Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Last night, children were killed as they slept next to their parents on the floor of a classroom in a UN-designated shelter in Gaza. Children killed in their sleep; this is an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame. Today the world stands disgraced.

United Nations officials described the killing of sleeping children as a disgrace to the world and accused Israel of a serious violation of international law after a school in Gaza being used to shelter Palestinian families was shelled on Wednesday.

At least 15 people, mostly children and women, died when the school in Jabaliya refugee camp was hit by five shells during a night of relentless bombardment across Gaza. More than 100 people were injured. Via the guardian

(via newsflick)

Take note — this isn’t a statement shot on grainy footage by Hamas terrorists toting AK-47s and standing in front of a flag in some dark hideout. These are the words of the UNITED NATIONS.

(via irish-mexi)

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Will you be posting a link to the article on the lawsuit/impeachment talks, or how can we access it?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Yes, I’ll link it. I’m still writing it.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
What should we make of Boehner suing Obama and all these impeachment grousings? And, though I believe it's unlikely, if the House does impeach Obama, what grounds do they have? All I hear is that "he's overstepping the bounds of the Constitution," but I haven't really heard any specific examples.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I’m actually working on an article about the Obama impeachment talk for AND MAGAZINE to be published soon, so hopefully that’ll explain my thoughts at length.

Basically, the Speaker’s lawsuit is a political stunt. Impeachment talk is also a political stunt, and I think it is being fueled by the Democrats more than the Republicans to stir up the base for the midterm elections.

There are serious, real problems that badly need to be tackled by Congress and the White House, but they are playing games because that’s what they do. And we’re just accepting it because it seems like that’s what is supposed to happen; it’s very much not what is supposed to happen.

More on this from me soon in AND MAGAZINE.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Dance contest : Taft vs. FDR. Who wins?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Well, that one would be a little unfair, wouldn’t it? You know…because of…I mean…you know.

Also — and I swear this isn’t one of those sarcastic, smart-ass falsehoods that I toss in to my answers once in a while — William Howard Taft was genuinely said to be a good dancer. I’m dead serious. On page 129 of Michael L. Bromley’s exhaustively researched and highly-detailed book, William Howard Taft and the First Motoring Presidency, Bromley writes:

"Additionally, and to the shock of unsuspecting hosts and the ladies of the ballroom, Taft was a superb dancer. In Panama [where then-Secretary of War Taft visited Panama to observe the construction of the Panama Canal], the girls were amazed and thrilled by his light feet. In Atlanta, Taft refused to leave the floor. ‘I can’t leave now,’ he announced between dances, ‘please have the train held.’ He danced past midnight, leaving only after he had charmed all the lives of the local notables."

A footnote on that same page in Bromley’s book cites a quote from a 1909 New York Times article:

"The women were charmed with Judge Taft as a dancer. They say that he keeps perfect step, knows how to protect his partner, and is surprisingly nimble on his feet. ‘To dance with him,’ one partner said, ‘you would never think he weighed so much.’"

So, even if FDR wasn’t…you know…well…I mean…you know…he probably would have danced circles around Roosevelt despite his weight.

(P.S.: Two other Presidents who were famously known to be excellent dancers were George Washington and Lyndon B. Johnson. I think that just gave me an idea for a feature film — You Got Served: Presidential Pop-Lockers  — where those three Presidents travel through time and straight break it down. In my mind, I can already see the climactic scene. Let’s just say it involves two words [SPOILER ALERT]: “Taft” and “Twerking”.)

(P.P.S: Wow, now I can’t unsee that image.) 

Asker aerohydra Asks:
Hey, so this just happened, Bush 43 is authoring a biography of his father, initial thoughts? Also, anything like this ever been done before?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

This is the first I’m hearing about it, but that will be very, very interesting. Bush 41 has never written a true autobiography, so it’ll be nice to have such a unique perspective from one President about another.

However, it won’t be the first time that a President has written about another President. We even nearly had another instance of a President whose father was also President writing a biography about his father — John Quincy Adams had worked off-and-on at trying to get together his father’s papers and either edit them into the autobiography that John Adams wanted to write but never finished, or write his own book about his father. Unfortunately, he never got that completed. John Quincy Adams did write a joint biography of his two immediate predecessors — The Lives of James Madison and James Monroe (BOOK | KINDLE). JQA also had book-length eulogies (which is largely what the joint biography was drawn from) on those two Presidents: An Eulogy on the Life and Character of James Monroe, published after Monroe died in 1831, and An Eulogy on the Life and Character of James Madison, published after Madison’s death in 1836.

Woodrow Wilson wrote a biography of George Washington with the snazzy title of George Washington (BOOK | KINDLE) in 1896, long before he began his own political career. And in 1958, Wilson was the subject of a biography from 84-year-old former President Herbert Hoover, The Ordeal of Woodrow WilsonWhat makes Hoover’s book about Wilson especially fascinating was that he served on behalf of President Wilson during the war effort of World War I and wrote about the toll that the Presidency, particularly the battle to win ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and American entry into the League of Nations, exacted on Wilson.

To me, the book by George W. Bush about his father is by far the most intriguing of any book by a President about a President. Bush 43 also didn’t write a traditional post-Presidential autobiography; his 2010 book, Decision Points (BOOK | KINDLE), was more of a memoir on specific events of his Presidency. But I found it to be a lot more candid than I expected. Any Presidential autobiography of memoir is going to contain some revisionist history because it’s often their last chance to personally shape their legacy, and Decision Points certainly contains a lot of that, but it was also far more personal than I imaged it would be. I’m excited about the prospect of the book you mentioned.

Most of the feedback I got said they’d like me to post the Vice Presidential Profiles randomly, instead of posting the entries chronologically from VPOTUS #1 (John Adams) to VPOTUS #47 (Joe Biden). I’m glad that was what people wanted because it shakes things up a bit on my end and makes it a little more fun.

The first Vice Presidential Profile will be posted either tonight or tomorrow.



The official poster of the 2015 Women’s World Cup is beautiful


USA! USA! USA! (And this is one that we can actually win!)

(via caitlinfaith)

Asker Anonymous Asks:
If you could go back in time and be a president at a certain moment is there any action you would be sure not to do
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Okay, you can’t blame me for this one because you kind of lobbed me a softball there…

•I wouldn’t have gone to the theater to see Our American Cousin while wearing a 16-foot-tall hat…

•I wouldn’t have strolled into the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad Station with James G. Blaine like I was the President and just owned the world…

•I would have gone and rode the Ferris wheel or spent some time in the haunted house instead of shaking hands at the Pan-American Exposition…

•I wouldn’t have gone to Texas. (Incidentally, that is actually something I shouldn’t have done in my real-life either. I mean, sure, I guess that JFK and Jackie had a tougher time, but it was really hot and sucky when I was there, so it might be a closer call than you think………okay, okay, you’re right…my experience in Texas was definitely worse than the Kennedys’.)

Asker Anonymous Asks:
I have a question not necessarily about a president, but about his father. Do you know how Augustine Washington Sr. died? All I can find is "sudden" death but never an actual cause of death. Was he in an accident?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, it wasn’t an accident; he died of an illness, but I’ve never read exactly what the illness was. It’s been suggested that he died of tuberculosis or smallpox, since both of those illnesses took their toll on the Washington family, but it seems as if that happened after Augustine Washington died. George and his brother contracted smallpox around 1752 and traveled to Barbados with hopes of the climate helping their recovery. George obviously survived, but Lawrence died of smallpox, but again, that was nearly 10 years after their father died.

Augustine Washington was just short of being 50 years old when he died in 1743 and he traveled frequently for business, including trips across the Atlantic to-and-from England. Due to his extensive travels, it really could have been any type of illness that killed him, but it was definitely of natural causes rather than any sort of accident.

"Hope drives belief. Belief drives action. And action achieves results." — Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley
Asker Anonymous Asks:
Should Jerry Brown drink and bathe in blood for a few weeks so he can become young enough to run in 2016?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

"THAT’S THE SOLUTION!" says everybody at Ready For Hillary when they read this post.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Do you know Rob Cockerham? What's he like? He also lives in Sacramento and I figure all you internet celebrities probably must get together to play beer pong all the time or something.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Is that a real person? Hopefully he’s not an athlete because that would be an unfortunate name to put on the back of a jersey.

No, I do not know him. There are actually about 2.5 million people that live in the Sacramento metropolitan area, so we don’t all know each other, believe it or not. Plus, I spent four years out-of-the-state, so I didn’t play a whole lot of beer pong during that time. In fact, the last time I played beer pong was…oh yeah..I’ve never played beer pong because I’m 34 years old and it’s disgusting to drink beer that has spent the night hosting a dirty-ass ping pong ball that’s bounced all over a garage or a “man cave” (I hate that word more than war) and has been in the gross hands of a bunch of drunk people who probably went to the bathroom 600 times without washing their hands that night. I’m sorry, I know people probably enjoy it and have great memories of beer pong, but it’s disgusting; if you want to get drunk, why don’t you just drink? And anytime I see a picture of people playing it, I imagine that everyone there is wearing a t-shirt they bought from “Busted Tees” and listening to insulting “tributes” by some soft-rock solo singer ironically covering classic gangsta rap songs.

Anyway, I don’t know what internet celebrities are, but I certainly wouldn’t count myself as one. I’m a historian and I work hard at being good at it; my only connection to the internet is using it as a platform to hopefully spread some knowledge and engage with people interested in learning something. But I wish the best for that dude that I don’t know because, for some reason, we miraculously haven’t crossed each other’s paths while living in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. I’m sure it’ll happen soon.

Asker anna8910 Asks:
So today at the University of Georgia Press we finished the inventory on all the books we have on hand and I think we MIGHT even have more than you!
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

Well, I’m going to have to do something to change that.