President of the United States
|God, guns, and freedom|
|Starting arguments over Thanksgiving dinner|
|Persons of interest|
“”No president starts with a clean slate. Upon entering the Oval Office each confronts an imposing and often problematic inheritance. Constraints, some foreign, others domestic, limit his freedom of action. Struggling to control (or even to understand) that inheritance and to elude those constraints, presidents fail at least as often as they succeed. Pretending to the role of Decider, a president all too often becomes little more than the medium through which power is exercised. Especially on matters related to national security, others manufacture or manipulate situations to which presidents then react.
|—Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War|
The President of the United States (POTUS) is the head of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States. This means they are responsible for approving and carrying out laws ratified in Congress, the legislative branch.
During the Cold War (and even currently, though to a lesser extent), Americans would refer to their presidents as "the leader of the free world". This was due to America's place of power in world politics, the President's high degree of autonomy and influence in the U.S. and the general American belief that the rest of the world admires them in some way.
Due to Congress and the Supreme Court (in theory) splitting power away from the executive branch and unlike most other presidential systems, most U.S. presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, largely managed to avoid authoritarianism. Notable exceptions include John Adams,[note 1] Andrew Jackson,[note 2] James Buchanan,[note 3] Andrew Johnson,[note 4] Woodrow Wilson,[note 5] Franklin D. Roosevelt,[note 6] Richard M. Nixon,[note 7] George W. Bush,[note 8] and Donald Trump.[note 9] 
The President is elected via a convoluted, semi-democratic process at four-year intervals. After FDR won four presidential terms—which kind of freaked out some people because it was the first time a president stayed past two terms—the 22nd Amendment (1951) was ratified to limit the president to two terms in office, so s/he wouldn't get too popular.[note 10] Many countries have emulated both the U.S.' executive presidency and its limits on re-election. However, this does not keep popular presidents from trying to run for more terms than allowed by the Constitution.
The Constitution also confers various rights and responsibilities to the office of the Presidency. For instance, the Appointments Clause (Article II, Section 2, Clause 2) of the Constitution empowers the President with the power to appoint public officials at executive departments and federal agencies, members to the boards of directors for government-owned corporations, and foreign ambassadors/ministers/consuls (however most of these are "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate"). Other powers include the power to pardon people convicted of federal crimes, including commuting sentences which effectively could change the punishment to time served (Article II, Section 2, Clause 1), and the power to issue executive orders, which have the binding force of law upon federal agencies, but do not require approval of the United States Congress and are subject to judicial review and interpretation (Article II, loosely).
Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 confers the title of "commander in chief of the armed forces" to the President of the United States in order to maintain the structure that puts a civilian leader above all military positions. Civilian control of the military is a Big Frigging Deal.
The President is empowered by the Appointments Clause with nominating Supreme Court justices, as well as court of appeals judges and district court judges via Article III, when seats become vacant. These nominations must pass approval in the Senate before they are confirmed.
Presidents from the ratification of the Constitution to the Civil War (1789–1865)
George Washington (1789–1797)
The first president, the only one to be unaffiliated with a political party (and the only one to be elected unanimously), being dragged out of retirement. Before the presidency, he was a lackluster general of the Continental Army. During his term, the federal government assumed the debts of the states and established a national bank. Resolved the Whiskey Rebellion (somewhat) peacefully. Helped improve post-war relations with Britain, and declared neutrality in regards to European political affairs, including the emerging French Revolution. Declined to run for a third term, setting the two-term tradition for future presidents that would be successfully broken just once.[note 11] Upon leaving office, he warned America against forming political parties and meddling in foreign affairs, good advice which was promptly forgotten or ignored.
John Adams (1797–1801)
Adams was the first vice president to become president, the only Federalist president, and somewhat authoritarian. He warned, "Remember, democracy never lasts long" and suggested that the president be addressed as "His Majesty". He successfully ended the Quasi War with France, following the XYZ affair, and kept America all out of war with Europe. Unfortunately, he also signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law, which made immigration to the country more difficult and outlawed criticism of the President, Congress, or government. Fortunately, these acts were swiftly done away with once Jefferson became president. Adams lacked charisma and didn't get along or cooperate with the other Founding Fathers. He died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)
A Francophile[note 12] and the first Democratic-Republican President. A tall and handsome redheaded Virginian, he is remembered for being the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. Believed in limited federal government and adherence to the Constitution (which he conveniently ignored while taking over the Louisiana Territory). Also founded the University of Virginia and authored the Jefferson Bible.[note 13] Historians have been debating for years whether he was the most or least racist of the Founding Fathers.
He initiated the first overseas war the United States was ever a part of, the First Barbary War (Barbary being the Anglophone world's name for the North African states of the time, even though only two of those states were involved in the conflict).
Like John Adams, Jefferson also died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. His health had been deteriorating, but he actively tried to hold out until the meaningful date.
James Madison (1809–1817)
The second Democratic-Republican President. Helped write the Federalist Papers and is the primary author of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Fought the useless War of 1812 with Great Britain during his term, which got Washington, D.C. and the White House burned down in retaliation for the American army burning the British North American capital at York, which became Toronto. Stood only 5'4" tall.
James Monroe (1817–1825)
The third Democratic-Republican and the last "Founding Father" to occupy the position. As the last president to wear long hair in a ponytail, he established the Monroe Doctrine (which was actually written by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams), proclaiming American dominance over political affairs in the western hemisphere and isolation from European political affairs. Also signed the Missouri Compromise, resolving the first major slavery incident in U.S. history. He died on July 4, 1831, which was America's 55th birthday and five years after the death of Adams and Jefferson. The capital of Liberia is named for him.
John Quincy Adams (1825–1829)
Wonkish son of John Adams, and the last of the Democratic-Republican presidents. The first president with short hair, he was elected in the contentious 1824 election, in which Andrew Jackson received the plurality of the vote out of four candidates. Swore on a book of law instead of a Bible when taking his oath of office. Paid off two-thirds of the public debt while in office, with the rest being paid off by Jackson. Rather than retire after his presidency, he served in the House for the last 17 years of his life. He was an opponent of slavery, especially during his time in Congress. Supporters of slavery tried to introduce a "gag rule" to prevent anti-slavery campaigners from petitioning Congress, despite this obviously contravening the First Amendment. Still, JQA fought against this for many years. He also defended in court the African slaves on the Spanish ship La Amistad who were charged with rebellion after seizing control of the vessel to prevent themselves from being sold into slavery, leading to himself being played on film by noted cannibal Anthony Hopkins.
Andrew Jackson (1829–1837)
The first Democratic president, and a homicidal maniac. Another man insulted his wife, so he killed him in a duel, after letting the other guy shoot first. Commanded U.S. forces during the War of 1812 and was famous for kicking the British out of Louisiana … two weeks after the war was already over, so it was more of a moral victory. As president, he expanded the spoils system. Despite supporting states' rights, he declared during the Nullification Crisis that states do not have the right to nullify federal laws, which put him at direct odds with Vice President John C. Calhoun, who specifically wanted that entitlement for his home state of South Carolina. Signed the Indian Removal Act, forcing Native Americans living in the states to move further west.
Pissed off the banks by issuing monetary notes (instead of letting the banks issue them), allowing the government to control interest rates. Was the first president on whom assassination attempts were made, all most likely ordered by the banks and/or Whigs; it ended with Jackson beating the would-be assassin to near death.
Martin Van Buren (1837–1841)
Andrew Jackson's vice president during his second term, Van Buren was nominated to run with Jackson on his re-election campaign after Calhoun jumped ship. Presided over the Panic of 1837, which he was blamed for, and which cost him re-election in 1840. Had rad muttonchops and was the first—and to date only—president to speak English as a second language (as you might be able to tell from his surname, his first language was Dutch). Currently, the only president not descended from English King John of Robin Hood fame, and the first president born after the United States declared its independence (all previous, and the one after him, were born in unambiguously colonial America). He lost the 1844 Democratic nomination for president mainly because he refused to immediately annex Texas. He also started the "tradition" of former presidents trying long-shot third-party runs for the presidency when he became the Free Soil Party candidate in the 1848 election. As a result of his party's anti-slavery platform, he carried 10% of the popular vote and no electoral votes. Both he and Teddy Roosevelt were members of the Dutch Reformed Church.
William Henry Harrison (1841)
The first Whig president. He was a presidential candidate in 1836 as part of a clever strategy where the Whigs ran three different presidential candidates from different parts of the country, aiming to deny Van Buren an absolute majority; under the rules at the time, this would have given the House of Representatives the power to choose the next president. Except Van Buren still won the majority, and Harrison had to wait four more years. His 1840 campaign was groundbreaking with its appeals to the masses: 60,000 attended one of his election rallies, at Tippecanoe; his campaign gave out whisky from the EC Booz distillery in log-cabin-shaped boxes; the Whigs attacked Van Buren's VP candidate Richard Johnson for having sex with black women; and supporters rolled a 10-foot-high tin ball around the country papered with pro-Harrison slogans.
It went downhill once he was elected. His first act as President was to deliver a very long inaugural address (8,445 words) in the freezing rain storm. A few weeks later, on March 26, he caught a cold that developed into pneumonia or a typhoid fever. Eight days later, Harrison died on April 4, 1841, making his one month tenure the shortest in American History. However, a recent study has suggested that septic shock is responsible, caused by the proximity of a landfill for human waste. At the time of his death, the cause of the infection was blamed directly on his attempt to prove that he was a vigorous man by delivering an interminable speech in a rainstorm without protective clothes. However, a basic understanding of how calendars work and modern research has looked to other causes.
John Tyler (1841–1845)
Succeeded Harrison, becoming the first president born after the Constitution. He was formerly a Democrat but left the party because he felt Jackson was insufficiently committed to states' rights. Despite having been elected to the vice presidency on the Whig ticket, he opposed most Whig policies and vetoed many bills brought to the White House. This irritated and enraged enough people that most of his cabinet resigned and the Whigs removed him from the party, making him the only president to be expelled from his own political party while in office. He also vetoed the tariff bill, which infamously caused him to become the first of only two presidents to face an unsuccessful impeachment attempt by the House of Representatives. He authorized the annexation of Texas and did not get along or cooperate with the Whigs, the Democrats, or anyone around him. Although he was the first president to oversee his vetoes overridden by Congress, he did have some foreign policy achievements including the Tyler Doctrine, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, ending the Dorr’s Rebellion and the Second Seminole War in Florida that later became part of the Union, and a trade treaty with China. After concluding his presidency, he supported the secession of his native Virginia and was elected to the Confederate Congress. Before he could be seated, he became the only president to die as a traitor to the United States, dying of a stroke on January 18, 1862 at the age of 71.
James K. Polk (1845–1849)
Another Democrat. Oversaw the most massive territorial expansion in U.S. history, which included Texas, the Oregon territory (acquired through a treaty with Britain that divided the disputed land along the 49th parallel), and pretty much the entire southwest (ceded by Mexico following the Mexican-American War). Also reestablished an independent treasury system and lowered tariffs. Basically, he accomplished everything he said at the beginning of his term, including not running for a second term. His achievements are listed in a song by beat combo "They Might Be Giants." The polka has nothing to do with him.
Zachary Taylor (1849–1850)
Whig Party candidate and former general during the Mexican-American War, who also served in the army for nearly 40 years. Became ill and died 16 months into his term. Was probably the best Whig president, having lived long enough to get a few good things done but not long enough to completely screw everything up.
Millard Fillmore (1850–1853)
Succeeded Taylor upon his death and became the last Whig president. Helped create the Compromise of 1850, which helped stave off the Civil War for a little longer, although measures such as the Fugitive Slave Act were unpopular enough with his fellow northern Whigs (he came from upstate New York) that he lost the Whig nomination in 1852. His name really is Millard Fillmore. His most significant contribution to American culture was lending his name to the two Fillmore theaters, both legendary in rock and roll history. Famous for being an obscure factoid in the days before the Internet: H.L. Mencken erroneously claimed he was the first president to install a bathtub in the White House. His wife caught a cold on the day his successor Franklin Pierce was inaugurated, and she died of pneumonia 26 days later. Continuing a trend established by Martin van Buren, he was another former president to run a long-shot third-party run for the presidency when he ran as a candidate for the anti-immigrant "Know Nothing" or "American" Party in 1856. He managed to win Maryland's eight electoral votes as well as 21.5% of the popular vote. The tragically unfunny conservative comic strip Mallard Fillmore is named after him.
Franklin Pierce (1853–1857)
Democrat and a "doughface" (a northerner with southern sympathies—he came from New Hampshire). Was strong-armed into signing the Kansas-Nebraska Act, effectively nullifying the Missouri Compromise and Compromise of 1850, reopening western territories to slavery, and having many people killed in the disputed territories. He is generally the fourth worst president for his failure to reconcile North and South by helping to further divide America and for his controversial attempt to annex Cuba.
His vice president, William R. King, died six weeks after the inauguration and was never replaced. Before becoming president, Pierce's occupations included military service in the Mexican-American war, where he spent essential military engagements variously in a tent with severe diarrhea or strapped to a horse on account of a sore leg (his, not the horse's). He lost the 1856 Democratic nomination to James Buchanan, who would turn out to be a lot worse than Pierce himself. He devoted his post-presidential life to alcohol abuse (as we might ourselves if our careers had turned out so piss-poor).
James Buchanan (1857–1861)
Another doughface (in his case, from Pennsylvania). He only won because Republicans were denied ballot access in southern states, and former President Fillmore played spoiler as the American Party candidate. Even then, the Whigs and the Republicans' fracturing as a disorganized emerging party was tantamount to election. He spent most of the previous years abroad or as a private citizen, thus he could be presented as a dark horse candidate who just wanted everybody to get along. One of his first actions as president was fighting an unpopular (and strange) war against Mormons.
At the cusp of political instability in the United States, he did everything he could to signal that he was supportive of expanding slavery, which explains the "worst President" moniker. You will never top this corrupt man who caused the first, and so far only, American civil war. Not even Johnson’s poor handling of Reconstruction or Trump’s failed coup attempt can compare, so that’s not even close. Buchanan was also completely and utterly racist, believing that African Americans would take over the nation, and did absolutely everything in his power to refuse neutrality in any way. And of course, he also happens to be very authoritarian as hell. He screwed up with the territories of Kansas and Utah, meddled too far in blackmailing the Supreme Court into passing a horrible Supreme Court case, was the most partisan person imaginable (still managing to divide his own party), and immaturely blamed Northern states for every single issue and leaving them out to dry after the economy took a hit. After refusing to lift a finger to keep the Union together, he declined to run again, giving rise to two separate Democratic tickets. The secessions happened in the awfully long period between Lincoln's election (November 1860) and Lincoln's inauguration (March 1861, given that Inauguration Day was changed to January under FDR, several decades later). He remains the only lifelong bachelor to become president, causing suspicion that he was gay; his niece Harriet Lane was his de facto First Lady. Although this has been heightened by contemporaneous hearsay attesting to his domestic partnership with Pierce's vice president, William Rufus King (who died from tuberculosis shortly after taking office in 1853), historians remain divided.
We completely stand by the moniker above that he is the worst U.S. president who ran on one of the most corrupt administrations. At a time when the country need unity (even a pinch would have been courteous), he was totally a bigot, a north-detesting doughface, did zilch as Congress fought (quite literally too), and completely disrespected the Supreme Court, free territories and the opposition as he pleased, which all culminated in a bloody civil war to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, then to cause almost every single political problem the U.S. struggles with now. There is not a single true stopped clock with this man, and fractal wrongness defines every trait and corruption of his depraved shell of a character.
Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865)
The first Republican president. Upon his election, numerous southern states seceded to form the Confederate States of America. He led the country through the Civil War to victory for the Union and the nation's reunification, though he did so by stepping on some civil liberties and his incompetent successor bungled Reconstruction so bad that we're still feeling the effects today. Nevertheless, Lincoln set the stage for the abolition of slavery, which was confirmed by Congress after his own assassination. Signing the Emancipation Proclamation that declared freedom to the slaves in the South and prevent France and Britain from going to the Civil War, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest presidents in US history, as he pretty much made abolition possible and successfully stopped what was the greatest threat to the country's identity and existence.
Although he successfully managed to reunite the Union, sadly, Lincoln did not live to see the reunited country’s wounds healed or restored from the war. On April 14, 1865, just 5 days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee, President Lincoln, along with his wife and two substitute guests, was watching a production of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater when he was tragically assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who was himself murdered two weeks later by a rebellious and religious sergeant named Boston Corbett. May or may not have hunted vampires during his presidency, and is possibly related to Tom Hanks.
Presidents from the Civil War to World War II (1865–1945)
Andrew Johnson (1865–1869)
Lincoln's VP for his second (but not first) term, with previous veep Hannibal Hamlin choosing not to run with him in 1864.[note 14] He was a slaveholder who was keener on upholding the political union and, in 1864, was a member of the National Union Party (the name used by the Republican Party for that election). Still, he was politically closer to the Democrats and formally joined them later in life. At about 10:15 pm on April 14, 1865, the same night when John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, Johnson was targeted by one of Booth’s henchmen, George Atzerodt, a German immigrant who decided to get drunk and abandon his task in killing the Vice President while the other henchman, Lewis Powell, only managed to seriously disfigure Secretary of State William Seward at his mansion. Spared from Atzerodt’s failed assassination attempt, Johnson became president after Lincoln passed away at the Petersen House. Three months after the deaths of Lincoln and Booth, Johnson permitted the executions of Atzerodt, Powell, David Herold, and boardinghouse keeper, Mary Surratt, on July 7, 1865.
Being a Southerner himself, Johnson didn't want to punish his home region too harshly. This put him at odds with the Republican-dominated Congress (and especially with his cabinet members and the Radical Republicans), who wanted to give the former slaves more rights and punish the South from leaving the Union. Almost every time Johnson kept vetoing much of their bills, Congress overrode all his vetoes. Finally, they have had enough of the authoritarianism of Johnson, who became the first president to be impeached for firing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. (To prevent this, Congress had passed a law forbidding removal of Cabinet members without Senate approval, which was blatantly unconstitutional, never again enforced, and subsequently repealed in 1887.) He was acquitted by one vote, but spent the remainder of his term virtually powerless. He is the third worst president in U.S. History, for being abysmally authoritarian and massively racist, mishandling Reconstruction, disregarding Lincoln’s achievements, refusing to compromise with the Radical Republicans, and arguably delaying Civil Rights.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869–1877)
Republican and former Civil War general. He kept Reconstruction humming along, namely by crushing the KKK, battling a giant mechanical spider, and while he was in office,the Fifteenth Amendment passed. His two terms were plagued with corruption, as well as the Panic of 1873. He sought to win his party's nomination for a third term in 1880, but failed. His reputation has suffered a lot from pro-Southern historians who exaggerated his faults (he admitted he was a bad judge of character, but not a crook) and downplayed his accomplishments.
Rutherford B. Hayes (1877–1881)
Another Republican, another Civil War general. He won the contentious 1876 election[note 15] despite coming second in the popular vote—the third time a person who did not win the most popular votes became president and the only time this happened when another person gained more than 50% of the vote. Formally ended Reconstruction, withdrawing federal troops from the South and effectively handing the region back over to the Democrats, ushering in the Jim Crow era as part of a deal (appropriately titled "the corrupt bargain") that gave him the disputed electoral votes he needed to win the Presidency. He is much more popular in Paraguay due to him presiding over a treaty that prevented Paraguay from being entirely gobbled up by Brazil and Argentina after the disastrous Paraguayan War.
James A. Garfield (1881)
A Republican famous for two reasons: he was assassinated and shared his name with a cartoon cat. He was shot shortly into his term by a mentally ill man upset over Garfield's refusal to appoint him to a government position.[note 16] Died after only 200 days in office. Incidentally, he's also the only sitting House member elected president, and also the only president to have come up with a mathematical proof, inventing an additional proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.
Chester A. Arthur (1881–1885)
The successor to Garfield. Passed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act, which stipulated that government jobs should be granted based on merit. Opponents spuriously claimed he hadn't been born in the United States—first alleging he was born in Ireland, then later in Canada—and that as such he was ineligible to be president. (Sound familiar?) He also signed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first of two federal mandates denying a specific population from immigrating into the United States. He has the honor of being the guy whose name is least likely to be recognized as belonging to a POTUS (unless you have watched Die Hard 3).
Grover Cleveland (1885–1889, 1893–1897)
The first Democrat elected since the Civil War and the only U.S. president thus far to serve two non-consecutive terms. Opposed the growth of labor unions, and kept the country on the gold standard at a time when it was unpopular. He is reasonably popular with modern libertarians (including his handling of Long Depressions). It's important to realize that, in 1884, New York was decided by just over a thousand votes and, had Cleveland lost New York, he would have lost the election to James Blaine, who also beat the incumbent Arthur in the primary.
Benjamin Harrison (1889–1893)
Republican and grandson of the ninth president. Beat out incumbent Cleveland in the Electoral College, despite losing the popular vote, though lost to him four years later. Passed the protectionist McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Antitrust Act. His term also saw the national debt surpass the billion-dollar mark for the first time in U.S. history.
William McKinley (1897–1901)
Another Republican. Led the country to victory in the Spanish-American War and acquired the United States' first overseas possessions from Spain. Additionally passed the annexation of Hawaii. Was assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, who actually confessed.
Theodore Roosevelt (1901–1909)
McKinley's second VP (the first, Garret Hobart, died in 1899). Youngest president ever (his 43rd birthday was weeks after his first inauguration).Republican, Spanish-American War hero. Commissioned the Panama Canal and set up the National Park System. Became the first U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering peace between Japan and Russia. Has a soft toy named after him.
Declined to run for re-election in 1908, but he grew to dislike the direction Taft (his protégé) was taking the Republican Party. Roosevelt ran as a third-party candidate in 1912, splitting the Republican vote (and coming in second place), handing the election over to a Democrat. During the campaign, he was shot and nearly killed in one of his speeches in Milwaukee; in fact, his life was spared solely by his 50 page speech, and he continued to give his speech regardless. He is the last ex-president to attempt a third-party run, though several former vice presidents tried the same later.
William Howard Taft (1909–1913)
The fattest president in U.S. history (though given trends in obesity, that may not remain true for much longer) and also a staunch eugenicist. His policies alienated him from much of his own party, costing him re-election. He was also the last president with any facial hair and the only president to place lower than second in a re-election bid. Teddy Roosevelt tried to eke him out for his party's nomination. Still, the bosses wouldn't have any of it, so Roosevelt ran on a third-party ticket, throwing the election to avowed segregationist Wilson.
Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921)
A Democrat with bad teeth and the only president to earn a Ph.D. He led the US through World War I, and helped found the League of Nations at its end, although Congress blocked the US from joining 3 times. He additionally led the US into occupations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as intervening in Mexico. Wilson instituted the country's first income tax[note 18]and established the Federal Reserve. His term also saw the passages of the Seventeenth Amendment, which let the eligible voters of each state vote directly for their senators instead of their state legislators doing it, and the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited the production and consumption of alcohol, which he vetoed only for the Republican Congress to override it.
Wilson's record on Civil Rights was abysmal. He came down hard on critics of the war and his government and had many protesters arrested, including Eugene Debs, who was a Socialist who Wilson beat in the 1912 election. He segregated the military, and several of his cabinet appointments did likewise for their offices. An apologist for the Klan, he had D.W. Griffith's TECHNICALLY excellent but morally reprehensible The Birth of a Nation screened in the White House, the first film ever to be shown there.
While only lukewarmly supporting the suffrage movement, he suffered a massive stroke, and his wife more or less took over the presidency; within a year women were allowed to vote. First president since Johnson to skip his successor’s inaugeration. He is the sixth worst president in US history, for being abysmally authoritarian and massively racist, pioneering modern-day American interventionism into other countries, ushering in the first Red Scare which directly targeted the lives of workers fighting for more rights and effectively numbed many minds in the US to horseshit policy, allowing four more terrible presidents after him a much higher chance of getting into office.
Warren G. Harding (1921–1923)
Harding had the largest popular vote margin in office in 1920 in a century, mainly by promising a "Return to Normalcy". A Republican gambling addict who died in office. He wore a bowtie well, but his administration was one of the most corrupt yet. He was the first president elected as an incumbent Senator, in which he represented his native Ohio for a full six-year term. Died in office, sparking numerous conspiracy theories. That's about it.
Calvin Coolidge (1923–1929)
Harding's vice president, foisted on him by a GOP convention that admired his prowess as a union-busting governor of Massachusetts. He was known as a man of few words while vice president and with a job of few responsibilities. Controversially, he signed the Immigration Act of 1924 and vetoed bills to help deal with farming subsidies, in which some historians blamed his economic policies for leading to the Great Depression. Nevertheless, Coolidge managed to help clean up the corruption in Harding’s administration. Coolidge was actually a reasonable public speaker and a pioneer of radio broadcast and regular press conferences, but he didn't speak unless he had to. He was also an early advocate for civil rights reform. He was also a staunch supporter for women’s rights.
An anti-interventionist, he helped avoid unnecessary wars in Latin American nations, extended the olive branch to embittered Latin American leaders over the American interventionist policy, improved relations with Mexico by recognizing its new government, resolved the German repetition, ended a crisis in European diplomacy with the Dawes Plan, signed a bill that granted citizenship to Native Americans, shrank the national debt, and signed the Kellogg-Briand Pact to promote peaceful settlements to other nations like France and Germany, which still served as a legal basis to prosecute Nazi leaders during the Nuremberg Trials. In addition to pardoning the remaining violators under the 1918 Sedition Act, he was the first president to formally recognize Leif Erikson, and not Christopher Columbus, as the first European to set foot in America.
The country saw an economic boom under his presidency, and when he decided not to run again in 1928, a stock market crash and Depression happened right after he moonwalked out the door. Throughout the twenties, the South experienced a silent crisis, which was only compounded by the stock market crash. No president until FDR did anything to alleviate that, either. The Coolidge effect is named for him.
Herbert Hoover (1929–1933)
Well meaning (although definitely not up to the job) Republican and "rugged individualist" who served as Secretary of Commerce under Coolidge. One of the worst presidents in history, Hoover utterly failed to alleviate the Great Depression by signing the Smoot-Hawly Tarrif to raise tarrifs on imported goods that backfired. Credit to Hoover, though, for being the first Republican to ever win Texas in 1928.
Had one of the longest—and most successful—post-presidencies of them all. He ran for the 1940 Republican primary, but lost. He was still alive by the time JFK was assassinated. Apparently, some drills were held for his funeral (which occurred in 1964), which conspiracy theorists point to as "evidence" for … something.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1945)
Semi-dictatorial Democrat and the longest-serving U.S. president ever: over 12 years through three terms and partway into a fourth. He suffered from polio at age 39 and lost use of his legs, a well-kept secret back then. Launched the New Deal to combat the Depression, which (among many other Godless things) introduced Social Security, mandated bank holidays, and a variety of new government agencies. Led the country into World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor (Just as planned). Died in office from a stroke on April 12, 1945. He has returned to being an icon for the modern Democratic Party, especially the more left-leaning members disillusioned with the 90s pivot toward the center.
Presidents from World War II onward (1945–present)
Harry S. Truman (1945–1953)
Father of the surveillance state/national security state. Harry Truman failed to lead our transition to a peacetime economy and instead declared a perpetual war on the Soviets. Introduced a mandatory "loyalty oath" for all federal employees.
Most remembered for his epic re-election comeback, launching one of the opening salvos of the civil rights movement by desegregating the military and Federal civil service, and stumbling into the Korean War.[note 19] Also plays a role in UFO lore—supposedly met with ETs, set up UFO investigation bureau, and even featured in a cameo role in that fake alien autopsy film. Oh, and the "S." doesn't actually stand for anything.[note 20]
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953–1961)
The first … er … last? Eisenhower Republican, i.e. a centrist president. He commanded Allied forces in Europe during WWII. As president, he oversaw the expansion of Social Security, the creation of NASA, the creation of Alaska and Hawaii as states, and the desegregation of public schools. The CIA overthrew democratically-elected leaders in Iran and Guatemala under Ike.
John F. Kennedy (1961–1963)
A machine politician from Democratic Massachusetts, which he represented in both houses of Congress, though not very liberal by today's standards. The first Catholic president and the only one until Biden. Horrendous foreign-policy blunders included the Bay of Pigs invasion (which went poorly, to say the least) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (which went a little better). Gave us Affirmative Action. Heavily associated with the Apollo program's success, largely because he could give wicked speeches to Congress (though it was Eisenhower who started the space program).
On November 22, 1963, he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald, who was himself murdered two days later by a distraught night club owner named Jack Ruby, setting off countless conspiracy theories. He is fondly remembered despite not getting a whole lot done in his 34 months in office.
He was the first person to be president with the current 50-state make-up, as Hawaii and Alaska were admitted into the union under Eisenhower, his immediate predecessor.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963–1969)
JFK's vice president, a competitor of his for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960, Southern Democrat who was saddled with a New England cabinet. Passed numerous civil rights bills, most notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, set up Medicare and Medicaid, and established numerous programs aimed at clobbering poverty (and they did a pretty good job). Had it not been for him driving the U.S. off a cliff in Vietnam, he'd be the greatest president since Lincoln, Roosevelts and Kennedy, though he was personally kind of an anti hero. Due to the Vietnam situation, however, he dropped out of the 1968 Democratic primary after a poor showing in New Hampshire.
Richard M. Nixon (1969–1974)
"Cloth coat Republican" and a real bastard. Played footsie with white supremacists during the close '68 election, then sabotaged the Vietnamese peace talks to win. Secretly bombed Cambodia, launched the War on Drugs, and scaled back the U.S. space program. A Quaker, he used the phone budget to chat with Billy Graham about their mutual distrust of liberals. Was implicated in a particular scandal but refused to release evidence, becoming the first president since Jackson to tell SCOTUS: Fuck you, I'm President. Their response to him: Nice try—smell the glove, motherfucker. He became the only president ever to resign.
Reagan, Bushes, Trump: All ran, and won, on a platform of "anti-establishment" because Nixon proved you can't trust politicians. Hunter S. Thompson saw Nixon as responsible in large part for the death of the American Dream. At least he left us with the EPA and improved relations with China and the Soviet Union.
Gerald Ford (1974–1977)
The only non-elected man to be President and Vice President, and the only Rockefeller Republican to become POTUS. Mainly remembered for pardoning Nixon, which he, unlike the rest of the country, never regretted, despite it costing him the 1976 election to Jimmy Carter. Had a very popular, outspoken feminist wife. Chevy Chase owes his career to him.
Jimmy Carter (1977–1981)
A Southern Democrat and, depending on whom you ask, the last of the New Dealers or first of the post-New Dealers. The first candidate since John F. Kennedy to use his religion to win votes, thereby handing Y'all Qaida the ladder they need to take over Washington. His administration suffered due to an energy crisis and a recession, as well as a hostage crisis in Iran. He lost his re-election bid in a landslide, forcing the Democrats to the right. He was the last Democrat to carry some of states in the Deep South,[note 21] which probably owed more than a little something to the fact that he's from Georgia.
He also gave Zia ul-Haq funding and arms in Pakistan (though he was reluctant to accept), allowing both douchebags to carry out a nationwide and very effective radical Islamization in their respective neighboring countries. The reverberations of those dealings haunt us to this day.
His post-presidency is acknowledged even by political opponents as one of the most successful and impactful ones.
Ronald Reagan (1981–1989)
Actor and leader for the New Right. Reagan was, until Trump and Biden, the oldest president of the United States, inaugurated at nearly 70. Reagan, like Bush and Trump to follow, was a figurehead leader. His charisma made him popular with the masses, but the brains behind it kept to the shadows. Kicked off Reaganomics, tripled the national debt, fired over 11,000 air traffic controllers, refused to get involved in the AIDS epidemic until it was too late, and took LaRouche seriously when he said Star Wars could be made nonfiction. (He publicly referred to the USSR as the "evil empire" and the Contras as "freedom fighters", both of which were lifted verbatim from the opening crawl to Episode IV.)
On the foreign front, he turned a blind eye to Apartheid, illegally sold arms to Iran and then used the money to fund terrorists in Nicaragua, financed even more terrorists in Afghanistan to help fight the Soviets, propped up Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, covered for Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and considered giving Augusto Pinochet of Chile asylum. Here at RationalWiki, we believe he is the ninth-worst president in U.S. history, as Bush the Lesser and Trump would both have been unelectable had Raygun never taken office. Canonized as a saint because he presided over the end of the Cold War and said some nice words … just don't raise the fact that he supported gun control (though specifically against the Black Panther Party), raised taxes each year of his presidency, and gave amnesty to people who were in the States illegally. Despite all of this, he was re-elected in 1984 in a landslide, and carried 49 out of 50 states, and is ranked as the ninth best president for helping to ease relations with the Soviet Union and trying to restore the economy.
Reagan had an attempt on his life in March of 1981, and while he did survive, James Brady, the White House Press Secretary, died from his injuries in 2014. It was an attempt for John Hinckley to win over Jodie Foster, and was ruled to be mentally unstable, and he is set to be freed later in 2022.
George H. W. Bush (1989–1993)
Former congressman, DCI, and Vice President, he buckled from the shitshow Reagan pawned off on him. Oversaw the breakdown of the USSR, barfed on the Japanese prime minister, and ousted Noriega when it became clear that he was political venom for the U.S. (who propped him up, to begin with). Ushered in modern warfare with Desert Storm—more justified than Vietnam in some ways, but even in the '90s everyone knew it was "war for oil".
Election tip: raising taxes after campaigning on "No new taxes" is a bad tactic. He wound up losing in 1992 to Bill Clinton, 370-168 in the electoral vote and 5.5% in the popular vote. Late in his life, he disavowed the new GOP and quit his lifetime NRA membership.
Bill Clinton (1993–2001)
Hypergamist and "New Democrat" from Arkansas. Before that, he bummed around at Yale (though he "didn't inhale"). His VP was from Tennessee, and the cultural differences between the North and South didn't break deals between them quite so badly back then. Additionally, third-party candidate Ross Perot took 19% of the vote, although we'll never know whether he siphoned more votes from Clinton or Bush, and if he cost Bush the 1992 election. Famously balanced the federal budget, though it destroyed the economy in the long run. It was a time of normalcy in the Land of the Free, and it was wonderful. Then he was caught having sexual relations with that woman, and it’s been a nightmare ever since. He got impeached for lying to Congress about it, but was acquitted by the Senate.
Repealed Glass-Steagall (which invited the financial sector to rob Peter to pay Paul), intervened in Kosovo, bombed a pharmaceutical facility in Sudan (thousands died of diseases that could not be countered, including tuberculosis, for chrissake), imposed crushing sanctions that failed to wrestle Saddam's grip on power, signed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and NAFTA, and "ended welfare as we know it". Admittedly, he hasn't aged well. The rising progressive movement in large part defines itself against his legacy.
George W. Bush (2001–2009)
Fake-accented son of the 41st president and last of the Reagan Republicans. He was elected—scratch that, selected by the Electoral College, as per the Constitution. His first term was basically a celebration of Republicans having control of Congress and the White House for the first time since Eisenhower's first term. It was almost like revenge for Clinton stealing the second term away from H. W. Bush. By 2003, they could do whatever they wanted, as Republicans held the House and flipped the Senate. He declared a War on Terror, gave two middle fingers to the Geneva Conventions, curtailed civil liberties, and introduced the concept of a semi-unitary executive. Other highlights include ignoring and distorting scientific data, watching as Louisiana sank into the Gulf, and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
In 2010, he published a memoir of his eight-year vacation called Decision Points in which he lies even more frequently than he did at the time. He now likes to paint weird pictures of himself in the bathroom. He is the fifth-worst president in history, but only since 2017.
Barack Obama (2009–2017)
The first African-American president. Took a beating over fancy mustard and tan suits. Democrats believed (or at least hoped) that he would stick to his guns more than Carter did, but by 2010 he had failed to make a case that the Republicans were obstructing his agenda, which by extension, is the people's agenda. Cracked down on whistleblowers more than any other president, deported and detained more immigrants than any other president, raided a bunch of legal marijuana dispensaries, coddled the wealthy, signed the NDAA into law, pulled forces out of Iraq, returned forces to Iraq(?), kicked off a global refugee crisis (though he did try to help refugees), bombed thousands (the majority of them civilians) with drone strikes, and expanded the Afghanistan War into Pakistan. American democracy sounded its stage 3 cancer alert when the PATRIOT Act wasn't repealed under Obama.
More positively, he finally killed Osama bin Laden, passed Obamacare and some very-slight banking regulation, reduced reliance on oil from outside America, ushered a (temporary) thaw in relations with Cuba, Russia, and Iran, vetoed the Keystone XL Pipeline (due to grassroots lobbying), upheld net neutrality, presided over a massive increase in green energy, and helped improve LGBT rights by appointing two of the Supreme Court justices who voted to enshrine marriage equality into law, appointing the most LGBT (and minority) judges of any president, and repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.
Donald Trump (2017–2021)
Trump is a former failed meat salesman who wants to date his own daughter. He once produced a reality TV series that hardly anyone watched, and has been walking around like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard ever since. The cornerstones of his campaign were "Lock Her Up" (walked it back), "Build the Wall" (walked it back), and starting a trade war with Gyna—though ironically, by killing the TPP, he has assured Chinese dominance over the Pacific Rim. Trump is also confirmed to owe Chinese banks a large sum of money.
Infamous for his Muslim ban (which barred many people from seven Muslim majority countries in the Middle East), hatred of the media, incitement of violence from his supporters, destabilizing influence on foreign policy, deconstruction of the administrative state, eradication of Obama's environmental laws, fomenting of authoritarianism in his party, destruction of what's left of workers' rights, relentless scapegoating of anyone and everyone who doesn't agree with him 100 percent, robbing of the country to fatten his wallet (and that of the ultra-rich), crusading to deny healthcare to tens of millions of citizens at the most inconvenient of times, allowing border patrol to forcibly separate migrant families and have the children locked up in cages, and bragging about all this and more on Twitter, which he even got banned from on January 8, 2021. This in addition to foaming at the mouth at the prospect of war with Iran, or North Korea, or Venezuela, or whichever one happens to be his obsession of the moment. He has the dishonor of currently being the only sitting American president to publicly speak out in defense of Neo-Nazis and stack his administration with openly fascist policy makers.
One of the most disgraceful moments of his presidency came midway through 2020, when George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, and nationwide protests erupted. Trump's response was not just to unleash the police to teargas and brutalize protesters. Trump's response was to deploy the fucking military on the streets of D.C., and he let the police, led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, teargas PEACEFUL protesters on Lafayette Square so he could walk across the street and take a picture in front of a church he never went to with an upside-down Bible that he didn't own. It was revealed by a Department of Justice official that that Trump's Attorney General, William Barr gave the order to clear out the Lafayette Square protesters.
The final year of Trump's presidency was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is credited with wiping out much of the economic gains made under both his and Obama's administrations. Many people have condemned his initially slow response to the virus and his previous dissolution of task forces meant to deal with pandemics as criminal negligence. His call to reopen businesses during the pandemic was also criticized for effectively calling people to die so rich men can get more money. Thousands would die each day due to his criminal and borderline homicidal negligence, deliberate misleading of the public, preference for profit over people, purging of anyone who actually tried to do the right thing, dismantling of any program meant to respond quickly to the pandemic, and intentionally keeping people from getting masks or vaccines whatsoever. Several times, more people died on a single day than people who died on 9/11. A grand total of 400,000 people died under his watch by January 19, 2021, his last full day as president. He may have not started a new war (not for lack of trying), but he still killed more Americans than anyone else in any way besides the Civil War.
He also has the record of one of the lowest approval rates for an American president, 37%. Amazingly, he won the presidency while having a 60 percent disapproval rating on the day of the election and became the single most unpopular president since polling's inception within days of taking office. He was impeached on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in this case over his attempt at bribing the government of Ukraine to get dirt on his political opponents; he is the third president ever impeached after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Come 2020, Trump became the first incumbent president to lose re-election since George H.W. Bush in 1992.
In addition to his horrible handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps the single most dangerous and infamous thing he ever did was attempting a violent self-coup by personally inciting an armed insurrection to stop Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election, so he could illegally stay in power and overturn the results. The storming of the Capitol consequently caused five deaths and hundreds of injuries all around in the building during the violent riot. Multiple lawmakers, including his own vice president, genuinely feared for their lives and evacuated the Capitol while he refused to send in the National Guard, as many of his supporters were actively trying to kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi (among other members of Congress).[note 22]
Due to this disgraceful action, he lost all of his social media accounts and was impeached again on January 13; this time, on account of inciting insurrection. He now holds the infamous distinction as the first president in American history ever to have been impeached twice. He is the second-worst president ever to serve, even without much "historical" judgement, with the outright fascism concluding his presidency as testimony. At least, it didn't spiral into another whole civil war, so the USA may yet heal with affirmative action—all while many Republicans seem to largely deny they had actually enabled it, instead continuing to support the wannabe dictator's dangerous disregard for the facts and project their feelings of guilt onto "communist AOC BLM pro-abortion antifas" in a desperate attempt to avoid introspection, all the while they look like idiots to even some of their own base.
Arriving to office via Amtrak, it's good ol' Joe Biden! He was Obama's vice president, who won the primary against Bernie Sanders and got elected with the most votes in history (over 81 million[note 23]), now the oldest elected president in history at 78 years old. An infamous gaffe machine, an Iraq War supporter, a tough on crime adherent, a War on Drugs champion, and a longtime friend to well-known segregationists, Joe is essentially just an empty suit put there to beat Trump and do better on COVID, all but a placeholder while various factions within the Democratic Party vie for power.
Kicking the US environmental response into gear (though it still has major flaws), actually getting the USA to reconnect with the world, and spearheading a monumentally successful vaccination program for COVID-19, it all feels a lot better. Biden has also had unique achievements such as cutting support for the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, forcing the military to reevaluate its own white supremacy, overturning many of Trump's social policies, and other good points of policy that spark hope for nothing like what we had under Obama. That said, the old pattern of Joe Biden fuckups are still present: A pretty messy cabinet, general centrist snobbery, a horrible immigration policy, definitely still some bad foreign policy issues, such as when the US lost the war in Afghanistan, and dropping many of the progressive promises that were dotted on his campaign. There's a reason why polls cite he is the second least popular president, second only to Trump. It's been a relatively short time in office so far, so the Biden legacy is yet to be written, but many fear that Biden's wishy-washy behavior and backtracking of many of his promises will endanger Democrats come 2022 and 2024. In addition, Biden was partly to blame when gas prices skyrocketed, especially as he didn’t want to do anything to lower them. Eventually he did remove a gas tax in order to barely relieve prices, and since the summer, gas and more broadly, inflation have seemed to fall.
Unfortunately, though, regardless of the sighs of relief we take not having Trump, he's still gaffing, almost as often as Dubya. Like when he forgot the name of his own Defense Secretary.
Curse of Tippecanoe
Elected in 1840, William Henry Harrison died eight days after contracting what was believed to be a thyphoid fever and pneumonia and only a month after taking office. This was the start of the so-called "Curse of Tippecanoe," a 120-year tenure of presidents, elected or re-elected in years evenly divisible by twenty, dying in office. This "Curse" was named after Harrison's "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" campaign slogan, which referenced his past as a killer of Native American leaders.
Honorable mention goes to Zachary Taylor, who fought against Tecumseh alongside Harrison. He was elected in 1848 … and died in 1850 because of a sudden stomach illness. He ate a bowl of cherries cooled with contaminated ice; speculation he was poisoned was shot down. This was the only time two presidents died within ten years from one another. He was not elected in a "cursed" year, but like Harrison, Taylor fought against Tecumseh.
Elected in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was the first President assassinated while in office and was also the first President elected in a "cursed" year since Harrison; thereby, crystallizing the curse happening every twenty years. He was fatally shot at Ford’s Theater by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate actor who opposed Lincoln's proposals in favor of civil rights and voting rights for African Americans. On the same night of Lincoln’s assassination, two of Booth’s conspirators failed to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward; Lewis Powell only managed to leave Seward seriously disfigured in his mansion and George Atzerodt got drunk and left the Kirkwood Hotel, rather than attempting to kill Johnson, who became president after Lincoln’s assassination. Three months after Booth’s own murder by Boston Corbett, Powell and Atzerodt, along with David Herold and their landlady Mary Surratt, would become four of the eight remaining conspirators that were hanged on July 7, 1865. Although Booth and his conspirators all participated in their own evil deeds, there are some unanswered questions and conspiracy theories that persist over Lincoln’s death and what really happened on that fateful day.
Elected in 1880, James A. Garfield was the second president to be assassinated when he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau, who thought the only way to end intra-party fighting among the Republicans was for Garfield to die (but had nothing against Garfield personally).
Elected on 1900, William McKinley was the third president to be assassinated when he was shot by gunman Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist who regarded McKinley as a symbol of oppression due to losing his job during a recession. McKinley died on September 14, 1901, from gangrene caused by bullet wounds by Cozilgosz, who was later executed several months later.
Elected in 1920, Warren G. Harding died in 1923 of heart disease in San Francisco while on a western tour. While immensely popular during his time in office, after his death, reports of massive corruption scandals within his administration eroded his popularity and public perception; just to add insult to injury.
Re-elected in 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office from a stroke while posing for a painting on a chair. He was the only president elected four times and the only president to serve for three terms, but his health eroded the closer he got to 1940, and he died 82 days into his fourth term just before he could see the end of World War II.
Elected in 1960, John F. Kennedy was the fourth president to be assassinated and the last of eight presidents to die in office. He was assassinated in Dallas, Texas by a former marine named Lee Harvey Oswald. Due to Oswald’s own murder by Jack Ruby, many conspiracy theories persist over the motive behind his death, the investigation to his death, the men responsible for his death, and even Oswald who shot him, the CIA, the Mafia, the Soviets, and even Lyndon Johnson. This was the first assassination ever caught on film, which fueled the mythology of the moment since people who were alive then largely remain alive today.
Elected in 1980, Ronald Reagan had an attempt on his life that left him wounded, but he survived. He also survived treatment for colon cancer while in office. Oddly enough, the first president to be stricken by the Curse, Harrison, was the oldest president at inauguration (68 years, 23 days) for 140 years, until he was finally surpassed by Ronald Reagan in 1981 (69 years, 349 days), the president who "broke" said Curse. Interestingly, as Governor of California before his presidency, Reagan refused to approve a major dam project that would have flooded an Indian reservation because "we've already broken enough treaties with the Indians."
Who was the first president to neither die in office nor suffer any injuries from an attempt on his life? George W. Bush, "elected" in 2000.[note 24] Many argue that, since he was appointed by the Supreme Court after Al Gore took the popular vote, he deserves an asterisk. However, Gore also survived both of Bush's terms.
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- Passed laws that outlawed criticism of Congress and the President, which were overturned.
- Publicly ignored the Supreme Court and carried out the Trail of Tears against their rulings, and they were powerless to stop him because only he may execute the law.
- See this article with all the grisly details about this disgraceful president.
- Arguing with members of Congress and the Radical Republicans about their own ideas of Reconstruction by vetoing their legislation, forcing Congress to overturn his vetoes.
- Pioneered the first Red Scare to suppress pro-labor movements and used WWI as pretext to crush anti-war sentiment.
- Infamously threw hundreds of thousands of Japanese, German, and Italian Americans in internment camps, including a young George Takei.
- "…but when the President does it, that means it is not illegal…" was literally something he said to the camera.
- Ushered in the Patriot Act, torture dressed up as Enhanced interrogation of terrorism suspects, kidnappings of terrorism suspects via "extraordinary renditions," and spearheaded a campaign of disinformation, propaganda, information suppression, and false intelligence for his agenda, then justified all that by saying the Presidency is a "Unitary Executive."
- We made an entire article with all the grisly details.
- Too popular, in this sense, means well-liked by a populace who feel they would be imprisoned or executed if they didn't.
- Though several two-term presidents tried to run for a third term, both consecutive and not—none of them successful before FDR.
- At least they knew he knew where France was.
- He dictated his own gravestone on his deathbed, crediting him as "Author of the Declaration of Independence [and] of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia." Note: he was prouder of those than that he was the freaking president for eight years.
- Given that Hamlin was a committed abolitionist, we're left retroactively to lament what could have been.
- To show how contentious it was, it came down to 20 contested electoral votes, and he made a comprimise to therefore win by one vote.
- Although it's been well documented that it was the doctors, not the bullet wound, that killed Garfield.
- He apparently wanted to be chief justice more than he wanted to be president; his wife and Teddy Roosevelt (who used to be his political ally) won over him in 1908.
- The Sixteenth Amendment, allowing for such, was ratified while Taft was a lame duck, and Wilson signed the Revenue Act to authorize an income tax shortly after he took office in 1913.
- Good thing he had just desegregated the military…
- It was a compromise middle name meant to commemorate both his grandfathers, who were named Shippe and Solomon, equally.
- Specifically Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina.
- Just for a scale of how bad the whole thing was, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), a noted Trump critic, was literally mere seconds away from being caught by them; so close, he genuinely thought he was about to die. If it weren’t for the actions of Officer Eugene Goodman, Romney likely would've been slaughtered.
- Though that's because more people who hadn't voted in prior presidential elections voted against Trump than for him in 2020. Disturbingly, Trump himself got over 74 million votes.
- A Russian extremist did try to blow him up with a hand grenade in 2005, but the grenade failed to go off and Bush was uninjured.
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- Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the Armed Forces (1948), OurDocuments.com
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- Why Democrats — and all Americans — should embrace centrism, Washington Post, May 7, 2019
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, National Park Service
- NASA BEGINS, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
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- Biden is only the second Catholic president, but nearly all have been Christians, Pew Research Center, January 20, 2021
- The Bay of Pigs Invasion and its Aftermath, April 1961–October 1962, Office of the Historian
- CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
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- The Biggest JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theories and How They've Been (Mostly) Debunked, People.com, October 10, 2017
- This Day in History: President Lyndon B. Johnson Signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The HWhite House: President Barack Obama, July 2, 2015
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- Why Lyndon Johnson Dropped Out, New York Times, March 24, 2018
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- Bombing of Cambodia, Ohio History Central
- Fifty Years Ago Today, President Nixon Declared the War on Drugs, Vera Institute of Justice, June 17, 2021
- How Richard Nixon Changed NASA, Planetary, October 4, 2014
- Nixon, Graham anti-Semitism on tape, Chucago Tribune, March 1, 2002
- On this day: Richard Nixon becomes the only US president to resign, The Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2021
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- Richard Nixon Opens Diplomatic Relations with China, Bill of Rights Institute
- Détente, History Channel, October 27, 2009
- Gerald Ford’s unique role in American history, Constitution Daily, July 14, 2021
- President Gerald R. Ford's Proclamation 4311, Granting a Pardon to Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford Presidental Library and Museum, September 8, 1974
- Ford never second-guessed Nixon pardon, NBC News, December 27, 2006
- Betty Ford: A New Kind of First Lady, The Glider Lehrman Institute of American History
- Carter's Evangelism Putting Religion Into Politics for First Time Since '60, New York Times, April 11, 1976
- How an oil shortage in the 1970s shaped today’s economic policy, MarketPlace, May 31, 2016
- Think Inflation Is Bad Now? Let's Take A Step Back To The 1970s, NPR, May 29, 2021
- The Hostage Crisis in Iran, The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum
- Reagan Buries Carter in a Landslide, CQ Almanac
- How the red and blue map evolved over the past century, American Magazine, June 29, 2016
- Pakistan Is Reluctant to Accept Limited U.S. Arms Pledge, Washington Post, January 6, 1980
- JIMMY CARTER: IMPACT AND LEGACY, Miller Center
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- The Reagan administration's unbelievable response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Vox, December 1, 2016
- Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War, Frances Fitzgerald
- Reagan brands Soviet Union 'evil empire,' March 8, 1983, Politico, March 8, 2018
- Reagan Says U.S. Owes 'Contras' Help, Washington Post, March 2, 1985
- Apartheid Amnesia, Foreign Press, July 19, 2013
- The Iran-Contra Affair, PBS
- Obama as Carter? GOP resists, Politico, February 5, 2011
- Exclusive: CIA Files Prove America Helped Saddam as He Gassed Iran, Foreign Press,
- US considered offering asylum to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, The Guardian
- The Black Panthers, NRA, Ronald Reagan, Armed Extremists, and the Second Amendment, Second Thoughts, April 8, 2020
- A Reagan Legacy: Amnesty For Illegal Immigrants, NPR, July 4, 2010
- 1984: Reagan's Landslide Victory, U.S. National Archives
- These are the top 25 US presidents, according to historians and biographers (and why you won't find Trump on the list), Business Insider, July 2, 2020
- President Reagan Was Nearly Assassinated in DC 40 Years Ago Tuesday, NBC 4 Washington, March 30, 2021
- Medical examiner rules James Brady’s death a homicide, Washington Post, August 8, 2014
- Jodie Foster and the stalker who shot the president ‘to win her heart’, Independent, March 31, 2021
- John Hinckley Jr. Will Be Free in 2022: Here's Why, FindLaw, October 4, 2021
- BUSH, George Herbert Walker, History, Art & Archives
- George H.W. Bush—the 11th Director of Central Intelligence, CIA, December 1, 2018
- How George H.W. Bush helped end the Cold War peacefully, CNN, December 1, 2018
- 25 Years Ago Today, George H.W. Bush Vomited on the Prime Minister of Japan, Newsweek, January 8, 2017
- Panama invasion: The US operation that ousted Noriega, BBC, December 20, 2019
- How George H.W. Bush's broken 'no new taxes' pledge changed American politics and policy forever, Washington Examiner, December 1, 2018
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- The 1992 Vote for President Bill Clinton:Another Brittle Mandate? Everett Carll Ladd, 1993
- George H.W. Bush Quit the NRA With This Sternly Worded Letter, The Trace, November 6, 2015
- CLINTON SAYS HE`S A `NEW DEMOCRAT`, Chicago Tribune, October 22, 1992
- Presidential Conference Press Room About Bill Clinton, HOFSTRA
- How Ross Perot's Third Party Presidential Bids Shook Up American Politic, WBUR, July 10, 2019
- The Untold Story Of How Clinton's Budget Destroyed The American Economy, Business Insider, July 5, 2012
- Why was Bill Clinton impeached?, CNN, December 17, 2019
- The Senate Acquits President Clinton, New York Times, February 13, 1999
- Owning the Consequences: Clinton and the Repeal of Glass-Steagall, Demos, September 11, 2015
- Kosovo Honours Bill Clinton for NATO Intervention in 1999 War, BalkanInsight, June 11, 2019
- Bill Clinton’s Act of Terrorism, Jacobin, October 12, 2016
- When Iraq Was Clinton’s War, Jacobin, May 6, 2016
- How Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has affected LGBTQ service members, 10 years after repeal, PBS, December 22, 2020
- Why Bill Clinton Signed the Defense of Marriage Act, The New Yorker, March 8, 2013
- Clinton signs NAFTA into law, Dec. 8, 1993, Politico, December 8, 2018
- The night the Supreme Court settled a presidential election, declaring George W. Bush the winner, Washington Post, November 6, 2020
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- THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION AND INTERNATIONAL LAW: TOO MUCH LAWYERING AND TOO LITTLE DIPLOMACY, Curtis A Bradley
- The Worst President Ever on Civil Liberties?, Colombian College of Arts & Sciences
- Bush kills global warming treaty, The Guardian
- Did George W. Bush Preside Over the Worst Economy Since the Great Depression?, 5 Minute Economist
- George Bush's memoirs published - as it happened, The Guardian
- Fact check: Barack Obama, not John Hanson, was the first Black U.S. president, USA Today, December 15, 2020
- The Victory of ‘No’, Politico Magazine
- Obama’s Crackdown on Whistleblowers, The Nation, March 26, 2013
- Obama Has Deported More People Than Any Other President, ABC News, August 29, 2016
- Obama’s War on Pot, Rolling Stone
- Obama’s Coddled Elites, National Review, November 14, 2012
- PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS INDEFINITE DETENTION BILL INTO LA, ACLU, December 31, 2011
- Fact Check: Did Obama Withdraw From Iraq Too Soon, Allowing ISIS To Grow?, NPR, December 19, 2015
- Iraq crisis: Barack Obama sends in US troops as Isis insurgency worsens, The Guardian, June 17, 2014
- Obama calls for more efforts to help refugees, ChinaDaily, September 21, 2016
- Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, January 17, 2017
- Obama Expands Missile Strikes Inside Pakistan, New York Times, February 20, 2009
- Osama Bin Laden Killed, NPR
- ‘A Monumental Effort’: How Obamacare Was Passed, The Commonwealth Fued
- Reducing America’s Dependence on Foreign Oil As a Strategy to Increase Economic Growth and Reduce Economic Vulnerability, The White House - President Barack Obama, August 29, 2013
- President Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Proposal, NBC News, November 6, 2015
- Court upholds Obama-backed net neutrality rules, Politico, June 14, 2016
- President Obama’s Renewable Energy Legacy, Environment America, January 10, 2017
- Obama Appoints Record Number of Gay Judges, but Senate Obstruction Persists, Lambda Legal, February 8, 2013
- President Obama on the Five Years Since Repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', The White House - President Barack Obama, December 10, 2015
- This anecdote about Donald Trump's failed steak business reveals a huge part of his personality, Business Insider, March 9, 2016
- Donald Trump's unsettling record of comments about his daughter Ivanka, Independent, October 10, 2016
- Craig, Susanne, "Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties", NYT 8.20.16.
- A licence to discriminate: Trump's Muslim & refugee ban, Amnesty International UK, October 6, 2021
- Trump Attacks on Press Effective, New Study Finds, VOA, April 17, 2020
- Capitol riots: Did Trump's words at rally incite violence?, BBC News, February 14, 2021
- The Trump NLRB’s attack on workers’ rights, Economic Policy Institute, October 16, 2019
- 598 People, Places and Things Donald Trump Has Insulted, New York Times, January 28, 2016
- Transgender Health Protections Reversed By Trump Administration, NPR, June 12, 2020
- Trump migrant separation policy: Children 'in cages' in Texas, BBC, June 18, 2018
- Twitter bans President Trump permanently, CNN', January 9, 2021
- THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ESCALATING TENSION WITH IRAN, American Oversight, January 20, 2021
- North Korea crisis: How events have unfolded under Trump, NBC News, November 2, 2017
- Tensions between Venezuela and the US keep rising. Here’s how they got to this point, CNBC, April 30, 2019
- World to Trump: Stand up against racism, neo-Nazis, CNN, August 16, 2017
- The Insurrection Act and Putting Troops on American Streets, Brookings, December 30, 2021
- Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op, NPR, June 1, 2020
- "Attorney General Barr ordered authorities to clear protesters near White House, DOJ official says," Evan Perez and David Shortell, CNN
- "Barr personally ordered removal of protesters near White House, leading to use of force against largely peaceful crowd," Carol D. Leonnig, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, and Rebecca Tan, Washington Post
- Trump says he may soon push businesses to reopen, defying the advice of coronavirus experts, Washington Post, March 23, 2020
- On Trump’s Last Full Day, Nation Records 400,000 Covid Deaths, KHN, January 19, 2021
- Poll: Trump's approval rating dips to new low of 37 percent, Politico, March 22, 2017
- Trump Favorability Up, but Trails Other Presidents-Elect, Gallup, November 17, 2016
- Trump impeachment: The short, medium and long story, BBC News, February 5, 2020
- Donald Trump becomes the 11th incumbent American President to lose a re-election bid, The Economic Times, November 8, 2020
- Capitol attack: the five people who died, The Guardian
- Reports: Trump Resisted Sending National Guard To Quell Violent Mob At U.S. Capitol, Forbes, January 6, 2021
- US Capitol rioters 'planned to kill Pence and Pelosi' impeachment trial hears as never before seen footage shown, ITV News, February 11, 2021
- Officer Eugene Goodman lauded again for saving Romney during the Capitol riot: ‘We all owe him a debt of gratitude’, Washington Post, February 11, 2021
- Trump impeached again, all eyes turn to Senate, NBC News, January 14, 2021
- Trump Becomes First President Impeached Twice After Fomenting Capitol Riot, Forbes, January 13, 2021
- Amtrak Joe: A brief look at President Biden's long history of supporting America's railroad, Business Insider, April 10, 2021
- Why former President Barack Obama picked Joe Biden as his VP in 2008: ‘We couldn’t have been more different’ CNBC, March 26, 2021
- How Joe Biden won over Bernie Sanders — and the Democratic Party, Vox, April 13, 2020
- Joe Biden breaks Obama's record for most votes ever cast for a U.S. presidential candidate, CBS News, December 7, 2020
- Why Did 74 Million People Vote for Trump?, Psychology Today, December 14, 2020
- At 78 and the oldest president, Biden sees a world changed, AP News, January 23, 2021
- LETTER: Joe Biden is a gaffe machine, Las Vegas Review Journal, June 20, 2021
- Joe Biden championed the Iraq war. Will that come back to haunt him now?, The Guardian, February 17, 2020
- The ‘Tough on Crime’ Ticket, Intelligencer, August 14, 2020
- Joe Biden’s long record supporting the war on drugs and mass incarceration, explained, Vox, July 31, 2019
- For Joe Biden, Friendship Is Magic, The Nation, June 24, 2019
- FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Launches Plan to Combat PFAS Pollution, The White House, October 18, 2021
- Biden says he ‘started the vaccination program’ despite Trump rollout, New York Post, October 7, 2021
- Biden ending US support for Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, AP News, February 4, 2021
- BIDEN’S SECRETARY OF DEFENSE IS MOVING TO PURGE THE MILITARY OF WHITE SUPREMACISTS, Vanity Fair, February 4, 2021
- Biden signs three bills to overturn Trump-era rules, AP News, June 30, 2021
- America's Afghan war is over but the battle for Biden's legacy is only just beginning, CNN, August 31, 2021
- One Year In, Biden’s Approval Rating Is In Trouble — Only Trump’s Was Lower, FiveThirtyEight, January 14, 2022
- Opinion Gas prices are through the roof. That’s just how Biden wants it., Washington Post, May 31, 2022
- Twitter video showing the moment. Pretty painful.
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- The Curse That Killed Seven US Presidents, Medium, November 10, 2020
- Medical Mystery: Did this president suffer a death by cherries?, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 6, 2018
- Zachary Taylor Did Not Die of Arsenic Poisoning, Tests Indicate, Los Angeles Tines, June 27, 1991
- From Abraham Lincoln to John F Kennedy: List of US Presidents assassinated while in office, News 9 Live, November 21, 2021
- The Execution of Charles Guiteau, National Park Service
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- From the Archives: FDR started fourth term 75 years ago, San Diego Union Tribune, January 20, 2020
- From the Archives, 1981: Ronald Reagan survives assassination attempt, The Age, March 29, 2021
- Reagan Undergoes Cancer Surgery, July 13, 1985, Politico, July 13, 2010
- An Incredibly Long Winded President Who Wasn't President For Very Long, Loc.gov
- Not Dammed Indians: The Dos Rios Dam and the Politics of Indian Removal, American Historical Association, 2019