seven declared assassinated power and financial resources.
The belief was that as a moderate candidate, themselves a new nation called Taken together, these factors pointed
Lincoln could win in Pennsylvania and the The Confederate States of America. It to a war that was going to be a long
Mid-west States. He was not an abolitionist, like even had a president in place, Jefferson struggle. Both sides needed to call on
some more radical members of his party, and Davis, before Lincoln had actually taken office. large numbers of volunteers to form their armies.
he pledged not to interfere with slavery in the Yet when he did, the 16th presidents Leading them were officers from the pre-war US
Southern States. Indeed, he felt the Constitution inauguration speech set out very clearly what was Army Military Academy at West Point. A significant
prohibited any attempt to do so. Yet he had at stake. In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow number of the more able were from the South, and
always been against slavery, labelling it wrong countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous many resigned their commissions in order to fight
both morally and politically. His fervent hope was issue of civil war, he cautioned. Lincoln stated for the Confederate cause.
that it would become extinct over time as states unequivocally that his government would not This presented Lincoln with a problem. His
moved to reject it. Crucially, however, he was firm orchestrate an invasion of the Confederacy, but if general-in-chief, Winfield Scott, was a 75-year-old
in his opposition to allowing it to spread to the Union outposts in it came under attack, he was veteran on the verge of retirement, and there was
new territories. duty bound as president to act in their defence. no obvious successor. One contender was Brigadier
Meanwhile, as if seeking to test the view that a You can have no conflict, the speech continued, General Irwin McDowell, who led the Union army
house divided cannot stand, the Democrats split
into North and South when choosing a presidential
candidate. Those in the North championed
Lincolns Senate adversary Stephen Douglas.
Lincoln won widespread acclaim as an
Democrats in the South, though, remained hostile eloquent debater for Republican values
57
US Presidents

in the wars earliest major clash, the First Battle of the retreating army was not vigorously pursued. He Still, Antietam was claimed as a Union victory,
Bull Run in Virginia. To begin with, this confusing sacked McClellan two months later. and following it, Lincoln seized the opportunity
conflict between two virtually new armies of Conflicts with his generals were a feature of to confront the issue of slavery. At wars onset, he
limited training appeared to be going McDowells Lincolns early years in the White House. With war had maintained its purpose was to save the Union
way, but stubborn Confederate resistance turned it imminent, he read voraciously on military theory. and pledged to leave the institution of slavery
into a humiliating Union defeat. He sought to be an involved commander-in-chief, unaffected in the Southern States. Lincoln believed
With McDowells star waning, General George going far beyond visits to troops and military he wasnt able to challenge state-sanctioned
McClellan was promoted to general-in-chief when hospitals to raise the moral to advocating strategy servitude under the Constitution, which kept the
Scott retired. Arrogant and ambitious, McClellan on how the war should be fought. Initially, this important border slave states of Missouri, Kentucky,
clashed with his political superiors in Washington, came in the form of his Memorandum on Military Maryland and Delaware loyal to the Union.
and while he trained the army well through Policy, which he wrote in the wake of the First However, as the war unfolded, slaverys effects
the winter, he didnt deliver decisive battlefield Battle of Bull Run debacle. By January 1862, Lincoln couldnt be ignored, as they were damaging the
victories. McClellans tactical caution was in stark was articulating how the land war could be won: Union campaign. Slaves were used to construct
contrast to the aggressive instincts of Confederate by using the Unions superior numbers to attack defences for the Confederate armies, while slave
commanders like Robert E Lee. When the pair simultaneously across a broad number of fronts, work on farms and plantations kept the Souths
clashed at the Battle of Antietam in September forcing breakthroughs when the enemy moved economy going, allowing more of the white
1862, McClellans force outnumbered Lees by forces to secure pressure points, and at the same population to fight. Determined to affect the
almost two to one. In ferocious combat in terms time engaging and defeating the enemy armies balance of the war, Lincoln issued the Preliminary
of casualties, it was the costliest day of fighting in wherever possible rather than trying to occupy or Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862.
American history the Confederates were driven capture specific places. Lincolns difficulty was in The timing had to be right. Lincoln himself
back to Virginia, but Lincoln was left frustrated that finding generals who thought like he did. had already been forced to quash military decree
emancipations made by several Union generals,
because he believed only the president, through
constitutionally sanctioned war powers, could
enforce emancipation. He was also anxious about
public opinion, fearing that if he moved too soon,
not enough people in the North would support
him, or that he might lose those important border
states. It was knife-edge politics, but Lincoln
judged that, just five days after the Union victory
at Antietam, the time was right to press home the
advantage and further undermine the Confederate
war effort with the Proclamation.
The document offered terms for the rebel states
to return to the Union provided they agreed to
begin arrangements to end slavery, but if they failed
to do so by 1 January 1863, all slaves in those states

Union soldiers at
Fredericksburg during the
Battle of Chancellorsville

Cherokee Confederates
at a reunion in New
Orleans in 1903

58
Abraham Lincoln

would be set free forever. As such a move would


harm the Confederacy, the president argued it was
a legitimate war measure that was both necessary
Union Generals
and just. When, as anticipated, the rebel states Identifying the right man to command Union forces on the ground and fight the
ignored the Preliminary Proclamation, Lincoln was campaign he envisaged proved challenging and frustrating for the president
able to issue the Final Proclamation on the first day
of 1863. I never in my life felt more certain that I ULYSSES S GRANT WILLIAM
am doing right than I do in signing this paper, he
Highest rank: General-in- SHERMAN
Chief of Union armies Highest rank: Major
said on putting his name to the document. He was Appointed: March 1864 General, overseeing the
sure, and there was considerable hope in the Union Unions western armies
After successful raids Appointed: March 1864
that it would hasten the end of the conflict. on forts in Tennessee,
The Emancipation Proclamation also had two Grant was promoted Sherman was promoted
to major general. He to brigadier general
other important effects. First, it brought a moral
was almost routed at after the First Battle
dimension to the war. Always an opponent of Shiloh but retrieved the of Bull Run, but he
slavery on grounds of morality, Lincoln had now situation, then further suffered a nervous
distinguished himself breakdown. After being
shifted the aim of the war from being not just at Vicksburg. He took reinstated, he then led
about preserving the Union, but to setting people charge of all Union forces, the capture of Atlanta. He
free. While personally important to Lincoln, this confronting and finally waged total war through
defeating Lee in Virginia. Georgia and the Carolinas.
was also vital internationally, as the Confederacy
had hoped to secure support from Europe. Yet WINFIELD SCOTT
GEORGE MEADE
France and the British Empire, where slavery had Highest Rank: Major Highest Rank: General-in-
been outlawed since 1833, could not legitimately be General, Army of the Chief of Union armies
Potomac Appointed: February
seen to support a slave-holding republic against a Appointed: August 1864 1855, retired November
nation embarked on setting slaves free. 1861
Second, the Proclamation allowed for freedmen Despite taking command
only days before, Aged 75 as the conflict
to enlist in the Union army. This, coupled with a Meade defeated Lee at began, Scott was
surge of African-American volunteers already free Gettysburg, yet he was unable to take field
heavily criticised for not command, nevertheless
in the North, offered a timely and welcome boost
pursuing the retreating he devised the strategy
in manpower. It paved the way for the United force. Guided by Grant, of blockading the Souths
States Colored Troops, which became a significant he led the Army of the ports and raiding down
Potomac successfully in the Mississippi. Although
component of the Union armies. rejected, the North triumphed
later campaigns, later earning
However, the Proclamation only freed slaves in the rank of major general. using similar tactics.
the states still outside the Union. To go further,
Lincoln needed the affirmation of a second JOSEPH HOOKER AMBROSE
election victory, but in the first half of 1864, that Highest rank: Major BURNSIDE
General, Army of the Highest rank: Major
didnt seem likely. The war was costing so many Potomac General, Army of the
lives on both sides that Republican radicals felt Appointed: January 1863 Potomac
Appointed: November
Hooker revitalised 1862
Lincoln and the army, restoring
son Tad in the morale. However, after When he finally
Confederate successes prior to his replaced McClellan,
capital Richmond appointment when he Burnside attacked but
after its capture. was dubbed Fighting lost expensively at
Days later, Lincoln Joe, he endured a Fredericksburg. Relieved
was assassinated chequered career in battle of command, he resurfaced
afterwards, and never fully to outwit General Longstreet
recovered from heavy defeat in Tennessee, but failed badly
and retreat at Chancellorsville. again at the Battle of Crater.

GEORGE And one that got away


McCLELLAN
Highest rank: General-in- ROBERT E LEE
Chief of Union armies Highest Rank: General-
Appointed: November in-Chief of Confederate
1861 armies
Appointed: February
Although he 1865
reorganised the
Union army, turning Lee declined the
volunteers into an command of Union
efficient force, McClellan forces in April 1861,
was cripplingly cautious claiming he was unable
on the battlefield. Failure to fight fellow Virginians.
to exploit advantages Becoming a Confederate
frustrated Lincoln, who lost General. Lee commanded
patience and relieved him of the Army of North Virginia,
command in November 1862. and later all Confederate forces.

Civil War
Performance Superb Effective Mixed Disappointing Poor

59
US Presidents

Lincolns Vices
& Virtues
Virtues
Arch politician
Aided by stunning speech-making, Lincoln was as skilled a political
operator as there has ever been. His genius lay in courting
different opinions, often at odds with his own, then setting a
course, and bringing those of differing views along with him.

Forbearance
President Lincoln set off along a difficult, painful path with an
iron resolve. He faced criticism and scorn from many quarters
but he did not waver, believing the cause of protecting the Union
was a duty he had to accomplish.

A hands-on leader
From strategic planning to appointing or dismissing generals,
Lincoln was an active, interventionist commander-in-chief
during the civil war. Furthermore, he was also equally busy in
attending units of active soldiers to raise moral, or visiting the
wounded in hospitals.

Honesty
Acquiring the moniker Honest Abe from his days as a young
storekeeper, it stuck with Lincoln through his career as a lawyer
and later in the White House. His integrity informed both friend
and foe alike exactly where they stood with him.

Humour
There was a lighter side to Lincoln. He told stories, yarns, jokes
and anecdotes throughout his life to win over audiences, to Lincoln finally found the general
illustrate certain points, and sometimes just to lighten the mood he wanted in Ulysses S Grant, who
in cabinet before facing up to important decisions. later became president himself

Vices
The vision thing
George Bush Seniors remark was about his inability to
articulate ideas to shape the nation. Lincoln, by his own
words, was similarly inhibited when he wrote: I claim not to
have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have
controlled me.

Race and colonisation


For far too long, Lincoln clung stubbornly to his political hero
Henry Clays views on racial separation via colonisation. Perhaps
the lack of vision contributed, but for such a practical politician,
it was an extraordinarily impractical solution to support.

Civil rights
Lincoln exercised unprecedented executive power at the onset
of the war, including suspending habeas corpus and shutting
down opposition newspapers. His measures drew criticism not
only from opponents and but also some supporters, who feared
he had exceeded his authority.

Foolhardiness with his own safety


Warned of assassination plots against him, Lincoln shunned the
use of bodyguards. He frequently rode alone at night, and was
shot in August 1864. He escaped injury, though his stovepipe
hat was later found holed by a musket ball.

Remoteness
For a man capable of working with politicians of many different
views, Lincoln made few close friends. He allowed people to get
only so close, being variously described as not a social man by
any means and even secretive.

60
Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln wrestled with the issue of what


effect freeing millions of black people
would have on race relations
the president had mismanaged the conflict and Black Resettlement, authors Phillip Magness and
were lobbying for a different candidate, while rebel Sebastian Page have discovered evidence that the
state armies were proving stubbornly resistant. A president was still attempting to make colonisation
small Confederate force led by General Jubal Early arrangements long after the Final Proclamation.
even launched an audacious attack on Washington, Their research reveals that in addition to the
DC in July. They got close and caused panic in colonies he hoped to set up in Panama, Haiti and
the capital. Lincoln sought to quell it by being a Liberia, the president was in extensive secretive
visible presence, facing down the crisis with visits discussions with the British government to find
A depiction of the confused fighting to fortifications on the edge of the city. further suitable lands in the West Indies. The
at the First Battle of Bull Run, the first
large-scale confrontation of the war
Observing some skirmishing from the authors suggest that Lincoln was actively
parapet of Fort Stevens, he came pursuing the policy far longer than
under sniper fire until extolled has previously been acknowledged,
to climb down, earning the potentially into 1865.
distinction of the only wartime The idea of voluntary
commander-in-chief to be colonisation took shape in
directly shot at by the enemy. 1816 with the formation of the
By that time, though, American Colonisation Society.
Lincoln had a general-in- Bluntly, the view was that as
chief he could rely on after slaves had been stolen from
he appointed Ulysses S Grant abroad, once emancipated they
earlier in the year. Union should be humanely returned
strength finally began to show abroad. One of the societys
with crucial battlefield successes Private Edwin Francis founders was Henry Clay, leader of
in August and September, turning Jemison came to represent the Whig party and a political hero
child soldiers of the war
the election tide in Lincolns favour. of Lincolns. Clays views profoundly
He faced his sacked general, McClellan, for the influenced the presidents ideas, apparently to
Democrats, who were still split between those the extent that on the issue of colonisation, he
wanting a swift peace and pro-war moderates like appears never to have fully revised them.
Expert Opinion McClellan himself. Lincoln triumphed emphatically. In his defence, even the best of men are not
A major policy plank of the Republican immune from alighting upon the wrong answer,
Was Lincoln Partys re-election campaign was to amend the and nobody knew what a post-civil war, post-

the Greatest Constitution to permanently ban slavery across the


country. Vindicated by his election victory, Lincoln
slavery USA would look like. Lincoln, seeking to
avoid extensive racial disharmony and searching
US President moved swiftly to bring the Thirteenth Amendment for a way forward, thought consented colonisation

Ever? into being. It took skilled political manoeuvring but


Lincoln convinced the outgoing 38th Congress to
might offer a solution. While a miscalculated,
impractical and embarrassingly paternalistic
give it bipartisan support, and the amendment was solution in hindsight, everything else we know
passed on 31 January 1865. about him tells us he wouldnt have suggested it
Louis P Masur is a
distinguished professor of Unquestionably, however, Lincoln also through malice.
American studies and history wrestled with the issue of what effect freeing As events transpired, Lincoln never got to see
at Rutgers University and
the author of numerous millions of black people would have on race post-civil war USA himself. Grants tactics of
acclaimed books including
Lincolns Last Speech: relations in the nation. Part of his Preliminary attacking across a wide front created advances
Wartime Reconstruction Proclamation referred to voluntary colonisation deep into Confederate territory. Once Atlanta fell to
And The Crisis Of Reunion,
Lincolns Hundred Days: The abroad for those set free. This was dropped General Sherman in September 1864, he pushed on
Emancipation Proclamation from the Final Proclamation, and Lincoln never to the coast, slicing Georgia in two. The following
And The War For Union,
and The Civil War: A spoke publicly about the issue again, leaving April, after a nine-month campaign, Grants
Concise History. historians to debate his motives. Some suggest army pierced Lees resistance at Petersburg. The
Washington and Lincoln. One made the nation and the coupling freeing slaves with colonisation was Confederate capital of Richmond fell soon after.
other saved it. For me, Lincoln is the greatest president
not only for what he did defend democracy, preserve a ploy to help sell emancipation to doubters. His troops exhausted and heavily outnumbered,
the Union, issue the Emancipation Proclamation and Others argue that, given Union ranks were set Lee had no option but to surrender on 9 April 1865.
lay the foundations for a modernising, industrial USA
but also for the qualities of leadership he exhibited. to be swelled by black recruits, he changed his Five nights later, Lincoln visited Ford Theatre in
Lincoln was patient, deliberate, a shrewd judge of view on the issue. Washington, where Confederate sympathiser John
character, and most important of all willing to change
his mind over time. The dogmas of the quiet past are Both opinions essentially give the president Wilkes Booth assassinated him with a single bullet
inadequate to the stormy present, he declared. With a pass on the colonisation policy, but recent to the head. By June, the last unit of Confederate
actions and words that continue to inspire, he led the
nation through war to peace and set the framework for evidence has come to light suggesting he troops had lain down their arms. The civil war was
a new birth of freedom. 150 years after his death, his
legacy continues to bear fruit. never fully abandoned it. In Colonisation After over, though the president who felt compelled to
Emancipation: Lincoln And The Movement For fight it was not alive to construct its peace.

61
US Presidents

17 ANDREW JOHNSON
Democrat, 1808 1875

Thrust into office


following the
Brief assassination of
Bio Abraham Lincoln,
Andrew Johnson
headed up the a proactive era of
reconstruction as the splintered
United States began to unify
once more. He helped nurture a
reconciliation of sorts between
the Unionist North and the rebel
South, but his lack of sympathy
for newly freed black citizens
would be his undoing.

1865 1869

Andrew Johnson
Inheriting the office in the wake of war and assassination, Andrew
Johnson had to head up the reconstruction of an entire nation

L
ike many living in the infancy of a nations Gainesville five years later. Following the bloody
fledgling history, Andrew Johnson was born Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831, Tennessee adopted a
into a poor family that struggled to survive new state constitution that served to alienate and
on meagre earnings. His mother apprenticed disenfranchise its free black citizens. Johnson was a
him off to a local tailor at the age of ten and staunch traditionalist and supported the concept of
he worked the trade diligently until he turned 21. slavery so his full support of the provision gained
It wasnt an easy upbringing, but growing up in a him even more political support from powerful
log cabin would later pay dividends in his political white families.
career, his humble origins proving a boon when Johnsons political career had reached a far
appealing to impoverished voters. grander stage and he eventually became the
It was here in the tailoring business that first Tennessee Democrat to be elected to the US
Johnson began his first foray into politics. An Congress. Johnson was a product of his upbringing
animated debater, his shop became a haven and remained stringently anti-abolitionist (meaning
for political discussions and Johnsons staunch he was opposed to the idea of banning slavery)
support of working class rights soon him elected while campaigning for ideals of populism (a style of
as an alderman in 1829 and was elected mayor of government that protected all citizens, rich or poor).

62
Andrew Johnson

Johnson soon came to the attention of the codes that forced legally free black citizens back
Lincoln Administration, but it was once again into servitude.
because of his staunch refusal to back down on his Congress was out of session when Johnson
political ideals. When Lincoln became president became president, so many of his actions went
in 1860, Tennessee became one of the 11 states unhindered. Many Unionists were outraged at the
to secede from the Union, and Johnson became presidents soft touch and failure to protect black
the only Democrat to break away from the states rights and when Congress reconvened eight months
decision and remain in the Senate. His decision later, it passed the Freedmens Bureau bill and the
made him a hate figure in his home state and Civil Rights Act, which recognised every citizen as
effectively turned Johnson and his family into equal, protecting the rights of former slaves. Johnson
political pariahs. attempted to veto both pieces of legislation, but
When Lincoln presented the Emancipation Congress swiped his opposition down.
Proclamation (a law that would effectively end And so began Johnsons slow downfall.
slavery in the US) in 1863, Johnson initially Congress passed the Tenure Of Office Act,
opposed it, but when he managed to negotiate which removed the presidents power to remove
an exemption of sorts for Tennessee he officials from office without congressional
soon backed the law as a practical agreement. It then began a phase known Despite his fall from grace, Johnson was
successfully elected to the Senate for a
means to end the bloody Civil War. as military reconstruction where the second time in 1874
Many branded Johnson a glory- cruel emancipation of the black
Johnson was
hunting traitor, and those critics
felt justified when Lincoln born into a poor and
codes were forcibly disbanded
and black rights finally Life in the time
chose Johnson as the vice
president during his campaign
near illiterate family protected at ground level. All of
these changes and more on top
of Andrew
for re-election in 1864. and didnt learn to of them publicly undermined Johnson
Controversial as it might have write properly until Johnsons position.
A lack of equality
been, the meeting of two sides he was 18 During the congressional Slavery may have been abolished by Lincoln,
worked and Lincoln remained elections of 1866, Johnson but for many citizens their lives of subjugation
in office. conducted a series of public rallies, barely changed. Johnsons initial beliefs that
And then everything changed. but he attended most of them half- slaves were not constitutionally created equal
On 14 April, 1865, Lincoln was shot while drunk and caused irreparable damage to his gave powerful Southern state landowners all
the room they needed to impose black codes
attending the theatre in Washington, DC and he public persona. His political and public profiles
that reinstated slavery in all but name.
died the next morning. Johnson was also a target already burning, Johnson was defiant to the end
that night, but his own assassin failed to show. and decided to challenge the Tenure of Office Act
A few hours later, Johnson was sworn into office head on. He fired secretary of war Edwin Stanton Destroyed fortunes
in August 1867 and the House of Representatives The unprecedented violence of the Civil War
and found himself the 17th president of the United
had ravaged the land, and the plantations and
States and the most powerful man in the country was forced to take unprecedented action and
holdings held by landowners especially in
a country still at war with itself. Lincolns death impeach the president for bringing disgrace and the South had suffered greatly. For those still
helped end the conflict and Johnson now had to ridicule on the government. Ultimately, Johnson reeling from the illegality of the slave trade,
head up the Reconstruction Era, the process of would be acquitted by a single vote, but the the ability to harvest and farm was now just
reunifying the nation and addressing the fallout of damage was done. as difficult.
the conflict. By the time he finished his term, Johnson
A Southerner, and a man skewed by his remained fully opposed to the altered Economic downturn
traditionalist views on race, Johnson unsurprisingly Reconstruction orders, but his power and influence Following the war, the American economy
treated the former rebels with a gentle touch. as president had evaporated with his impeachment. was in disarray and continued to worsen for
Rebels that swore the Oath of Allegiance were When he eventually returned to Tennessee, the many years to come. Sharecropping (smaller
groups of farmers working together) became
immediately granted amnesty, enabling them to once-ostracised Johnson was hailed as something
a common practice, and most turned to local
return to positions of power back in those seceded of a homegrown hero. He would remain there until merchants rather than big city companies
states. These confederates then enforced black his death on 31 July 1875. for trade.

A nation divided
Now that the war was over, the government
Presidential reconstruction: had to deal with the task of unifying the
life after the Civil War country once more. A total of 11 states
Following Lincolns assassination, Johnson found himself the seceded (broke away) from the Union. Each
president of a country still raw from domestic conflict. The one was slowly introduced back into Union,
Unionist North had won the war and wanted the Southern but the division between Confederate
rebel states that had seceded punished accordingly. This and Unionist remained.
process of reconstruction began by with two proclamations:
Virginia would be accepted back into the Union with
Republican Francis Pierpont as governor and provided amnesty Frontier life
for all rebels who didnt own considerable holdings. These acts Years before, the US government had
were approved by the North, even though Johnson did little to purchased two thirds of the countrys land
act against black suffrage. That area would cause the biggest from France. As a result, most of the country
issue as states in the South began to impose black codes that was uncharted terrain full of unknown regions,
effectively reinstated slavery. countless native peoples and resources such as
gold and furs just waiting to be tapped.

63
US Presidents

18 ULYSSES S GRANT
Republican, 1822 1885

Placed in command
of all US armies in
Brief 1864, Grant worked
Bio closely alongside
Abraham Lincoln to
lead the Union to victory against
the Confederacy in the Civil
War. In 1868 he became the
youngest president, aged 46.
Although he was dazzling on the
battlefield, his presidency was
rocked by multiple scandals that
overshadowed his successes,
A clerical error such as his work for African
American citizenship.
caused Grant to
change his name the
US Military Academy
incorrectly listed him, and
he feared rejection if his
name did not match

1869 1877

Ulysses S Grant
The military mastermind who claimed victory on the field, but
struggled to survive in the White House

U
lysses S Grant was not born a president. He horsemanship. Grant honed this skill working on
wasnt naturally gifted, he didnt work his his fathers farm, and although Jesse was keen for
way up from nothing and equally he wasnt his oldest son to take over his tannery business,
born into riches; Grant was ordinary, but he he understood that Grants talents lay elsewhere.
would change the United States forever. When Grant was aged 17, his father applied for his
Born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, Grant was the oldest son to attend the United States Military Academy at
son of tanner Jesse Grant, and his wife Hannah Grant. West Point for free, in return for army service upon
His parents were hardworking, religious people and graduation; he was accepted.
Grant was the first of six children. Although his father Although he was shy and reluctant, Grant was
was an outgoing and entrepreneurial businessman, persuaded to attend. But the timid boy struggled
Grant took after his quiet, reserved mother. These at the school, he had limited education and was
qualities caused him to be overlooked, or even deemed entirely unremarkable, save for his skill
deemed useless in his youth. He was not particularly with horses, which outmatched all his classmates.
gifted at school, but instead excelled at one skill He eventually graduated 21st out of 39. With no

64
Ulysses S Grant

The long depression


Although many Americans experienced
prosperity in the period following the war, what
followed was a severe period of recession. When
the countrys major investment banker, Jay Cooke
and Company fell, it had a knock-on effect on
the stock exchange, other banks and eventually
cost thousands of people their jobs. Railroads
failed, families were left destitute and people
were looking for someone to blame. Grant, as
president, faced overwhelming criticism from the
public who dubbed him and his administration
Future president Grant photographed with
wholly responsible for mishandling the economy. his wife and son, circa 1864
Although the factors of the depression were
varied, complex and lay not entirely at Grants
feet, the public unrest and loss of trust dented
the war heros armour irrevocably.
Life in the
time of Ulysses
plans for military greatness, he decided to serve his the enemy surrendered, and the Union gained
S Grant
four years, then resign. control of the crucial Mississippi river, a strategic The great migration
In the 1840s the United States army was small, masterpiece by Grant. Grant is my man, and I am The later years of Grants life saw a huge
but despite his unremarkable school record, Grant his, declared Lincoln. migration of Americans from rural areas
was cited for his gallantry and heroism during By this point Grant was in control of the entire to the big cities, causing unprecedented
growth in urban areas. This mass migration
his service in the Mexican-American War. It was Western theatre of the war, winning victory after
caused almost 40% of US townships to lose
shortly before this that he met his future life, Julia victory for the Union. By 1864 he was named population, which prompted an increase in air
Dent, forming the most enduring relationship of lieutenant general and commander of all Union pollution, slums and sanitation issues.
his life. The couple went on to have four children, forces. Although rumours of his drinking continued
but due to Grants military career he had little to haunt him through his military career, by the
interaction with them. Growing bitter about the end of the Civil War Grant was the United States
Women take a stand
Womens movements seeking equal
war, Grant attempted to launch several businesses, military hero, having chased General Lee to defeat opportunities and the vote gained strength
which failed horrifically, and rumours about his and accepting his surrender. after 1848. By the second half of the century
drinking began to circulate. It is believed that an In the post-war years Grant served as secretary of womens high schools and colleges were
altercation linked to his drinking in 1853 is what war, and although he saw eye to eye with Lincoln, founded and gradually career opportunities
prompted him to resign the following year. the relationship between Grant and his successor, in secretarial work, nursing and more opened
to women.
However, life away from the army was not what Johnson was not quite so harmonious. In 1868
Grant expected. He struggled to make a living by Grant was voted the Republican candidate for office
attempting to farm some land given to them by and won the presidency with a huge majority of 214 Americans take to the sea
Julias father. He further failed with a real estate to 80 votes. The mid-1870s marked an increase in travel.
Easier transatlantic transportation and
venture and found it difficult to find employment Grants achievements in office were remarkable for
communication exposed more Americans to
elsewhere. With four children to support, he could the time, he pushed through ratification of the 15th European life, and more Americans made trips
barely make enough money to keep food on the amendment, established the national parks service to visit, work and even live abroad. Wealthy
table and was forced to return to the tannery and won passage of the Ku Klux Klan act. However, Americans paid a huge amount of money to
business he hated in order to provide for them. he had difficulty enforcing the civil rights laws travel on luxurious steamships, however these
Grants life would change forever, however, he so passionately believed in, and his successes ships still relied on immigrant trade as their
when the Civil War broke out. The North were were overshadowed by almost constant scandals main source of income.
desperate for experienced officers and Grant was involving his elected officials. This corruption drove
appointed to lead a voluntary regiment that others Grant to despair and caused him to utter, Failures The rise of gang wars
had struggled to train. Employing the skills he have been errors of judgement, not of intent. The increase of immigration into the USA
learned during the Mexican-American war, Grant Upon departing the White House, Grants life caused violent criminal gangs to form in
major cities such as the Five Points Gang
gradually disciplined the regiment, earned the was anything but stable. He continued to struggle
in New York. Although these gangs were
respect of his men and had them combat-ready in with civilian life, and when he became a co-owner most prevalent prior to the Civil War, they
less than a year. Grant led his regiment to some of in a financial firm, his partner secretly embezzled experienced a resurgence in the northwest,
the most significant victories of the early years of investors money and Grant was left bankrupt. midwest and American west afterwards.
the war at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, and was Penniless and now dying of throat cancer, Grant
promoted to brigadier general as a result. relied on the one thing that had catapulted him Read all about it!
Although he was now drawing praise, a surprise to success his military career. He recounted tales American journalism and newspapers
attack at the Battle of Shiloh devastated Grants of his military life to magazines, and when they developed and grew through Grants life.
forces, and prompted many to call for his removal. sold well, struck a deal with his friend, novelist Politically independent newspapers such
However, Lincoln was convinced in Grants abilities Mark Twain, to publish his memoirs. The books as the New York Herald were founded, and
the New York Tribune became one of the
and said I cant spare this man. He fights. The were hugely successful, selling 300,000 copies and
first to publish multiple editions daily. Even
very next day Grant regrouped his men and earning Grants family $450,000. Grant did not live smaller towns and cities were swept up by the
defeated the Confederates. However, it was his to see the triumph of his memoirs, but the success newspaper craze, and some of the first war
victory at Vicksburg, Mississippi that would be provided security to the family he was so devoted correspondents and investigative journalists
most significant. After 46 days of siege warfare, to, and remain a classic of American literature. stepped out into the world.

65
US Presidents

In the first Ohio


army unit in which
he served, Hayes
fought alongside fellow
future president
19 William McKinley
RUTHERFORD B HAYES
Republican, 1822 1893

Having lost the


popular vote in 1876,
Brief Hayes nevertheless
Bio entered the White
House when an
electoral commission awarded
him disputed state votes. He put
aside that controversial victory
to lead the country out of its
economic doldrums, helping to
heal post-Civil War divisions in
the process. Ironically, by the
end of his single term, he was
widely lauded for his honesty.

1877 1881

Rutherford
B Hayes
Accused of stealing the election that took him to office, Hayes
was a rare one-term president through choice

R
utherfraud and his Fraudulency were popular vote by some quarter of a million as well, it
some of the brickbats aimed at Rutherford was small wonder that Tildens followers cried foul.
Birchard Hayes after the 1876 election result Nevertheless, keeping a promise made on accepting
was finally confirmed in March 1877. It took his partys presidential nomination to serve only
a special electoral commission sanctioned a single term, by the end of it Hayes was admired
by Congress to decide who had won the disputed for his fairness and honesty, and had restored the
support of three states. In what remains the closest reputation of the office of presidency.
electoral college decision in American history, The 19th president was born in Delaware, Ohio.
Hayes was credited with all the votes to defeat His father had died before he was born, leaving
Samuel J Tilden by 185 to 184. Having won the Hayes to be brought up by his widowed mother

66
Rutherford B Hayes

Sophia Birchard Hayes and her brother, Sardis, resigned from the commission to take a seat in the
who later became a notable businessman. The Senate, he was replaced by judge Joseph P Bradley,
young Hayes schooled well, going on to study law a Republican. The Commission then adjudicated
at Harvard before setting up a successful legal along party lines to give Hayes all of the contested
practice in Cincinnati. He opposed slavery and state votes.
found defending escaped slaves accused under the The Democrats only accepted this outcome after
Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 to be fulfilling work. informal, unwritten arrangements were agreed,
By the late 1850s, Hayes had married Lucy Webb known as the Compromise of 1877. The main
and was Cincinnatis city solicitor, but was aware of elements of this were the removal of US troops
the threat to the nation. He initially favoured letting from former Confederate states, allowing them
the seceded states go their own way, only to alter to return to self-rule, and the appointment of at
his view after Confederate forces attacked Union least one southern Democrat to Hayes cabinet.
soldiers at Fort Sumter. Within months, at almost 40 Sure enough, within two months of Hayes taking Hayes poses in the Union uniform he wore
and with a young family, he had volunteered for the office, all US troops were back in their barracks, during the Civil War

Union army. and Tennessee Democrat David M Key was made


Hayes served bravely he was wounded several postmaster general. Life in the time
times and with distinction. At wars
end he had the rank of brevet major
The withdrawal of troops effectively
ended the post-Civil War period of of Rutherford
general. He had also, despite
refusing to leave his unit to
reconstruction. This was a period
when the former Confederate states
Birchard Hayes
Five US
campaign, been voted to the were to be brought back under Age of communication
House of Representatives for
presidents fought federal government control, with The Bell Telephone Company was created in
Cincinnatis Republicans. He in the Civil War, but the establishment of civil and 1877. Use of the device for which shareholder
Alexander Graham Bell had done so much
served from 1865-67, then was Hayes was the only voting rights for freedmen. Hayes
pioneering work to create grew rapidly. It
governor of Ohio for two terms. sought assurances that these
one to have been was Bell himself who fitted a telephone in
He briefly retired from office in would be maintained once troops the White House, and Hayes was the first
1872 but won a third election for wounded left, but such promises were quickly president to use it.
governor three years later. forgotten. White Southerners sought to
As a politician with a solid career regain power and discriminatory control The immigration issue
of service, a reputation for integrity and through violence and intimidation, forcing Resentment was growing against immigrants,
an impressive war record, Hayes was considered freedmen into second-class citizenship with limited particularly Chinese ones, who had arrived
by Ohio Republicans as presidential material. He rights that endured until the mid-1960s. in the United States in significant numbers.
was far from favourite to receive the nomination Hayes fared better in beginning reforms to the Congressional legislation banning further
at the 1876 Republican National Convention but civil service, while his insistence that prosperity Chinese immigrants was vetoed by Hayes as
it contravened an existing treaty. He pushed
when others failed to command a majority, Hayes would resurface once the dollar properly returned
through his own policy, which regulated rather
secured the prize on the seventh ballot. to the gold standard which had been suspended than prohibited future immigration.
No one knew that this would lead to the most during the Civil War when the government printed
bitterly contested presidential election result in greenback dollars that were not redeemable in
history. Hayes himself did not think he could win gold proved correct. Indeed, the latter two years
Womens work
Social change inevitably followed the Civil
given that New York Democrat Tilden was a skilled of his administration saw a marked economic War. Women reformers sought equal rights
political opponent, the countrys economy was in recovery, thanks in no small part to his steadfast, in many areas. Belva Lockwood, one of the
depression and President Grants sitting Republican anti-inflationary policies. He remained active after countrys first female lawyers, successfully
administration was badly tarnished. Nevertheless retirement, promoting the causes of equal educational lobbied Congress to allow women to practise
the disputed results in Florida, Louisiana and South opportunities for all, and for prison reform. before the Supreme Court. After Hayes signed
the legislation, she became the first female
Carolina were close enough for both parties to A gradualist rather than a dynamic reformer,
attorney to do so.
claim the state votes. If Hayes secured them all, the Hayes was no flamboyant leader. Yet after the
White House was his. turmoil of his predecessors, from Lincolns
The electoral commission formed to decide the assassination, Johnsons impeachment, and the The Wild West
outcome originally consisted of seven Republicans, scandals of Grants administration, his low-key Hayes was the first sitting president to visit
the West Coast. The journey, mostly by rail
seven Democrats and an independent Supreme honesty helped heal divisions left over from the
but partly by wagon train, involved crossing
Court judge, David Davis. However, when Davis War and restored dignity to the White House. territory inhabited by outlaws and hostile
Native Americans. Hayes paternalistically
proposed assimilating Indians into American
One term only society though he probably never understood
An advocate of presidents serving a single, six-year period the cultural problems that would create.
in office, Hayes was one of only three first-time elected
presidents who resolved not to seek a second term. His
rationale was to govern unhindered by party loyalties. Ultimate trade route
Beholden to no one, he believed he serves his party best Business had long sought an Atlantic-Pacific
who serves the country best. Some of his policies, such as canal. Hayes wanted the route under
the reforms he instigated to the civil service, which paved American control, but in 1880, French Suez
the way for positions to be filled on merit rather than as Canal developer Ferdinand De Lesseps began
rewards or favours, angered significant senior Republicans, surveying for his Panama Canal. Financial
yet alienating them could not harm someone who was not problems and disease among workers curtailed
seeking re-election. his efforts. The United States bought out the
project, completing the canal in 1914.

67
US Presidents

20 JAMES A GARFIELD
Republican, 1831 1881

James A Garfield
was a teacher, a lay
Brief preacher, a lawyer and
Bio the 20th president
of the United States
of America. He was also one of
the countrys shortest-serving
presidents, owing to the fact
that he was shot just four
months into his presidency
and finally died two and a half
months later after only 200
days in office.

1881 1881

James A
Garield
Garfields presidency was short-lived, but he still managed to
make an impact on the United States of America

L
ike many men that came before him and blood if they could. Also like a fair few presidents
many that came after, James A Garfield before him, Garfield came from humble beginnings.
became president of the United States by He was born in a log cabin in Moreland Hills, Ohio,
accident. He had almost two decades of on 19 November, 1831. He was one of five children,
political experience and knew the workings and named James after his older brother who died
of Congress inside out, but he never imaged that in infancy. When Garfield was eventually elected,
he would actually find himself in office. It could he became the last of the Log Cabin Presidents.
even be argued that he never wanted the job. Garfield lost his father when he was just two
Garfield often described his presidency as a bleak years old, an event which later caused him to
mountain, and famously said to his secretary, look towards religion for guidance. He believed a
These people would take my very brain, flesh and greater power was leading him onwards. He started

68
James A Garfield

preaching every Sunday until his dedication led to Then everything changed for Garfield once
him to be ordained as a minister in the Church of more while attending the Republican convention
the Disciples of Christ. Though Garfield is one of of 1880 in Chicago. Ulysses S Grant, the 18th
the United States lesser-known leaders, hes often president of the United States, was seeking an
referred to as the Preacher President. unprecedented third term in office, and had
As well as being a man of the cloth, Garfield secured the backing of powerful New York senator
was something of a genius. He enrolled at the Roscoe Conkling. However, Grant was opposed by
Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now named James Blaine of Maine and John Sherman of Ohio,
Hiram College) in Ohio and was taken on as a the latter of which asked Garfield to deliver his
janitor/carpenter in his first year there. By his nominating speech. Much to everyones surprise,
second, however, the college made him assistant Garfield was so impressive that he was the one
professor of Literature and Ancient Languages. who ended up drawing the attention of the crowd.
Upon graduating, he put himself through Williams On the thirty-fourth ballot of the convention, the
College in Massachusetts, starting as a Wisconsin delegation announced it was shifting
third-year student. 16 votes to Garfield to the stunned crowd. Chester
He returned to Ohio after graduating and A Arthur of New York became Garfields running
began a teaching career at Hiram. As if by mate as a partial concession to Conkling, Garfield became the second US president
to be assassinated, following the death of
premonition, Garfield became the and the pair won by a slim margin in Abraham Lincoln 16 years earlier
universitys president by the time November 1880. Against all the odds
James A
he was 26. Between his studies,
he also managed to make time Garfield was the
Garfield became the 20th president
of the United States. Life in the time
for romance, and married his
sweetheart (and future first
last of the seven
Garfields time in the White
House was brief and tragic. Less
of James A
lady) Lucretia Rudolph on 11 presidents that than four months into office, he Garfield
November 1958. were born in log was gunned down in a Washington
The worlds irst
As happy as he was, Garfield railroad station, and reportedly fell to
cabins phone call
couldnt see himself reaching his the floor and gasped, My god, what is
The worlds first phone call occurred on 10
full potential as a teacher. His time at this? The shooter was Charles J Guiteau,
March 1876 while Garfield was a member of
Williams had made him politically aware, a fanatic who believed he would be pleasing the US House of Representatives in Ohios
especially in the colleges intensely anti-slavery Conkling by elevating Arthur into office. At first, his 19th district. The inventor of the telephone,
atmosphere, and for the first time he found himself assassination attempt appeared to be unsuccessful; Alexander Graham Bell, phoned his assistant
considering a career in politics. He put his name the bullet was lodged in Garfields body, but he Thomas Watson and said: Mr Watson, come
down to read law at a firm in Cleveland and was was alive and under the watchful eyes of many here. I want to see you.
admitted to the bar in 1861. doctors. His injury was painful and debilitating but
Garfields life changed with the lives of many he held on, releasing a statement which read: Dont The Ku Klux Klan begins
more Americans in April, 1861, when a civil be disturbed about conflicting reports about my The Ku Klux Klan was founded as a secret
war broke out between the United States and condition. It is true that I am still weak and on my vigilante group on the Christmas Eve of 1865
back but Im gaining every day and need only time in Pulaski, Tennessee, by six former members
the Confederate States. Though Garfield had no
of the Confederate army. Word of the Klan
previous military training, he quickly joined the and patience to bring me through.
and its white supremacist agenda spread until
Union army as a lieutenant colonel, and rose to In September 1881, two months after the racial hate crimes were occurring all across the
major general by the time the war ceased in 1965. shooting, Garfield made his final wish: to be moved American South.
While the Civil War was still in progress, local to his cottage on the New Jersey Shore so he could
Republican Party leaders invited Garfield to stand watch the waves roll in as he lay. Half a mile of
Not just a mans job
as a nominee for the local state senate after the track was laid down by 300 men so that a special The United States got its first ever female
presumptive nominee Cyrus Prentiss died. He train could transport him to the front door of the doctor on 23 January 1849. Dr Elizabeth
was elected to Congress, serving in the House of cottage. Finally, on 19 September, 1881, James A Blackwell was granted her degree by the
Representatives from Ohios nineteenth district, Garfield passed away with his wife by his side. Medical Institute of Geneva, New York. She
and managed to hold the seat for 17 years and nine Towns and cities were soon draped in funeral was also the first woman on the UK Medical
Register. Her younger sister Emily became the
consecutive terms. emblems to mourn their new president.
USs third ever female doctor.

Civil rights: a work in progress US state of mind


Since college, Garfield was extremely committed to the During Garfields lifetime, 14 US states became
cause of civil rights. When he first became involved in officially recognised after admission to the
politics, he recommended a universal education system Union, including Arkansas, Michigan, Florida,
funded by the federal government which he believed Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Minnesota,
could be the key to empowering African Americans and Oregon, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada,
improving the state of their civil rights. When Garfield Nebraska and Colorado. Only 12 remained to
eventually became president, freedmen had gained make up the 50 current US states.
citizenship and suffrage that allowed them to participant in
government, but Garfield was concerned that the southern
white resistance would oppress them into becoming the A helping hand
countrys permanent peasantry. As a result, he appointed The American Red Cross was established in
several African Americans to prominent positions, including 1881 by pioneering nurse Clara Barton, who
John M Langston, Robert Elliot and Blanche K Bruce. had heard word of the Red Cross in Geneva,
Switzerland. It is still running today.

69
US Presidents

21 CHESTER A ARTHUR
Republican, 1829 1886

Catapulted into
office following the
Brief assassination of James
Bio Garfield under whom
he had served as vice
president, Republican Arthur
came to office with a reputation
for cronyism that had followed
him since his early days as a
New York politician. Once in
the White House, he showed an
unexpected passion for reform
that cost him a second term.

1881 1885

Chester A Arthur
In a tumultuous administration, Chester A Arthur found himself
grappling with immigration, the rights of Native Americans and reform

W
ith the shooting of James A Garfield, He won renown for his role in civil rights cases,
fate dealt Chester Alan Arthur a card he famously mounting a successful challenge to the
could never have anticipated. The man segregation of New York City streetcar lines. Personal
who had been vice president for just six happiness followed professional success and in 1859
months was, quite unexpectedly, about Arthur married Ellen Herndon, with whom he would
to become the most powerful man in the United have three children.
States, a role he had never sought. When the Civil War swept through the US,
The son of a Baptist preacher who had emigrated Arthur impressed everyone with his administrative
from what is now Northern Ireland, Arthur was born skills after being appointed by governor Edwin D
in Vermont, but grew up in New York state. Success Morgan to the militia as a quartermaster, proving
came quickly to the and ambitious young man, who the ideal choice to ensure that the northern armies
settled on a legal career after sampling teaching. were properly equipped and billeted. He rose

70
Chester A Arthur

to his Stalwart running mate and Arthur found


himself sidelined, his attempts to bring his friends
into office frustrated. All that was to change with
Garfields death on 19 September 1881 and in the
early hours of the following day, in his own home,
Chester A Arthur was sworn in as the 21st President
of the United States.
One of his first moves was to veto an attempt to
funnel a surplus of $145million into government
coffers, instead proposing that it should be used
to support tax relief. This won him huge support
among the people, though did little for his
popularity in the Senate. That same year he entered
quickly though the ranks and was instrumental in more contentious waters when he signed off on
enlisting thousands of men whilst being offered, the Immigration Act, excluding criminals, the poor
and refusing, the command of multiple regiments. and the mentally disabled from coming into the
After the war, Arthur returned to civilian life United States. However, when a bill proposing a
Inventor Thomas Edison was one of the
but his role in the militia had given him a taste 20 year freeze on all immigration from China was most influential public figures during
for politics and his obvious acumen had made an passed, Arthur personally vetoed the ban and only Arthurs presidency
impact on people in political high places. Roscoe reluctantly agreed to set a term of 10 years instead.
Conkling, a Republican Senator notorious
for cronyism, took Arthur under his
Arthurs administration was heavy with
his old New York friends and fellow Life in the
wing and initiated him into the
New York political machine, Arthurs
Stalwarts so his next move could not
have come as more of a surprise.
time of Chester
a system of patronage that dedication to the In 1883, Democrat Senator A Arthur
depended on the well-greased whirlwind society George H Pendleton introduced Trail of tears
wheels of corruption. It was a a previously rejected bill that
scene of the Republican In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal
world in which party loyalty would end the system of Act with the approval of President Andrew
was rewarded with power, machine was not patronage. No more would civil Jackson. The Act was intended to remove
influence and a generous shared by his wife, service jobs be awarded based native Americans from territories that were
valuable to settlers. Thousands died during the
salary and when Arthur was leading to domestic on party affiliation, but instead
removals, which became famous as the Trail
given the senior role of collector, candidates would be appointed
he soon became a familiar figure
disharmony on merit alone. The party man who
of Tears.

on both the New York political circuit owed his career to the Republican
and its social counterpart. machine now turned his back on it. The rush for gold
Beginning in 1848, the California Gold Rush
In Washington, however, the patronage system Arthurs attempts to intervene in civil rights and
saw hundreds of thousands of treasure
was under fire for corruption and though the oppose segregation and discrimination on racial hunters, known as Forty-Niners, flock to
powerful Conklin pulled all the strings available to grounds were less successful. He nevertheless California in search of gold. Settlers faced
him, Arthur was removed from the role of collector presided over increased funding for Native terrible odds to survive and prosper, but the
in 1878, after seven years in the job. Arthur threw American education and rights. rewards for success could be enormous.
his weight into campaigning instead, lending his Time was not on Arthurs side though and
well-respected name and finely-honed skills to within months of being sworn in, he was diagnosed A victory for abolition
the Stalwarts, his own particular faction of the with Brights disease, a condition he attempted Slavery was officially abolished by the 13th
Republicans. When Ellen died in 1880, her grief- to keep secret. The once vibrant man of fashion Amendment in 1865 under President Abraham
stricken widower threw himself into his career and grew frail as whispers of his illness sounded Lincoln. The amendment states unequivocally
that Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude,
when the chance came to stand as vice president on throughout Washington. When the time came to
except as a punishment for crime whereof
the ticket of Garfield in 1881, Arthur took it. seek nomination for re-election, Arthur campaigned the party shall have been duly convicted, shall
The Republicans were not expected to win the without much hope of success, thanks to his refusal exist within the United States, or any place
election and yet, with a majority of just over 7000 to support any particular faction. He did not win the subject to their jurisdiction.
votes, they did. Garfield, however, never warmed nomination, dying the following year.
Edison lights the US
In 1879, Thomas Edison patented the first
electric light bulb and promised to make
The Civil War electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn
Arthur made his name during the American Civil War, when candles. In the years that followed, light bulbs
soldiers fought to secure the Union and abolish slavery or became a regular fixture in public buildings
win independence for the Confederate states and maintain across the world.
the status quo. This war between north and south was
brutal and bloody, costing the lives of more than 600,000
soldiers and unknown number of civilians, estimated to The west gets wilder
be in the tens of thousands. When the North claimed As Edison brought electric light to the United
victory, the industry and communities of the South lay in States, in Tombstone, the wild west still held
tatters, resulting in an economic imbalance that lasted for sway. On 26 October 1881, the infamous
decades as the opposing sides began the slow process of shootout that has become known as the
reconciliation and rebuilding. Gunfight at the OK Corral saw the name of
Wyatt Earp pass into legend.

71
US Presidents

22/24 GROVER CLEVELAND


Democrat, 1837 1908

Grover Cleveland
rose from humble
Brief beginnings and
Bio forged a reputation as
a watchdog president,
vetoing record numbers of
bills in office. Known for his
steadfast honesty and a hatred
for corruption and special
interests, Cleveland expanded
the powers of the executive
Cleveland
branch and set the stage for served as sheriff
the modern presidency of the
20th century. in Erie County,
Ohio for two years,
personally undertaking
the execution of
condemned
criminals

1885 1889 & 1893 1897

Grover Cleveland
Americas only double-dip president, Grover Cleveland served two
nonconsecutive terms in office, winning the popular vote three times

G
rover Cleveland was an atypical president bitterly with entrenched municipal corruption,
in many ways. He won the popular vote and later as the Governor of New York, where he
three times (he was denied by the electoral forged a reputation for himself as a constitutionalist
college once) and served two nonconsecutive and a trigger-happy vetoer. Clevelands growing
terms. He came into office a bachelor, and reputation as a man untarnished by any special
married his close friends daughter, Frances Folsom interests won him the democratic nomination
27 years his junior in the White House. This in the 1884 presidential election. The campaign
was a strange arrangement, as Folsom had been was characterised by bitter, personal insults: the
Clevelands ward after her fathers death, and he had republicans unearthed the fact that Cleveland had
known her since she was a child. fathered an illegitimate child during his time as a
Grover Cleveland born Stephen Grover lawyer. They mocked him with the chant Ma, Ma,
Cleveland had eight brothers and sisters, and was wheres my Pa? but his honesty in dealing with the
born into penury. He first became a teacher at the affair won him plaudits, and he won the election.
New York Institute for the Blind, living in modest As president, Cleveland broke with tradition by
quarters, even when he later earned a comfortable repudiating the spoils system and instead appointing
living as a lawyer. He rose to prominence as the bureaucrats on a merit basis, regardless of their
Mayor of Buffalo, New York, when he fought political affiliation. He set records for presidential

72
Grover Cleveland

In 1894, over 100,000 railroad workers went on


strike, citing low wages and long workdays. This
crippled the countrys mail, and Cleveland quickly
dispatched federal troops to disperse the strike
and arrest the instigators. His Democratic party
suffered greatly for Clevelands heavy-handed
tactics in dealing with the strikes. Clevelands
steadfast opposition to unions and general strikes
hardened the attitude of organised labour toward the
government and empowered large corporations at
A political poster promoting Clevelands unsuccessful
the expense of the American worker. His successors,
campaign for re-election in 1888 William Taft and Teddy Roosevelt, would work to
defuse the power of the corporation that Cleveland
vetoes and did not propose legislation, believing in established, and end the robber baron era.
the presidency as a watchdog rather than an advocate. His foreign policy was inconsistent. He was a
He was passionate about lowering tariffs, which committed isolationist, believing that the US should

Alamy
An engraving shows the enormous turnout
would prove to be his undoing after his first term. On generally withdraw from global political affairs. in Times Square for the 1884 election
foreign policy he was almost completely silent. He lost In that vein, Cleveland opposed the annexation
the election of 1888 to Benjamin Harrison.
Even though Cleveland was confident that he
of Hawaii and instead set up diplomatic relations
with the Republic of Hawaii, despite the desire of Life in the
would be re-elected after a hiatus of four years his
wife famously asked a staff member to keep the
many in congress to forcefully join the territory
with the Union. However, Cleveland did intervene
time of Grover
White House furniture untouched, in expectation in a Venezuelan border dispute with the United Cleveland
of their return he spent the time away from Kingdom. In an updated reading of the Monroe
politics on an extended vacation, fishing in New Doctrine, Cleveland decided that the US had an
A long road to sufrage
In the late 1800s, womens suffrage
York. He returned to prominence shortly before interest in any major dispute in the Western movements were in full swing, with women
the 1892 election with a letter criticising Hemisphere. So when the UK contested getting the vote in various states. Cleveland
his successors plan to increase the a border between British Guyana never spoke against giving women the vote
dollars dependence on the silver and Venezuela, Cleveland rashly during his presidency, careful not to alienate
standard. Clevelands lingering
Cleveland threatened war with Britain, any supporters. However, after his term
reputation from his first term and loved beer and was although the matter was resolved
ended he made his thoughts clear on womens
suffrage a resounding no.
opposition to tariffs saw him win steadfastly opposed cordially. President Cleveland is
the 1892 election handily. That to prohibition and remembered chiefly for his steady
election was muted in part due hand in domestic affairs, because Wounded knee and spirit
to the death of the wife of the the temperance his overseas involvements were
As the last remaining caches of original Native
American land were taken over, they faced
democratic candidate, Benjamin movement very limited. pressure to forcibly relocate to unpalatable
Harrison, from tuberculosis. Cleveland retired quietly to private reservations or integrate into American society.
Neither Cleveland nor his opponent life, and did not comment on politics Cleveland strongly advocated the latter, offering
campaigned in the final weeks of the race. often. His last foray into public affairs federal aid for education and land grants.
His second term was immediately blighted by came in 1906 when he penned an editorial for The
a series of crises. In 1893, the stock market fell Ladies Home Journal, insisting that sensible and Separate but equal
sharply, plunging the country into depression and responsible women do not want to vote. The relative The landmark Plessy v Ferguson Supreme
marking the end of the dollars dependence on positions to be assumed by men and women in the Court decision resoundingly affirmed the
silver. During the stock market panic, Cleveland working out of our civilization were assigned long constitutionality of state laws enabling
noticed a growth on the roof of his mouth, which ago by a higher intelligence. segregation in public facilities. The law and
doctrine would persist until 1954. The steps
proved to be a cancerous tumour. Reluctant to Cleveland is remembered for his anti-corruption
towards legislative equality established during
disclose his health emergency to the American efforts and his belief in the president as a guardian the post-Civil War reconstruction era were
public and unsettle them further, he arranged to be rather than an activist. Despite strengthening the erased by the decision.
operated on during a journey on a friends yacht. executive branch and laying the groundwork for
The surgery and the cover-up were successful, Teddy Roosevelts administration, Cleveland never
How the other half lives
although Cleveland was left disfigured. presented a clear vision for the future. A sensational work of photojournalism published
in 1890 exposed the desperate conditions in
the New York slums. The book galvanised public
opinion, exposing the tremendous inequality
The cross of gold of the Gilded Age, and led to the closing of
The defining political debate of Grover Clevelands era was the worst tenements, sweatshops, and public
the question of whether the currency should be backed only schools in New York, and the installation of
by gold, or by a combination of gold and silver (the dollar public services for the poor.
would eventually become fiat money, untethered to any
standard). Taxpayers generally paid their government bills
with silver, while overseas creditors demanded to be paid Ellis Island opens its gates
in gold, which was causing a decline in the nations stocks The famous New York island became a pit stop
of gold. Worries about deflation also prompted demands for millions of European immigrants seeking a
for more silver currency. Cleveland stood firm on the gold better life in the United States. From 1892 to its
standard, stalling the debate for the length of his presidency. closing in 1954, Ellis island would accept over 12
million immigrants.

73
US Presidents

Harrison was the


first president to use
electricity in the White
House, installed by
the Edison General
23 BENJAMIN HARRISON Electric Company
Republican, 1833 1901

The Republican
who served a single
Brief term of presidency
Bio in between the two
nonconsecutive terms
of Democrat Grover Cleveland,
Benjamin Harrison was trained
in law before heading into
politics, so its no surprise his
presidential tenure saw a wave
of new legislation that affected
everything from trade rates to the
creation of the national forests.
1889 1893

Benjamin
Harrison
A former Union colonel in the Civil War, Harrison was big on
legislation but his policies led to the Billion Dollar Congress

T
he grandson of the ninth president of the US Harrisons early education took place in a decrepit
William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison one-room schoolhouse before his parents found the
was born on 20 August 1833. The second money for a private tutor, and he was soon ready
of eight children, the young Harrison grew to attend Farmers College near Cincinnati in 1847.
up on a farm in North Bend, Ohio, and was He attended college for two years and while there
seven years old when his grandfather was sworn he met his future wife, Caroline Scott. In 1850, he
into office (although the elder statesman only transferred to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio,
lasted 32 days in the White House before passing before choosing a career in law as a legal apprentice.
away from a bout of pneumonia). His father was Law had become his career, but his mind was
a member of the House of Representatives, so also drawn to another arena: politics. In 1856,
a certain level of achievement was expected of Harrison had joined the Republican Party with
Harrison from an early age. his fathers blessing, attracted by its opposition

74
Benjamin Harrison

in a state of depression, so serious legislation was


required to revive it. The White House responded by
raising a billion dollars in revenue.
Much of this was compounded by the McKinley
Tariff, a new bill backed by the president that
effectively increased tariffs to their highest
ever levels. Harrison argued this was for the
recovery of the nation, but Democrats accused
While cold in demeanor, Harrison was a hyperactive
the administration of needlessly filling its coffers,
legislator and established the first base at Pearl Harbor dubbing it the Billion Dollar Congress.
While Harrisons tenure was no doubt an
to slavery and its policies on expansion into the expensive one for the economy, it was also one that
western territories. saw progressive legislation in other areas, specifically
However, his political aspirations were cut short ones that tackled currency, monopolies and the Portrait of a teenaged Benjamin Harrison,
taken around 1850
when 11 Southern states seceded from the Union, expansion of equity. Harrison lent his support to
plunging the nation into a state of brutal Civil War. the Sherman Antitrust Act, which was designed
He immediately signed up to fight, joining the to stop companies and individuals building a Life in the time
Union Army as a lieutenant in the 70th Indiana
Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He remained in
monopoly on certain resources (such as coal) and
while not enforced to any great standard under his of Benjamin
service until the conflicts end in 1865, achieving
the rank of brevet brigadier general by the time he
administration, the Federal act was the first of its
kind and indicative of Harrisons growing proactivity
Harrison
returned to civilian life. when it came to executive powers. Welcome back
He resumed his practice of law and found his Action was also required on the state of currency, As well as North and South Dakota, both
political ambitions had waned little in the interim with a confusion as to whether the dollar should Montana and Washington were welcomed
back into the Union. This integration was
if anything they burned hotter than ever and he be backed by gold and silver, or gold alone. The
actually started by Grover Cleveland during his
immediately began campaigning. Those attempts distinction between the two brought the value of first term of office. Known as the Enabling Act,
were unsuccessful to begin with (including an the American dollar into repute, mainly because this bill laid out the ground rules needed for
attempt to capture the Republican gubernatorial silver was worth less than gold. To solve this these territories to resume the status of state
nomination 1872), but his hard work eventually issue in part, Harrison backed the Sherman Silver in the Union.
paid off in 1880 when he was successfully elected Purchase Act, which required the government to
to the United States Senate. purchase 4.5 million ounces of silver per month to Blood sports
Harrison represented Indiana in the Senate offset its damaging use. The last official bout of bare-knuckle boxing
for seven years and campaigned ferociously for Harrison also conducted a great deal of foreign took place in 1889, when heavyweight
the rights of homesteaders and Native American policy, including the issue of Hawaii and its champion John L Sullivan (aka the Boston
Strong Boy) defeated Jake Kilrain in a world
tribes who found the expansion of the railroads annexation (see the box below) as well as tackling
championship match that went a staggering 75
encroaching on their lands. He also spent time the issue of Civil Rights and the treatment of rounds. It wouldnt be until 2011 that another
fighting to ensure good pensions for veterans of the Native American tribes. In both areas he ultimately bout would be legally conducted.
Civil War, but eventually lost his seat in 1887. failed his campaign to revise the state of rights for
However, that loss was soon flipped on its head African Americans was blocked at every turn, and
when Harrison was nominated as the Republican his attempts to reintegrate Native American tribes
Protecting the veterans
In 1890, Harrison saw through the Dependent
candidate for the presidency the very next year. into the growing white populace ultimately led to and Disability Pension Act, which was designed
His backers believed his honest principles and the massacre at Wounded Knee (where 150 men, to protect the livelihoods of veterans who had
devout faith would strike a chord with voters. His women and children were butchered). suffered life-changing injuries during the Civil
bid for election to the White House often relied When Harrison was ousted from office in 1893 War. And while it did help to distribute some
upon delegations visiting Indianapolis, where he (ironically by the man he had defeated four years of the Federal budget, payments for pensions
skyrocketed and the administrations spending
would give speeches and garner support (a process prior, Grover Cleveland), his popularity had faded.
continued to accelerate.
commonly known as front-porch campaigning). Harrison returned to the practice of law following
That faith was well-placed. Harrison was sworn his single term in office before taking up a teaching
into office on 4 March 1889 as the 23rd president post at Stanford University. He passed away on 13 Green and pleasant land
In 1891, Harrison successfully lobbied the Land
of the United States. The countrys economy was March, 1901 from a bout of pneumonia.
Revision Act through Congress and kickstarted
the process of reclaiming surplus land that had
been released into the public domain. Within
a month of its enactment, Harrison began
Harrisons foreign policies establishing the first national forest reserve in
While his domestic policies were a mixed bag, Harrisons Yellowstone Park, Wyoming.
proactive attitude to overseas affairs changed the United
States status on the global stage. His administration was
locked in a battle with Germany and the UK for control of Naval reinvention
the Samoan Islands before he oversaw the establishment When Harrison took office, only two naval
of a three-power protectorate that solidified American warships were in service. Realising the United
interests in the Pacific. He pushed through the Meat States could not exist in the modern era
Inspection Act, which improved exports of US pork, as well without a credible navy, he headed up a new
as attempting unsuccessfully to bring Hawaii into the Union. construction phase that would eventually see
He also avoided an international incident with Chile when the construction of ten new warships by 1898.
two American sailors were killed while on shore leave. Interestingly, seven of these naval ships were
started during Harrisons presidency.

75
US Presidents

25 WILLIAM MCKINLEY
Republican, 1843 1901

A respected lawyer
and Civil War veteran,
Brief McKinley served
Bio an eventful term as
president that was
dominated by the Spanish-
American War, which the US
eventually won. Shortly after
being elected to a second term,
however, he became the last
president to be assassinated
before John F Kennedy in 1963.

1897 1901

William McKinley
Calm and moral, the last president to have served in the Civil War unwittingly
ushered the United States onto the world stage as a new global superpower

T
he seventh child of deeply devout Methodist were killed or wounded on that lovely September
parents, McKinleys neat and gentlemanly day an ideal Sunday morning (McKinleys words).
demeanour, intelligence and excellence at The following spring, after almost daily contact
sports and speaking, earned him friends with enemy guerillas, McKinleys company engaged
from an early age. When the secession of the in a short, savage battle at Cloyds Mountain,
southern states from the Union of the United States western Virginia. The handtohand fighting
ignited the Civil War in June 1861, the 18-yearold lasted over the space of just one hour and was, for
McKinley immediately enlisted on the Union side, McKinley, as desperate as any witnessed during
tasked with supplying rations to frontline infantry the war. After the Battle of Berryville in August he
soldiers as a commissary sergeant. Next September, was appointed captain under general George Crook
after encountering Confederates at the Battle of (18301890). At the Battle of Cedar Creek, aided
South Mountain in Maryland, he proved his worth by heavy fog, surprise attacks by Confederates
in one of the Civil Wars bloodiest conflicts: the threatened to rout the Union forces, but gallant
Battle of Antietam on 17 September 1862. Under moves by their commanders, including McKinley,
heavy fire, McKinley drove mule teams over rough prevailed. For this and gallant and meritorious
ground to supply his compatriots. Over 22,000 men services in two further battles (Opequan and

76
William McKinley

Free trade vs protectionism


McKinleys political ethos was defined by protectionism,
guarding the nations trade interests by imposing import
tariffs. Contrasting with the free trade approach, the
McKinley Tariff purported to benefit Americans by raising
the average duty on foreign imports (notably tin cans and
wool) to almost 50 per cent, whilst removing duty on
some goods, ostensibly to reduce smuggling. Under free
trade the trader is the master and the producer the slave,
McKinley argued. Protection is the law of nature, the
law of selfpreservation, of selfdevelopment, of securing
the highest and best destiny of the race of man. After
450 amendments, McKinleys Tariff Bill passed in 1890,
resulting in an overall higher cost of living.

Life in the time


Fishers Hill), major McKinley was made a brevet
major of volunteers by President Lincoln.
When the ship exploded in Havana harbour on
February 15, killing 266 crew members, the United of William
After the war, the qualities of duty and patriotism
that distinguished him as a soldier were channelled
States Navy (wrongly) blamed a Spanish mine.
As diplomacy grew exhausted, politicians on all
McKinley
into law. As a plain speaker, eschewing emotional sides stepped up the pressure on the president Commander and friend
McKinleys army commander, Major Rutherford
flourishes, his advocacy in important county cases to overcome his strong reluctance to declare
B Hayes (18221893), who was badly wounded
at Canton, Ohio was said to have given his clients war. Diplomatic relations ended on 21 April, and in the Battle of Antietam, was helped by
great confidence. A statesman-like appearance, along McKinley announced a blockade of Cuban ports. McKinley in becoming Ohio governor. In
with a whimsical sense of humour, were certainly On 25 April, following Spains declaration of war, 1876 McKinley helped him receive the party
among the qualities noticed by the daughter of a American politicians voted to respond in kind. A nomination that led to Hayes becoming the
prominent banker Ida Saxton, for on 25 January 1871 bill was drawn to raise funds for naval warships, 19th president from 18771881.
they married. Family tragedies soon overshadowed and McKinley called for volunteers to enlist. Spains
their lives with the deaths of their only children: Pacific fleet of ten ships in Manila (another theatre Costly campaigning
Ida, who died at five months, and Katie three years of conflict), and their Atlantic fleet off Jamaica Republican senator Mark Dollar Hanna prised
later. McKinleys devotion to his shattered wife and Cuba were destroyed, enabling US troops to $3.5 million out of prominent bankers to spend
manifested in regular breaches of normal protocols capture both Manila and Puerto Rico. McKinleys on McKinleys presidential campaign, making
it by far the costliest that has ever been run
for presidential wives through his life. face was pale and haggard under the strain of
when compared to todays rates. Even though
As a protectionist, McKinley successfully ran thousands of dispatches flowing into his war McKinley stayed at home, he managed to
his own Republican campaign for Ohios room next to the Oval Office. A month outspend his opponent by a factor of five to
17th congressional district in 1877. long standoff between the United one, chiefly by printing millions of leaflets.
Despite Democrat gerrymandering McKinley States and Spanish fleets off the
(the manipulation of district was the first Cuban coast ended on 3 July with The real Wizard of Oz?
boundaries), he held his seat the destruction of the Spanish
until 1882, returning to Congress
president in almost as they attempted to break out
Several 20th-century scholars have suggested
that L Frank Baums 1900 childrens novel may
two years later. Thwarted 30 years to be clean of Santiago Bay. Madrid sued for be an allegory of the US when McKinley and
in becoming speaker of the shaven, since peace, relinquishing almost their Bryan ran for president in 1896. If so, McKinley
entire empire by the time of the was portrayed by the titular Wizard; Bryan,
House in 1889, he became Andrew Johnson the Cowardly Lion. The Yellow Brick Road and
chairman of the House Ways Treaty of Paris of 11 April 1899.
and Means Committee, responsible
was in office The treaty was controversial among
Dorothys silver shoes represented the battle
over currency reform: the gold standard that
for framing a new tariff bill. After antiexpansionist politicians reluctant Republicans preferred, and the Democrats
his term completed, he became Ohio to preside over an empire, the president want of a system also including silver.
governor and by 1896 had weathered an almost included. Yet in ceding Spanish territory to their
financiallyruinous spell, and was positioning to control in return for payment, the United States The irst ilmed president
run for president as the Republican nominee. While became inadvertently a world power, for which In 1901, McKinley was the first US president
his opponent William Jennings Bryan toured the history credits McKinley. to be filmed when and his wife Ida reenacted
country speaking to millions, McKinley declared On 6 September 1901, McKinley was socialising his receiving of the Republican nomination
I might just as well set up a trapeze on my front at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo, New for president. He was also filmed during his
inauguration on the way to and when taking
lawn and compete with some professional athlete York. Moments after handing a girl his lucky red
the oath of office. He is also the first sound
as go out speaking against Bryan. His front-porch carnation, he was shot twice with a revolver held recorded president for a campaign speech that
campaign at home swayed the crucial Midwest by Leon Czolgosz, an unemployed factory worker. he gave from his front porch in Canton.
states and he was sworn in on 4 March 1897. Since the bullets were lodged deep in his abdomen,
Following years of despotic colonial rule by the doctors could do little, and McKinley expired eight
Spanish, the Cubans revolted in 1895. When Spains days later on 14 September. His death was the third
The beginnings of the
prime minister was assassinated in August 1897, presidential assassination in 30 years. As men beat Panama Canal
President McKinley commissioned a report
McKinley delivered conciliatory messages and pleas Czolgosz to the ground, the assassin could well
into a maritime highway to link the Atlantic
for Spanish concessions. Disputes only escalated, have been lynched but for McKinleys intervention. and the Pacific across Central America, yet the
though, and with proSpanish demonstrators Go easy on him, boys, the wounded president Panama Canal would take another 17 years to
rioting in Havana in January 1898, McKinley urged with his characteristic aplomb, we dont open and not in Nicaragua as advisors initially
sent the battleship Maine to protect US citizens. want to hurt him. recommended to McKinley.

77
US Presidents

1901 1909

Theodore
Roosevelt
The 26th president of the United States led the 26 THEODORE ROOSEVELT
way in proving that a politicians personality is Republican, 1858 1919

Theodore Roosevelt
just as important as his policies Brief is often credited
for helping catapult
Bio the United States

T
to the forefront
heodore Roosevelts childhood was unusual home the head to study, and he and two of his of the great powers of the
compared to most. In terms of circumstance, cousins formed what they called the Roosevelt world, but it wasnt easy. He
faced many challenges on the
he was fairly fortunate: he was born in a four- Museum of Natural History. Roosevelts childhood
road to presidency, but his
storey brownstone in Manhattan, New York escapades became the beginnings of a lifelong love progressivism outlook and
into an affluent family. His father, Theodore for zoology and the great outdoors, which would larger-than-life personality
have caused him to be widely
Sr, was a glass businessman and philanthropist and later shape the way he ran the United States. Still considered one of the greatest
his mother Martha was a socialite. Despite this, at a schooling age, he learnt the rudiments of presidents that the United
things were difficult during Roosevelts childhood. taxidermy and so could often be found trudging States has ever seen.
He was a sickly, delicate child and developed a across Oyster Bay, Long Island, looking for
form of debilitating asthma, and had to be home- specimens to collect and take home. He studied all
schooled all through his education as a types of organic matter, from plants and fungi
result of his chronic illness. He often to insects and animal carcasses. His
experienced sudden and intense hands would always stink of arsenic
asthma attacks during the night
During and formaldehyde from preserving
which caused the sensation, his presidency, all his finds.
of being smothered to death. a boxing accident Shortly before he turned 18,
Roosevelt and his parents involving a smashed Roosevelt enrolled at Harvard
feared for his health, and University in 1876 to study
doctors could find no cure. But blood vessel left natural history, with the
it wasnt all bad; being home- Roosevelt almost intention of pursuing a teaching
schooled meant Roosevelt grew completely blind career. After years of being
closer to his parents, particularly isolated as a result of his home-
in one eye
his father. It was because of his schooling, he soon found he thrived
father that the young boy found the in the busy college environment. He
drive to better himself. One day, his father was an active member of the student body
took him aside and said: You have the mind but and, in order to continue improving his health,
you have not the body It is up to you to make he was committed to leading what he called the
your body. This piece of advice made Roosevelt strenuous life.
determined to transform himself in his childhood, But in the winter of his second year at Harvard,
and make his body stronger. his life changed forever. He received an urgent
For a boy of his health and stature, he was telegram instructing him to rush back to New York,
extremely energetic, and spent a lot of time but by the time he got there it was too late; his
outdoors, looking for specimens to fulfil his interest father had died from intestinal tumour. The loss
in the natural world. When he was seven, he came devastated Roosevelt. He wrote in the journal he
across a dead seal at the local market. He took kept: Oh, Father, Father, how bitterly I miss you,

78
Theodore Roosevelt

A keen hunter throughout his life, this


photo from 1885 shows Roosevelt kitted out
in full badlands hunting gear

Life in the time


of Theodore
Roosevelt
The elimination of black
voting rights
Between 1890 and 1908, every state in the
Deep South adopted a new state constitution
to deprive black Americans the right to vote
in US elections. The constitution used various
methods to do so, including poll taxes, literacy
tests, arbitrary registration practices and
felony disenfranchisement.

Up, up and away!


On 17 December, 1903, Orville and Wilbur
Wright made history when Orville piloted the
worlds first powered aeroplane 20 feet above
a North Carolina beach. They attempted three
more flights the same day, with the most
successful lasting 59 seconds and covering
852 feet.

Devastating earthquake
shakes California
Devastation ripped through Northern California
on 18 April 1906, when the San Francisco
Earthquake caused 3,000 deaths and over 80
per cent of the city was destroyed. The San
Francisco earthquake is now widely regarded
as one of the worst natural disasters in the
history of the United States.

The massacre at
Wounded Knee
The now famous massacre of Wounded Knee
broke out on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation in South Dakota on 29 December
1890, when a troop of US soldiers attempted
to arrest Sioux chief Spotted Elk and disarm
350 of his followers.

Lincoln is defeated
The United States mourned for one of
the most influential Americans ever when
President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated
in Fords theatre on 14 April 1865. He was shot
in the head at point-blank range by actor John
Wilkes Booth. Lincoln died the next day.

79
US Presidents

One in a His efforts helped put an end to the war,


million shot and Roosevelt became a national hero
Roosevelt is often depicted as an
extremely tough man, and for good reason.
The adventures he had while scaling mourn for you and long for you! His father was passion was too strong, and he dropped out of
mountains, hunting game and exploring his best friend, and the greatest man that he ever Columbia shortly after in order to pursue politics
jungles seem tepid compared to the time knew. After his death, Roosevelt became listless full-time. Then, in November 1881, Roosevelt
he was shot in the chest while delivering a and depressed. became the youngest ever elected member of the
speech and didnt seek assistance until he Eventually, he returned to Harvard and became New York State Assembly. He realised this was
was finished. It was 14 October 1912, and
even more active, determined to get back to leading where he belonged, and gave it his all. His father
Roosevelt was campaigning for presidential
office with the newly formed Progressive the strenuous life. He took up rowing and boxing, had always told him, Take care of your morals
Party. He had prepared a 90-minute even placing as runner-up in a Harvard-wide first, your health next and finally your studies. The
campaign speech that he planned to boxing tournament, and continued to get stronger words stuck with Roosevelt through the years, and
deliver outside a Milwaukee hotel. Before still. He continued his studies and indulged himself caused him to go after politicians he believed to
he could get a word out, he was shot in in an active student life. be corrupt. His methods presented severe political
the chest by a local saloon keeper. His
In October 1878 his life changed again, but for risks on his part, but it was always a good fight.
audience was none the wiser until he
announced what had happened. another reason entirely: he met Alice Hathaway On 14 February 1884, Roosevelt was met with the
Friends, I shall ask you to be quiet as Lee. The moment that Roosevelt saw Alice he greatest tragedy of his life. His mother and his wife
possible, he said. I dont know whether knew that he was going to marry her if she died on the same say at the home they all shared
you fully understand that I have just would take him. He was very persistent in his in New York City. His mother had been battling
been shot. It takes more than that to kill wooing technique and befriended and charmed typhoid fever, while his wife succumbed to kidney
a Bull Moose [the nickname given to the
half her family before Lee realised that Roosevelt failure two days after giving birth to their daughter
Progressive Party]. Luckily, the bullet
had passed through his breast pocket,
was practically family too. They finally wed in Alice. The condition has gone unnoticed because of
which contained a steel eyeglass case, and October 1880, following his graduation in June. her pregnancy. On that day in his diary, Roosevelt
through his jacket, in which he kept his On their wedding night, Roosevelts diary reads: simply wrote a large X that proceeded, The light
50-page speech folded in two. The bullet My happiness now is almost too great. I am living has gone out of my life. He left Alice with his sister
is in me now, he said, so that I cannot in a dream land. I wish it could last forver. They and left New York City for the Badlands of the
make a very long speech, but I will try my honeymooned in Europe and Roosevelt finally Dakota Territory while he grieved. There he lived as
best. He got through the entire thing.
slapped his illness in the face by scaling the a rancher and cowboy.
15,000-foot Matterhorn in the Alps. He didnt return to New York until 1886, but
Hungry for knowledge, Roosevelt had every when he did he dove back into politics, even
intention of continuing his studies after Harvard, running for mayor, though unsuccessfully. In
and enrolled at Columbia Law School in December December 1886, Roosevelt married his second wife:
1880. However, part way through the school year childhood friend Edith Kermit Carow. The pair
he got involved in politics and ended up joining eventually had five children together: Theodore
the Republican Party. The pull of his new-found III, Kermit, Ethel, Archibald and Quentin. With his

Defining moment
The greatest loss
9 February 1878
During Roosevelts second year at Harvard, his world is suddenly
flipped upside-down by the death of his father. Theodore Sr passes
away in his home in New York City after suffering from an intestinal
tumour. Before he died, Roosevelt receives an urgent telegram
insisting he rush home from college immediately to join his father
by his bedside. Unfortunately he is too late. After his fathers passing,
Roosevelt becomes depressed and listless, and he fills the journal he
keeps with heartbreaking entries about his overwhelming sadness.
Roosevelt spent the years following his
presidency on safari in Africa Upon his return to Harvard, he attempts to force himself back into
living the strenuous life as he calls it.

Timeline
1858
O A president is born O Further education O Love is in the air O The law of the land O Deaths in the family
Theodore Roosevelt Jr is born commences Roosevelt meets his After graduating from Roosevelt is left
to Theodore Sr and Martha After being home- first true love, Alice Harvard, Roosevelt starts heartbroken and
Mittie Bulloch Roosevelt at schooled all his life due to Hathaway Lee, and at Columbia Law School. completely devastated
28 East 20th Street, New York chronic illness, Roosevelt befriends much of He then drops out of the when his mother Martha
City. He grows up a sickly but finally enrols at Harvard her family in a long- school just two years and wife Alice die on
enthusiastic and intelligent University to study natural running attempt to later, however, in order to the same day, Martha of
child, and is affectionately history and finds that he woo her. It works, and pursue a full-time career typhoid fever and Alice of
known as Teedie to his family thrives in the new, more the couple marries on in politics after joining the kidney failure, days after
of six. social environment. 27 October 1880. New York Assembly. giving birth to a daughter.
27 October 1858 September 1876 18 October 1878 December 1880 14 February 1884

80
Theodore Roosevelt

home life finally back on track, his work life started


to follow suit. In 1897, he was appointed US Navy
assistant secretary by President William McKinley.
At the start of the Spanish-American War in
1898, however, Roosevelt resigned his position in
the US Navy in order to form and equip a volunteer
cavalry unit known as the Rough Riders. Being
the type of man he was, he led the unit into Cuba
and quickly gained fame in the United States for
his attack up Kettle Hill against heavy fire during
the Battle of San Juan Hill. His efforts helped put
an end to the war, and Roosevelt became a
national hero. He was elected governor of
New York soon after.
Two years later, McKinley Roosevelt was
appointed Roosevelt vice
president after his first second-
a prolific author,
in-command Garret Hobart writing a whopping
suddenly died of heart failure. 38 books, including an
Roosevelts vice presidency
autobiography and a
was fairly uneventful until the
Minnesota State Fair, where he biography of Oliver
thrilled supporters with a simple Cromwell of acres to the United States rivers followed. He also continued a lifelong love of
aphorism. He said, Speak softly and national forests. writing and publishing books, articles and journals.
carry a big stick, and you will go far. Roosevelts style appeared to In 1912, Roosevelt attempted to return to politics,
On 6 September 1901, McKinley was be popular with voters when he was running against President William Taft who he had
assassinated and Roosevelt became the 26th re-elected in his own right in 1904. During his helped groom for office. He even formed a third
president of the United States. Before he entered second term in office, he continued to make the political party called the Progressive Party to do so.
office, he held the belief that there was too much Roosevelt-magic happen. The highlights included The election was close, but he didnt win. It was
power in the hands of the corporate powers, and beefing up the US Navy, completing the Panama then that he decided to call it a day.
that belief showed in the way he led his people. Canal and being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for On 6 January, 1919, Theodore Roosevelt died
Roosevelt based his presidency on the Square negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. while he slept at his house at Sagamore Hill, New
Deal, a domestic program that was formed upon When Roosevelts presidency was finally up in York. The cause was a coronary embolism. He was
three basic ideas: the conservation of natural 1909, he dedicated time to exploring the wilderness 60 years old. He was finally laid to rest at Oyster
resources, the control of corporations and and living a strenuous life, starting with a two- Bay, Long Island, the same place he liked to collect
consumer protection. He became a champion of year-long African safari with his son. Expeditions specimens and samples to study in his bedroom all
the environment, and added hundreds of millions through jungles, over mountain ranges and down those years ago.

Defining moment Defining moment


The death of a president Everyones a winner
6 September 1901 10 December 1906
In September 1901, President William McKinley ventures After the work he did to help bring an end to the Russo-
out to Buffalo, New York, but is shot by an anarchist acting Japanese War, Roosevelt becomes the first American to
alone while Roosevelt hikes in the Adirondacks. Roosevelt win the Nobel Peace Prize. The prize-giving ceremony
visits the ailing president, but reports suggest his takes place in Oslo, Norway, but Roosevelt cannot attend
condition is improving so he bids him farewell and leaves until his term of presidency is over. Instead, he sends an
for the west. However, McKinley worsens and Roosevelt ambassador in his place and drops by Norway on a tour
rushes back a second time. McKinley succumbs to his of Europe after he has left office for his Nobel lecture. He
wounds on 14 September, and Roosevelt is sworn into is also the first statesman to win the prize, which caused
office. He becomes the 26th and youngest ever president controversy. In response to his win, Swedish newspapers
of the United States. reported that Alfred Nobel would be turning in his grave.

1919
O The race for mayor O With great power O The vice presidency O The peoples president O The later years Roosevelts final days O
Roosevelt runs for mayor Two years on from his finally begins Roosevelt is re-elected When Roosevelts Following problems with
of New York City but he mayorial election loss, the Roosevelt eventually in his own right. Over presidency ends, he his breathing, Roosevelt,
loses to Abram Hewitt. Republican Party nominate reaches the White House the following years, he joins his son on a two- 60, dies in his sleep at
He doesnt take the loss Roosevelt for governor when he is elected vice establishes the US Forest year-long African Safari. his home at Sagamore
too hard, however, as of New York State. He president under President Service, completes the He continues pursuing Hill. The cause is an
he marries his childhood is finally elected on 8 William McKinley. He building of the Panama his passion for the arterial blood clot. He is
sweetheart Edith Carow November the same year serves in the role from Canal and also negotiates outdoors and nature for laid to rest in Oyster Bay,
in London the following and serves until the end March the following year an end to the Russo- another decade while still Long Island, where he
month in December. of 1990. until September. Japanese War. remaining politically active. spent much of his youth.
November 1886 27 September 1898 6 November 1900 1904 March 1909 6 January 1919

81
US Presidents

27 WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT


Republican, 1857 1930

Weighing in at over
300 pounds, the
Brief genial and famously
Bio hospitable Taft was
quite literally a big
character. He remains the
largest ever president in US
history. His period in office
was most notable for the way
he brought the presidency
firmly into the 20th century
and established the pattern
for presidents to come from
building the first Oval Office to
playing golf.

Taft
is the only
person to head
both the executive 1909 1913
and judiciary
branches of the US
government

William
Howard Taft
Initially well-liked and respected, the upright and affable judge
became a disastrous political liability

W
illiam Howard Taft was born three years Taft was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and this was
before Abraham Lincoln was elected as his first, unconscious step towards the presidency.
president and died three years before Ohio dominated national politics in the period after
Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of the Civil War, and to this day no Republican has
Germany. His life and his presidency been elected president without winning Ohio, and
spanned a time of enormous change. Unlikely no Democrat has managed it since John F Kennedy
as it may seem when you look at his portly figure, in 1960. Tafts hard-driving and ambitious father,
walrus moustache and occasional top hat, Taft was Alphonso, was comfortably off rather than wealthy,
one of the first modern presidents, who helped to but he was undoubtedly well connected, and Taft
shape the presidency as we know it today. Junior benefitted from this throughout his early

82
William Howard Taft

Americas overseas
growing pains
In the late 19th century, the US began to acquire
territory outside the North American mainland,
including the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii
and American Samoa. The US still defined itself as
anti-imperialist and this caused great unease. When
there was a rebellion in the Philippines, with heavy
casualties, accusations of atrocities, and a cholera
epidemic that killed huge numbers of civilians, there
was controversy, with even some military officers
criticising the government. One officer revealed his
notorious orders that the interior of Samar must be
made a howling wilderness. There were similarities
with later controversies in Vietnam and elsewhere.
Despite all this, Taft managed to enhance his
reputation as governor of the Philippines. The proliferation of the mass-produced Ford
Model T led to Taft purchasing the first
presidential cars

career. Without the Ohio background it is doubtful In 1904, Taft returned to the US to become
that William (Old Bill to his friends) would have secretary of war a post his father had held under Life in the time
risen as quickly and as high as he did.
Having graduated from Yale in 1878, Taft studied
Ulysses S Grant in Theodore Roosevelts cabinet,
with the understanding that he would still take an of William
law, was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1880, and
went on to flirt briefly with journalism, practise
interest in the Philippines. From there it was a short
leap to become Roosevelts nominated successor,
Howard Taft
law, serve in some minor administrative offices and in 1908 he was elected president, assuming Get your motor running
and then become a judge of the Ohio Superior office in 1909. The first popular and affordable motor car,
the Ford Model T, was released in 1908. In
Court in 1887, aged 29. In 1886 he married Helen Taft oversaw few outstanding legislations or
1909, Taft bought the first presidential cars
Herron, who was reputed to encourage and even foreign policy achievements, and his term of office and built the first White House garage, doing
direct his political ambitions she was a strong and was characterised by political failure. His wife much to make automobiles respectable to
sometimes controversial character. spoke of him not knowing or caring about the way everyday Americans. Previously, they had been
In 1890 Taft was appointed solicitor general the game of politics is played, and he managed considered the playthings of the rich.
of the United States; at 32, he was the to make even potentially popular initiatives,
youngest ever to hold the position. such as tariff reform, count against him. Combatting an old evil
In 1909 the National Association for the
Soon after, he became a judge of the Taft believed that being a scrupulous
Advancement of Colored People, the leading
United States Sixth Circuit Court Tafts administrator was enough, to secure African-American civil rights group, was
of Appeals, which was again a love of eating his popularity, but it was not. His founded. Racism remained prevalent and racial
remarkably senior appointment famous dollar diplomacy that violence was endemic. Taft abhorred racial
for a man of his age. Tafts opossums sparked a it was far better to use dollars prejudice and was a fervent believer in the rule
thoughts began to turn to the nationwide fad and than bullets also failed. In the of law, but his policies were often weakened
by political concerns.
US Supreme Court, which today inspired a toy, Billy Far East, it was simply ineffectual,
would be considered absurd and while in Latin America it resulted
Possum Way out west
even presumptuous for someone in accusations of hypocrisy and Two new states were created during Tafts
in his position it would certainly disguised Yankee imperialism. presidency: New Mexico (the 47th) and
be unrealistic. For a respected and well- Tafts presidency was instead notable for Arizona (the 48th). Both were in the west,
connected Ohioan of his time, however, it was his adjustment to the technologies and practices signalling the final decline of the wild Old
merely fantastically ambitious, not impossible. of the twentieth century. As part of his programme West. The last stagecoach robbery occurred
in 1916. Only two further states (Alaska and
When he was summoned by President McKinley to modernise government administration, he
Hawaii) have been added since these two.
in 1900, Taft assumed that it concerned a Supreme built the first Oval Office. However, he refused to
Court appointment. Instead, he was asked to join a expand the presidential role beyond the bounds From Pole to Pole
commission on the occupation of the Philippines, of the constitution, in contrast to his predecessor, The early twentieth century was the golden
which had been ceded to the US by Spain in Roosevelt, and his successor, Woodrow Wilson. age of arctic exploration. While British and
1898. Although he was initially reluctant, Taft Tafts campaign for re-election was doomed from Norwegian explorers like Scott, Shackleton
resigned his judgeship to become chairman of the the moment his predecessor and one-time friend, and Amundesen were famously active, two
Americans were rivals in reaching the North
Second Philippine Commission, and subsequently patron and ally, Theodore Roosevelt decided to
Pole: Frederick Cook and Robert Peary. Their
the governor of the islands. Despite the ongoing oppose him, first for the Republican nomination competing claims caused a lively newspaper
controversy surrounding the Philippines, Taft won and then as an independent presidential candidate. controversy throughout Tafts presidency.
the esteem of those he worked with and became Taft came third behind both the victor, Woodrow
a respected national figure. More than once he Wilson, and Roosevelt, failing even to win his home The FBI is coming
was to turn down presidential offers of a coveted state of Ohio. It was a famous drubbing. Still, Taft Shortly before Taft took office, the Bureau
place on the Supreme Court, explaining that he did not seem overly concerned and when he was of Investigation was formed. It began with
just thirty-four employees and its first major
felt committed to the Philippines. However, there made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1921
investigation started in 1910, while Taft was
were suspicions that his ambitions were now also he seemed happier and in his proper element. It president. In 1935, five years after Tafts
political, possibly as a result of his wifes influence, seemed that his political career was an interesting death, it was renamed the Federal Bureau of
or pressure from the ultra-ambitious Taft clan. detour on the way to his true calling. Investigation (FBI).

83
US Presidents

1913 1921

Woodrow
Wilson
From an unusual election to the outbreak of a
Woodrow Wilson is sworn in as president
on 4 March 1913

Life in the time


of Woodrow
Wilson
world war, Woodrow Wilsons presidency saw Japan sets its sights west
Japan thrust itself onto the international stage
a whirlwind of economic and social change as it exposed the weakness of the Chinese
Empire. Tussling over rule in Korea, war was
declared in 1894, but within a year the Chinese

H
aving led the United States through war he had enrolled at the local Davison College but sued for peace. The war initiated a period of
dominance for Japan in the Far East.
and helped to create the League of Nations, before starting his studies, he made a U-turn and
Thomas Woodrow Wilson achieved a lot moved north to Princeton, which was then known
in his eight years as president. Born on as the College of New Jersey. This was followed Birth of the Gatling gun
28 December 1856 in Staunton, Virginia, by a law degree at the University of Virginia and Invented by Dr Richard Gatling in 1862, the
six-barrelled weapon was the first true rapid
Wilsons family had Scottish heritage and were a PhD in political science and history at Johns
fire weapon. The gun was invented during
devout Presbyterians. The third of four children Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. the American Civil War, but only achieved
born to Jessie Janet Woodrow and Joseph Ruggles This period of Wilsons life wasnt just limited to prominence after the wars end. The gun was
Wilson, the family didnt stay long in Staunton studying and in 1883 he met Ellen Louise Axon, unreliable but was a game changer for the
and moved to Augusta, Georgia with the young who he would go on to have three daughters with. future of warfare.
Tommy, aged just one. From then it was on to His education culminated in a thesis entitled
Columbia, South Carolina where his father, Congressional Government, launching The origin of the Ashes
a Presbyterian minister, taught at the a career with a professorship at Australias victory over England in a cricket
Columbia Theological Seminary. Princeton in 1890 where he was match in 1882 initiated a long-lasting sporting
At the age of five, Wilson saw later voted the most popular rivalry. A London journalist described the
Woodrow shock defeat as the death of English cricket
the ravages of war first hand teacher on campus for his caring
as the US Civil War broke out.
Wilson is the character and inspiring nature. It
and on the return tour of Australia, a pair of
wooden bails were burnt and their ashes put
Living in the South, he was only president to be was while in this job that Wilson into an urn.
surrounded by supporters of the buried in suffered his first stroke in May
Confederate cause. His parents 1906 and a year later, Wilsons
Washington, DC Queen Victoria dies
became involved in the conflict marriage was on the rocks after
The reign of Britains second longest-serving
with his mother nursing wounded he had an affair while visiting monarch came to an end as Victoria died aged
soldiers from the battlefield. The war Bermuda. The couple talked things 81 in 1901. Her tenure oversaw an industrial
had a profound effect on the young Wilson, through and remained husband and wife revolution in Britain and the continued growth
who recalled looking into the face of the defeated and Wilsons health also stabilised. of empire. She had become almost a recluse
General Robert E Lee. His experience at university led Wilson to after the death of her husband, Albert, and
several assassination attempts.
When he first started school, Wilson didnt turn his political orientation to a being a social
take to education and initially suffered from Democrat. His meteoric political rise began in
poor results. Instead, he acquired the oratory and 1910 when he was voted governor of New Jersey Invention of the telephone
debating skills from his father who, as a minister, and two years on, his stock had risen even Alexander Graham Bell will forever be credited
with the invention, but there was controversy
had these talents in abundance. This became a further and he was nominated as the Democratic
for the rights to the invention of the
kind of passion for Wilson and contemporary presidential candidate for the upcoming election. telephone. Other inventors such as Innocenzo
scholars believe he may have had some sort of The following year, Wilson became the 28th Manzetti, Elisha Gray and Charles Bourseul all
dyslexia that hampered his exam results but president of the US but only after what was an claimed to have invented it before Bell but
helped his discussion skills. Either way, by 1875 unusual process. He ran against Republican never obtained the official patent to prove so.

84
Woodrow Wilson

28 WOODROW WILSON
Democrat, 1856 1924

Both a scholar and


an orator, Woodrow
Brief Wilson led the USA
Bio through World War I
and various other
conflicts closer to home. He also
created the Federal Reserve
and gave American women the
vote, leaving a legacy of voting
rights, business reform and true
attempts at world peace.

85
US Presidents

The Mexican William Howard Taft but former president


Theodore Roosevelt, unhappy with his successor
Revolution
With a certain conflict going on in Europe
as Republican leader, formed the Progressive Party
and split the vote, allowing Democrat Wilson a
at the time, its easy to forget how bloody runaway victory. Wilsons first act while in power
and significant the Mexican Revolution was what he called the Triple Wall of Privilege.
was. A ten-year struggle ended with the Beginning with the Underwood-Simmons Act,
fall of a 30-year-long dictatorship that tax rates were reduced and loans were made
had changed the social climate of the
more accessible to the average American. Now,
country. The people had long voiced their
discontent towards president Porfirio small business could compete with the elite
Daz, whose policies favoured only the industrialists throughout the nation. This was
elite. Revolutionary Francisco Madero followed by the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act that
was defeated in a rigged election in 1910 allowed labour unions to conduct strikes, boycotts
and this was the final straw for many as and picketing. The Federal Reserve System was A Liberty Loan drive in front of City Hall, New Orleans. A
revolt turned to revolution. Government banner reads Food will win the war dont waste it
overhauled to regulate the economy, a procedure
strongholds were raided by guerrilla
leaders and Daz was out of office within a
that is still place today, and the tax system was the USA promising to send money and munitions
year. Maderos regime was doomed from altered so the wealthy would be forced to pay a across the Atlantic but the proposal was flatly
the start and the slow pace of reform higher amount than the poorer in society. All rejected. The USA even mediated with Germany
dissatisfied other guerrilla leaders. Civil war seemed rosy for the new president, but this also came to nothing. The turning
was upon the nation. but a storm was brewing in the old point came in 1917 when the sinking
The US waded into the conflict in world. Wilsons first year turned of the Lusitania and the continued
1915 with President Wilson declaring his
out to be bittersweet after his
Woodrow torpedoing of American ships by
support for one of the leaders, Venustiano
Carranza. This enraged Carranzas new wife died from kidney disease, was Wilsons unrestricted German submarine
main rival Pancho Villa, who raided leaving him in a daze for days. mothers maiden warfare, led Wilson to ask
towns over the border and murdered He only eventually moved Congress to go to war. The US
17 US citizens in January 1916. Carranza
name, but he was
on a few years later when he entered the war as an associated
successfully became president but by 1920 became romantically involved known by his real first power in April of that year and
he too had fallen from grace. Soldier and name Tommy in
with widow Edith Bolling Galt. the US Doughboys helped turn
statesmen lvaro Obregn became leader
and guided Mexico into an era of sporadic They married in December 1915 his youth the war in the favour of Britain and
violence but a more stable leadership. and Wilson was so trustworthy of France. After Germanys surrender,
his new wife that he even allowed Wilson proposed his Fourteen Points
her to access confidential Oval ahead of the meeting at Versailles to discuss
Office documents. the creation of the new League of Nations and above
When World War I broke out in Europe in 1914, all, world peace. He, like British Prime Minister David
Wilson took action and declared his country Lloyd George, wanted to a tow a more moderate
neutral, later adopting the winning campaign line with the defeated Germany but the French
slogan He kept us out of war during the 1916 Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau won out
election. A peace protocol was sent to Britain with with his harsher methods. Another decision went

Defining moment Defining moment


Presidential election The Treaty of Versailles
1912 28 June 1919
The 1912 US election was a three horse race. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, French
Current president Taft appealed to the nations big Prime Minister Frances Clemenceau and Wilson draw up
businesses, while Wilson and Roosevelt had the terms for the fate of the defeated Germany and Austria-
support of the middle and lower classes. Wilson Hungary. Each leader brought their own terms to the
gained the upper hand when he outlined his vision table and despite Wilsons plea for a fair and lasting
of a president that could inspire the middle classes peace; public anger means Clemenceaus aggressive
to take on the countrys largest firms. In the end, policies are favoured. The result of the treaty is the Alsace
A 1914 cartoon suggesting how President Lorraine being given to France along with the German
Wilson was fueling the business prosperity he benefitted further from Roosevelt splitting
pump with his own new legislation from the Republican Party. This divided his rivals Saar coalfields. Major cuts to the armed forces and huge
votes, allowing him to get the upper hand. Overall reparation payments bring Germany to its knees and
the three men oversaw what was known as the inadvertently, the big three have set the wheels in motion
for World War II.
Timeline Progressive Era in the United States.

1856
O A president is born O University of Virginia O Elected president of O Into the White House O Occupation of Haiti
Thomas Woodrow Wilson is Wilson enters university Princeton University A Republican split helps After the assassination
born on the 28 December with the aim of being a The popular Wilson teaches at award the presidency to of the Haitian president
in Staunton, Virginia. The lawyer but despite passing Princeton for over 15 years and Wilson. One of first things in July, Wilson sends US
son of a preacher man, he his exams in 1882, he serves as president for another he does is the Owen-Glass Marines onto the island
suffers in his school years changes tack and becomes eight, showcasing his outstanding or Federal Reserve Act, in an attempt to maintain
due to what is believed to a political science professor oratory and communication skills which established regional order. The occupation lasts
be dyslexia. at Princeton University. as he inspires the students. reserve banks in the USA. until 1934.
1856 1879 1902 1913 1915

86
Woodrow Wilson

against Wilson back home as Congress declined relations took a turn for the worse during the
the opportunity to join the League of Nations, forced occupation of Nicaragua in 1914 and similar
weakening the ultimately doomed League as it was events against political rebels in Haiti and the
just starting out. Dominican Republic in the following two years.
After the dust from the Great War had settled, Most prominent though was the messy American
Wilsons first act was to address the rapidly involvement in the Mexican Revolution.
escalating womens suffrage movement. Women These heavy handed military
having the vote wasnt something Wilson responses were completely at
had thought long and hard about and he was odds with Wilsons successful
Wilsons
initially against the movement when a group handling of the United States face adorns
of suffragists held a protest outside the White role in World War I and it is the $100,000
House that turned violent and resulted in several claimed that he struggled to dollar bill used
arrests. Wilson was initially appalled by their agree with the Republican
actions but changed tack after hearing of police majority in the Senate.
in the Federal
brutality towards the women, sympathising him While campaigning for Reserve
to the cause. In January 1918, in a speech to the the USA to join the League
Senate, he endorsed a womans right to vote as of Nations, Wilson fell ill from
well as personal written appeals to members of exhaustion and suffered the second serious
Congress. This resulted in the passing of the 19th stroke of his life but he recovered enough to
Amendment on 18 August 1920. accept the Nobel Peace Prize in 1920 for his
As well as his initial resistance to women efforts for post-war peace. He never recovered
having the vote, Wilson has been criticised for fully from his stroke, however, and his wife now
his allowance of the Jim Crow segregation laws had to help him with decision-making. Her help
and a foreign policy that brought mixed results. was so frequent that many saw her as the first
His lax attitude towards the treatment of African female US president. The now disabled Wilson
Americans is a major sticking point in any left office in 1921 after being physically unable
analysis of his presidency and was a devastating to campaign for another term after his cerebral
blow to the African Americans of the US who haemorrhage. He moved to a private residence
had been convinced that Wilson would offer in Washington, DC and retired there until his
an improvement on the harsh conditions under death on 3 February 1924. He is buried at the Wilson received a warm welcome in Europe. He was the
first president to visit the continent while in office
Taft and Roosevelt. It was completely at odds Washington National Cathedral.
with Wilsons otherwise democratic and peaceful
visions for the world.
As for foreign policy, a treaty with Columbia
Women having the vote wasnt
formally apologised for American aggression
during the 1903 Panama Revolution while the
something Wilson had thought about and
1912 Panama Canal Act prevented US ships from
paying a toll to access the canal. However, foreign
he was initially against the movement
Defining moment
Birth of the League of Nations
1920
The League of Nations was created to ensure that
conflicts like World War I would never happen again.
Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it was first
proposed by Wilson as part of his Fourteen Points
proposal. The League had the power to call on nations to
discuss disputes and could dish out economic sanctions
against aggressor countries. However, this involved
countries being a member and as Germany was not
invited, it could act without fear and it did when the Nazi
regime came to power. Even more humiliating was the The harsh terms laid out by the Treaty of Versailles
fact that, despite Wilsons pleas, the USA didnt join either. enraged both the German people and members of the
new Weimar elite
The League had failed already.

1924
O To war in Europe O Fourteen Points O Nobel Prize winner/ O Out of office Death O
Despite previously having the After the wars end, Wilson Paris peace conference Despite suffering his Spending his remaining years
campaign slogan He kept us draws up the Fourteen Wilsons role as the architect second stroke, Wilson seriously disabled, Woodrow
out of the war, Wilsons hand Points, an international behind the League of Nations does continues on as president Wilson passes away in his
is forced after the sinking of peace plan that proposes not go unnoticed and the president until 1921. He is helped home in Washington DC
the Lusitania and continued a peace plan for Versailles wins a Nobel Peace Prize despite through by wife Edith, who aged 67 on 3 February. He
German submarine activity in including an idea for a the USA refusing to approve some say became the first is buried at Washington
the Atlantic. League of Nations. membership to the League. female president. National Cathedral.
1917 1918 1919 1921 1924
Alamy

87
US Presidents

29 WARREN G HARDING
Republican, 1865 1923

During his time in


office and even
Brief though he overturned
Bio some progressive
politics, Warren G
Harding was thought to have
conducted himself reasonably
well. So much so that, upon
his death, a nation mourned.
But when the truth about
the administration was later
revealed, his three years in
office were seen as the most
corrupt of all time.
Warren
G Harding
was never directly
implicated in the
corruption scandals
which rocked his
administration

1921 1923

Warren G
Harding
Hardings administration is believed to have been the most
corrupt of any president, covering up scandal after scandal

T
here are some things you do not expect a a return to normalcy promising to put America
president of America to say. I am not fit back on its feet following the arduous years of
for this office and should never have been World War I. He was rather out of his depth, a man
here is one of them. Yet uttered to Columbia primarily of style rather than substance but, as
University president Nicholas Murray Butler Harry Daugherty who had pushed for Harding to
in 1922, these were the words of Warren G Harding become the Republican nominee in 1920 said, he at
himself and unfortunately, many would come to least looked like a president.
agree with his pessimistic outlook. It was Hardings wife, Florence, rather than the
Harding was the 29th US president and was man himself, who dearly wanted Harding to push
inaugurated in 1921. He rode on a ticket of stability for office. The pair had married in 1891 when he

88
Warren G Harding

tried to win Senate approval for Americas sign-up


The presidents child but Hardings subsequent stance killed all future
In 1927, one of Hardings string of lovers, Nan hope and it was feared that the country would
Britton who was 31 years his junior, wrote a
become isolationist.
book in which she made claims that the pair
had a daughter called Elizabeth. The book, The Even so, Harding oversaw much change at home.
Presidents Daughter, added to the volume of He signed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921
scandal which engulfed Harding in death but it which provided a national budget system and
also led to Britton being vilified by the American allowed for an independent audit of government
people for offering no concrete proof. accounts. Taxes were reduced for those in power,
In 2015, descendants of the Harding family
he advocated civil rights for African Americans
approached Brittons grandson, James Blaesing,
and a DNA test was performed. In August that and he wanted equality of education. Harding also
year, the results showed that a grandnephew signed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act which
and grandniece of Harding were second cousins funded child and health centres and sought to
of Blaesing and proved Elizabeth to be Hardings look after ill children. But he was against racial
biological child. mixing and the Per Centum Act of 1921 reduced
immigration numbers.
Many of Hardings policies sought to reverse
those of his predecessor and they lifted the Harding ran a highly successful campaign
in 1920, defeating Democratic challengers
spending control which had been put in place James M Cox and Franklin D Roosevelt
during World War I. At the same time, he was a
hands-off president in many respects, preferring
to allow his cabinet members to do the work Life in the time
and remain the handsome figurehead. But his
lack of true control over his administration led to
of Warren G
problems, the most notable of which was a bribery Harding
incident known as the Teapot Dome scandal.
Albert Fall was the secretary of the interior Women could vote
The 1920 election was the first in which
under Harding and he was found, during the women across the United States could vote.
presidents administration, to be dishing The 1916 election had only allowed women in
out cheap drilling licenses on federal 30 states to participate rather than the full 48
Warren land in Wyoming and California to four years later, a victory for womens suffrage
his friends in the oil industry, in following decades of struggle.
was born on a
return for generous bribes. The
was 25 and she was 31. Florence
farm as the eldest wrongdoing only came to light
Alcohol was banned
Prohibition was law throughout Hardings
was said to be energetic and of eight children by after Hardings time as president; presidency. It forbade anyone from selling,
ambitious but whether she Phoebe and George he died of a heart attack while in producing, importing or transporting alcoholic
had a great influence on him is office at the age of 57, meaning that beverages and it also led to a large rise in
Harding organised crime, with Mafia groups organising
uncertain. What is known is that he never witnessed the fallout that so
she had been by his side during badly tarnished his memory. huge bootlegging operations to satiate a
nations thirst.
his days as a newspaper publisher in a The furore dragged on for years with
small town in Ohio and that she had helped Fall becoming the first ex-cabinet member to be
Radio becomes popular
his four-page weekly Marion Star to flourish. In jailed for committing a crime during time in office Commercial radio stations began broadcasting
doing so it allowed the former newspaper reporter in 1931. Harding had known there were problems on 27 August 1920 in Detroit and Pittsburgh.
who had bought the paper for $300 time to within his administration and he felt betrayed by The following year WBZ in Springfield MA was
schmooze with his close business friends, and his some of those around him but he was loathe to the first to get a commercial license and by
many associates in local government. make them public and that was unforgivable in the 1922 radio boomed in popularity, opening up
communication like never before. WBZ radio
As a good orator and a member of many eyes of American citizens.
continues to operate from Boston today.
corporate organisations, Harding moved in It didnt help that Fall was only one of a few
powerful circles and became a firm believer in government officials feathering their own nests. Negro National League
the politics of the Republican Party. In 1899, he Harding knew Charles Forbes, director of the Organised sport was segregated and so in
was elected a state senator for Ohio and became Veterans Bureau, had illegally sold government baseball in 1920, the Negro National League
a lieutenant governor in 1903 for a year. He failed medical supplies, for example, and he was aware was formed by Rube Foster for African-
to become the governor in 1910 but was elected of a corrupt group called the Ohio Gang, headed Americans. It grew over the early part of the
decade as it expanded into the south. The
to the United States Senate in 1914. Chosen by the by the private secretary of Attorney General Harry
Great Depression caused it to disband in 1931
Republican Party as their nominee, he won the Daugherty. Little wonder a poll in 1948 would rank with the Chicago American Giants having won
presidential election of 1920 with 60 per cent of the him bottom in terms of presidential popularity. five of the 12 titles.
popular vote against Democrat James M Cox. And yet the scandals continued to emerge. In
One of the key questions asked of Harding 1964, letters from Harding to a long-term mistress Charlie Chaplin dominates
during his presidential campaign was his position called Carrie Fulton Philips were unearthed. They The comic actor and director Charlie Chaplin
on the League of Nations, an international body were written before Harding became president, but co-founded United Artists in 1919 and his first
feature-length movie, The Kid, was released in
which was being set up following the war to help only serviced to damage his reputation further.
1921. His silent era movies were popular. The
maintain world peace. He evaded answers until he Some historians have tried to revise the thinking Kid was the second-highest grossing film of
became president, when he pledged his opposition. about his political impact but there is no escaping
Alamy

1921 and it is believed to be one of the eras


His predecessor, President Woodrow Wilson, had that his name will be forever entrenched in mud. greatest movies.

89
US Presidents

30 CALVIN COOLIDGE
Republican, 1872 1933

A man of few words


but a defiant and
Brief steadfast politician,
Bio Calvin Coolidge
garnered national
press when he refused to
give in to the demands of
the disastrous Boston Police
Strike of 1919 while serving as
governor. His status eventually
led to vice presidency under
Warren G Harding in 1920,
before becoming president
after Hardings sudden death.
Elected in his own right in
1924, Coolidge left office with
considerable popularity.

Coolidge
became known
as Silent Cal,
due to this quiet
and sombre
personality
1923 1929

Calvin Coolidge
A reserved small government conservative by nature, Coolidge
would become known for his decisive nature in the White House

J
ohn Calvin Coolidge Jr was born on 4 July 1897, hed trained as a county law lawyer and soon
1872 in Plymouth Notch, Vermont. The eldest opened his own practice.
of two sons, Coolidge grew up in an typical It was here that Coolidges political destiny began to
middle-class family of the late 19th century. manifest. Known for a quiet demeanour outside the
Neither poor nor particularly rich, the Coolidge courtroom, but a shrewd and diligent manner within,
name was still a well-distributed one thanks to he was soon elected to the local city council in 1898.
his fathers experience in politics (he eventually Identifying with the conservatism of the Republican
became a justice of the peace) and agriculture. Party, Coolidge found a position that supported the
Most of his family had a background in farming, issues he believed in, including fiscal conservatism
but the younger Coolidge showed an aptitude for and the support of the suffragette movement.
learning at an early age and soon excelled through From there he began a steady ascendance
his education, earning a reputation as a voracious through the world of state politics that brought
debater. After completing his graduation, Coolidge him to almost every significant seat of office
moved to Northampton, Massachusetts under his Massachusetts could provide. He became a member
fathers insistence and pursued a career in law. By of the local House of Representatives (echoing his

90
Calvin Coolidge

Coolidge vs the Boston


Police strike
So what caused the Boston Police Department
to go on strike in 1919? It all centred around
the BPDs plans to set up an independent
union and the governments opposition to
such a move. When the leaders of the move
to unionise were suspended, three quarters
of the citys police force went on strike on 9
September, causing riots and civil disobedience
across Boston. Coolidge called in the National
Guard to restore order and personally oversaw
the remaining BPD officers. In an age of
constant fear over Communist invasion,
Coolidge believed the police had a duty to
protect the people and therefore did not have
the right to strike.

Coolidge poses for a photograph with his


fathers achievement), where he made a name for a decisive victory over his Democrat opponent. vice president, Charles G Dawes
himself by refusing to follow the popular vote of Now reaffirmed by public confidence, Coolidge was
his fellow Republicans.
In 1911, Coolidge ran for State Senator and
finally able to pursue those key tenets and beliefs
of his political idealism: he enforced considerable Life in the
defeated his Democrat rival by a considerable
margin. Serving for just under three years as
tax cuts, limited government spending and staffed
regulatory commissions with those sympathetic to
time of Calvin
Senator, Coolidge eventually became president building the United States domestic businesses. Coolidge
of the Senate in 1914 before becoming lieutenant Those policies helped foster the cultural and
governor two years later. It was then that he began economic boom of the Roaring Twenties, a period Economic expansion
Under Coolidges presidency, the United States
to place his focus on the role that would that stood in stark contrast to the reserved saw a proactive shift away from the economic
catapult him onto the national stage: and sombre man at the helm of the malaise of Hardings time in office. Taxes
state governor. nations future. Spending and lending were cut and only the top 2% of earners paid
It was here Coolidge would Under skyrocketed as Americans embraced income tax, while Coolidge shaved a quarter of
garner the attention of the Coolidge, the excess, while Coolidges high tariffs the countrys federal debt.
higher powers in the capital. United States saw on imported goods also fostered
Consumer society
After winning the seat by the a renewed domestic confidence
its first laws designed The national wealth of the United States
slimmest of margins, he faced in the strength the nations own practically doubled between 1920 and 1929,
the biggest obstacle of his career to regulate radio products and industries. which saw a rise in a consumer culture that the
thus far: the Boston Police strike broadcasts His popular public image led nation had never experienced. From fashion
(see Coolidge vs the Boston Police many to believe he would easily to music and beyond, national trends in all
passed areas of culture swept cities and towns across
strike). His refusal to kowtow to the win re-election in the 1928 presidential
the land.
demands of the strike and his calm election, but the death of his father and
demeanour in the face of such a widely youngest son, coupled with the monumental
An equal voice
covered event spoke volumes. stress of office, were enough to convince Coolidge The 19th Amendment, introduced into US law
More importantly, his public speeches regarding otherwise and he announced his desire to leave office in 1920, finally gave women the right to vote.
the need to protect public safety sent his approval at the end of his term at the beginning of 1929, to the And while society was still far from equal,
rating soaring through the roof and as the 1920 considerable surprise of some. female citizens enjoyed, to a certain extent,
presidential election season loomed, Coolidge was In October, the US economys excessive spending a greater sense of cultural freedom. This also
led to the popularisation of the flapper image
nominated as the Republican candidate for the sparked the Stock Market Crash and the nation
women who dressed how they wished and
vice presidency. Attached to the presidential ticket was sent spiralling into an era of depression. Were said what they wanted.
of popular figure Warren G Harding, Coolidge Coolidges small governmental policies solely to
was now being readied for a position in the most blame for the nations selfish notions of economic The age of jazz
powerful office in the nation. status? Not entirely those seeds had be sown long Music exploded into life during this period,
While Hardings connection to corrupt officials before Coolidge took office, but his failure to aid and the blues-infused tones of jazz became
within government and the military would the depressed agricultural sector and the uneven the sound of the times. Jazz clubs sprung up
across the country, radio stations embraced
posthumously erode his popularity, the duo of distribution of wealth caused by his considerable
it wholeheartedly and phonograph sales
Harding and Coolidge provided the perfect mixture tax cuts accelerated the process. skyrocketed (100 million records were sold in
of charm and composure and the duo won the By the time of his death on 5 January 1933, his 1927 alone).
election by a landslide. However, Harding died popularity had largely soured among the American
three years later of a sudden cerebral haemorrhage public, with many demonising his policies as the Prohibition
on 2 August 1923 and Coolidge was sworn in as root cause of the countrys destitution. Coolidge Perhaps one of the most famous factors
president a few hours later. was a man who believed in empowering the people of the 1920s, Prohibition began with the
passing of the 18th Amendment. This new
His policies of transparency (especially in the it just so happened that empowerment also led
law prohibited the sale of liquor with a proof
wake of corruption unearthed in the wake of many of them to act irrationally, forever binding higher than 0.5%. This drove the sale of
Hardings death) would serve him well, and he his American conservatism with the contrasting alcohol underground and facilitated the rise of
successfully won the 1924 presidential election in implosion of the economy. gangsters and organised crime.

91
US Presidents

31 HERBERT HOOVER
Republican, 1874 1964

A man of the people


who just happened
Brief to be a self-made
Bio millionaire, would-be
economic visionary
Herbert Hoover rose to power
on a wave of popularity. But
when the Great Depression
tore through America in the
first years of his reign, Hoover
found himself shouldering the
blame, his reputation ruined
for decades.

In
1927 Hoover
became the first
person to appear
on television in
America, during a
demonstration for
the media
1929 1933

Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoovers dreams of a rich United States collapsed alongside
its shattered economy, but was he really the man to blame?

H
erbert Hoover became infamous as the his fortunes took a turn for the better. As a mining
president who presided over the Great engineer Hoover travelled the world, making his
Depression, a man who stepped back when name in Australia before moving to China with
his country needed him most. His handling his young family. He was there when the Boxer
of the crisis caused his downfall, but was Rebellion broke out and found himself invaluable
there more to Hoover than the dam and the when US Marines called upon his local knowledge
depression, or did his economic policies bring a to navigate the relatively unknown local terrain. A
nation to its knees? return to Australia followed, by which time Hoover
Hoover was born in Iowa as the son of a Quaker; had already made his fortune.
orphaned at the age of nine, his new guardians His first entry into public life came at the
instilled in their charge a strong work ethic and outbreak of World War I when he planned
though academic success did not come easily to and implemented measures aimed at bringing
the young man, once he was admitted to Stanford, American citizens home from Europe. His cool

92
Herbert Hoover

head, financial astuteness and gift for organisation When the stock market crashed, the economy
proved vital as he took charge of the distribution of collapsed. Businesses closed, unemployment
money, food, travel documents and anything else soared and even banks were shutting their doors
that might be required to ensure no Americans as borrowers defaulted on their loans in their
would be stranded overseas. Upon hearing of the thousands. People lost their homes and the
crisis in Belgium, where German occupation had ironically-named Hooverville shanty towns began
resulted in serious food shortages, he took on his to appear, as the homeless multitude searched
next mission and employed the same approach desperately for shelter.
to ensure that relief was distributed where it was Hoover attempted to put in place financial
most needed. Unsurprisingly, Hoovers name was measures that would help the hardest hit. Still he
soon known in the highest circles and in 1917, maintained that caring for the disenfranchised in a
Democrat President Woodrow Wilson community was not strictly a government
appointed him as head of the US responsibility, but a local one, a mantra
Food Administration. that led some to conclude that he
Now firmly enmeshed in Hoovers had chosen to distance himself at
American politics, Hoover adventurous first his countrys time of need. For
continued his aid efforts lady, Lou, carried a Hoover, the presidency he had
both at home and abroad, entered with such high hopes had
impressing Wilson and leading pistol when she lived become a poisoned chalice and
him to conclude that Hoover in China and wasnt though he grudgingly decided to Though he was left embittered after his
time in office, Hoover would eventually
was his natural successor as afraid to use it run for a second term, Hoover had
rebuild his shattered reputation
president. Hoover, however, had no serious hope of winning. On the
other ideas; never a Democrat, it was campaign trail he was jeered, his train
in the new Republican administration splattered with eggs and his speeches Life in the time
that he finally joined the cabinet as Secretary
of Commerce.
heckled; when the votes were counted, he had
lost the presidency to Franklin D Roosevelt.
of Herbert
Passionate about efficiency in business at home
and making the best of American opportunities
Hoover left the White House not a broken
man, but a changed one. Bitter and disillusioned,
Hoover
overseas, he introduced an enthusiastic programme he convinced himself that the Democrats had America on wheels
undermined him, driving the country to ruin so In 1908, the Model T Ford hit the market and
of policies, including the introduction of long-term
within a decade, it was the most popular car
mortgages intended to ensure that people could own that they might ride to the rescue. His retirement
on Americas roads. Affordable to buy and
their homes outright. from public life brought a new peace and he took cheap to run, the Model T brought the fun of
On top of that, Hoovers efforts to bring aid to comfort in writing, fishing and philanthropy. He motoring to the working man and became an
those hit by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 briefly dreamt of running for the presidency again American icon.
showed off his credentials as a man of the people. in 1936 and 1940, but in the end his tarnished
With his reputation and profile riding high, when the reputation put paid to the schemes. Alcohol dries up
With the introduction of Prohibition in 1920,
presidential election rolled around in 1928, he knew When President Truman needed someone to
sale and production of alcohol became illegal
that it would be his year. visit war-ravaged Germany in 1946 he turned to in the United States. Bootleggers fed the need
Hoover won by a landslide and the order of Hoover, remembering his skills both during and for booze, organised crime grew rich on the
the day was reform. He put in place numerous after WWI. It was the start of the long road that profits and speakeasies became the place to
programmes that he believed would improve the would rebuild his public standing. meet until prohibition ended in 1933.
lot of all Americans, young or old, rich or poor. Ill health blighted the former presidents later
He envisioned a partnership between private and years, but by the time Herbert Hoover died in 1964, The talkies arrive
1927 saw the release of The Jazz Singer, the
public bodies in which they fostered one another his standing was restored. The three decades that
first talking picture. Starring Al Jolson, the
and strengthened the economy without central had passed since Hoovers presidency had done film revolutionised the cinema business and
intervention yet these beliefs, honed during his much to rehabilitate this once maligned statesman as sound became cheaper and more popular
years as an engineer, would meet their match when and prove that he was capable of far more than his audiences began to desert silent movies, some
the Great Depression shattered the United States. ill-fated single term suggested. careers were ended for good.

Presidents under ire


During Hoovers lifetime, three US Presidents
The Great Depression were assassinated and five survived attempts
When the Wall Street Crash shook the
on their lives. Among the lucky ones was
American economy in 1929, the Great
Hoover himself, who escaped a would-be
Depression followed in its wake. In a country
bomber during a 1928 trip to Argentina. His
rife with debt, where banks had issued loans
captured assassin, an anarchist name Severino
freely and the public had happily taken them,
Di Giovanni, was executed.
when manufacturing slowed and businesses
began to close, the impact was devastating.
Unemployment rose at an unprecedented
The frozen food revolution
In 1930, Clarence Birdseye launched a new
rate and when even the banks began to
range of frozen vegetables, swiftly adding
close their doors, homelessness soared. The
meat and fish options to his offerings. Frozen
Great Depression became a defining moment
food brought a new, convenient approach
in modern American history, capturing the
to shopping and cooking to the American
imagination of authors and artists and shaking
home and made Birdseye a rich man and a
the country for a generation.
household name that endures to this day.

93
US Presidents

1933 1945

Franklin D
Roosevelt
At the height of the Great Depression an
32 FRANKLIN D
ROOSEVELT
unlikely candidate stepped forward to help the Democrat, 1882 1945

The only president


US through some of its darkest years Brief to be elected four
times, Franklin D
Bio Roosevelt helped the

W
US to transition out
hen Franklin D Roosevelt won his first Roosevelt sought to rectify these problems of the Great Depression with
presidential election in 1933 he was with a range of domestic programs called the his revoltionary New Deal.
He would later oversee his
taking command of a country in crisis. New Deal. It focused on what were known as
countrys entry into World War
He ran on the Democratic ticket with the three Rs, relief, recovery and reform. Relief II following the bombing of
a desire to help the average American was the immediate action that was taken to Pearl Harbor, and remains one
of the most significant figures in
citizen. He had his job cut out for him as the halt further economic failure. Recovery saw American history.
national average rate for unemployment was temporary programs implemented to restart
one in four, but in some cities and industries consumer spending and reform saw more
that figure was as high as 50 per cent. permanent programmes put in place to
A staggering 13 million Americans avoid another crash and safeguard
were without work and some savings. With these actions the
were going hungry. To make American people began to see
matters worse, the country Franklin D hope in the new Democratic
was also in dire financial Roosevelt is the only Party. The Republicans
straits. Since the crash on president to have been under Hoover had said
Wall Street 4,000 banks the worst was over and
had closed for good, and
elected four times, with only hard work and
by 1933 that number rose the support of 36 out of 48 determination would see
to more than 9,000, with states in the last election the United States though,
$2.5 billion in lost deposits. but these had actually turned
before his death
This resulted in millions of out to be either dismal lies or
Americans losing their savings woeful predictions.
if they arrived at the bank too Some of Roosevelts more
late, there would simply be no money to conservative supporters felt betrayed
withdraw. The panics raised troubling questions by his actions, however. Indeed many of
about credit value and many started to question those from inside his own party viewed him
capitalism itself. Something needed to be done to with disdain, seeing him as rich, spoiled and
avert catastrophe. Acting as soon as he entered unwilling to cooperate. Here was a man who
office, Roosevelt and Congress declared a four- was taking money away from big business and
day bank holiday and emergency banking then reinvesting it into the working man. Under
acts to help stem the outpouring of the nations Roosevelt, a huge federal bureaucracy would
wealth. He also managed to instill confidence in grow that was designed to prop up the average
the country with his rousing inauguration speech American who was down on his luck. This might
featuring the quote, The only thing we have to seem a little surprising considering his childhood
fear is fear itself. and background.

94
Franklin D Roosevelt

The last photograph of FDR, taken the day


before his death

Life in the time


of Franklin D
Roosevelt
Dance to forget
Some of the Roaring Twenties nightlife carried
over into the next decade, with flocks of
young people descending on ballrooms and
dance halls where the swing bands would play.
This would serve as a welcome distraction
from the realities of real life.

A call to serve
your country
For the first time in its history the US initiated
a peacetime draft for men from 21-36 years of
age in 1940. FDR was famous for promising
the mothers of the United States that he
would not send their sons to fight in foreign
wars, WWII would change that.

The United States had


become isolationist
After WWI many Americans were in favour of
adopting an isolationist policy. Keen to avoid
more bloodshed that they had witnessed
just a few years previously, anti-war feelings
were strong even as the Axis powers ravaged
Europe. It would take the attack on Pearl
Harbor to bring the US into WWII.

The world was changing


In just a few short years between the wars,
people saw technology jump forward in leaps
and bounds. Machines like aeroplanes, which
at the turn of the century were little more than
a curiosity, would evolve massively in peoples
lifetimes to revolutionise global travel, trade
and warfare.

Mouths to feed
Aid for citizens hit hard by the Great
Depression could come from many directions,
not just the government. Notorious gangster
Al Capone opened one of the very first soup
kitchens in Chicago in 1931, feeding the masses
of unemployed who were on the street
desperate to find work.

95
US Presidents

The irst lady served as assistant secretary of the navy under


Woodrow Wilson and ran as the vice president
of the world on the Democratic ticket for the 1920 election. It
was a dismal failure and the Democratic Party
Eleanor Roosevelt, fifth cousin once
removed and wife to Franklin D Roosevelt,
lost by a wide margin.
was a formidable political figure in A defining factor in Roosevelts life, and
American politics. From her support of one that almost made his political aspirations
FDR through his illness, serving as first come crashing down, was his battle with polio.
lady through his four terms, to her work at Diagnosed from 1921 he completely lost the use
the UN she was not someone to live in her of his legs and took measures to not appear in
husbands shadow.
public in a wheelchair, feeling self-conscious
She had met Franklin on a train in
1902 and from there they had begun a and thinking that it would make him look
secret correspondence that turned into weak. Although he was never able to recover
a romance. Although Franklins mother the use of his legs, he did manage to walk short
disapproved of the match the pair were distances with the help of some crutches and
married on 17 March 1905. Unfortunately steel braces, though that is not to say he didnt
it was not to be happily ever after as
try every possible cure available to him, even
Franklins affair with a secretary would
force Eleanor to give him an ultimatum:
Roosevelt walks with James M Cox during their failed going so far as to purchase Warm Springs resort
presidential campaign of 1920
end the relationship or divorce. He chose in Georgia, which would later be open to other
to end the relationship but the episode had patients. While his personal efforts were
shown Eleanor that she should pursue her Franklin D Roosevelt was born unsuccessful his work would help
own happiness in public life. into an old, prominent and above thousands of other sufferers battle
As a staunch supporter of civil rights she
helped sway the African-American vote,
all rich, Dutch family in the Roosevelt was the affliction and he would also
that were usually pointing Republican,
Hudson Valley town of Hyde the first president later help fund a vaccine.
Park. Being tutored at home While still struggling
to become a consistent base for the
from a young age he did
to make his inaugural with health issues FDR was
Democratic Party.
After her husbands passing Eleanor not interact with many address over the radio. convinced to make a return
became the first chairperson for the United other children his own Citizens from all over the to politics and in 1928 he
Nations Commission of Human Rights and age. His mother Sara was became the governor for the
stayed in the position until 1947. In the country tuned in just
a particularly prominent state of New York. From here
1950s she embarked on an exhaustive
influence throughout his to hear his famous he had a great opportunity to
touring schedule both at home and abroad
on behalf of the UN and the work she did childhood, but he was also speech win the presidential election in
there. In 1962 she passed away after a close with his father and the 1932. He was inaugurated in 1933
battle with a rare bone marrow disease. family took frequent trips together as the 32nd president of the US.
to Europe. Roosevelt is often praised for his
While his schooling and higher educational foresight into future events, the most significant
years would bring him little joy he flourished example being the rise of Nazi Germany and the
as a lawyer, passing the bar exam in 1907. danger this posed to democratic countries all
Becoming heavily involved in politics he over the world. As the United States had adopted

Defining moment
Diagnosed with polio
August 1921
It would be in Campobello Island, Canada where FDR would
hear this life-changing news. Losing the use of his legs
dashes his political aspirations and Roosevelt resigns himself
to living the life of a patient, but Eleanor persuades him to
continue on his career path. Although the many forms of
Eleanor Roosevelt transcended her treatment he would try would not return his leg function, he
role as first lady to become an adept
politician in her own right teaches himself to walk short distances with leg braces and a
pair of crutches. For the rest of his life he would be a strong
supporter of polio research and would open a treatment
centre for patients at Warm Springs, Georgia.
Timeline
1896
O A rude awakening O Graduated Harvard O Tying the knot O Passes New York state O Appointed assistant O Nominated to run as
After being home University FDR marries his sweetheart, bar examination secretary of the Navy vice president
schooled for years Surprisingly Roosevelt did not Eleanor Roosevelt, a niece After graduating and A firm believer that the Roosevelt is named as
FDR is sent to board excel while at Harvard and of ex-president Theodore passing the bar exam US needed a larger naval the Democratic vice
at Groton School in was by all accounts a rather Roosevelt and his fifth Roosevelt takes a position presence, Roosevelt presidential candidate
Massachusetts. Due to average student. After taking cousin once removed. at Carter Ledyard took to this position with alongside James M Cox,
this, and his privileged four years of economics The two would have a & Milburn, a highly fervour, earning him a but the pair lose the 1920
upbringing, he found classes Roosevelt reportedly marriage complicated by prestigious Wall Street law reputation as an energetic election to Republicans
it difficult to fit in and said Everything I was taught an overbearing mother and firm that deals mainly with and hard-working Warren G Harding and
make friends. was wrong. Franklins infidelities. corporate law cases. Democratic man. Calvin Coolidge
1896 24 June 1903 17 March 1905 1907 April 1913 1920

96
Franklin D Roosevelt

His influence was cemented as the US


established itself as a world power
was thought to be a rather Machiavellian move American navy at Pearl Harbor. This single act
by his critics. immediately galvanised the public and put the
Roosevelt also began a constant stream of whole country behind the president when war
correspondence with British prime minister was declared the following day.
Winston Churchill so that he was kept up to After 12 years in the White House, Roosevelts
date with events across the Atlantic. influence was cemented as the US
Not wanting to wait to take emerged from the ashes of WWII
action, he decided that the to establish itself as a world
United States would be the This president was power. His foresight would
Arsenal of Democracy if not shy to the fact come into play again as he
the country couldnt openly was instrumental in the
fight, it could at least supply that he enjoyed a drink, construction of the United
those that did. Roosevelt so much so that he is Nations. Unfortunately he
achieved this goal via the sometimes credited with would never see it come
lend-lease programme, in to fruition as he died on 12
which the United States
popularising the dirty April 1945.
The official poster for Roosevelts 1944 campaign Harry supplied aid in the form of Martini cocktail During his final years FDR
S Truman. He would go on to win a landslide victory and
secure his fourth term in office oil, food, war planes, ships, cut a gaunt figure as his health
munitions and materials with rapidly deteriorated. He was kept
a strict isolationist policy he could not openly terms stating that the supplies be from the public eye so as to not cause
help the Allied powers of Europe fight against used until returned or destroyed. A total of panic or lower morale in the war years, and
Germany without risking the wrath of Congress $50 billion worth of cargo was shipped out of the so when his death came just months after the
and the American people. He wanted to ready the US, mostly to Britain but also to China, France commencement of his unprecedented fourth
country for war without going against American and the USSR. term in office it shocked the nation.
neutrality. In 1940, a peacetime draft called the This aid would have to reach Europe by ship This was a man who had taken the reigns
Selective Training and Service Act was enforced. and so began a huge operation where tons during the Great Depression, stood up for the
To quell rising fears from the population he of supplies were ferried across the Atlantic. working man and given the country jobs,
promised the parents of the United States that Roosevelt knew these convoys were tempting financial security and most importantly,
he would not send their sons to fight in foreign targets for prowling German U-boats, but if an a future. Hailed as a hero of the American
wars. However when the US finally entered American ship was attacked then it would enable people, he won the hearts of the population
World War II he claimed that it didnt count as him to declare war without fear of a backlash. by promising and delivering fast and effective
a foreign war as it encompassed the globe this On 7 December 1941, however, Japan bombed the action time and time again.

Defining moment Defining moment


Elected president of the A date that will live in infamy
United States 7 December 1941
8 November 1932 With the surprise attack on the US naval base of Pearl
Having a strong political base in the most populated Harbor by the Empire of Japan, the United States loses
state put Roosevelt on good footing for the presidency. interest in its isolationist policy and rallies behind its
In his nomination speech, he stated This is more than president. Having already signed the lend-lease to other
a political campaign. It is a call to arms. Focusing on allied countries, the US had forgone its neutrality with
the citizens hit hardest by the recession, the Democratic entering into army conflict. The unprovoked attack on US
Party found new allies in the workers unions, minority sovereignty, however, could not be ignored and whatever
groups and the more impoverished US citizens. With this dealings that Roosevelt had previously been making under
charged electorit Roosevelt went on to win in all but six the table were no longer necessary. The United States were
states and with 57 per cent of the vote, making him the Roosevelt rides with outgoing president Herbert Hoover now fully committed to the war effort and it would be four
32nd president of the United States. on the day of his inauguration in 1933 costly years until the hostilities would cease.

1945
O Elected governor of New O Champions the First O Re-elected for a O Astoundingly re-elected for a O Successfully re-elected A death that O
York state Hundred Days Second Term third term for a fourth term shook the nation
Roosevelt sets out as programme Buoyed by his At the time, presidents serving With WWII raging the The death of Franklin
a reform governor and By closing the banks on a successes and public for two terms was an unwritten American people once again D Roosevelt is felt
establishes new social special bank holiday and support Roosevelt rule so to run for a third was a choose the leader who has both at home and
policies. Some of these convening Congress to pass smashes the election great risk. Roosevelt says he will seen them through some abroad. It rocks the
prove unpopular as a bomb the Emergency Banking Act, with 60 per cent of only run if he has the backing of of the darkest times in US country to its very
was found addressed to him FDR helps to stabilise the the vote and carries the party. We want Roosevelt history, with the knowledge foundation and a great
but was defused before it recession and restore some all but two states: the world wants Roosevelt was that he would continue to sense of loss is felt by
went off. measure of public trust. Vermont and Maine. the reply. do so. every American.
4 November 1928 5 March 1933 3 November 1936 5 November 1940 7 November 1944 12 April 1945

97
US Presidents

1945 1953

Harry S
Truman
The only president to have used atomic weapons in
war, Truman oversaw radical changes in the post-
war US and faced down the Soviet Union

P
resident Franklin D Roosevelt was always At 16 Harry was living with railroad labour gangs
going to be a tough act to follow. Harry and two years later he was working as a Kansas
Truman was at house speaker Sam Rayburns City bank clerk. He returned to run the family farm
office when came the phone call instructing in 1906, taking over full-time in 1917.
him to come quickly and quietly at just after That same year he embarked for the war
5pm Eastern War Time on 12 April 1945. in Europe with General John J Pershings
Upon being told of the presidents death by expeditionary force. Elected a first lieutenant in the
his wife Eleanor, Truman asked her if there was National Guard, he transformed the ill-disciplined
anything he could do for her. Battery D 129th Field Artillery, 60th Brigade, 35th
Is there anything we can do for Infantry Division into one of the most
you? replied the first lady effective units in the army. Lieutenant
incredulously. You are the one Truman Trumans men knocked out a
who is in trouble now. married Bess German battery during the Muese-
At 7pm a group gathered Argonne offensive of 1918.
in the cabinet room at the
Wallace at the age Truman had also saved a son
White House for the swearing of 35. She was the of one of the Pendergast brothers
in of Truman that included daughter of one of the from an Army court martial. Tom
his wife Bess and daughter wealthiest families and Mike Pendergast controlled
Margaret. Three hours and 14 Kansas and much of Missouris
minutes after the death of FDR,
in Independence, Democrat machine.
the former vice president placed Missouri Following an unsuccessful stint as
his hand on the Bible and recited the a haberdasher, their influence secured
oath of office. Truman the chance to run for a court
The whole weight of the Moon and stars fell on judgeship. By the time he became Senator from
me, he later told the press. Missouri, however, Truman faced sneers that he
He had come a long way from his birthplace of was the Senator from Pendergast.
Lamar, Missouri, a bookish boy whose father had Truman made his name investigating wartime
gone broke trading in wheat futures in 1901 and production, exposing waste and the production
later moved the family to Independence to further of faulty steel. By 1944, he was embroiled in
his sons education. the factional rivalry of the Democratic national
Mama Martha Ellen Truman had used the conventions vice presidential nomination. For
family Bible to teach young Harry to read. By the the liberal-left, the obvious choice was the vice
time he was twelve, he had read the entire Bible president Henry Wallace. Others backed either
and all of Mark Twain twice. He also showed the war mobilisation director James F Byrnes or
promise as a player of classical piano. Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas, both of

98
Harry S Truman

United States forces at war with their


communist counterparts in Korea, 1951

33 HARRY S TRUMAN Life in the


Democrat, 1884 1972

Harry S Truman
time of Harry
Brief
Bio
unexpectedly became
president upon the
death of FDR in April
S Truman
1945. A bookish farm Civil rights
boy from Missouri who had Despite Trumans background, he realised that
fought in World War I, he had his predecessor had dragged his feet on civil
served as a Missouri senator. His rights. He appointed a civil rights commission
administration began on the eve
of the Axis defeat in World War and later legislation provoked a revolt at
II and ended with the United the 1948 Democratic national convention
States committed to a global as Dixiecrats rallied around the governor of
conflict with communism known South Carolina J Strom Thurmond, a noted
as the Cold War. conservative and critic of Truman.

Living standards
The Truman years were characterised by
unprecedented affluence: the national output
of 1946 would double within a decade. By 1951
a typical American family ate two and half tons
of food: the American child in 1950 was two
and a half inches taller than his predecessor
in 1900.

Hollywood and HUAC


When the House of Un-American Activities
went on the warpath in October 1947,
determined to stamp out supposed communist
subversion in Hollywood, they could rely on
the help of reactionary studio bosses such as
Jack Warner, Louis B Mayer and Walt Disney to
name names.

Workers and bosses


Industrial conflict, dormant in the war years,
now reignited. A steel strike in January 1946
brought 800,000 workers out and was
followed by a coal strike in April and a rail
strike in May. Coupled with inflation, strikes
contributed to the Democratic mauling in the
1946 midterm elections.

Ex-soldiers
Hundreds of thousands of servicemen
returned home to start families: the post-
war baby boom would have profound
economic and sociological consequences in
the coming decades. Truman also wanted to
follow up FDRs New Deal with a package of
employment, health, education and insurance
reforms called the Fair Deal in the face of
Getty

fierce Republican opposition.

99
US Presidents

The atomic whom FDR had endorsed. The president himself


came to favour Truman after being warned by his
Hostility to communism was rife within the
political culture of the late 1940s: the 1946 mid-
bombings advisors that the latter would alienate organised
labour and African Americans.
term election brought such young Red-baiting
firebrands as Joseph McCarthy (Wisconsin) and
The decision to unleash the atomic
bomb against imperial Japan has always
Truman demurred at first. On 19 July he was Richard Nixon (California) to public attention.
been Trumans most controversial policy called to a meeting of party bosses where he Rooting out the supposed web of covert spies
decision: the blasts at Hiroshima and overheard FDRs voice from the telephone saying: and saboteurs in the pay of Moscow even reached
Nagasaki killed at least 130,000 Japanese Well you tell the senator that if he wants to break as far as Hollywood (life and times) where the
civilians and left an enduring legacy of up the Democratic Party in the middle of a war future president, Ronald Reagan, as president
radioactive contamination. It has been thats his responsibility. of the Screen Actors Guild, was an enthusiastic
argued that Trumans only alternative
Truman would serve only 82 days as vice scourge of big screen leftism.
to using the atomic bomb would have
been a brutal island-by-island invasion president. The two men were never close. Cleansing American entertainment of alleged
of Japan, costing hundreds of thousands Initially, Truman was overshadowed by communist influence was often a vindictive and
of young American lives as millions of Roosevelt, lacking his charisma and public paranoid business: many Americans blacklisted
fanatical subjects rallied to the emperor. speaking skills. However, the American public by the House of Un-American Activities (HUAC)
But by spring of 1945, Japan was cut off considered him straight-talking, feisty and honest, often had their careers ruined over little more
from South East Asias oil supplies, its
characteristics that played to his advantage during than innuendo and their association with
fleets crippled, its seas and skies open
to attack and the air force resorting to the 1948 Presidential election. others. Truman and his secretary of state Dean
desperate kamikaze suicide attacks. Truman oversaw the conversion of the American Acheson were likewise accused by conservative
Declassified documents now indicate that economy from wartime production to one that Republicans like Nixon of being soft on
Truman and his advisors had estimated emphasised consumerism. He protected communism, to their detriment.
a combined siege and naval blockade the New Deal with a rise in the To the anger of many
together with non-atomic bombings had
minimum wage in 1949 and an conservatives, Acheson had said
at least a chance of forcing a Japanese
surrender before November, and the
expansion of social security. The popular 1948 he stood by Alger Hiss, a State
proposed commencement of Operation He did not roll back many of election cry: Give Department official, after
Olympic, the invasion of Kyushu. But other FDRs wartime interventions his 1950 perjury conviction.
declassified documents now reveal that in the economy, which had
em hell Harry! was met Hiss had been named by
Stalin, in violation of the Yalta Agreements, included state monopolies, with the riposte I never the senior Time magazine
wanted his rapidly advancing forces to wage and price controls. give anybody hell. I just editor Whittaker Chambers
occupy Hokkaido. Moreover the Red Army
However, the immediate tell the truth and they as a Soviet spy when the
did not stop advancing until the official
post-war economy was hobbled latter testified before HUAC in
Japanese surrender on 2 September and
by high inflation and the
think its hell August 1948.
already controlled large parts of Manchuria
and Korea. The atomic bombings almost shortage of many consumer goods But the fear of espionage
certainly represented less the end of such as cars, housing, refrigerators, was not a baseless one during the
WWII as the beginning of the Cold War, sugar and meat. This was also an era Truman era. Newly installed as president,
the ultimate gesture of US military might
of massive industrial unrest: a record 4.6 million Truman had taken Stalin aside at Potsdam on 24
designed to unnerve the Soviets.
workers, one in ten of the labour force, went on
strike in 1946.
During the Truman presidency, the military was Defining moment
desegregated and a federal report on civil rights Foreign Assistance Act signed
was commissioned. His administration was harried 1948
by the Republicans, especially after they captured The devastation of World War II had left Europes economies
in ruins, with millions facing starvation. The European
Congress in the 1946 mid-term elections.
Recovery Program, aka the Marshall Plan, was proposed by
The Democratic Party was challenged by more Trumans secretary of state, George Marshall. In April 1948
factionalism, at least during Trumans first term. freighter John H Quick sailed from Galveston Texas with
The former FDR vice president, later secretary 9,000 tonnes of wheat. Hundreds of vessels containing
of commerce, Henry Wallace, launched the left- essential raw materials and foodstuffs would follow. In
1949 America gave or leant 2.4 per cent of its gross national
wing Progressive Party in December 1947. Truman product. The plan worked. By 1951, the penultimate year of
The atomic mushroom cloud rises over also faced a Dixiecrat revolt in the south over his the program, West Europes industrial production was 43 per
Hiroshima in August 1945 attempts to extend civil rights. cent above prewar levels.

Timeline
1884
O Born in Missouri O Becomes a O Announces VE Day O Truman meets Stalin O Bombing of Hiroshima O Truman Doctrine
Harry is born in Lamar, presiding judge Germany surrenders Truman and Stalin meet for Truman announces the announced
Missouri, though the Truman is sworn in and to the Allied forces on the first time at Potsdam dropping of the atomic Truman requests an
Truman family later serves two four-year terms 7 May 1945. Truman and Truman judges Stalin bomb on Hiroshima by the appropriation of $400 million
moves to Independence in Jackson County Court. announces the surrender as honest but smart as US Air Force B-29 bomber before a joint session of
when he is six. He He becomes the senator to the American public hell. Years later he would Enola Gay. Nagasaki is Congress in order to defeat
meets his future wife from Missouri in 1934, by radio one day later, a admit he had been an bombed three days later, communism in Greece and
Bess Wallace at the First beating his Republican rival little under a month after innocent idealist in the with the two bombings Turkey. The Truman Doctrine
Presbyterian Sunday Roscoe C Patterson by FDRs death made him company of Stalin who killing at least 130,000 was passed and received the
School there. 262,000 votes. 33rd president. privately mocked him. Japanese civilians. support of most Republicans.
8 May 1884 January 1927 8 May 1945 17 July 1945 6 August 1945 12 March 1947

100
Harry S Truman

and the United Nations Charter was signed. In during the winter of 1950-51 constituted arguably
1947 he introduced the Truman Doctrine to the most serious act of insubordination against
provide aid to Greece and Turkey, seeking to an American commander-in-chief in American
prevent them from becoming Soviet supplicants. history. Repeatedly critical of the administration
That same year, Truman instituted the in press statements, MacArthur was
Marshall Plan (see timeline) to rescue determined to take the war into
Europes war-wrecked economies. China itself, overthrowing Maos
By 1948, he had recognised the In January communist regime. He would
State of Israel and that June he 1949, Trumans later reveal in his memoirs that
initiated an airlift of food and he wanted to use a total of 26
supplies to Western-held areas
inauguration was atomic bombs against North
of Berlin after Soviet forces the first in American Korea and China.
blocked access. history to be Even so, MacArthurs
In 1949 Truman supported dismissal by Truman,
Truman with Churchill and Stalin at Potsdam nationally
the establishment of the North although well within the
July 1945 and whispered that the United States Atlantic Treaty Organisation televised presidential prerogative, was
was preparing a new secret weapon against the (NATO), an ultimately nuclear-armed highly unpopular. Returning to the
Japanese. But Stalin already knew about the atom military alliance against the Soviet United States, MacArthur later made
bomb, thanks to the British spies Klaus Fuchs and Union and its East European satellites. a 34-minute address to a joint session of
Donald McClean. If the Cold War lived up to its billing in Europe, Congress, condemned by Truman as nothing
The 1951 trial and subsequent execution of the Far East proved to be a region of far more but a bunch of damn bullshit. But seven million
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for passing atomic volatile superpower rivalry. Americans cheered MacArthurs ticker tape parade
secrets to the Soviets outraged many liberals. But After Chinas civil war reignited following the through New York in April 1951.
declassified Soviet cables decades later revealed Japanese defeat, the Truman administration Truman was frustrated by the costly war, which
Julius to have been a Soviet courier. had backed Chiang Kai Sheks corrupt and ultimately killed 35,000 American soldiers and
Trumans foreign policy, however, was defined incompetent Nationalists against the communist nearly two million Koreans. Once again his approval
by its opposition to Soviet communism. He had guerrillas led by Chairman Mao Zedong. ratings plummeted.
taken power only a few weeks before the suicide When the latter prevailed in 1949, the He left office in January 1953 and in the following
of Adolf Hitler. By the end of his administration, controversy over Who lost China? became a years, travelled extensively, publishing his memoirs
the United Nations, led by American forces, was cause celebre for anti-communist Republicans in a collection titled Mr Citizen in 1960.
locked into a stalemated war against communist over the following years. By the time of his death twelve years later, it
forces on the remote Korean peninsula. Moreover, Trumans handling of the war in was widely recognised that his administration had
During Trumans first term the Allies accepted Korea (see below) dogged his final years. The profoundly changed the United States and the
the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers conduct of General MacArthur on the battlefield wider world.

Defining moment Defining moment


Truman re-elected for second term US air and sea forces aid South Korea against the
despite predicted defeat communist threat
1948 1950
A jubilant Truman held up a copy of the Chicago Tribune where a strike had The defeat of imperial Japan had left the Korean peninsula partitioned along the 38th parallel
forced the paper to go to press early with Dewey Defeats Truman on its of latitude into a Soviet backed North and US-backed South by mid 1948. In June 1950, with the
front page. Trumans 1948 election victory was one of the great surprises in tacit backing of Joseph Stalin, North Koreas Kim Il-sung sent his armies storming over the 38th
American political history. Thomas E Dewey made a very credible Republican parallel. By God I am going to let them have it, vowed Truman as a UN task force was assembled
candidate: as a special prosecutor in New York he had gone after some of the under the supreme command of General Douglas MacArthur; 16 other nations provided fighting
most notorious gangsters of the Prohibition era. Dewey later served as a district forces to expel the communists from South Korea. For the first twelve months the battlefront
attorney and Governor of New York. In the latter capacity he had cleared slums, ranged from either end of the peninsula. The UN held on to the south eastern Pusan perimeter
reformed mental hospitals, built new clinics, extended the state infrastructure but following a risky amphibious landing at the port of Inchon, MacArthurs forces pushed the
but was still able to cut the states tax rates by 50 per cent. Moreover by 1948, North Koreans towards the River Yalu and the Chinese border. Then, as the freezing winter broke,
Trumans rating were at an abysmal 32 per cent, kept low by rising inflation, Chairman Mao Zedong sent 300,000 volunteers over the Yalu, attacking UN forces and pushing
industrial unrest and persistent shortages of certain consumer items. To err is the frontline below the South Korean capital of Seoul. The war settled into two years of attrition
Truman became a popular jibe before the campaign. before an armistice was signed in the village of Panmunjom in July 1953.

1972
O Aid for Europe O Civil rights program O Cold War in Europe O MacArthur is dismissed O Eisenhower takes over Dies in Missouri O
Truman asks for $17 Without prior consultation, Truman proclaims the The supreme commander Truman attends the Truman is 88 when he dies.
billion in grants and Truman calls on Congress North Atlantic Pact which of the UN task force in inauguration of Dwight By this time he had instituted
loans over four years for to enact an anti-lynching had been signed by 12 Korea is informed by D Eisenhower, who had a presidential library and
the European Recovery law and legislation to nations in Washington brown envelope of his previously worked for Truman published his memoirs during
Program, aka the Marshall prohibit segregation on in April. The pact was dismissal while at his at NATO and whose campaign his retirement. In 1960 he
Plan. This strategy interstate trains, buses, entrusted to a new residence in Tokyo. He is had been strongly critical had campaigned successfully
depended on bipartisan planes and in the military. organisation the shortly replaced on the of the outgoing presidents for John F Kennedy. His wife
support in an ideologically This move angers many North Atlantic Treaty ground by Lt General record on Korea and domestic Bess died in 1982 at the age
polarised era. southern Democrats. Organisation (NATO). Matthew Ridgway. corruption scandals. of 97.
June 1947 2 February 1948 24 August 1949 11 April 1951 20 January 1953 26 December 1972

101
US Presidents

34
DWIGHT D EISENHOWER
Republican, 1890 1969

Eisenhower For much of his life


made a deal with Brief Dwight D Eisenhower
would help shape US
his brother to work two Bio foreign and military
policy. Before serving
jobs so as to pay him as president he acted as US
through college. Edgar Army chief of staff and supreme
allied commander of NATO. Not
would then return many people can claim to have
had more influence on world
the favour events in the 20th century than
President Ike.

1953 1961

Dwight D
Eisenhower
The 34th president oversaw a period of great growth for America while
trying to steer the country away from another world conflict

A
famed general and post-war leader, Dwight, as baseball and American Football. Upon gaining
or Ike, D Eisenhower is considered to be one entry into West Point in 1911 Eisenhower was set
of the greatest presidents in the history of on the path that would lead to greatness. Enjoying
the United States. In his time in the army he the military tradition and active lifestyle he would
oversaw some of the most pivotal operations of graduate a 2nd lieutenant in 1915 and would spend
WWII, such as the allied landings in northern France WWI training tank crews, which would earn him a
of Operation Overlord. The West Point graduate reputation for his excellent organisational skills. Still
would work hard throughout his life to reach that bitter that he did not get to see combat, Eisenhower
point. Moving from Texas to Kansas when he was continued to climb steadily through the ranks in
very young Dwight enjoyed an active childhood the interwar period, even when tragedy struck in
where he would take great pleasure in sports such 1921 and his son, Doud Dwight, died of scarlet fever.

102
Dwight D Eisenhower

Serving under another great WWII general, Douglas was shot down over Russia during an intelligence
MacArthur, Eisenhower would be a brigadier general gathering mission. The Russians broadcast to the
when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor struck. world what they had done, pointing the finger
The war would be the proving ground of straight at America. Uncomfortable with admitting
Eisenhower. He demonstrated great ability in the truth America claimed the craft was intended
planning Operation Torch, the allied invasion of for weather research and that it had accidentally
North Africa, and commanding allied forces in flown over Soviet airspace. This as all before Russia
Operation Overlord, including the D-Day landings announced that they had the pilot, alive and well,
that allowed the allies to gain a beachhead in from the crashed plane in custody. No longer being
northern France. Recognised as a great military able to deny the accusations the Americans were
mind Eisenhower was made the military governor embarrassed on the world stage, a tough blow for
of the US occupied zone in Germany after the war. any presidents leadership. Eisenhower gives a speech to American
troops on 5 June 1944, the day before the
Here he would help to rebuild Germany, which was Not all of Ikes presidential landmarks were D-Day invasion
still reeling from the terrible destruction. purely military-based, however. His Atoms for
A pivotal moment for Eisenhower came when,
in the years just after WWII, he realised
Peace speech at the UN in 1953 had far-reaching
consequences for both civil and military life.
Life in the time
that there could be no long term
cooperation between the US and the
Delivered to the UN general assembly
this speech was a landmark in
of Dwight D
Soviet Union. Plans for peaceful
A childhood politics as it brought atomic Eisenhower
cohabitation gave way to a development from secretive Two more stars
containment policy that would accident in which government research labs
check Soviet expansion. his brother lost an eye into the public eye. This
for the flag
In 1959 the US would bring Alaska and Hawaii
While coming to this had a profound effect on new language of atomic into the fold by making them the 49th and
realisation Eisenhower would warfare, with its terrible 50th states respectively to join the United
be encouraged by President
young Ike. It taught him destructive power, placed grave States. Alaska was welcomed for the oil
Truman and others to run in to be protective of responsibility on the countries revenue that it would bring to the country
the 1948 elections. Although those under him involved in the development of and Hawaii was instituted by popular demand.
These would be the last US territories to be
he declined and stated that as a these weapons. Eisenhower had
made into states.
lifelong professional soldier he should been against the use of the atomic
abstain from gaining high political office, bomb on Japan in 1945, but this did not
this would be the first step towards becoming the stop his administration raising the number of Reach for the stars
In 1957 you could be forgiven in thinking
countrys 34th president. Accepting the presidency nuclear warheads the US possessed from 1000 to
that you were living in a science fiction story.
of Columbia University and later the post of supreme 20,000 during his time at the White House. Some The Russians had just fired the first artificial
allied commander of the North Atlantic Treaty good did come out of the speech though: allied satellite ever into earths orbit with Sputnik.
Organisation (NATO) Eisenhower was able to make countries that did not previously have access to This space age technology would begin the
his voice and opinions heard about the difficulties nuclear power now had the expertise of American space race that would end with the United
and supremacy of US democracy, and where it stood scientists, and this powerful new branch of science States landing men on the moon for the first
on the world stage. He was again pressured to run in was better understood all over the world. time in history.
the presidential election by president Truman and Upon reaching the end of his second term,
finally relented. In 1952 he won the election by a Eisenhower retreated from political life and with Foot stompin music
landslide with the simple but effective slogan, I like his wife, known as Mamie, would retire to a farm With artists like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and
Ike. During his presidency he would continue the in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Admitted to hospital Little Richard blazing the trail, a brand new
sound would take 1950s America by storm.
domestic policy of Roosevelts New Deal, while his on 28 March 1969 Eisenhower passed away from
Heavily influenced by the blues, jazz and
foreign policy would aim to reduce Cold War tensions congestive heart failure. Speaking of Eisenhower, gospel music, rock and roll would come to be
with Russia through military negotiation. then-president Richard Nixon would say, Some men associated with teenage rebellion and helped
This was met with mixed success, as although are considered great because they lead great armies influence the music we hear today.
he was able to reach breakthroughs like the or they lead powerful nations. For eight years now,
orchestration of a ceasefire on the Korean border, Dwight Eisenhower has neither commanded an Come on Barbie
incidents like those involving the U2 spy plane army nor led a nation; and yet he remained through
would prove extremely embarrassing. In 1960 his final days the worlds most admired and
lets go party
In 1959 toy manufacturer Mattel would launch
an American U2 spy plane operated by the CIA respected man, truly the first citizen of the world.
one of the worlds most iconic brands, the
Barbie doll. Quickly becoming a fashion icon,
Barbie would captivate Americas young
children for more than 50 years. Despite
The Space Race begins being at the heart of many controversies it has
Eisenhower and the CIA had known that the USSR had the capability remained a US household name.
to launch an object into space nine months before Sputnik was
to break the atmosphere. Not only did this bring the USSR great
prestige it also made it clear that space was fair game to any nation Watching the stories
that wished to claim it. With his administrations blessing, the We cant imagine a world where TV sitcoms
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded dont exist but in the 1950s they were a
and funding for other scientific programs was granted. Eisenhower revelation. Shows like Father Knows Best, The
was sceptical of the space program however, and was quoted as Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and I Love
saying: Anyone who would spend $40 billion in a race to the moon Lucy captivated audiences across the country.
for national prestige is nuts. Running from 1951-57, I Love Lucy was one of
the most watched shows in the United States.

103
US Presidents

35 JOHN F KENNEDY
Democrat, 1917 1963
1961 1963 John Jack F Kennedy

John F
was born into a rich
Brief Irish-American Catholic
Bio family from Brookline,
Massachusetts. He
served in the Navy during
World War II, commanding a
patrol boat in the Pacific that
was destroyed by enemy fire.
He married Jackie Bouvier,

Kennedy
a rich and well-established
Catholic socialite in 1953, and
ascended to the presidency in
1961. He would only serve two
years of his term before he was
assassinated in 1963.

An iconic leader whose time in office was


fraught with Cold War tension, JFK remains a
fascinating figure years after his untimely death

E
lection night, Tuesday 8 November 1960. John final tally being 34,227,096 to 34,107,646 of the
Jack Fitzgerald Kennedy waited for the voting popular vote, with 303 to 219 of the electoral vote
results to come through on the television, going to the young pretender. The bare facts say
his family sat around him in the living it was hardly a ringing endorsement of Kennedy,
room of his brothers home in Hyannis Port, but given the experience and relative popularity
Massachusetts. The endless television interviews, of Nixon, it was a spectacular victory. Against the
broadcast debates, rallies and travelling had taken advice of his closet supporters, Kennedy visited
their toll on his health, he hadnt had a proper meal Nixon in Florida on 14 November. Kennedy wasnt
or a good nights sleep in two weeks, and now he impressed. He silently listened to Nixon dominate
was beyond exhausted. The endless lectures from what was meant to be a friendly conversation
his father, Joe, about image and how it didnt matter about the last few months, and wondered how a
who you were, only what people thought you man like this had nearly won the presidency. As
were, had started to grate on him. Even his wife he clambered back onto his helicopter after it was
Jackie, normally a source of comfort, was starting over, he turned to an aide and said, It was just as
to unsettle him when more favourable results well for all of us he didnt quite make it!
came in and she said, Oh bunny, youre president Kennedys presidency would go down in history as
now! he quickly turned his head away from the the dawn of a new era. He changed the face of politics
television screen and looked at her with his tired by courting the media and creating his very own cult
eyes, replying No no, its too early yet. of celebrity, inspiring hope through his charm and
After winning the industrial cities of the freedom through his liberal policies. He gave the US a
Northeast, doubt filled the cramped living renewed self-confidence through his tough reputation
room when the loss of the Midwest and the abroad, and after his brutal assassination in Dallas his
Rocky Mountain states came through on the legacy would live on.
broadcast. His opponent, Richard Nixon, was At the start of Kennedys long fight for
more experienced, had more supporters in the all- Democratic nomination in 1957, a reporter said
important south, and had been endorsed by the that Kennedy was Washingtons hottest tourist
current president, war hero Dwight Eisenhower. He attraction. It was widely rumoured he had an in in
was the safe vote, while Kennedy was the young, Life magazine because of all the positive press he
energetic pretender. Kennedy could only hope and received there, and the American Mercury hailed
pray that he had done enough. him as the perfect politician. Others were less
After the longest night in history, as Jackie convinced. Hell never make it with that haircut,
would later describe it, the call came in the commented a prominent politician from New York.
following morning. Nixon had admitted defeat and It was true that Kennedy had his critics, but it
sent a congratulatory telegram to Kennedy. It was was his deep connection with the media, getting
one of the closet elections in American history; the his name in the public domain and making sure

104
John F Kennedy

105
US Presidents

that through his family connections it stayed He crossed the lawn to us, insisted on being
out there in the best possible light, that made introduced to each child and either picked up each
his political campaigns in the Fifties a success. limp, paralysed hand to shake it, or touched the
The media was enamoured with his good looks, child on the cheek. He had a different conversation
beautiful wife and young family. He represented with each child the childs face radiated a joy
the American dream, descended from Irish totally impossible to describe. Kennedys natural
immigrants and doing well through Americas charm was rooted in compassion something that
bounty to become a senator in the most powerful the press could project, but not create.
country in the world. He was the equivalent of an The power over the press he possessed even
A-list celebrity on Capitol Hill, and he didnt mind allowed him to overcome the prejudices that some
the status, as he himself remarked, This publicity sections of American society held against him due
does one good thing: it takes the Vice out of Vice- to his Catholic upbringing; one writer remarked,
President. This wasnt to say that he was a shallow The stereotype of the Irish Catholic politician,
man who simply enjoyed the press for his own the pugnacious, priest-ridden representative of
vanity; the press shots of him and Jackie with their an embittered, embattled minority, simply does
children in Hyannis Port may have been doctored not fit the poised, urbane, cosmopolitan young
Watching The Americas to fit the idyll of the perfect American family, but socialite from Harvard. This assertion was put to
Cup race
they do portray a genuine sentiment of love. the test when he was nominated as the Democratic
One of the most compelling stories that candidate for the presidency. He knew he would
illustrates his character was not caught on camera, need something more than his easy smile, good
however. During his tenure in office, an aide was looks and friends in the print media, as these alone
showing a group of disabled children around the would not be enough to go up against a seasoned
White House when their wheelchairs prevented politician like Nixon; he would need something
them from joining the rest of the tour group. that would allow him to reach millions and
Kennedy, late for a meeting, spotted them and captivate them with his personality. He needed the
came over to the children. The aide recalled: power of television.

The media was enamoured with his


good looks, beautiful wife and family

One of my sons
will be president
Joe Kennedy famously made the above claim about
his sons. He was a man who expected a lot from
his family after all, they were Kennedys, and thus
destined for greatness. Born in 1888, Joe grew up in
a well-established Catholic family from Boston. He
worked in Hollywood as a film producer and then
entered politics as part of the Franklin Roosevelt
administration. He later became ambassador to
Britain, famously saying the country was finished in
1940. He was renowned for his political connections,
using them to see his children established among
the elite of American society after the war. It was
also rumoured that he had unofficial connections
with the Mafia, using them as he used everyone
else: to get more power and influence. He was a
domineering and harsh father, especially when his
family didnt meet his high standards, and infamously
had his daughter Rosemary lobotomised because of
her violent personality. He also vetted husbands for
his daughters, ensuring they all married into families
that would benefit the family. His affairs with other
women were legendary, estranging him from his wife,
Rose. He was a pessimist and isolationist, weighed
down with old prejudices of the Protestant-dominated
middle class. Jack was none of these things,
outgrowing Joes outdated beliefs. JFK: President, statesman
and American hero

106
John F Kennedy

Kennedys time would come during the first live


television debates in September 1960, a contest
that was watched by over 60 million people.
Kennedy had taken a tour of the television studio
beforehand, where his aides had worked out how
the lighting, sound and shooting angles would
benefit him; everything would have to be perfect if
he was to shine on the box. Both candidates were
offered the services of a CBS make-up artist not
that Kennedy needed it, as his skin looked tanned
and healthy after campaigning in California. Nixon,
on the other hand, looked pasty and sweaty, having
only just recovered from a knee injury, but declined
the make-up services. Ultimately, he got one of his
aides to apply some make-up on minutes before the
broadcast to cover up his stubble, but coupled with
Senator John F Kennedy and Vice-
his pale complexion, it only made him look ill and President Richard Nixon during
dirty. Kennedy received coaching from consultants the second televised debate
to allow him to practice rebuking Nixons comment
while maintaining eye contact with the audience
straight down the lens.
Nixon was confident he could wing it, with one
commentator noting afterwards that, Nixon was
addressing himself to Kennedy but Kennedy
was addressing himself to the audience that was
the nation. Kennedy chose a suit that contrasted
well with the background of the set, while Nixons
blended horribly into the backdrop. Kennedy
was prepared and ready; Nixon looked nervous
and tired. The result was a popular victory for
Kennedy, with one newspaper editor commenting,
The [television] medium is good to Kennedy and
most unkind to Nixon. It makes Kennedy look
forceful. It makes Nixon look guilty. Emphasising Presidential nominees Kennedy and
the differences in perception television offered, Spectators line the streets of Ireland to catch a Nixon smiling for the cameras prior
glimpse of Kennedy to their first televised debate
the majority of those who heard the radio debate

How America
was won
The presidential election of 1960 was one
of the closest in American history. Richard
Nixon, Kennedys opponent, was able to
gain significant control over the American
Midwest, a traditional Republican
stronghold, and in California and Florida,
which carried with it a large number of
votes in the electoral college. Kennedy,
however, seized control of Texas, a state
with a large number of voters, through
his running mate Lyndon B Johnson and
the industrial heartland of America in
the Northeast with the help of his father
through his political connections with
influential industrialists. One of the major
battlegrounds was Chicago, Illinois, which Hawaii
held a large amount of supporters for
both Kennedy and Nixon. Controversies
would emerge later about Democratic
49.6% 49.7% 40.75% 56.5%
mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, rigging
the Illinois vote for Kennedy after a Alaska
conversation he had with Joe Kennedy
and, apparently, the Chicago outfit. In
Electoral Popular
the end, Illinois was won by a paper-thin Republican Democratic vote total: vote total:
margin of 8,858 votes. (Nixon) (Kennedy) 537 68,836,385

107
US Presidents

thought Nixon had won, while those who watched


on television were inclined in favour of Kennedy.
Kennedy was the first presidential candidate to
properly utilise the power of the media and the
idea of looking right to connect with audiences
through the medium of television, and it paid out
in dividends. Subsequent presidents and their
PR teams would never forget it. To this day, the
presidential debates are given the highest priority,
with PR consultants spending hours coaching and
teaching respective nominees when to smile, when
to laugh and how to look, even down to the shoes
and ties theyre wearing. It was Kennedys stunning
victory and his associations with the press before
and after the 1960 election that subsequent
presidential campaigns modelled themselves
on. The image of the man who would lead the
American people was now just as important as
the mans politics. But of course, looking right was
only part of the story; Kennedy had to have the
right policies to fully tap into the pool of voters. As
influential columnist William V Shannon wrote,
Month after month, from the glossy pages of Life
to the multicoloured cover of Redbook, Jack and
John F Kennedy in
Jackie Kennedy smile out at millions of readers; he uniform, 1942
with his tousled hair and winning smile, she with
her dark eyes and beautiful face But what has all The Kennedy family
this to with statesmanship? Ostensibly, the answer relax at their home
could be found in his hard-nosed Cold War rhetoric, in Hyannis Port John and Jackie on their
wedding day in 1953
but there was another issue burning through
America in the Sixties that Kennedy could not
afford to ignore: the fight for civil rights.
By 1960, the civil rights movement under
Martin Luther King Jr was worrying the southern
states, who were holding firm on segregation and
humiliating the political community in America
as a whole in the process. How on earth could
a country that claimed to be the leader of the
free world still instigate a policy that restricted,
oppressed and otherwise degraded American
citizens based on their skin colour? It was a
question that was becoming urgent, with the
broadcast media reporting all the sit-ins and
protests of black citizens in the deep south to an
anxious American public; the very people Kennedy
would have to get on his side if he was to take the
presidency and keep hold of it.
As the election loomed in the autumn of 1960,
Kennedy was still looking weak on the civil rights
issue. He was certainly more liberal than his
opponent, but he didnt have anything of substance
to beat him with. By coincidence, King was arrested
on 19 October a month before the election while
taking part in a sit-in protest. Kennedy pounced on
it as an opportunity. He phoned the shaken Mrs
King, saying I want to express to you my concern
about your husband. I understand that you are
expecting a baby, and I just wanted you to know
that I was thinking about you and Dr King. It
galvanised black voters, with Kings father saying,
He can be my President, Catholic or whatever he
is. It took courage to call my daughter-in-law at a
time like this. He has the moral courage to stand
up for what he knows is right. King himself was

108
John F Kennedy

With Martin Luther King and other


delegates from the rally in Washington DC

unconvinced. Despite these words, he was still not


pushing civil rights; he was playing the political
game. It was just words words enough to capture
the presidency, but words nonetheless.
King would call Kennedys bluff in August 1963
after Kennedys inaction, marching on Washington
with thousands of supporters. Kennedy begged
him not to, fearing the marchers would turn
violent. But march they did, black and white, the
largest demonstration to ever come to the capital,
with King at the front of the huge procession, Over 200,000 protestors
marched along the Capitol mall in Deep in thought while in transit in the
proudly proclaiming, I have a dream that one 1960 US Presidential campaign
Washington on 28 August 1963
day this nation will rise up and live out the true
meaning of its creed: we hold these truths to
be self-evident that all men are created equal.
Kennedy looked on open-mouthed; the rapture Communism was not only objectionable
of the crowd hanging on Kings every word was
beyond impressive. He immediately invited King to Kennedy, but a moral evil
and his inner circle to the White House, offering
refreshments and a promise to get things moving have destroyed his support in the South and make his inaugural address he spoke of not daring to
where he could on civil rights. It was probably a what Nixon would later call the silent majority tempt them with weakness. For only when our
combination of Kennedys own moral scruples and everywhere else uneasy. His presidency did not arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain
Kings loud insistence that finally got civil rights bring solid change, and his successor Lyndon B beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
on the right path, but inaction would still dog Johnson would do far more, but it was a rallying cry This was the hard line of the Cold War warrior
Kennedys record on the agenda. for a new beginning. By meeting King and publicly create the biggest conventional and nuclear arsenal
To say that Kennedy was a mere political endorsing the ideal of civil rights for all, even if he available to scare the Communists into never
opportunist would be grossly unfair, however. did not actively support the campaign in practice, attacking the free world, and Kennedy believed in it
He was a man of principles, and the treatment of would give civil rights the national platform it completely. He would go on to talk about the need
black communities in the deep South sickened needed and Kennedys own celebrity endorsement for reconciliation, but warned against negotiating
him. However, it is a myth that he was a radical to bring civil rights to the top of the national out of fear. He had followed the line of Theodore
activist of the civil rights movement; he was far agenda. As Arthur Schlesinger, a social commentator Roosevelt, the man who flexed American muscle
too pragmatic for that. Actively supporting the in the Sixties observed, He had quietly created an at the turn of the century: tread softly on the
civil rights movement more than he did would atmosphere where change, when it came, would international stage, but carry a big stick.
seem no longer an upheaval, but the inexorable Rhetoric would turn to action when Kennedy
John and his son, John unfolding of the promise of American life. Kennedy gave the green light to the ill-fated Bay of Pigs
Jr, in the White House
would not go eyeball-to-eyeball with civil rights, operation, later to be known as the undeniable
but he would with Communism. It was the realms fiasco. It was the first major military undertaking of
of foreign affairs where he would make his stand, his presidency, but the plan was ill-conceived and
where there could be no comprise, and where the deeply flawed from the beginning. Even Kennedy
legend of Kennedys confrontation with the Soviets talked about plausible deniability of the whole
would change the world forever. affair by its end. The plan was for the CIA to land
Communism was not only objectionable as far as thousands of military-trained Cuban exiles onto
Kennedy was concerned, but a moral evil. It stood the Cuban mainland and, by proxy, try to enact a
against everything he believed about human rights coup. It relied on Castro not being in full control
and human dignity. The Communist leadership of Cuba, although unfortunately for Kennedy he
were godless, their state control oppressed its own was. As the invasion party landed, Cubans loyal
people and their vast armies oppressed the people to Castro bombed and machine-gunned the exiles
of the globe; it was to be despised. When he made into the sea, causing horrendous casualties. CIA

109
US Presidents

Kennedy Connections
George Skakel
Father-in-law to Bobby
INDUSTRY Kennedy and founder
of the Great Lakes
POLITICS
Carbon Corporation.
John Vernou Ted Kennedy
R
Bouvier III ENTREPRENEU The youngest brother of
John Vernou Black Jack the Kennedy family, Ted
Bouvier was a key link for was a senator and key
the Kennedys into the world voice of support for the
of business and high society. Robert Bobby Kennedy political machine
He owned land, and was a Kennedy though Jacks presidency
successful stockbroker. His Brother to Jack and and Bobbys bid for
nickname Black Jack was Attorney-General to the BROTHER presidential nomination.
acquired through his love of United States, Bobby was
gambling and drinking. part of the inner circle of
SISTER-IN-LAW BROTHER the Kennedy family, connected
Ethel Kennedy to huge industry concerns
Wife to Bobby, Ethel provided through his wife Ethel and
the CIA.
Joe Kennedy
the Kennedys with a link to A major hub in the
one of the countrys biggest Kennedy connection,
businesses: the Great Lakes Joe was one of the main
Carbon Corporation. routes into politics
for Jack, and also
maintained links
FATHER-IN-LAW Jackie Kennedy with Hollywood.
Wife of the president, Jackie FATHER
provided the Kennedy family
with one of many links into the William J Tuohy
upper echelons of American Tuohy was the chief judge
society. Her family, through her of the Circuit Court of
fathers business concerns, were Cook County Illinois and
extremely wealthy and she was an provided Joe with a link
extremely popular socialite. to Sam Giancana who, it is
rumoured, helped Joe and
Jack gain Mafia support
for the key electoral
JUDGE battleground in Illinois.
WIFE
Patricia Lawford
Patricia, sister to Jack Judith Campbell
and husband to the A-list Judith Campbell was a
celebrity actor Peter, mistress of Kennedy
provided another strong and a self-proclaimed
SISTER link from the White House conduit between him
to Hollywood and the and the Mafia. She
California celebrity scene. was also linked to mob
Peter Lawford bosses John Roselli and
Peter Lawford was a LOVER Sam Giancana.
member of the Kennedy
family through Frank Sinatra
marriage and also part Frank Sinatra knew many
of the rat pack with members of the Kennedy family, Sam Giancana
its Mafia connections, most notably Joe and Bobby Mob boss and head of
and a close friend to Kennedy and the President the main crime family
Frank Sinatra. He was himself. He acted as a go-between in Chicago, Sam was
also linked with Marilyn for the three men, allowing them connected to the Kennedys
Monroe, and arranged BROTHER-IN-LAW FRIEND
to meet famous celebrities like through Frank Sinatra
meetings with her for Marilyn Monroe, who he was and Judith Campbell. It
the President. having an affair with. He also was alleged that the CIA
provided the Kennedys with links
MOB BOSS employed his associates to
to the Mafia, and at times set up kill Fidel Castro.
dates for them with women when
Marilyn Monroe their wives were away. William
Kennedys relationship with King Harvey
Monroe is steeped in mystery. John Roselli Harvey was a CIA spook
Unconfirmed reports suggest Mob boss and connected to Sam who reportedly recruited
that the two shared a sexual Giancana, Roselli was involved in Mafia kingpins Roselli and
relationship, although this was the Mafia-run casinos in Cuba, and Giancana to kill Castro
LOVER never fully proven. one of the mobsters that the CIA with the quiet blessing of
recruited to kill Castro. He was Bobby Kennedy.
SPOOK
reportedly sleeping with Judith
MOB BOSS Campbell during the period when
HOLLYWOOD she was having an affair with
the President.
CRIME
110
John F Kennedy

chiefs pleaded with the president to allow the going to get him by any means necessary, even
US air force to support the exiles, and initially commissioning a plan for an exploding seashell
Kennedy was inclined to agree, saying, Id rather to be planted at Castros favourite diving spot to
be called an aggressor than a bum. Soviet interest take his head off. Conversely, Jack didnt order a
in the affair would cool his aggression, and after full invasion of Cuba, nor any provocative move
tense diplomatic negotiation he shied away from in that region until it was absolutely necessary.
further intervention with US air support in case the In a famous comment made to an aide about the
Russians were apt to cause trouble. It was seen as prospect of an American invasion of Cuba, he said;
a betrayal by the CIA and the Cuban exiles, who The minute I land one marine were in this thing
were left without adequate air cover and died in up to our necks. I cant get the United States into
their hundreds on Cuban beaches. Neither the CIA a war and then lose it, no matter what it takes. Im
nor the exiles would forget it. not going to risk a slaughter.
The failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion did not But Kennedys caution was still infused with
temper the attitudes of the president or his closest the influence of manful bravado inherited from
advisors; quite the contrary. The disaster convinced his patriarchal family and the hawks in his own
the Kennedy administration that the Communists government, who were ever-ready to go toe-to-toe
needed to be taken seriously, as anymore failures with the Communists. Ultimately, his refusal to
blink during the blockade of Cuba brought the
First lady
would risk goading aggressive Communist Jackie Kennedy was a woman of
intentions. In the highly pressurised environment world to the brink of nuclear war: for 13 days in intelligence, beauty and money; a true
of the White House, straight-talking, hard-ball 1962, he held the fate of billions in his hands in American socialite. She was born into
attitudes and the concoction of the red menace order to prove to the Russian Premier Khrushchev one of the wealthiest Catholic families
frequently turned strategy into personal vendettas that when it came to American security there in America, and her father, John Vernou
Black Jack Bouvier, owned land and
against the Communist leadership for the Kennedy could be no compromise. As with the Bay of
capital throughout the Northeast. She met
family. Bobby Kennedy, Jacks younger brother and Pigs, it was also intensely personal. Kennedy felt Jack through her work as a photographer
Attorney-General for the American government, deceived by the Soviets, who were talking to in Washington DC, marrying him on
would take the Bay of Pigs disaster as a personal him about nuclear disarmament while installing 12 September 1953 after a whirlwind
slight against him. Castro had made the Kennedy medium-range missiles on the Cuban mainland. romance. In many ways she set the tone
family (and the US) look weak, and now he was He called the Soviets barefaced liars and hurled for future First Ladies.
Like her husband she courted the
media, making sure she always dressed
immaculately and remained on message
for press interviews. But she also made
the position her own, and was a force for
change in the White House, seeing to it
that the unique furniture, ornaments and
pictures within its rooms were preserved
and catalogued, where before they had
either been lost or neglected by previous
occupants. She established the post of
White House Curator, and created the
White House Fine Arts Committee to
protect the treasures inside its walls. She
could also speak several foreign languages,
which she would use to her advantage on
Kennedy children visit
the Oval Office goodwill missions abroad. Her charm and
grace enamoured foreign dignitaries, and
after one trip to Paris, Vienna and Greece,
President Kennedy presiding over Clark Clifford, advisor to the president
a meeting with senior White House sent her a congratulatory note saying,
officials during the Cuban Missile Crisis
Once in a great while, an individual will
capture the imagination of people all over
Kennedy looks deep in thought as he the world. You have done this through
awaits developments in the Cuban crisis your graciousness and tact. As her
that could have escalated to nuclear war
celebrity status spread, she received so
much fan mail that it required 13 people
to process the letters. Often they were
deeply personal, with a girl from Indonesia
writing, Ive seen pictures of you. I am
studying English because I admire you
so much. Another from a Japanese girl
said, My mother tells me not to slump so
that I will grow up to be tall and queenly
like you. She became so popular that her
husband often joked that it was Jackie
people wanted to see. She always put
her family first, ensuring that her children
were well-cared for and educated, saying
to a reporter, If you bungle raising your
children, I dont think whatever else you do
well matters very much.

111
US Presidents

The other His image as young, energetic and tough


women chimed well with the mood of the US
Marilyn Monroe
The Marilyn Monroe expletives whenever he heard the names of Castro to their own people. As the war intensified, Diem,
affair was probably or Khrushchev during meetings in the run up to a stanch Catholic, was drawing ever more criticism
the most infamous the blockade. They had made him look foolish and from his own people, the majority of who were
of Kennedys
soft on the Communist problem, and the blockade Buddhist. After brutal crackdowns on the Buddhist
relationships
during his time in represented the most he could do to confront them community at the beginning of 1963, monks set
government. The two without tipping the world into a nuclear holocaust. themselves on fire in the middle of a busy street
met through Peter Rational thinking gave way to zero-sum thinking in Saigon in protest. The response by one of Diems
Lawford on four separate occasions, one on the nature of the international Communist closet advisors, his sister-in-law Madame Ngo Dinh
of which, it is claimed, resulted in sexual threat after the Cuban Missile Crisis, even if by Nhu, was heartless. She told a CBS film crew that
relations. Her raunchy rendition of Happy
this point impartial evidence suggested that the Buddhists had just barbecued themselves,
Birthday during Kennedys 45th birthday
celebrations and the dress she was
Communism was not only far weaker, but also and next time she would provide the mustard. For
wearing at the time, described as flesh hopelessly divided among its global constituents. Kennedy, a man who lived shoulder to shoulder
with sequins sewed onto it, left little to To Kennedy, however, ever-ready to fight the good with the media, this was a disaster. The regime that
the imagination. fight, the threat was still real and it was engulfing America was supposed to be protecting was in fact
south-east Asia. He ordered more military advisors a cruel dictatorship. Kennedys troops remained
Judith Campbell into Vietnam, as well as the creation of a new in Vietnam even after the brutal events of 1963 as
Long the subject fighting force designed to combat Communist Diems regime may have been harsh, but as far as
of repeated denials insurgents at grass-roots level: the Green Berets . Kennedys administration was concerned, at least it
and cover-ups, until
He publicly endorsed the Diem regime in South wasnt Communist.
revelations in the
Seventies revealed that Vietnam led by Ngo Dinh Diem, despite private The memory of Kennedys legendary stand-
Kennedy indeed had reservations about their effectiveness and cruelty off with Communism would linger in the halls
an on-off affair with
Campbell, who was Kennedy meets with US Army
also linked with Mob bosses Sam Giancana officials during the Cuban
and John Roselli. It was one of the most Missile Crisis of October 1962
enduring affairs Kennedy had, and he was
aware of the risks to his political career of
sleeping with a woman with connections
to the Mafia, but carried on.

Gunilla Von Post


The Von Post affair
started just after
Kennedy was married.
Von Post was a
Swedish socialite,
meeting Kennedy on
the French Riviera
after her aristocratic
family sent her there to brush up on her
French. A passionate affair ensued, with
graphic love letters and lustful liaisons
occurring throughout the Fifties. The tryst
was so serious that Kennedy reportedly
considered leaving Jackie for her, but
feared his fathers reaction.

The one that got


away Sophia Loren
In a rather
embarrassing episode,
Sophia Loren, one
of the most iconic
film stars of the age,
turned Kennedy down,
and in no uncertain
terms told him and his
lackey to leave her alone during a dinner
at the Italian Embassy in Washington
in the late Fifties. This was despite
Kennedys gallant offer to include her Kennedy signs the Nuclear Test
female interpreter in a night of passion Ban Treaty in the White House President and Mrs Kennedy with
Treaty Room on 7 October 1963 leaders of the Cuban Invasion Brigade
so that she didnt feel left out.

112
John F Kennedy

of the White House after his death. No future defeats under Truman. It is unlikely Kennedy John, you can salute your daddy now and say
president would dare look weak in front of the would have ordered a full withdrawal at Vietnam, goodbye to him. Author William Manchester noted,
Communist, prompting a military invasion of but part of his enduring persona has, like the issues Of all of Mondays images, nothing approached
Vietnam by Johnson and a perception that any surrounding civil rights, created a myth that things the force of Johns salute it was heart-wrenching.
failure to contain Communism across the globe would have been very different and a lot better In summing up the days events, columnist Mary
was a de-facto failure of the current American had he survived. McGrory wrote of grief nobly borne. Kennedys
administration. Debates about whether the Vietnam The bleak days of November 1963 would haunt final resting place was the Arlington National
War would have been conducted differently if America forever. Kennedys funeral took place on Cemetery as befitting an American hero.
Kennedy had been at the helm endure. Kennedy 25 November, three days after his assassination. As On hearing of Kennedys death, British Prime
balked at appearing weak in front of the his funeral procession made its long march up to St Minister Harold Macmillan said that Kennedy
Communists, but he was a far more able negotiator Matthews Cathedral, it was accompanied by Black embodied all the hopes and aspirations of this new
than his successors and, it is said by some, would Jack, a riderless horse symbolising the loss of a world. His influence continues to be felt; Barack
have brought Vietnam to a peaceful conclusion great leader. When his casket was brought out after Obamas Hope campaign for a new beginning
far quicker and with less casualties. But part of the service, foreign dignitaries including Charles in the US was influenced by Kennedys own in
Kennedys success was due to his international de Gaulle of France and thousands of American 1960. Kennedy was a man that could be admired,
grandstanding. His image as young, energetic and citizens watched in silence. Troops of the United followed and respected. His death shocked
tough chimed well with the mood of a US that States Navy brought the casket down the steep everyone, and his boundless potential and hope for
wanted an assertive nation and cut away from steps, and as it reached the bottom Jackie Kennedy a better and more peaceful world was lost forever,
the stagnation of the Eisenhower years and the knelt down and whispered to her son, John Jr; along with the man that he might have become.

What became of the Kennedy clan?


1. Eunice 3. Rosemary 5. Joe 7. Rose 9. Patricia
Eunice was a strong advocate Rosemary suffered from Ambitious, tenacious and The wife of Joe and a constant source of stability Patricia entered the world
for the Democratic party, violent mood swings, and was at times cruel, Joe fought for the Kennedy family as a whole, Rose would of the media in 1945 as an
and married Robert Sargent not as academically talented his entire life to ensure his see the death of three of her sons and her second assistant in NBCs production
Shiver Jr, who became the US as her siblings. She was said family remained at the top daughter, the shocking after-effects of a lobotomised department in New York.
Ambassador to France and to be beautiful and happy of American political life. first daughter and the constant humiliations of her She married Peter Lawford,
Democratic Vice Presidential during her teenage years, but When he finally achieved his husbands extra-marital affairs. Despite all of this, the English actor connected
candidate in 1972. She was her apparent slowness grated main goal getting one of his she was dedicated to her family and their well- to the rat pack and various
a vocal supporter of pro-life on her father. In 1941, at the sons in the presidency he being, and was described by Jackie Kennedy as a Hollywood movie stars
views, and her daughter Maria age of 23, he decided that she suffered a debilitating stroke thoroughbred who did everything to put one at including Marilyn Monroe. She
would marry actor turned should have a lobotomy to that left him paralysed and ones ease. She died in 1995 at the age of 104. divorced Lawford in 1966 after
Governor of California Arnold calm her mood swings, which with impaired speech. He died revelations about his affairs
Schwarzenegger. She died of a caused irreversible damage to shortly after the death of his with other women, and later
stroke in 2009. her brain. She died in 2005. son, Bobby, in 1969. moved to New York, devoting
herself to charitable causes.
She died in 2006.

1 4 7 9
5
2 6 10 11

3
6. Ted
Ted was the youngest of the
male siblings in the Kennedy
family, and won Johns Senate
seat in 1962 aged just 30
the youngest age allowed.
He looked set to follow his
older sibling into the White
House when he was involved
in a car crash that killed a
young woman after a party
in 1969. He fled the scene 8. Joseph P. Jr
and only called the police Joe Jr was being groomed
the next morning, hours as the first Irish-Catholic
after the incident by which president of the United 11. Kathleen
4. Jean time the womans body had States. He attended top 10. Robert Kathleen married into English
Jean was exceptionally gifted already been discovered. schools, and his father laid Robert followed Jack into aristocracy after spending
Alamy; Getty; Corbis; Joe Cummings

academically, and entered He remained in politics and the groundwork for him politics, becoming Attorney time in England when her
2. John F. politics as a Democrat, became one of the longest- to become a congressmen General during the Kennedy father was Ambassador to
John ascended to the eventually becoming the US running Senators in American of Massachusetts before administration and promoting Britain in the Forties. She
presidency in 1961, before ambassador to Ireland during history. He fought for free Americas entry into World civil rights. After Jacks married William Cavendish,
being brutally assassinated in the Clinton administration. Healthcare for the American War II. He served in the US death he too would bid the Marquess of Hartington.
1963. His politics and ideals She was a key politician people throughout his career, Navy as a pilot during the for the presidency. He was She became a journalist and
changed both the US and during the run-up to the IRA calling it The cause of my war, flying B-24 bombers and assassinated during election volunteered her time in the
the world, with his legacy ceasefire and the Good Friday life. He died of brain cancer died on duty in a plane season for the Democratic British Red Cross before dying
dwarfing his short lifespan. Agreement of the Nineties. in 2009. explosion over Suffolk. nomination in 1968. in a plane crash in 1948.

113
US Presidents

1963 1969 36 LYNDON B JOHNSON


Democrat, 1908 1973

Lyndon B Brief
Bio
Born in a small
farmhouse in
Stonewall, Texas,
Johnson rose out of
poverty to become
the 36th president of the
United States. While serving

Johnson
as president he oversaw
one of the most progressive
periods in the countrys history,
declaring war on poverty and
racial discrimination. However,
Johnson escalated the USAs role
in the Vietnam war and bred a
nation of disillusioned youth.

Landslide Lyndon was one of the most


popular presidents of all time, but in a matter
of years he was loathed by the nation

W
hen John F Kennedy was shot and killed team. However, he was not particularly gifted at
in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963 school and, amidst pressure from his parents,
he was replaced by a man he had fought struggled to get into college. He moved to California
against in the run up to election. Lyndon in an effort to find a college that would enrol him,
B Johnson was nothing like Kennedy: and supported himself by picking grapes. It was a
he wasnt young, he wasnt particularly charming difficult period in the young Johnsons life; he flitted
or camera-ready, but he was a brilliant and skilled from job to job and got into trouble, but finally he
politician. He had support from a wide portion of managed to obtain a place at Texas State University
the American people, however, in just over five years in 1926, two years after graduating high school.
he would retire from the White House as one of Despite enrolling in college, Johnson still struggled
the most unpopular presidents in US history. to support himself financially, and took time
Today historians continue to argue over out to teach at a school for disadvantaged
his ground-breaking policies and how Mexican-American students. His
one man could be such a force for Not only was experience there gave Johnson an
good, but also responsible for unfiltered glimpse into the lives
Johnson the first
one of the darkest periods in of those facing extreme poverty
American history. president to be sworn and racial discrimination, and
Texas wasnt just the place in aboard an aircraft, this had a profound effect on
of Johnsons birth, it was in but he was also the the young man. The desire to fix
his blood. The Johnson family these two problems in particular
was so ingrained in Texas that
first to be sworn in would prove to be his driving
Johnson City in the state was by a woman force through the rest of his life.
named after Johnsons own cousin. Johnsons political ambitions
The Johnson family had fought for the were already starting to form, and in
Confederacy in the Civil War and had lived 1931 he became a legislative secretary to
there, taming the land as farmers and ranchers Congressman Richard M Kleberg. In such a position
for years previously. Johnsons father had been a Johnson was thrust headfirst into the web of politics;
gifted politician himself, but he also amassed huge he met many influential people, congressmen,
debts, and in Lyndons early years, lost the family newspapermen and lobbyists and he began to refine
farm and descended into financial crisis. There is his own political skills. The political world was LBJs
no doubting that this brush with poverty had a natural environment and he flourished. In 1934 he
striking effect on Johnson. met his future wife, Claudia Alta Taylor. Charming
Even in his youngest days, Johnson had a gift and intelligent, she was the perfect complement to
for talking. In high school he was elected class the coarse and passionate Johnson. In just three
president and was a keen member of the debate months they were married and she served as

114
Lyndon B Johnson

Life in the time


of Lyndon B
Johnson
The end of prosperity
While Johnson was still young, the United
States experienced the worst economic
decline in its history. Not only were thousands
out of work, but thousands more were forced
to abandon their farms in the heartland due
to horrific dust storms. This in turn spawned
lawlessness and increased crime.

World War II
The Second World War was hugely costly to
the United States, and it affected not only
those fighting abroad, but those on the home
front. Women rapidly entered the workforce,
many for the first time, and the number of
high school drop-outs increased. 20 million
people struggled on the border of starvation
due to shortages of food, hospital beds,
housing and child-care.

The US rules
In the post-war years the US boasted the
strongest military and economy in the world.
For its citizens this meant they could enjoy a
wealth of consumer goods such as cars and
televisions, which were available to more
people than ever. The US also experienced a
baby boom, with approximately four million
babies born each year during the 1950s.

A house in the suburbs


With so many new families being created,
there was a huge increase of Americans
moving to small, inexpensive houses in the
suburbs. However, the idealised suburban life
of a white picket fence wasnt quite what it
seemed. Many American women felt trapped
and dissatisfied with a life of quietly rearing
children behind closed doors.

The youth rebel


Disillusioned with the mounting war in
Vietnam, many young Americans chose to
reject traditional values in every way they
could. They protested, wore their hair long,
listened to artists such as Bob Dylan and
gathered at Hippie rock festivals.

115
US Presidents

[He] seized the chance to use Kennedys


memory to power his own goals
Johnsons most trusted aide. Her modest inheritance unlikely duo teamed up in the 1960 presidential
would later fund his 1937 run for Congress. campaign. They won by the smallest popular
The money and Johnsons abilities secured him margin of the century.
a place in Congress aged at 28 years old. He was Johnson was ill-suited to the vice presidency, as
smart, hardworking, and he won allies quickly, Kennedy and the majority of his administration
including President Roosevelt. However, he failed to placed no great trust in him and LBJ found himself
win a Senate seat and in 1941 fate and war led him locked out of the presidents inner circle. Despite
elsewhere, and he became the first member this, Johnson did make some waves, he
of Congress to volunteer for active duty headed the space program and worked
as a navy lieutenant commander. on pushing through civil rights
His stint in the navy was brief, but Upon seeing the legislation. Johnson, however,
he won a Silver Star before he with his driving ambition
and when all serving members
official portrait of and grand dreams of curing
of Congress were ordered to himself by famed artist America of poverty remained
The president leave active service. In 1948 he Peter Hurd, Johnson frustrated by his lack of

and the King finally made it into the Senate.


The appointment wasnt
rejected it, declaring it influence, but wouldnt have
to wait long to take centre
One of the most significant and without controversy, however. the ugliest thing I stage. On 22 November 1963,
controversial relationships in Johnsons
life was with the civil rights trailblazer
Allegations of voter fraud ever saw three years into his presidency,
Martin Luther King Jr. Their complicated prompted his opponents to dub Kennedy was assassinated.
partnership has filled books and inspired him Landslide Lyndon. Despite this Johnson was only two cars behind
films, with some claiming that Johnson he advanced quickly through the Senate: him. Just a few hours later the coarse
was reluctant to help King achieve by 1953 he was elected majority leader and by 1960 Texan was sworn in as president.
equal voting rights for black Americans. he had set his sights on the White House. Now in the driving seat, Johnson could finally
However, others have stated that the
Unfortunately for Johnson, someone else was begin pushing his vision for a War on Poverty. The
partnership between the two charismatic
men was one of the most consequential in
eyeing the same prize. Young, handsome, rich and new president seized the chance to use Kennedys
American history. Those who worked with charismatic, John F Kennedy wooed and impressed memory to power his own goals and legislative
Johnson insist that he was supportive and his fellow Democrats and snatched the role of agendas, sending his Economic Opportunity Act,
enthusiastic about voting rights, urging Democratic candidate from under Johnsons nose. designed to tackle local poverty, to Congress as
King to organise rallies and protests. King The two men didnt get on, but Johnson needed quickly as possible. He also pushed through, with
himself wrote that the two of them did Kennedys newfound power, and Kennedy needed a combination of great political manoeuvring and
differ concerning the tempo but that he
Johnsons popularity in the southern states and the sheer force of will, the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. Johnson
had genuine involvement in the issues.
Taped interviews of the meetings between
the men indicate that Johnson had
been pressuring the Justice Department Defining moment
for some time to develop voting right
legislation. However, they also reveal that
Kennedy vs Johnson 1960
Johnson enjoyed success at the Senate and was a prime contender for
the president was hesitant for the public
the Democratic presidential candidacy. The only other real competition
to view him as close to the controversial
was an ambitious young man called John F Kennedy. Johnson chose
civil rights leader. Regardless of whether to delay his campaign, believing that Kennedy would cause a division
Johnson did prioritise Kings aims or not, in the party, but instead this gave the charismatic man a lead. Johnson
the two remarkable men both played a completely underestimated Kennedys charm and, in a mad fear of
part in the ultimate Civil Rights Act. On 2 failure, formed a Stop Kennedy coalition, which was unsuccessful.
July 1964 Johnson signed it into law, and Johnson received only 409 votes to Kennedys 806. It was with
a few months later gave the very same shock then, that Kennedy offered the vice-presidential nomination to
pen to King who called it one of his most Johnson, who then accepted. Whether it was in an effort to win, or
cherished possessions. simply an act of courtesy, Kennedys actions would profoundly affect
the future of the US in ways he could never have comprehend.

Timeline
1908
O Johnson is born O Johnson refines O The bitter truth O Entry into politics O Tying the knot
Johnson is born in central his skills In order to earn money to complete Johnson first dips his toe After a short courtship
Texas in a small farmhouse The young Johnson enrols his education, Johnson takes a into the world of politics and engagement, Johnson
to Samuel Ealy Johnson and at SWTSTC, now known as job teaching Mexican-American by campaigning for Texas marries Claudia Alta Taylor,
Rebekah Baines. He is the Texas State University. He children. It has a profound effect State Senator Welly also known as Lady Bird,
oldest of what will eventually becomes very involved in on him, as he realises that entry Hopkins in his run for in . They will go on to have
become five siblings: a school activities, including to college would be impossible to Congress. The experience two daughters, all with LBJ
brother, Sam, and three editing the newspaper almost all of them. He decides to has a profound effect on initials Lynda Bird, born
sisters, Rebekah, josefa and participating in various create a nation where the door to him, however, and he will in 1944, and Luci Baines,
and Lucia. college debates. knowledge is open to all Americans. quickly climb the ranks. born in 1947.
27 August 1908 1926 19281929 1931 17 November 1934

116
Lyndon B Johnson

nothing but produce horrific images to fill the


pages of newspapers. In private Johnson cursed
the war, saying If I left the woman I really loved
theGreat Society in order to get involved in that
bitch of a war on the other side of the world, then
I would lose everything at home. Like it or not,
Johnson was already losing everything before the
war was lost. His approval rating had plummeted
and in just four short years the record-breaking
winner had become one of Americas most
unpopular presidents of all time.
Despite his low approval rating, when Johnson
announced he would not seek or accept a
nomination as the Democrats candidate in 1968,
the country was shocked. But in reality he had
lost control of his own party, which was now split
into four rival factions. Privately he was dealing
immediately feared a backlash from the southern The conflict in Vietnam was waging on. with worsening health issues. Johnson vacated
white population, but when he ran for election in Johnson was determined to prevent the spread of the running race, and with his party in tatters, the
1964 he won by the biggest popular margin in history. communism, just like the men who had sat in the White House doors were open for the Republican
Kennedy had been liked, but without him, Johnson White House before him, and believed the only way candidate, Richard Nixon to walk in.
was more popular than ever. to do that was to stop the Viet Cong from taking Johnson, meanwhile, returned home to his
Now Johnson had four more years to put his South Vietnam, and he was willing to do anything ranch in Stonewall, Texas to work on his memoirs,
plans into action, and his sights focused on his to prevent it. Johnson poured money and men into perhaps aware of how little time remained. In
Great Society. This legislative agenda would Vietnam, with troop numbers soaring from 16,000 1970 Johnson suffered an attack of angina, the
become one of the most impactful and far-reaching to more than 500,000 in five years. This inevitably following year he had a heart attack. His condition
programs in the countrys history. Johnson meant American casualties sky-rocketed, and many rapidly worsened and he was rushed to hospital
orchestrated the passage of Medicare, pushed Americans took a stand against the war. Anti-war for surgery. However, his condition was too severe
through three civil rights bills, which outlawed campaigns gained support across the country, and to operate and was diagnosed as terminal. The
discrimination in housing, voting and commerce. when some ended in tragedy, Johnsons popularity ex-president died on 22 January 1973, two days
He poured money into urban renewal, championed drifted steadily downwards. after Nixons inauguration. Johnson was honoured
the arts and education and targeted crime. It was Johnson was stuck between a rock and a with a state funeral and buried in his family
everything that Johnson had dreamed of doing hard place. He wasnt the sort of man to admit cemetery. Johnson remains one of the most
since teaching in that classroom decades ago. defeat, and he had already poured countless controversial and divisive presidents of all time; an
Unfortunately for the president, there was another funds into winning what was now so obviously outspoken man with idealistic but sincere aims,
war he would have to fight. an unwinnable war. His bombing campaigns did torn asunder by fighting an unwinnable war.

Defining moment Defining moment


The Great Society 19641965 Rolling thunder 19641968
One of the central driving factors in Johnsons presidency Americas involvement in Vietnam dramatically changed
was his vision of the Great Society, seen as the when Johnson became president. He immediately reversed
elimination of racial injustice and poverty. Johnson Kennedys order to withdraw military personnel, and
pursued these aims tirelessly, and combated racial instead chose to expand the American military numbers
injustice with the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and 1968 and in the conflict. When this proved ineffective he launched
the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, due to having a systematic bombing campaign to grasp victory from
personal experience of poverty, it was legislation to end defeat. However, when this also failed to result in the
poverty that dominated Johnsons presidency, declaring desired outcome he poured more men and money into the
it his War on Poverty. He introduced Medicare and conflict, and by the end of October 1965 American troops
Medicaid, providing free medical care to needy Americans, in Vietnam numbered 200,000. In the following years
the Food Stamp Act of 1964, the Elementary and this number grew and grew, and faith in the president
Secondary Education Act and the Economic Opportunity plummeted. The Tet Offensive in 1968 was the final nail in
Act. Johnsons War on Poverty enabled millions of Johnsons coffin, turning popular opinion against the war,
Americans to rise above the poverty line. and against the president.

1973
O A rushed inauguration O An historic victory O The Voting Rights Act O The president steps down Johnson dies O
2 hours and 8 minutes Johnson runs against At the height of the civil rights In a shocking turn of events, After being diagnosed
after the assassination Republican Barry Goldwater movement, and urged by Johnson announces that he will with a terminal heart
of Kennedy, Johnson in the 1964 presidential Martin Luther King Jr, Johnson not be running for re-election, condition, Johnson
is hastily sworn in as election. Despite early pushes debate on the voting declaring,I shall not seek, and I dies at home at his
president on Air Force indication that Goldwater rights bill in February 1965. will not accept, the nomination ranch in Texas. He is
One. There are immediate may win, Johnson wins the Finally becoming effective of my party for another term as buried in his family
fears that he could be the election with 61 per cent on 6 August 1965, the Voting your president. Ironically this cemetery, only a few
next target in a conspiracy the widest popular margin Rights Act prohibits racial sees his approval rating yards from the house
against the government. in American history. discrimination in voting. increase dramatically. of his birth.
22 November 1963 1964 1965 1968 22 January 1973

117
US Presidents

1969 1974

Richard
Nixon
One of the most controversial and enigmatic
presidents ever, Nixons legacy will forever be
tarnished by the scandal that led to his downfall

W
ith beads of sweat forming at his brow, revelations over a dirty-tricks campaign that struck
the president of the United States of at the heart of the White House.
America looks straight down the lens of a 18 months earlier, on 17 June 1972, five men
television camera and says defiantly: Im had been arrested by police on the sixth floor of
not a crook. The president, Richard Nixon, the Watergate Hotel building in Washington, DC.
is in the middle of an hour-long televised question- Noticing that a number of doors have been taped
and-answer session with over 400 journalists. That open to prevent them from locking, a security guard
the leader of the worlds foremost superpower is called the police. All five were arrested and found
forced to make such an astonishing statement shows to have connections with the CIA and a group that
the scale of a scandal that has spread like wildfire raised funds for the re-election of Richard Nixon,
through the White House. It will lead to the first and the Committee for the Re-Election of the President
only resignation of an incumbent president to date (CRP), often satirically abbreviated to CREEP.
and become the defining political misdemeanour of Nixon is a familiar face, having been a vice
the 20th century. president to Dwight Eisenhower between 1952
So seismic is Watergate that the last syllable will and 1960 and previously unsuccessfully fighting
be added as a suffix to any public series of events John F Kennedy for the White House. During a
deemed scandalous, yet the origins are seemingly debate, the future president falls foul of a relatively
small-fry in comparison to many political new medium in political campaigning while
controversies a burglary at the Watergate Hotel, voters listening on the radio believe that Nixon
the site of the Democratic National Committee. has triumphed, television viewers are won over
At the time Richard Nixon delivers the quote, by JFKs good looks and charm; they are equally
late in 1973, the walls are beginning to close around dismayed by Nixons hunched shoulders, jowly
him, yet it will take almost another year for the appearance and sweaty brow. But, having narrowly
president to tender his resignation following a won the presidency in 1968, Nixon wins by a
death by a thousand cuts that sees allies and aides landslide in 1972 and enjoys approval ratings of
resigning or cast ruthlessly aside. Days before Nixon more than 70 per cent almost unheard of for a
resigns, beleaguered and facing impeachment, president in his second term.
he consults an old colleague, Henry Kissinger, However, Nixon deploys an array of dubious
on his options. Seeing a broken man in torment techniques to smear opponents. The CRP becomes
at the prospect of only the second presidential a de facto intelligence organisation engaged in
impeachment and a potential criminal trial, dirty campaigns against potential rivals: bugging
Kissinger tries to console Nixon and even accedes offices, seeking material that could be used against
to his request that the pair of them get down on opponents and attempting to prevent leaks to the
their knees and pray. That it has come to this is media. While the CRP is technically and officially
an indication of the devastating nature of the a private fundraising group, its existence and true

118
Richard Nixon

37 RICHARD NIXON
Republican, 1913 1994

A student of law who


served in the US Navy
Brief during World War Two,
Bio he was House Minority
Leader from 1965
and 1973, becoming president
when Richard Nixon resigned
over the Watergate scandal.
His pardoning of his disgraced
predecessor was controversial.
His administration was dogged
by a stagnating economy, signed
an arms agreement with the
Soviet Union and oversaw the
final withdrawal from Vietnam.

119
US Presidents

nature is known to several federal government

Why Watergate? employees and Nixon himself while he is aware


that the CRP gathers intelligence on his rivals and
What was the motive behind the administrations enemies, conversations reveal that
biggest political scandal of the he is either unaware of the scale of their activities
20th century?
The reason the Watergate burglaries remained
or simply chooses not to know.
shrouded in mystery for decades was the conflicting The five men arrested at the Watergate were
reports from the various parties involved. Certainly, likely there either to recover bugs that had been
those involved in the burglaries including prominent left on the telephone of senior Democrats or install
members of the White House Plumbers, a covert new surveillance equipment but originally little
intelligence group acting with the tacit approval of significance is ascribed to the break-in. When the
Nixon were working on behalf of Nixon, whether the
Washington Posts rookie reporter Bob Woodward
president was aware of the specific activities or not.
That Nixon learned about Watergate and sought a is sent to a local courthouse to cover the story,
cover-up is beyond dispute. he discovers that the five men are no ordinary
Various sources indicate that government agencies burglars, being found with unusually advanced
believed that the Cuban government one of USAs bugging equipment and a surprisingly high-
greatest ideological foes of the time was funding powered attorney. One of the men, James McCord,
the rival Democratic Party or that people in the upper
admits that he has previously worked for the CIA
echelons of government were keen to smear or bug
Democratic bigwigs or retrieve previously installed Woodward connects him to E Howard Hunt and
wires. What may have begun as an attempt to prevent Charles Colson using phone books belonging to the
classified documents being leaked to the press men. Colson will claim that upon hearing of the
degenerated into a dirty-tricks campaign against political arrests the day after they took place, Nixon hurled
opponents that was as widespread as it was inept. an ashtray at the wall in fury.
No definitive motive has ever come to light,
Hunt is another CIA operative with a colourful Protestors congregate outside
with even those involved seemingly evasive or the White House as pressure on
confused perhaps due to the passage of time, the
background he had once been accused of
Nixon mounts
desire to paint their own motives as righteous or involvement in the assassination of JFK; anecdotal
contemporaneous misinformation over the true evidence implies he may have been in Dallas at the
motive behind the biggest US political scandal of the time of the killing and at the time was working previously used, and using an elaborate system of
20th century. Perhaps the old maxim about absolute for the White House Plumbers, a shadowy group signals and instructions he is told that the scandal
power rings truest here, where The Presidents Men that worked to prevent classified information being originates in the White House. The source is
ordered the burglary and the president approved the
leaked to the media from the Nixon administration. referred to as Deep Throat.
cover-up simply because they could.
While the existence of the Plumbers comprising When Hunt, G Gordon Liddy and the five
a heady mix of CIA operatives, Republican aides and burglars are indicted on federal charges relating to
The Watergate Hotel, the assorted security personnel is known to Nixon, the the burglary, Hunt demands money from the CRP
beginning of the end for Nixon
extent of their activities is initially kept from him by and White House to support the sevens legal fees
senior staff. The group had come into existence from essentially hush money. They are all convicted
a desire to punish and undermine the Republicans in early-1973 and given stiff sentences, reflecting
enemies a memo from 1971 suggested the group Judge John Siricas belief that the men are lying
use any federal machinery to screw our political about their external help. The president announces
enemies but the line between what constitutes that a full investigation has occurred and found
enemies of America, the Nixon administration and no evidence of wrongdoing while in fact no
the Republican Party becomes hopelessly blurred. investigation has taken place. In his announcement,
Colson is a special counsel, essentially a lawyer, and Nixon says: I can say categorically that his
Woodward realises that he, unlike Hunt, is a genuine investigation indicates that no one on the White
link between the Watergate burglary and upper House staff, no one in this administration, presently
echelons of the White House. employed, was involved in this very bizarre
In 1972, Woodward is teamed with another incident. What really hurts in matters of this sort is
reporter, Carl Bernstein, and the pair is urged not the fact that they occur, because overzealous
to develop the story by the Posts executive people in campaigns do things that are wrong.
editor. Woodward contacts an FBI source he has What really hurts is if you try to cover it up.

Timeline
1972
O First arrests O McCord confesses O Nixon implicated O Butterfields admission O Impeachment
A security guard One of the Watergate Presidential Alexander Butterfield, process begins
notices suspicious burglars, James McCord, counsel John Dean a former presidential Nixon is ordered
activity and the White writes a letter to Judge tells Watergate secretary, makes the to hand over tapes
House Plumbers John Sirica claiming that investigators that startling revelation that to investigators
are arrested in the he lied during trial and he has discussed all conversations and by the Supreme
Democratic National that the burglary had the cover-up of the telephone calls in White Court. Congress
Committee offices at in fact involved other scandal with Nixon at House offices have been begins impeachment
the Watergate Hotel. government officials. least 35 times. covertly taped since 1971. proceedings.
17 June 1972 17 March 1973 3 June 1973 13 July 1973 24 July 1974

120
Richard Nixon

The accused Watergate burglars


and their lawyer, 9 January, 1973

The words will prove to be prescient. Payments


to the jailed men create a paper trail that implicates
senior figures in the administration. Woodward
deduces that the chief of staff, HR Haldeman and
Attorney General John Mitchell are also implicated.
Deep Throat claims the Watergate break-in was
masterminded by Haldeman and also states that
the lives of the two reporters may be in jeopardy:
Woodward and Bernstein press on regardless and
write a book, All The Presidents Men, later turned
into a film, about their experience of the scandal.
While Woodward and Bernstein are busy
uncovering the paper trail to the White House,
another revelation will prove just as disastrous for
Nixon. James McCord sends a letter to Judge Sirica in
March 1973, explaining that he has perjured himself,
alleging orders from high up in the White House.
Also in March, Nixon gets a lengthy rundown from
John Dean on the scale of the dirty-tricks campaign
and how the Watergate burglary came to happen.
Nixon listens, appalled, as Dean recounts the web of
deceit in which many of his staff are now trapped The journalists Bob Woodward (left) and Carl Bernstein
their investigation was key to exposing Nixon
Deans prognosis is grim: We have a cancer, close to

1919
O Smoking Gun O The resignation O Convictions Frost/Nixon O
The Smoking Gun tape, Nixon announces John N Mitchell, John Nixon gives his first
including an incriminating his resignation of Ehrlichman and HR major interview about
conversation between the presidency. Vice Haldeman are all the Watergate scandal
Nixon and Haldeman president Gerald convicted of conspiracy, with British journalist
formulating the cover-up, Ford succeeds him obstruction of justice and David Frost. This series
is released by the White as president for the perjury. All three go on to of talks would be
House. Opinion quickly remainder of the serve prison sentences of dramatised in the film
turns against Nixon. term, until 1977. at least 18 months. Frost/Nixon.
3 August 1974 9 August 1974 1 January 1975 4 May 1977

121
US Presidents

the Presidency, thats growing. Its growing daily. Its


compounding, it grows geometrically now because it
compounds itself.
An exasperated Nixon sighs his way through
Deans prognosis, which reveals illegal activities,
Nixons web of lies
The complex web of deception and conspiracy
blackmail and perjury on a grand scale. It is clear
the chain is only as strong as its weakest link
that brought a president to his knees
and those are cropping up everywhere as the net
tightens. Asked about his personal feelings on
the matter, Dean replies he is not confident the
administration can ride it out. Even Dean himself
is starting to feel the pressure and cant shake the
impression that he is being set up as a scapegoat.
He is probably correct: Nixon fires Dean, who turns
star witness for the prosecution, and the president
ATTORNEY GENERAL
rolls the dice and gambles by disposing of some
Richard
of his most trusted lieutenants, asking for the Kleindienst
resignation of both Haldeman and Ehrlichman. WHISTLEBLOWER Kleindienst became aware of

Richard Kleindienst also resigns. Mark Felt Watergate when G Gordon


Liddy told him while playing
The identity of Deep Throat
Coincidentally, at around this time, confirmation was one of the greatest political golf that the break-in had
mysteries until 2005, when Felt originated within the CRP and
hearings begin for installing L Patrick Gray as announced that he was journalist that he should arrange for the
burglars release. He resigned
permanent director of the FBI. During the hearings, Bob Woodwards source. Felt had
the same day John Dean
been the FBIs associate director
Gray reveals that he has provided daily updates in 1973 and was repeatedly was fired and Haldeman and
passed over for the job of Ehrlichman quit.
on the Watergate investigation to the White House
director by Nixon.
and alleges that John Dean has probably lied to
FBI investigators, enraging the White House. It is
subsequently revealed that Gray has disposed of
some of the contents of a safe belonging to Hunt
drawing the FBI into a web of deceit along with the
CIA, the federal government and the Republican
Party forcing his resignation in April 1973. In just a
few turbulent weeks Nixon had lost his three most
trusted lieutenants, his attorney general and the
head of the FBI. By May, more people disapprove GOVERNMENT AGENT CRP SECURITY ATTORNEY GENERAL
than approve of Richard Nixons presidency and Bernard Barker James McCord John Mitchell
a month later the Watergate hearings are being A Cuban emigrant who had A former CIA agent who acted as the Mitchell was a personal friend
served in the US armed forces security coordinator for the CRP. He was and partisan colleague of
televised; viewers see John Dean tell investigators and probably worked for both arrested at the Watergate complex and Nixons who was rewarded
that he had discussed the cover-up with Nixon at the FBI and CIA at various later informed Judge John Sirica that he with the job of attorney
times, Barker was an early had perjured himself at the trial and that general in 1969. A great
least 35 times. Although Nixon can plausibly deny recruit to the White House he had been ordered to carry out the believer in law and order,
knowledge of the CRP campaigns and protect Plumbers and served one break-in by senior White House figures. Mitchell was heavily involved
year in jail for his part in the in the so-called White House
himself by firing staff, things are about to get much Watergate break-in. Horrors a term he coined of
Nixons presidency, okayed the
worse for the president. Watergate burglary and had
Nixon is a suspicious individual who has few form in threatening journalists.
Mitchell was found guilty of
real friends and sees conspiracies against him conspiracy, obstruction of
everywhere. Given to brooding behaviour and justice and perjury and served
a 19-month sentence.
capable of vulgar outbursts and ruthless behaviour,
the president will later acknowledge that the
American people knew little of his real personality.
WHITE HOUSE LIAISON
This side of his personality was to be his undoing.
Gordon Liddy
Liddy was instrumental in forming
Known only to a few individuals, Nixon has had the White House Plumbers and was
responsible for many dirty-trick
secret recording equipment installed in the Oval
VICE PRESIDENT schemes. Liddy supervised the break-
ins at the Watergate and acted as the
Office, Cabinet Room and his private office in
Gerald Ford chief liaison to the White House. He
the White House. The resulting tapes are vital in Ford had found himself received a stiff 20-year sentence for
surprisingly promoted following his role but served only four and a half.
proving his knowledge of and active participation the resignation of Spiro Agnew
in the Watergate cover-up and wider culpability in 1973. Within a year he had
become president. One of his
in allowing his aides to commit behaviour both first acts was to pardon Nixon.
immoral and illegal. He lost to Jimmy Carter in the
1977 presidential elections.
Frank Sturgis
Supposedly implicated in the

In just a few turbulent weeks Nixon assassination of JFK and the


Cuban Revolution, Sturgis had long
known E Howard Hunt. He was

had lost his three most trusted GOVERNMENT


one of the five men arrested while
burgling the Watergate. Sturgis was
jailed for his part in the break-in

lieutenants and the head of the FBI AGENT


and later made lurid allegations
Kennedys assassination.

122