Welcome Presidents Fans!
Below are the results of the first day of Round One for the Tournament. Each matchup will feature a consideration of both presidents judged on four categories:
-Performance in Crisis… A consideration on the biggest challenges during each individual’s presidency and their efforts to alleviate it.
-Foreign Policy… A consideration on America’s role during the Presidency and whether this individual’s policies furthered America’s cause.
-Domestic Policy… A consideration on America in the President’s time, specifically the economy and prosperity and how the average American fared as a result.
-Legacy… A consideration on the lasting visions of each President.
8) Herbert Hoover vs. 9) Benjamin Harrison
Motto: One guy did nothing… Guess which one!
Overview: The first matchup brings the Hoover Administration, a devastatingly rocky end to the roaring 20s, and the Harrison Administration that led America into the “Gay Nineties.”
HH (1929-1933)- If you know about Herbert Hoover, it is not likely you will speak poetically of his humanitarian efforts in war-torn Belgium. When Hoover took office in 1929, America was having a roaring end to the 1920s. Then it crashed. Barely eight months into office, the Great Depression descended on America. For the rest of his single term as President this sole issue was one full crisis. Hoover’s response was lackluster at best. Taking his cue from previous recessions and panics, Hoover felt the federal government could do little to ease the crisis. His meek efforts were laughably inept compared to the global catastrophe that grew worse by the day. There is an argument for the unfortunate man who preceded FDR. Though there was no playbook for a crisis such as the Depression. Sadly, the efforts needed to alleviate were unprecedented, a performance Hoover could not muster.
BH (1889-1893)- Many presidents would be happy to have as an uneventful one as Benjamin Harrison. He is a man whose claim to fame is being the only President ever to beat an incumbent and then lose re-election to an ex-president. Say that ten times fast. He is the last president to have a beard too. Cool. As for crises, however, there is no comparison to the strife Hoover encountered in the Depression. In Harrison’s time, the President was happily cast off as aloof and as a distant national figure when business leaders dictated daily life for the average American. Harrison simply played the role. He let business thrive, kept the tariff high and was “right” on money issues. Was he transformative? No. But, America was thriving before he came and still hummed when he left.
Harrison wins by default.
7) Rutherford B. Hayes vs. 10) Ulysses S. Grant
Motto: A pair of generals do battle (cliche?)
Overview: Rutherford B. Hayes was the only elected President to not win the popular vote until Dubya came along. Grant’s victory was never in doubt. Hayes was a saint, with his critics calling his wife Lemonade Lucy. Grant had a barrage of cronies, smoked like a chimney and oversaw one of the most corrupt presidencies of all time. By history they are sequential, by fate they are squaring off!
UG (1869-1977)- Grant left Appomattox Court House in 1865 with the South surrendered. His face was the most recognizable beside Lincoln’s. After the lackluster Andrew Johnson held the chief magistrate title, Grant triumphantly swept into the White House in 1869. Though he was wildly popular in an America that held generals on the highest of pedestals, Grant had his critics. His cabinet choices were a disaster. Scandals and outright corruption often forced Grant to dejectedly sulk in hotel lobbies. (Many historians contend that savvy insiders would follow him there and corral favors after his many whiskeys coining the modern term “lobbyist.”) Despite his criticisms, he was able to win re-election. Times remained tough. America went through the Panic of 1873 and the power of Grant increasingly became non-existent. Historians for decades canned his Presidency as a failed capstone on an otherwise successful career. However, Grant’s stock is rising. He was way ahead of his time on Reconstruction. He fought the Ku Klux Klan into politically unattainable waters even when it risked his re-election. It is not a stretch to say that without his military career, his firebrand opposition to Southern Nationalism would have sank him at the polls as a one-term President. As tepid Presidents of the 19th century continue to seem all too willing to cater to prejudice, Grant’s stand with the Radical Republicans will continue to raise his stock.
RH (1877-1881) -By 1876, Grant’s efforts to radically alter America had a nasty backlash. Indian Wars were flaring daily, there was widespread unrest in the south and the corruption of Grant’s cabinet shook American sensibilities. In walks Rutherford B. Hayes, a vanilla general from Ohio. His wife was a huge supporter of temperance and her anti-alcohol stand was very attractive to a capital city fed up with Grant’s antics. Hayes was safe, controllable and a total non-threat to business. One problem. Hayes did not win the popular vote. In a move that gave credence to the “smoke filled room,” political power brokers simply handed Hayes the election. The deal was simple. Though Hayes lost the popular vote to Samuel Tilden, he would be awarded the requisite electoral votes. He did all of this while catering to the South. Grant’s racially progressive efforts were instantly reversed. Called “Rutherfraud” (lol) from day one, Hayes really did not have much hope for support. His removal of federal troops from the South created a living hell for recently freed Blacks throughout the South. This move would have reverberations through the 20th century. The Democratic Party may have lost the 1876 election but they became a bastion for Jim Crow legislation and a near one party domination for about 100 years. Seriously. Through he had marginal successes especially in Civil Service reform and currency legislation, the Hayes Administration never distinguished itself. Like his predecessor, he was unable to channel his military success into a solid presidency. His time in office limped to completion in 1880. The wars with Indians still burned, unrest was daily in the news and the nation turned elsewhere for a solution. Hayes was not even nominated by his own party for re-election in 1880.
The Grant Stock Continue to Rise.
Stay tuned for the rest of Round One!