Manual CLOSURE (Zachary Taylor Book 1)

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His refusal to wear hats he thought they made his cheeks look too fat threatened to ruin the hat industry. Besieged by desperate hat moguls, Kennedy was persuaded to at least carry a hat during public ceremonies like airport greetings and military parades.

Richard Nixon's well-publicized obsession with Patton helped make the film a winner at the box office. Ronald Reagan, after spurring the national consumption of jelly beans, launched the literary success of an obscure insurance agent named Tom Clancy by praising Clancy's first thriller, The Hunt for Red October. Presidents of the eighteenth and nineteenth century had had to address the public through newspapers or handbills.

Zachary Taylor - 60-Second Presidents - PBS

But when presidents of the mid-twentieth century had something to say, they needed merely to call the three major television networks there were only three and almost every American watching the tube would be confronted with' a presidential speech or press conference. When you saw the presidential seal dissolve into JFK talking about Cuba or Nixon about Cambodia, you knew it was something important and you usually watched. Another way presidents seized power for themselves during this period was in no way public. These were the illicit abuses of presidential power that constituted a scarlet thread in the underside of the presidential carpet.

Members of Ulysses Grant's and Warren Harding's entourages may have exploited the presidency to line their pockets, but twentieth-century agencies like the Bureau of Internal Revenue later the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation gave presidents and their aides new opportunities to secretly intimidate or thwart—sometimes under the guise of national security—their political enemies. When Senator Huey Long threatened Franklin Roosevelt's reelection, federal tax agents were sent to Louisiana to dredge up compromising information that could be used to discredit him.

Dwight Eisenhower's chief aide, Sherman Adams, asked the FBI for damaging evidence on Democratic senators that could be used to embarrass them. Under Kennedy, the telephones of presidential critics were tapped and their tax returns, including those of Richard Nixon and his mother, were audited. These misdeeds expanded presidential influence. If you were a Washington columnist whose private life might look tawdry in an FBI file or who had cheated on your income taxes, you might have thought twice before incurring the wrath of a sitting president.

After the Watergate scandal burst open and Nixon's malfeasance was exposed, he complained that he had merely followed his predecessors' custom—and that besides, just as Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War and just as Franklin Roosevelt had cut the corners of American neutrality laws to secretly aid the British, he too was a wartime president, waging a struggle in Vietnam that, he noted, other presidents had started. In the wake of Nixon's scandal, Americans, happily, succeeded in yanking most of the scarlet thread from underneath the presidential tapestry.

The congressional opposition and a new watchdog press leaped at any public hint of abuse. In the last decade of the twentieth century, the foundations of the strong presidency cracked. In December , when the Soviet Union dissolved and the Cold War ended once and for all, George Bush found that his influence not only in foreign affairs but also domestic policy shrank almost overnight. Americans wanted a stop to the era of Big Government, as Bill Clinton acknowledged in his State of the Union, and one of the chief casualties was the strong presidency.

What better symbol was there of Big Government than imperial presidents such as Franklin Roosevelt and Johnson and Nixon—and Reagan, who expanded the federal budget?

In the absence of an overwhelming foreign or domestic crisis that seemed to cry out for executive leadership, Congress stopped acceding so often to presidential will as it had during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War. There was the prospect that the clock might be turned back to the post-Civil War period, when speakers of the House and Senate majority leaders often dictated to presidents and were sometimes better known and more influential than the men in the White House.

By the end of the twentieth century, the belief that presidents were well-intentioned and told the truth, the idealism and trust that endowed presidents such as Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy with so much of their public impact had been drained away. After presidential deceptions over the Bay of Pigs and Vietnam as well as the Watergate, Iran-contra, and Monica Lewinsky scandals, Americans especially the young were much more skeptical about what they heard from the White House.


And in the age of round-the-clock television news and the Internet, presidents would have to compete for air-time with Madonna and O. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, as I write, we are therefore in a period in which it will be very difficult for presidents to exercise strong leadership in the absence of some all-encompassing crisis like the Civil War or the Great Depression—or the election of some leader with such extraordinary stature and political skills that he or she can overcome the ebbing authority of the office.

As the Civil War historian Bruce Catton wrote in , "If the story of the Presidents proves nothing else, it testifies to the enormous stability of the office itself and of the nation that devised it. But at critical moments, the absence of that distinctive presidential voice and of the executive power to push foot-dragging public officials and skeptical citizens to think anew or make vital sacrifices can endanger the country.

Closure (Zachary Taylor)

Few historians today would argue that Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Roosevelt belong anywhere but at the top of the presidential ladder. Bur for most of the other presidents, the metaphor should be not ladder but stock exchange. Presidential reputations are constantly fluctuating—some much more than others —as we discover new information about them from letters, diaries, secret memoranda, tape recordings, and other sources, and as we see them in more distant hindsight, the phenomenon that the historian Barbara Tuchman so vividly called the "lantern on the stern.

On pale-blue-lined grammar school paper, I scrawled a letter to his successor, Lyndon Johnson, saying, "You could get some large carving firm to carve his head in the Mount Rushmore Memorial of South Dakota. As an eight-year-old, I could not know that LBJ, had he read this boy's letter, would not have welcomed my advice. Already feeling enveloped by Kennedy's shadow, he privately believed that JFK was a "Joe College man" of minimum accomplishment but that Ivy League historians would stack the deck in Kennedy's favor. As for himself, until Johnson died in , disparaged for his rough-hewn style and his war in Vietnam, he insisted that those same historians would have no wish or ability to understand him.

But a quarter-century later, Johnson's reputation is sharply on the upswing. The LBJ surge is a superb example of what makes the history of the American presidents so mesmerizing. Like a rushing river drawing force and direction from unforeseen new currents and streams, what we think and write about the leaders who have gone before is never final and is always changing. Reprinted by permission of American Heritage.

Garnett, Robert S. (–)

Written at the beginning of the 21st century, this essay does not address the administration of George Walker Bush and thus does not evaluate the impact on the presidency of September 11, ; the war on terrorism; and the other momentous events that have occurred in the first decade of this century. Written by Civil War historian Bruce Catton in his foreword to an earlier edition of this book, in Surely, we can all dream of a day when history lives for the average American with a force and relevance that make it an essential part of our culture — even our popular culture.

No people can remain great without extracting from the past what is timeless. Of all the challenges confronting 21st century Americans, none is more daunting than preserving our basic humanity in an increasingly virtual world. How can history help? Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested that there is no such thing as history, only biography.

And yet the Sage of Concord was on to something — something as human as the desire to find a personal connection with the past. This is especially true of the American presidency. Beginning with Theodore Roosevelt a century ago, the modern mass media — from tabloid and radio, through television and the Internet — have brought presidents into our homes with a vividness and intimacy that make them feel like virtual family members.

To see a president is not, however, the same as to know him. Over the years I have observed that most visitors to presidential libraries come seeking an encounter with someone they might otherwise know only as a face on the tube, or a sound bite on YouTube. In addition, they want to experience the presidency, to live vicariously for an hour or two in the shoes of a commander-in-chief; to attend a state dinner; spend a weekend at Camp David; address a campaign rally; or ride aboard Air Force One.

At its best, history puts a recognizable face on events and people, who might otherwise be reduced to academic shorthand. Sometimes it's the personal detail, not the great deed, that makes the connection. For example, the fact that Gerald Ford, born Leslie L. King, Junior, did not meet his birth father until he was 17 years of age, may strike a more responsive chord among his grandchildren's generation than his role in the Helsinki Accords or SALT II treaty. Equally revealing is the stack of books, most of them histories and biographies, piled high beside Harry Truman's easy chair in the living room of the house at North Delaware Street in Independence, Missouri.

The last president not to attend college, whatever Truman lacked in formal degrees he more than made up for in historical perspective. That's hardly the only evidence of character to be found on North Delaware Street. That his mother-in-law's house should become his lifelong residence was due largely to Truman's failure as a post-World War I haberdasher in nearby Kansas City. Determined to pay off every dollar of debt incurred in the collapse of his men's clothing store, Harry continued to live with his bride under Madge Wallace's roof.

Even after returning from the White House in , the former president couldn't afford to buy his own house. Truman refused to cash in on his presidency. In any event, Truman's home was not just his castle; more important, it was, and is, a mirror reflecting his character. To varying degrees, this is true of every presidential residence. Visitors to James Garfield's "Lawnfield" in suburban Cleveland may be surprised to find the first "presidential library" - a tribute built with the pennies of schoolchildren following Garfield's assassination.

Lucretia Garfield thought it a fitting memorial to her bibliophile husband, who found in books Jane Austen being a favorite author a refuge from the pressures of office and the incessant, ultimately fatal, demands of office seekers. As an old man, Hoover remembered long Sabbaths in an unheated sanctuary, his childish feet not even touching the floor.

He also acknowledged that he was ten years old before he realized he could do something for the sheer joy of it, without offending the Almighty. Might one not trace the Depression-era president whose emotional reticence largely obscured his compassion for victims of the economic firestorm to the Quaker orphan from West Branch? Visitors to Greeneville, Tennessee can see the tiny tailor shop in which Andrew Johnson practiced his trade. However one assesses Johnson's later success at sewing the tattered fabric of Reconstruction-era America back together, no president identified more thoroughly with his fellow laborers.

Here Ike indulged his passion for painting on the glassed-in sun porch. At other times, he escorted world leaders like Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle through his Black Angus cattle barns or over the adjacent Civil War battlefield. No one can walk out of the white brick residence, generously embellished in Mamie Pink, without taking away a vivid sense of its former occupants, their humanity as well as their historic contributions. All of which leads to the inescapable conclusion: there is no substitute for being there.

Here’s a List of America’s Richest & Poorest Presidents

No video or website, however interactive, can match the authenticity, or emotional engagement, of the real thing. It was a vision few others shared. Through a restored high school, rail depot, and rural farm, the stories of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are interwoven with the narrative of a rural South long since consigned to memory, and to books like Carter's own classic tale, An Hour Before Sunrise. It's a long way from Plains to Plymouth Notch.

In the autumn of , all of nine years old, I badgered my parents into driving three hours north, to the aforesaid Vermont hamlet.

There, beneath the looming mass of Salt Ash Mountain, we discovered a tiny village of six homes, a number unchanged since the Fourth of July, , when Calvin Coolidge began life in a four-room cottage at the back of his father's country store. Across the street stands the Coolidge homestead where, early on the morning of August 3, , the most prosaic of American presidents staged the most dramatic of inaugurations.