I was eating dinner last night and an Australian themed American restaurant when the people in the table behind me started discussing American presidents.
I am not talking current politics, but presidential history.
I know we don't have a good grasp on our history, but what came from that table almost made me loose my appetite.
Please, please, please tell me that you all know the answers to these questions--which the mother at the table got wrong, but both her husband and son corrected her on (and NO, she was not faking it for her son's education).
Who came first, Teddy Roosevelt or F.D.R.?
Multiple Choice--Hoover or FDR were president when the US got out of The Great Depression. (Hint, this president created "The New Deal" as compared to the other who was a "Lasse Faire" (sp?) advocate.
When listing Presidents that have helped with Racial Equality, please fill in the blank: Johnson, Kennedy, Truman, _________ (Hint, someone named a car after him).
Was there ever a president Garfield?
Number of US Presidents--Greater than or lesser than 25?
They did give me a challenge as I was leaving. OK, I overheard their question and it started me thinking.
Name the 5 best presidents, and why.
I know this is unfair to our non-American Hatrackers. I doubt many American's could name an English PM between Churchill and Thatcher. I doubt they could name the French leader before Mitterand. I doubt they could name the present Canadian leader, and know they couldn't name a leader in Romania, Slovakia, or Poland (what, the Walessa guy is gone?) My challenge to you is to name the 5 greatest leaders of your country, and why.
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Yes I did know all those questions. The car hint question also threw me for a sec. Getting rid of that hint and putting the blank before the others would help.
As for my personal list:
1. Lincoln 2. Washington 3. F.D.R. 4. John F. Kennedy 5. Clinton (don't argue, my list!)
Honorable Mention: Jefferson (actually should be higher), Monroe, Eisenhower, Truman, Madison...
We've actually had some pretty good presidents in our history. I wouldn't argue with several others making the list.
Worst: George W. Bush (actually Hoover or Nixon or someone could take this spot, but then again none of the other choices are representing me right now)
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1. Washington, for not becoming a tyrant when he easily could have, and for establishing the role of the Presidency 2. Jefferson, not only because of his influence on the Constitution, civil rights, and separation of chuch and state, but also because of the Louisianna Purchase, which is probably the one act that is most responsible for our current wealth and global status. 3. Lincoln, for winning the civil war and freeing the slaves 4. Wilson, for leadership during the first World War and for leading the way in the creation of the present world order 5. Martin Luther King Jr., because you said "leaders" not "presidents" and because he probably did more to lead the country in the right direction than anyone in the past 150 years.
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You guys have no idea. We recently went around my homeroom with the US citizenship test, and the results truly scare me. I knew all the answers, but many did not. These ones were amazing:
How many stars are there in our flag? I heard answers between 13 and 102.
What do the stars on the flag mean? "The number of Presidents that have been assassinated."
What is the 4th of July? "The day the Civil War ended." "D-day" "Pearl Harbor Day" "D-oh...."
What country did we fight during the Revolutionary War? "The Indians and the French Creoles"
Who is the vice president of the United States? *I whimper in fear of my generation. I had to answer this, as no one else knew."
What is the Constitution? Again, a total blank from the classroom. Then one of them remembered that he had pleaded the Fifth Amendment in court recently, and made a shaky connection from there.
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HRE, I keep catching myself thinking that Leiberman is veep. Cheney really hasn't done anything all that notable when you compare him to the last few vice-presidents before him. He's just sort of quiet and there....
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Actually, I think that Cheney appears to be a lot more involved and visible than previous VP's (except for that whole "undisclosed location" bit, which if you think about it is just another way of being visible).
I don't know what Al Gore did as VP, I know Quayle didn't do much (although he, too, managed to be visible, while not exactly busy), and I don't think even Bush, Sr. did much as VP. Cheney, on the other hand, seems to have his hand in most of what goes on in the administration.
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-Washington: for setting a wonderful precedent for the role the president should play -Lincoln: for holding the nation together in a very unstable time -Theodore Roosevelt: for recognizing the right of labor to organize and for starting to hold corporations legally responsible for their actions -Lyndon Johnson: because if not for his forceful personality, the civil rights legislation would have taken MANY years longer, and our country would been horribly damaged from the racial tention -Nixon: As far as foreign policy goes, I can't think of a better president. He ended the war in Vietnam, made friends with China and did a great deal towards ending the Cold War.
While I disagree with many actions that each of these presidents did, I think that the lasting positive effects from each president's presidency outweighs the negative effects and that our country would likely be worse off if not for them.
Btw, Dan, what exactly did JFK do for civil rights? He had good intentions, no doubt, but what is something helpful that he actually did?
I recently went to Rome and Greece as part of my (uni) school group over reading week. We had to hook up with a couple of US high school groups because ours was too small on its own.
One of the kids asked us - dead serious - if we were from "Canadia." I wanted to cry.
As to the original question, I'll get back to you on my great Canadian leaders. In the meantime, I'm going to say Diefenbaker. Because it's a fun word to say.
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1. Thomas Jefferson - For fighting to keep the government out of people's lives.
2. Andrew Jackson - For fighting and eventually killing the Bank of the United States, our second central bank.
There are a few other decent presidents, but none worth naming.
Dan, would you like to explain how FDR "got us out of the depression"? Also, please support your claim about Hoover and Laissez Faire economics, be sure to explain how wage and price controls fit in there, also massive tariffs.
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fugu- Admittedly I'm not an expert, but I believe that the talks were going fairly well in the last half of 1972, including in November, which helped Nixon get reelected. Then, they declined sharply in mid December, when Nixon immediately did massive bombings on Hanoi and reescalated the conflict. Then, the North Vietnamese started up talks in January and Nixon halted attacks so as to help the peace process, and later that month there was a cease fire.
I don't think that Nixon intentionaly delayed peace to help get reelected. Please let me know if there's evidence to the contrary.
The NV were going to come to the table just before the elections if the bombings stopped. Johnson stopped US (and allied) bombings, but Nixon had convinced the SV to not stop bombing, saying he would help them win the war instead of reaching peace.
I hadn't heard this one, thanks for the new info! If the author's of the article are right, then you're definately right and Nixon doesn't deserve to be on the list. I don't doubt that Nixon would be capable of this, he was not a good man. But with a conspiracy theory like this, that's so hard to prove or disprove, no one can ever no for certain without more evidence. So for now, Nixon stays on my list.
Eaquae, apparently you didn't get the memo. When talking about former Canadian Prime Ministers the only one you're allowed to talk about is Trudeau.
Actually, it has been said that on any list of great Canadian Prime Ministers there will be John A. MacDonald and there will be others. Who am I to disagree?
Sir John A. MacDonald -- The original. The father of confederation. He built us a nation with a railway that joined the East with the west and is why B.C., Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan joined up with Haut and Bas Canada to give us The Dominion of Canada. Oh, and PEI was there too. Whatever, it's too small to count . He also saw to the takeover of the Northwest Territories from The Hudson's Bay Company. Sure, he was an alcoholic, but that's part of our identity too (yes yes yes, I know all about the Pacific Scandle. Shush.)
Sir Wilfrid Laurier -- The first French Canadian Prime Minister to serve; he was top dog for 15 years. He eased many of the tensions between the French and British citizens (you think things are bad now) and built up the Western provinces while establishing close economic ties with the U.S. and Great Britain. He also sought to make Canada responsible for her own defences. Which we were all pretty happy for when the First World War suddenly broke out. Of course we fought in it, but it was under our flag. Our boys weren't conscripted into Great Britain's army.
William Mackenzie King -- Canada's got a thing for oddball Prime Ministers. Not that people who have seances and use ouija boards and crystal balls are odd, but well... Anyway, he set in place many of the social welfare programs that Canadians currently hold dear and managed us through World War II. He was also the first Canadian citizin, pushing through the Canadian Citizen's Act. There was that whole scandle/dissolving parliament nonsense but hey, nobody's perfect, right?
Sir Robert Borden -- Prime Minister during the First World War and, in many respects, the father of Canadian sovereignty. He started asserting Canada as a nation and not an extension of the commonwealth and established us as a player on the world stage. And hey, despite his rejection of Great Britain they *still* knighted him. Edit: I should add, however, that I don't approve of how he handled who should be allowed to vote. Letting soldiers vote in any riding? Only women who were in the armed forces or wives of soldiers could vote? That whole conscription crisis. He did a pretty good job of managing us through the war, all things considered. And I'm pretty big on sovereignty but... maybe I should cut him in favor of St. Laurant or Pearson.
Pierre Elliot Trudeau -- The grand pappy of the current Canadian identity. Defeated the first separatist referendum by Quebec and established us as officially bilingual in 1984. He campaigned to distance ourselves from both Great Britain and the United States. He redrew the constitution and, in 1982, the Canada Act was signed and we finally got complete independence from Great Britain (bet you all didn't realize it was so recent). In his spare time he enjoyed campaigning for both world peace and nuclear disarmament, temporarily imposing martial law during the terrorist activities by Le Front de Libération du Québec, and long walks on the beach. And, lest we forget, screwing up the budget so completely he lost the majority government on a vote of no confidnce.
1) Washington - Wanted freedom, but owned slaves . However, it is said he never treated them as such. He was probably our better humanitarian. 2) Dwight D. Eisenhower - I've read up on his history and the man himself was just great. Anyone know that he was a Master Chef? oh, and his wife could not cook. I bet she enjoyed dinner. 3) Ronald Reagan - Did more for the military as one president than all the rest combined. That and his movies were pretty good. 4) Richard Nixon - Yes, I am serious. His Foriegn Policies were some of the best America had ever seen before that time. Too bad he destroyed himself in the end. Btw, that was his turning point to being one of the worst. 5) Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, James A. Garfield - If they were alive today I wonder if they would find a sense of humor to 1) Calvin and Hobbes, 2) Hoover Vacuum, 3) Garfield (The fattest cat in the world). Special thanx goes out to Ben Franklin for being on my favorite green paper in circulation. I didn't see him that much, but I would like to again sometime.
[ March 16, 2004, 08:34 PM: Message edited by: Stan the man ]
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I don't know the answer to all those questions.
However, what is kind of scary, is that going back in US Presidents/ Australian Prime Ministers from the current ones, I can do about as many US Presidents as Australian Prime Ministers.
I lose both at about 7 or so. Then I know who was before, vaguely, but not in what order.
Best 5 Australian Prime Ministers:
1) Gough Whitlam 1972-1975. One of the few true visionaries this country has ever had. Brought in sweeping social reforms including free-for-al tertiary education, the recognition of aboriginal rights, and free public healthcare (the medicare scheme). Also notorious because he was sacked by the Governer-General (the Queen's representative) in 1975, causing great furore, both in the courts and in public.
2) Ben Chifley 1945-1949. Had the undesirable job of managing Australia post WWII, and did it brilliantly. Expanded immigration, and helped put an end to the "White Australia" policy. (Shameful immigration policy - if you are white, you're allowed in. If you're not, tough luck). He was an amazing speaker, and gave very motivational and inspiring parliamentary addresses - many of which are still quoted today.
3) Paul Keating 1991-1996. Primarily responsible for recognising that Australia's economic future lay in Asia, not Europe. Nowadays, that seems kind of - well, duh. But at the time, the Australian-Asian market was almost non-existant. Now we have billion dollar contracts with China, not to mention great trade with most Asian nations. Keating was also a huge proponent of Aboriginal Land Rights, and pushed for Australia to become a republic.
4) Bob Hawke 1983-1991. A man's man, the typical Aussie larrikin. Very strong on the right to education, and student unions.
5) Robert Menzies 1939-1941, 1949-1966. Australia's longest serving PM. Though he was Liberal (the more conservative party) I can forgive him that - on most of the important social issues he was pretty good. He supported heavily subsidised education, and was instrumental in gaining federal assistance for universities.
Finally, an honourable mention goes to Harold Holt (1966-67) who went missing, and presumably drowned, one morning while swimming at a beach. Various conspiracy theories abounded at the time, including that he had been captured by a Russian/Japanese submarine. There is now a swimming pool in Melbourne named after him. I kid you not.
On an aside - Dan, what the heck is an Australian-themed resteraunt? I'm presuming there's no kangaroo or emu meat involved (which, incidentally, are pretty tasty).
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1.Lincoln 2.Roosevelt 3.Washington 4.Eisenhower 5.Theodore Roosevelt Honorable mention: LBJ, would have been 5 except for the whole Vietnam thing and not even doing with full force.
39.John F. Kennedy (Starting the whole one foot in Vietnam, one foot out; getting Cuban exiles slaughtered in the Bay of Pigs incident; almost getting us all killed [or in my case not born] in the Cuban Missile Crisis). 40.Ulysseus S. Grant (Good general but too drunk and clueless to be a good president.) 41.James Buchanan (Mexican-American War) 42.Rutherford B. Hayes (Corruption and delaying Civil Rights for almost a century.) 43.Andrew Jackson (The whole Native American war crime thing.)
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An interesting bit of trivia that you think you would know but probably don't:
Name all the American presidents who have been assassinated. (Bonus: Name the assassins.) Most of the American population can name only two. Very few people can name all four and their assassins.
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ok I could answer the questions without the hints...and I'm a blonde! (natural as opposed to the bottled kind) hmmmm my 5 favorite, that s a tough one.
1. Lincoln....why? Because I like his speeches, the fact that he had to live with an insane woman while dealing with a country at war, and because he thought that reading was important.
2. Washington.... because he didnt want the office, but accepted it knowing that it would change his life and delay his retirement.
3. Ford...more for what he has done since for human rights in other countries et al...
4. Clinton... because he wasn't a moron. He could form complete sentences and even write his own speeches. (does anyone detect a theme with the whole speech writing thing?)
5. Jefferson... for his constant quest for knowledge, wanting scientific information when he sent Lewis and Clark out on that Louisianna expedition, and for donating his vast library to future generations.
As for HRE's mention of
quote: what is the 4th of July?
..... well, it is simply one of the days in the month of July.
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1. Washington. They just went downhill from here. 2. Jefferson. No arguements from either side on this one, I'm sure. Part of why so many people want to destroy him. 3. Lincoln. For making all Americans free, preserving the union, and for helping Bill and Ted pass history. 4. Reagan. "Cold War" is the cynics name for "War that was resolved with far less loss of life and use of weapons than a conventional war." In other words, what the left supposedly want, but criticize when its actually done. Did most of what the left praise Gorbechev for. 5. James K. Polk. For keeping every one of his campaign promises and not seeking reelection. Neither of those will ever happen again.
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For the benefit of the ignorant Brit, who was the fourth American President who was good for Civil Rights?
Wilson was Labour and Heath was a Tory. And I'm not sure I could name my top 5 British prime ministers, especially as I only really know the post-war ones. Churchill, for all that he had his not-so-good traits, would be up there. Macmillan, maybe... none of the other post-war ones have been up to much... hmmm... I'll have to go read up on my British history...
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The most impressive presidents to me, at this late hour:
1. Washington-Because there is no US of A without him, both in 1775/1776 and upon his election the presidency (and additionally he served a brilliant example in immediately ceding power after victory was one. General's who achieved similar results would almost assuredly not done the same. Again when he relinquished the presidency and retired quietly to his home. Finally there's a book the came out that deals with Washington and slavery by Henry Wiencek called, "An Imperfect God: George Washington, his slaves and the creation of America.
2. Abraham Lincoln-if not for our luck with Washington Lincoln would stand alone, like a sentinel, watching over our history and setting a standard for others to try (all be it, futilely, to measure up to him) Revisionists have gone after him, but haven't found many takers and with good reason. "Lincoln's Virtue's," deals beautifully with the man, and his history and is well worth reading.
3. FDR-One can debate the relative success of his programs but one thing seemed clear, FDR brought faith back to America. Just as Reagan fans have talked about how Reagan helped American's (at least some anyway) feel good about America, FDR did the same. He stood fast during the countries third and fourth toughest hours, and lead us through the most apocalyptic war the earth has ever seen. Under his presidency the nation past through the Great Depression and came out the other end stronger, and passed through the greatest war the earth has ever seen, and stood astride the globe afterwards having helped to conquer Nazi Germany, and Fascist Italy and it's dominion over Western Europe, and having conquered Japan in the Pacific Theatre for good measure. Foibles, oh yes, there is no doubt that but with FDR and the first lady to look too the United States not only survived twin cataclysm's of the worst order, but became the most powerful nation on the planet in the process.
4. Theodore Roosevelt-The Most Modern and before his time president ever, was at the vanguard of nearly any and every issue at the turn of the century. Trust Buster, Environmental Protector, Panama Canal Builder, Treaty Maker (Japan Vs Russia), Navy Supporter, he was ahead of the curve in nearly every area, he even had Booker T. Washington to dinner and took ooodles of flack for it.
5. Thomas Jefferson-I'm not a big fan, I prefer John Adams and their mutual enemy Alexander Hamilton to Jefferson, but there is no arguing with his history. He invented modern politics, and authored the first political mudslinging campaigns paying off journalists to serve as muckrakers (later to bite him in the butt in regards to Hemmings). He authored the Declaration of Independence, helped buy a majority of the country, and was an outstanding president from start to finish during his terms. My quibbles regard his hypocracy, selective memory (he was a notorious liar, or at least dissembler, with a truly selective memory. Had no qualms w/backstabbing, feuded w/our greatest Supreme Court Justice, even backstabbed George Washington), backstabbing, naivete, his allegiance to France during the 1890's could have destroyed the nation if Washington had followed his lead and joined France against England. Luckily Washington and Adams were president and both kept us out of the growing conflict.
Amazing accomplishments, but he's certainly one of the most tarnished of the American Revolutions who won high office following the Constitutional Convention, at least to me anyway (maybe David Bowles can crush me there.). He and Aaron Burr as people do not hold up well at all over time, but as a president he was highly effective, and as a writer. Just don't put him in your cabinet, as Washington did.
Honorary Mentions (among presidents and other officials): John Adams-Amazing Revolutionary leader, self-less determination in serving the cause at great risk to his life, solid president whose term was ruined by political infighting with Jefferson's Republican's, the unwise Alien and Sedition acts, and the brewing conflict between France and England.
John Marshall-Our first and greatest ever Supreme Court justice. Wise, fair, forward thinking, a revolutionary in every way, but always a practical man as well.
Alexander Hamilton-Only Lincoln and Jackson can rival him for most humble of origins in the first hundred years of our country. Outstanding military leader and assistant to Washington, invaluable aid to Washington during his presidency, helped broker many of the key solutions to the countries economic crisis's and through an agreement with Jefferson and Madison made Washington D.C. the capital. Without him, our economy could very easily have gone straight off the road and into a ditch with the country with it. Had more than his fair share of flaws, but was an absolute genius and an invaluable asset in the creation of our country.
Ben Franklin-Nothing need be said. He did it all.
Forgive any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, I pretty much simply ruminated here w/o much attention to grammar or spelling.
Adams one of our worst leaders? It's because of him that we declared our independence at all!
Very interesting thread. I don't know that I can settle on five best. Probably Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin (I know, not a president). But the fifth . . . I feel like I should throw a modern leader in there somewhere, but whom? Teddy Roosevelt comes to mind. King is a good choice as well.
I'm kind of surprised that LBJ makes anybody's lists . . .
Am I out of it, or was that directed at me, Icarus (not sure anyone else mentioned it)? I loved Adams, he was a key, even central figure in the revolution, the ultimate confidant to Washington and Jefferson (though Jefferson repeatedly abused his trust), and a good president whose presidential rep was ruined by the horrid times during which he governed (party politics first arrived just a year or so before he was inaugurated when Jefferson split with Washington).
Adams the man could be vain and a bit pompous at times, but it's clear to me anyway that he was a good leader and an even better man, and would have been reelected President (as would a lot of other non-southerners) if not for the 3/5's clause that essentially handed the government to the South for the first seventy years of our history as a Constitutional government. Of course there would have been no US of A w/o the clause in the first place, but the bargain was a devil's bargain at best. It gave us our country, but sold it's soul to slavery and the Southern Plantation Aristocracy and it's interests.
I put LBJ on my list and it was a difficult decision... I also wanted to put Jimmy Carter.
In the end, LBJ is there for how well he worked with Congress to get across his Great Society plan. Sure, he picked up dogs by their ears and would show anyone and everyone his appendectomy scar, but he was on watch during some of our most important changes in the late 20th century.
Civil rights was such an important issue and he guided it through for the betterment of the country. On the flip side, though, was Vietnam and there's no way to view him without the light of that shining poorly on him.
Carter, though, didn't make the list simply because of things outside of his control. He was probably the man most on the side of Good that ever held presidential office. He brokered the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, he started the push for alternative energy and approached the presidential office with openess and integrity. His handle on the economy and deficit has been made into something much, much worse than it really was and he was a victim of the times.
But for Carter, it comes down to the Hostages in Iran. Had his plan to rescue the Hostages worked, he would have served another term and gone down as one of our most heroic presidents. Instead, somewhere in the wilderness of Iran, inter-service cooperation broke down and the rescue attempt became a debacle. It wasn't his fault, but that of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, who all wanted part of the glory instead of just working to make it succeed.
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