Dead Presidents

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

By Anthony Bergen
E-Mail: bergen.anthony@gmail.com
Posts tagged "Presidents"
Asker Anonymous Asks:
But now I'm curious, which president do you think was the most promiscuous? Inside or outside of the presidency.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

That is a much better way of asking that question, thank you.

If we are somewhat seriously looking at the promiscuity of Presidents, we have to remember that there have been major differences when it comes to openness about sexuality throughout history. Even some people who really got around in, say, George Washington’s day, might not have been as open about their sexual history as they were in the 1920s or 1960s or today. I don’t think it’s out of hand to say that promiscuity is a matter of perspective. We don’t know every President’s sexual history, and it’s difficult to separate the truth from rumors. That can be the difference between history and mythology.

Knowing this, it’s really hard to answer this question because the definition of promiscuity is ever-changing. (I’ve learned this first-hand in my own personal relationships whenever “the number” has been brought into the conversation.) We know this: Warren G. Harding, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Bill Clinton were serial adulterers. Other Presidents had at least one affair that we know of while married; others almost certainly had mistresses that we did not know about.

But we don’t know their sexual history when they were young or when they weren’t married. It’s impossible to fairly account for any of that. And although it’s entertaining, it’s really not any of our business. Now, we do tend to take ownership of these historical figures’ lives because of who they are, but I’m not going to wildly and publicly speculate on anyone’s sexual history because I know that I don’t even like people privately speculating about mine. We know that Harding, FDR, JFK, LBJ, and Clinton had numerous affairs. We understand that where there is smoke, there is usually fire. But I’m not fanning the flames.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Watching The Roosevelts and I'm confused about why TR stepped aside after one term. If he was so popular and effective why leave the Oval Office at the age of 50?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

When he won the 1904 election, TR said that he wouldn’t run again, and he instantly regretted it. Why did he do it? He probably got caught up in his victory and believed that the honorable thing to do was to say he’d stick to George Washington’s two-term tradition. Technically, Roosevelt was elected to only one term of his own (1905-1909), but since President McKinley was assassinated so soon into his own second term, Roosevelt’s succession felt like a full term. That’s the only reason that we can think of for why he refused to run in 1908; everyone has been scratching their head since he made the statement. As the second episode of The Roosevelts noted, when he made the statement, Alice Roosevelt cringed because she knew it was a mistake. It haunted him for the rest of his life because he loved being President and could probably stayed in office for at least two more terms. It especially haunted him once World War I rolled around and he grew disgusted by a lack of American preparation and the foreign policy of the Administration of President Wilson and Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan.

I don’t know about you, but beginning on tonight I’ll be spending every night of the next week glued to PBS while watching the latest documentary from Ken Burns and Florentine Films: "The Roosevelts".

Focusing on the three most significant and impactful members of one of America’s great political dynasties — Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Eleanor Roosevelt — "The Roosevelts" is a seven-part, 14-hour-long documentary, and I can’t imagine it being a disappointment to history-lovers.

Here’s the schedule for "The Roosevelts" on your local PBS affiliate. Encore performances of each episode immediately follow the new episodes each night. The schedule below is for Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), so be sure to check your local listings for the air time and PBS affiliate in your area:

Get Action (1858-1901): Sunday, September 14th, 8:00 PM
In the Arena (1901-1910): Monday, September 15th, 8:00 PM
The Fire of Life (1910-1916): Tuesday, September 16th, 8:00 PM
The Storm (1920-1933): Wednesday, September 17th, 8:00 PM
The Rising Road (1933-1939): Thursday, September 18th, 8:00 PM
The Common Cause (1939-1944): Friday, September 19th, 8:00 PM
A Strong and Active Faith (1944-1962): Saturday, September 20th, 8:00 PM

Asker Anonymous Asks:
was George W Bush a racist
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

George W. Bush can be — and should be — criticized for a great number of things, but I’ve never heard anything that would indicate that he was racially intolerant.

With PEPFAR, Bush 43 did more to help combat AIDS in Africa than any other President in American history. Throughout both of his terms, one of the most influential and prominent members of his Administration was a black female — first as National Security Advisor and then as Secretary of State. Think about this: George W. Bush served eight years as President and he didn’t have a white Secretary of State — the nation’s top diplomatic post and most visible representative of our country other than the President — serve even one minute of those eight years. In his first term, the Secretary of State was Colin Powell; in the second term, it was Condoleezza Rice.

And here’s the impressive part: Bush — a Republican from Texas — never used the diversity of his Cabinet as a political selling point as many other recent Presidents have done. With the exception of Hillary Clinton in his first term, President Obama has appointed white men to run the State Department, Treasury Department, and the Department of Defense, just as every single one of his predecessor’s has done, with the exception of Bush 43 and Bill Clinton (who appointed Madeline Albright as his second term Secretary of State).

Re: the survivability of McKinley's injuries. Your comment that President McKinley likely would have survived if he had received the same level of care that President Reagan did got me thinking - could the same be said for Presidents Lincoln and Garfield?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

With modern medical care, James Garfield absolutely would have survived his wounds. In fact, a case could be made that Garfield would have been better off if nobody even tried to treat him after he was shot. It was unsterilized instruments and dirty fingers being poked into Garfield’s wounds in an effort to find the track of the bullet which introduced the infections that eventually killed him. Of the four Presidents who were assassinated, Garfield’s original wounds were the least severe, and the gunshot wound that Reagan survived in 1981 was less severe than both Garfield’s and McKinley’s. Charles Guiteau shot James Garfield, but it was the President’s doctors who killed him.

Lincoln is a different story. Sure, there’s always the possibility that with an immediate response and modern technology, Lincoln could have remained alive via life support, but he would have been in a vegetative state. But even that is highly unlikely. John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at almost point-blank range. There were powder burns around the wound in the back of Lincoln’s skull, so Booth was very, very close — probably less than six inches away from the President — when he shot him. Also, it’s important to remember that Lincoln was shot with a Civil War-era weapon, so he wasn’t struck with a bullet as we think of bullets today, but a .41 caliber ball from a Derringer pistol. The ball flattened as it passed through the back of Lincoln’s skull and carried bone fragments from the skull as it passed through the full length of Lincoln’s brain. There was no exit wound and the pressure and trauma fractured both of Lincoln’s eye sockets (from inside of his head). The ball probably lodged in bone near or behind Lincoln’s right eye — several attending physicians immediately after the shooting and in the autopsy the next day disagreed about which eye the bullet lodged behind because as they opened up Lincoln’s skull during the autopsy, the ball literally fell out of his head and through the fingers of a doctor. Most believe that it lodged behind the right eye because it was protruding after the shooting.

Lincoln’s wound was fatal in almost every instance in 1865, and it would probably be just as fatal in 2014. He kept breathing until 7:22 AM the next morning, but Lincoln was also known to be a surprisingly strong man physically so his respiratory system put up quite a fight. However, it’s pretty much a given that Lincoln was brain-dead by midnight or 1 AM; the trauma to his brain was too severe — the autopsy showed that the bullet not only passed through the entire brain and carried skull fragments with it, but it also left sharp pieces of bone from his skull in various parts of the brain. The doctors attending to Lincoln acted immediately and did as good of a job as could be expected — in 1865 or 150 years later — but it was a fatal wound.

Reagan was very lucky for the quick reaction of the Secret Service. At the Washington Hilton, the lead agent, Jerry Parr, quickly shoved the President into the limousine as shots rang out and Tim McCarthy did exactly what the Secret Service is supposedly trained to do — he instantaneously turned towards the gunman, made himself a bigger target, and literally took a bullet for the President. If Parr hadn’t shoved Reagan into the limo when he did, Reagan likely would have taken a bullet to the head; instead, two bullets hit the limousine and one of them ricocheted off the side and struck Reagan. If it wasn’t for the quick reaction of the Secret Service during the shooting and immediately afterward when Parr diverted the limo to the hospital instead of the White House, Reagan would have died from either a more direct shot or from the massive blood loss that he was suffering from. The doctors at George Washington Hospital believed Reagan would have died if he had arrived at the hospital even just a couple of minutes later. It also helped that Reagan was in really good physical shape for a 70-year-old man. But if Reagan had been shot in 1881 instead of 1981; he’d have ended up with the second-shortest Presidency in history. And if Garfield had been shot in 1981 instead of 1881, he wouldn’t be the guy holding that record.

Asker Anonymous Asks:
This kid in my college Geography/World Affairs class said Richard Nixon was a hero and the best president. I plan on reading all those lovely posts under your /tagged/Nixon soon, to gain some perspective. However, do you have a section where you list your personal opinions on presidents? Not sure if I glanced over it or what. If not, would you consider making one? Or sharing your opinion on Nixon? :) (P.S. Hate to be "that weird Anon," but man, you are so handsome!)
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

My personal opinions on individual Presidents are all over the site, but so are my historical opinions on them, so it will definitely require a bit of a treasure hunt. I wish I had tagged my posts better and more consistently when I began the blog because it would have been easier to organize them in an overall index of sorts. I ranked the Presidents by their performance in office and the links to that can be found here, but if I ever have the time, I should probably do a personal likeability ranking, or just a FAQ page where I give a brief synopsis of what I think personally about each individual President.

With Nixon, he certainly wasn’t the best President and he’s kind of an odd hero to have unless you are James Buchanan or Roger Stone (who has a tattoo of Nixon on his back), but I think he’s one of the more fascinating figures in American history. I also think he could have been a very good President if not for the paranoia and insecurity that eventually brought him down. Few Presidents were as gifted and brilliant, or able to see international affairs in the same way as Richard Nixon. It’s a real shame that he destroyed himself.

Almost exactly one hundred years prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, another act of terror on a bright September day in New York rocked the United States during the first year of a new century.  In the photo above, President William McKinley is shown walking up the steps at the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York just minutes before he was shot.  McKinley had recently been re-elected to a second term and was extraordinarily popular after successfully leading the country through the Spanish-American War. 

At the Pan-American Exposition, President McKinley spent time attending receptions, meeting dignitaries, and shaking hands with visitors to the fair.  It was work McKinley enjoyed doing.  The 58-year-old President was a kindly, gentle man who doted over his beloved wife who was nearly invalid.  Ida McKinley was epileptic and the President took care of her constantly, never shying away from her illness or allowing it to affect his responsibilities or his public duties.  At dinners, if Ida suffered an epileptic fit or seizure, the President would quietly and gently drape a handkerchief over her face or distract everyone’s attention and continue conversation as usual.  McKinley thoughtfully included Ida in as much as she could handle and never made her feel embarrassed about her condition.

McKinley was kind to other people, as well.  The President hated to disappoint people, hated to tell people no, and hated to be the person to break bad news to someone else.  Often, McKinley would wear a pink carnation in his lapel, which he would give to those who might be disappointed after a difficult meeting.  President McKinley wanted people who met with him to at least walk away with something when they left his office, even if they didn’t get what they had come for.

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It was this thoughtfulness which led William McKinley to deflect worries by his personal secretary George B. Cortelyou that the public receptions at the Pan-American Exposition might be a security risk.  It was McKinley’s gentle manner which led him to refuse Cortelyou’s suggestions to cancel the public receptions in Buffalo.  It was McKinley’s good heart which led him to genuinely believe that “No one would wish to hurt me.”  It was the way that McKinley put other people first that caused him to notice the man in line at the Temple of Music with a bandaged right hand and decide to reach to shake the man’s other hand.

The man with the bandaged hand was Leon Czolgosz, a 28-year-old unemployed mill worker originally from Detroit.  The son of Polish immigrants, Czolgosz had become interested in anarchism and after witnessing a speech by famed anarchist Emma Goldman, Czolgosz decided to make a statement by killing the President.  A day earlier, Czogolsz had planned to shoot McKinley as the President gave his President’s Day speech at the Exposition, but the assassin could not get close enough.  On September 6th, Czoglosz got as close as one could be to the President of the United States and took advantage of William McKinley’s kindness.

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As the line queued in the Temple of Music, President McKinley shook hands while surrounded by his personal secretary, Cortelyou, the Exposition’s administrator, John Milburn, and a Secret Service agent.  The Secret Service was not normally charged with the protection of Presidents in 1901, but on this day, two agents accompanied President McKinley as he greeted the large crowd of well-wishers in Buffalo.  The photo above shows the inside of the Temple of Music and an “x” marks the spot where President McKinley stood to shake hands with Leon Czolgosz at 4:07 PM on September 6, 1901.

When the President noticed the bandage on Czolgosz’s right hand, McKinley quickly changed hands to shake Czolgosz’s uninjured left hand.  As the two men grasped hands, Czogolsz grabbed McKinley and pulled him close.  Underneath the bandage in Czogolsz’s right hand was a .32 Iver Johnson revolver and he quickly shot President McKinley twice, point-blank.

The first bullet struck a button and grazed the President’s breastbone without penetrating the skin.  The second shot that Czolgosz fired was far more dangerous.  At point-blank range, so close that it left powder burns on McKinley’s abdomen, the second bullet passed through the President’s stomach, clipped the top of his left kidney and lodged deep in McKinley’s pancreas.  Still standing for a moment after the shooting, McKinley fell backwards into the arms of one of the Secret Service agents and his secretary, George Cortelyou.

Czolgosz — his bandage in flames due to the gunshots — was quickly grabbed by the person in line behind him, James Parker.  Parker, a 6’5” black man, punched the assassin and knocked him to the ground.  The Secret Service agents later admitted that they hadn’t noticed Czolgosz’s suspicious bandaged hand because they were closely watching the large black man, Parker, who was directly behind the assassin.  Buffalo policemen and some fair-goers jumped on Czolgosz and began beating him.  When the seriously wounded President saw this, McKinley yelled, “Don’t let them hurt him!”.

Lying on the floor of the Pan-American Exposition’s Temple of Music, President McKinley thought of his ailing wife.  To his loyal secretary, the President pleaded, “My wife, be careful, Cortelyou, how you tell her — oh, be careful.”  McKinley was rushed to a hospital on the fairgrounds.

At first, it appeared as if McKinley would survive.  In modern terms, McKinley’s gunshot wounds were far less dangerous than those suffered by Ronald Reagan in 1981.  Had McKinley received the same level of care and expertise that President Reagan did eighty years later, he likely would have survived.  However, the doctors in Buffalo searched in vain for the bullet that lodged in his pancreas and left behind bacteria which caused an infection.  After rallying within the first few days of the shooting, McKinley’s condition rapidly deteriorated.  On September 11, 1901, there was hope as McKinley ate solid food for the first time since the shooting.  Sadly, within 24 hours, hope had dissipated.

In the home of the Exposition’s president John Milburn on the morning of September 14, 1901, a quiet crowd surrounded the outside of the building while on the inside, a vigil mounted by his friends, doctors, and colleagues watched over the dying President.  At 2:15 AM on September 14th, President William McKinley died.  What really killed McKinley — besides Czologsz’s act of terror — was a gangrenous infection.  Ironically, President McKinley could have been saved by an X-Ray machine and at the Pan-American Exposition that day there was an experimental X-Ray machine on display.  Nobody thought to retrieve it.

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Czolgosz quickly confessed to the assassination, stating “I killed President McKinley because I done my duty. I didn’t believe one man should have so much service and another man should have none.”  Less than a month-and-a-half later, Czolgosz was executed in the electric chamber of New York’s Auburn State Prison

Much like what the United States would experience exactly one hundred years later in the days following the September 11th terrorist attacks, a stunned nation had an outpouring of grief after President McKinley’s assassination.  Americans could hardly believe that such a beautiful September day in New York could turn so ugly, especially as everyone celebrated the first year of a new century.  The flag was everywhere and red, white and blue was displayed along with black crepe mourning the tragedy. 

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As with what would happen again 100 years later, the people were united in their sorrow, buried their victim, and looked to a future full of new battles.  In 1901, as in 2001, the United States faced a new day of challenges when an act of terror robbed the country of some of its innocence on a beautiful September day in New York.

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Today, we remember.

We remember where we were when we heard about the first plane hitting the tower.  We remember what we thought as the news just began to trickle in.  We remember our horror as we watched the second plane hit the other tower.  We remember the evacuations — people running out of our monuments, our centers of government and finance, and spilling out on to the streets of our nation’s capital.  We remember the dust and debris chasing thousands of New Yorkers through the streets of our most iconic city.  We remember the smoke rising from the Pentagon.  We remember that impact site in Pennsylvania.  We remember watching the towers fall.

We remember the fear, the chaos, the sadness, and the feeling of not knowing what was happening or when it would end.  We remember a feeling that Americans were not used to experiencing up to September 11, 2001: helplessness — the feeling of being attacked.  We remember that the weather was perfect throughout almost the entire country that morning.  We remember that we don’t remember what it felt like on September 10th.

Do you remember pointing fingers?  Do you remember placing blame?  Do you remember partisanship?  I remember patriotism.  I remember flags and candles and donating water and giving blood and having a new appreciation for police officers and firefighters.  I remember that I wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican.  I remember that I was an American.  I remember that we were all Americans.  I remember that we cared a little bit more about each other for at least a couple of weeks.

When Democrat Lyndon Johnson was the Senate Majority Leader and Republican Dwight Eisenhower was President of the United States, LBJ — one of the most intense, passionate political animals in our history — never attacked President Eisenhower.  It wasn’t because LBJ agreed with Eisenhower’s policies.  It wasn’t because LBJ was scared.  It was because, as LBJ explained in 1953 in a comment that has an unfortunately haunting connection to 9/11, “If you’re in an airplane, and you’re flying somewhere, you don’t run up to the cockpit and attack the pilot.  Mr. Eisenhower is the only President we’ve got.”

The only President we’ve got. 

We all want to head in the same direction.  We all want to move forward.  We all want to progress and be happy and healthy and taken care of.  Why does partisan politics trump nationalism?  As World War I and World War II approached and the world realized that we are clearly connected on a global level, the people who seemed the most out-of-touch — the people who were wrong — were the isolationists.  In both of those great wars, the isolationists were proven wrong.  Yet, in the span of our grandparents’ lives, we have regressed to the point where most Americans have become individual isolationists — not isolationism on a national level, but on a personal level.  We’ve tried to disconnect from the people in our own country.  Don’t you remember how powerful it felt after 9/11 to be united?  Don’t you remember how we helped each other in so many different ways?

I guess I could try to be cynical.  It’s my natural state anyway.  I guess I could remember the look on President George W. Bush’s face when his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, whispered news of the attacks in the President’s ear as he sat in a Florida classroom.  I guess I could remember My Pet Goat, and the fact that Bush didn’t get up, sprint from the room, and change out of his Clark Kent clothes into the Superman suit.  I guess I could remember Air Force One zig-zagging across the country, the only flight in the air besides military escorts and combat air patrols over our major cities.  I guess I could remember the surveillance videos of the well-dressed hijackers walking through the airport terminals that morning before they turned our planes into weapons.  I guess I could remember that the passengers of Flight 93 didn’t actually get through the cockpit door and force the plane to crash into Pennsylvania.  I guess I could remember our government’s alphabet agencies — the FBI, CIA, NSA, and everyone else listening in on our world — being unable to work together and stop this attack from happening in the first place.  I guess I could choose to remember those things, but that doesn’t make me feel better.  It doesn’t make 9/11 anything but a success to those who tried to frighten and frustrate and intimidate us through terrorism.

This is what I choose to remember:

I remember that the passengers of Flight 93 tried.  I remember that their plane didn’t make it to Washington, and even if they didn’t get into the cockpit and crash the plane into that meadow in Pennsylvania themselves, they certainly fought back and forced the hijackers to abort the mission that they had planned.  That plane didn’t crash into the White House or the Capitol, and that’s not because the hijackers got lost.

I remember driving to the wedding rehearsal for two of my best friends on the Friday after the attacks, feeling bad that they were getting married in the shadow of 9/11.  I remember being amazed at thousands of people in the streets of Sacramento — thousands of miles away from any of the attack sites — holding a candlelight vigil.  I remember that I drove through the silence of these peaceful vigils, with flags and flames and tears all around me, and I thought, “We’re going to be okay.” 

I remember George W. Bush — a President I never voted for.  I remember his unsteady first comments to the press after the attacks.  I remember how he found his footing quickly.  I remember him returning to Washington, D.C. that night, against the wishes of his government and his Secret Service.  I remember how this President — a President I didn’t agree with, a President I never cast a supportive ballot for or whose campaign I ever donated a cent to, a President whose beliefs were diametrically opposed to almost everything that I believe in — went to Ground Zero and met with the families of those who were dead or missing, and gave them all the time they needed with him. 

I remember how that President visited the rescue workers at Ground Zero.  I remember, more than anything else, how President Bush climbed on to some of the rubble of the fallen towers, grabbed a bullhorn and began to speak, but was interrupted by the workers yelling, “We can’t hear you!”

I remember that the President — the only President we had at the time — shouted to these exhausted, weary, heroic rescuers, “Well, I can hear you!  And the people who knocked these buildings down are gonna hear from all of us soon!”.  I remember that it was genuine, that there was nothing manufactured about that moment, and that, despite all of his faults and deficiencies, George W. Bush said exactly what those people — our people — needed to hear.  As the workers chanted, “USA! USA! USA!”, I remember thinking — I didn’t vote for him and I won’t vote for him in 2004, but that’s my President and I am proud of him.

As we look back, we can’t help but think about everything else that has come out of 9/11 — the interminable war in Afghanistan, the ridiculous war in Iraq, the humiliating and annoying experience that flying in an airplane has become in this country — but I think about that stuff pretty much every day, and I feel like this should always be a day where we think differently.

So, I’m going to think about those flags and candles and President Bush on top of the rubble of the World Trade Center with a bullhorn.  I’m going to think about being an American — just like I was in the weeks following 9/11 — rather than being a Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Believer or Non-Believer, Straight or Gay, White or Black or Hispanic or Asian, or any other label that we place on ourselves to show that we’re different or more than just human. 

I’m going to remember thinking, “That’s my President”, as he spoke to the rescue workers, just as I did a few weeks later when President Bush went to Yankee Stadium for Game 3 of the World Series, strapped on a bulky bulletproof vest under his FDNY sweatshirt, walked to the pitcher’s mound, and with millions of Americans watching on television, with thousands of rabid New Yorkers watching in the stands, and with Derek Jeter’s words (“Don’t bounce it or they’ll boo you.”) rattling around in his head, threw a perfect strike.

I’ll remember thinking, “That’s my President”, about a guy I never voted for and didn’t agree with, and I’ll hope that you do that when the guy you didn’t vote for and didn’t agree with says the right words, does the right things, and throws a strike — not because you’re a Democrat or a Republican, but because you’re an American and that’s the only President we’ve got.

What do you remember?

[Originally published in AND Magazine on September 11, 2011.]

Asker Anonymous Asks:
Thanks for answering the rapper question. Now, are there any good books on Richard Nixon that aren't either a hagiography or a hatchet job? It seems as though that's all I've been getting-a blanket apologist or someone who clearly doesn't like/has an ax to grind against Nixon. As a side note, even all these years later, it's amazing how this man can mean so many different things to so many different people. Did he ever accept that he deserved to resign or feel sorry?
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

I think Nixon always believed that he had been railroaded for things that other Presidents had done (taping conversations, dirty tricks, political strong-arming), and he had a chip on his shoulder — not just because of his political career, but because he genuinely had a difficult upbringing that took a toll on him. The fact that he actually rose to the heights that he did is remarkable — a testament to his brilliance and his capabilities, especially when you consider the fact that Nixon really disliked every aspect of politics outside of policy. That’s what made his eventual fall from power so disappointing. He will always be a polarizing figure — endlessly fascinating and eternally frustrating.

As for the best books about Nixon, there is no absence of them, even if you remove the hagiographies (such as those by Pat Buchanan or Roger Stone) and the hatchet jobs (such as those by Anthony Summers or Don Fulsom). Even though it’s obviously slanted in his favor, I’ll always recommend Nixon’s own autobiography, RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon (BOOK | KINDLE), because it definitely has value and it is one of the best-written Presidential autobiographies or memoirs. I’d also suggest both of Monica Crowley’s very favorable books on Nixon — Nixon Off-the-Record and Nixon In Winter — because Crowley was a research assistant and close aide to the former President in the last years of his life and both books include extraordinarily candid thoughts from Nixon about everyone and everything shortly before his death in 1994. 

Several other books about Richard Nixon that I wholeheartedly recommend include:

-The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House by H.R. Haldeman (Nixon’s loyal Chief of Staff whose diaries from the time of Nixon’s Presidency are very insightful about the inner workings of the Nixon Administration)
-President Nixon: Alone in the White House by Richard Reeves (BOOK | KINDLE)
-Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein (BOOK | KINDLE)
-The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by Rick Perlstein (BOOK | KINDLE)
-Nixon and Kissinger: Partners In Power by Robert Dallek (BOOK | KINDLE)
-Nixon, Volume I: The Education of a Politician, 1913-1962 by Stephen E. Ambrose (BOOK | KINDLE)
-Nixon, Volume II: The Triumph of a Politician, 1963-1972 by Stephen E. Ambrose (BOOK | KINDLE)
-Nixon, Volume III: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990 by Stephen E. Ambrose (BOOK | KINDLE)
-Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon by Theodore H. White

And, of course, the two books by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein are important and must-reads for Nixon completists: All the President’s Men (BOOK | KINDLE) and The Final Days (BOOK | KINDLE).

Word? Word.

Thanks, Theodore Roosevelt Association!

Asker totaldrivel Asks:
Is that a moon rock? I hope so.
deadpresidents deadpresidents Said:

No, apparently, it is a Petoskey stone, the official state stone of Michigan, and the President received it as a 50th birthday gift.

President Clinton used to keep a moon rock nearby, though:

"I got NASA to loan me a moon rock, carbon-dated 3.6 billion years old. I put it on the table in the Oval Office and when people started the crazy stuff, I’d say, ‘Wait a minute, guys. See that rock? It’s 3.6 billion years old. We’re all just passing through. Take a deep breath, calm down, let’s see what makes sense.’ It had an incredible calming effect!"

generalharrison:

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I have gained approval from the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site to post certain photographs held in their collections here. Keep watching this page to see what the BHPS has to offer.

If you are ever in Indianapolis, the house is located at 1230 N. Delware Street. It is the only home that Benjamin Harrison ever owned, and his place of residence during his Senate term, his presidency, retirement, and death. Nearly 80% of items in the home belonged to the Harrison family, and the home looks just as it did in 1888 when Harrison ran for the presidency. Unlike recent presidents, Harrison’s museum is independently owned and operated. BHPS relies upon independent grants, donations, and tour groups to keep the lights on. (Harrison had electricity installed in the White House, get it?) So do stop by, or donate directly. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors over 65, $9 for AAA members. Special events and deals happen throughout the year.

Ol’ Ben needs the money, so I did not want to share some of what the BHPS has to offer without first making a pitch.

The ask box is now open, so please drop me a line and let me know what you are interested in learning more about. I will do my level best to find an answer, or an artifact, or a source.

This is awesome. The Presidential Libraries system of the National Archives does a fantastic job of covering the modern Presidents on Tumblr (with Our Presidents and the individual Presidential Library sites of the last thirteen Presidents) and social media, but few of the older and lesser-known Presidents receive the same recognition or coverage. The generalharrison Tumblr has the 23rd President taken care of, so this should be a great addition to an already-wonderful site.

As Election Day 1916 approached, former New York Governor and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes appeared to be heavily favored to defeat incumbent President Woodrow Wilson.  Wilson was so certain of his impending defeat that he decided that he would resign after Hughes won the election. 

President Wilson — who held a doctorate in government — felt that the transition period from Election Day (in November) until Inauguration Day (in March) was too long to have a lame duck President, particularly while World War I was getting underway in Europe.  In what would have been an unprecedented act, Wilson had decided that, in the event of a Hughes victory, he would appoint Hughes as Secretary of State.  Then Wilson would resign the Presidency and Vice President Thomas R. Marshall would also resign so that Hughes could immediately assume the Presidency.

On Election night, it appeared that was exactly what would happen.  Early returns showed a solid lead for Hughes and some outlets called the election for the man Theodore Roosevelt called “the bearded iceberg”.  As the night dragged on, though, and it became clear that California would go for President Wilson, the extraordinary plan that Wilson had hatched to prevent a lame duck President was relegated to the what-could-have-been pile. 

When a reporter called the Hughes campaign’s headquarters to get a reaction to the rapidly changing circumstances, an aide to Hughes said that candidate had gone to sleep and somewhat presumptuously added, “The President cannot be disturbed”.  The reporter said, “Well, when he wakes up, tell the President he isn’t President anymore”. 

By the next morning, Wilson had won re-election with a narrow victory in the popular vote and the Electoral College. Hughes later became Secretary of State under Presidents Harding and Coolidge and was appointed Chief Justice of the United States by President Hoover following the death of William Howard Taft.