Know your Presidents?
Know your Presidents?

Last week Monday was President’s Day.  Every year it comes and goes by quickly.  The usual closures: banks, post offices, courts, and etc…  However, I was interested in the history of the day and the individuals that had the privilege to hold the highest office in American government.

According to “Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February.  Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called ‘Washington’s Birthday’ by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.  While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.”

George Washington was the first president sworn into office on April 30, 1789 in a political landscape much different but in some aspects similar to the climate today.  If he were alive today, what would he think about President Barack Obama?  The struggle of women and minorities who have fought for equal rights (and still do), have made a positive difference in our culture.  Washington: “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.”

There have been only 44 presidents in our short history of a nation: some great and others disappointing.  I tried to recall all the presidents from memory but my junior high school civic class was many years ago.  As a result, here’s the list in order: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachery Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R Ford, James Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barrack Obama.

A few presidents didn’t resonate with me: John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, and Chester A. Arthur.  Mr. Tyler served the office from 1841-1845 and his nickname was “His Accidency” because he was the first Vice President to become President after the death of William Henry Harrison.  Similarly, Millard Fillmore became President after Zachery Taylor’s sudden death in 1850 and remained in office till 1853.  According to “As the Whig Party disintegrated in the 1850’s, Fillmore refused to join the Republican Party; but, instead, in 1856 accepted the nomination for President of the Know Nothing, or American, Party.  Throughout the Civil War he opposed President Lincoln and during Reconstruction supported President Johnson.”  Interesting, I find the Know Nothing Party to be a term that could be used today.  Anyways, Chester A. Arthur became President in 1881 after the assassination of President James A. Garfield and held the office till 1885.  He was known for his handsome looks and the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act that ensured that government positions should be awarded on the basis of merit.

Unfortunately, in the list of presidents there has not been one woman to occupy the office.  In my opinion, there are plenty females of “merit” that are qualified for the job.  Perhaps, the nation is ready for that change.  I believe it is and hopefully that change will occur sooner (2017) than later.

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