US Presidents – Fri, 20 Dec 2013 14:53:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 James Madison Fri, 20 Dec 2013 14:47:36 +0000 The lifespan of James Madison (1751-1636) encompasses the genesis of the United States of America. James Madison was politically active in the push for American Independence, and the primary author of the U.S. Constitution. He then served as his country’s fourth president, successfully steering America through the War of 1812, before retiring from mainstream politics. Back home in Virginia, he devoted his remaining years to the twin causes of anti-slavery and higher education.

James Madison was born and raised on the Montpelier plantation in Virginia, which he later inherited. His early life was influenced in turn by tutors, Donald Robertson and the Reverend Thomas Martin. Later, James Madison became a student at the College of New Jersey – now Princeton. An outstanding student, he studied philosophy, geography, Latin and Hebrew, graduating after just two years.

At the start of his political career, James Madison served in the Virginia administration on three occasions between 1776 and 1800. He was then elected to the Council of State in Virginia (1778-79), before joining the Continental Congress (1780-83) and then serving a term as a US Representative from 1789 until 1797. Prompted by the Alien and Sedition Acts, he drafted his famous ‘Virginia Resolutions’ during 1798.

The writing of the US Constitution in 1787, Madison’s crowning achievement, was largely completed at the Constitutional Convention. This document gave the United States a strong federal government.

Having been Secretary of State from 1801, James Madison won the presidential nomination in 1808. Supported by Ex-President Jefferson, Madison was duly elected president. He then succeeded in winning a further term in 1812.

The major crisis of James Madison’s presidency was the War of 1812. With the failure of his Non-Intercourse Act, and America thus caught up in rivalries between Great Britain and France, Madison persuaded Congress to declare war on the British who were harassing American shipping in a trade dispute. Though America was initially on the back foot and suffered setbacks such as the burning of Washington, fortunes then improved and the war was concluded in 1814 by the Treaty of Ghent, with America’s economic power enhanced as a result of this ‘Second War of Independence’.

On his retirement from the presidency, James Madison returned to Montpelier in Virginia. Maintaining a profile in regional politics, he opposed state challenges to political union and adopted an anti-slavery stance, founding the American Colonisation Society which sought the resettlement of former slaves in Africa.

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John Adams Thu, 17 Oct 2013 07:13:05 +0000 John Adams was born in 1735 in Quincy, Massachusetts. After finishing his studies from Harvard in 1775, John Adams decided to study law, and in a few years, he was admitted to the bar. It was not until the discussions with regard to the Stamp Act, in the year of 1765, that he raised to political prominence as a very young but promising politician. Although he didn’t have any political aspiration at first, he become one of the greatest figures in the history of the United States of America in the 18th century.

After moving to Boston in 1768, he became a member of the Congress, making him a very influential leader. One of the greatest archievements in his life was being a member of the commission with the very important task of writing the Declaration of Independence, one of the most crucial documents in the history of this young nation which was about to be born.

After a few years in France, and later on, in the United Kingdom, where he published some works, John Adams returned to the United States. He was declared Vice President, serving as such between 1789 and 1797. As one of the leaders of the Federalist Party (one of the major political factions in the US at the end of the 18th century), John Adams run for the Presidency once George Washington decided he didn’t want to accept another nomination. The Federalist Party campaigned for Adams, while the Democratic-Republican Party campaigned for Thomas Jefferson. Once he defeated Jefferson by a margin of only three votes, John Adams became President, and Thomas Jefferson was selected as his Vice President.

John Adams stood in office until 1801. While important legislation was approved under his presidency, he became deeply unpopular, making him not a very likely candidate for the next presidential election. Once the 1801 election came, Jefferson managed to defeat Adams by quite a large margin. The political climate and the division between the Federalist Party didn’t allow Adams to maintain his presidency four more years, forcing him to retire from active political life.

Although John Adams didn’t run for Congress once he left office, his son, John Quincy Adams became President in just a few years. John Adams died in 1826, leaving behind him a great legacy, and having been able to make a reality one of his most ardent dreams: a free and democratic America.

Image: Asher Brown Durand via Wikipedia

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Theodore Roosevelt Thu, 27 Jun 2013 07:07:05 +0000 The 26th US president was Theodore Roosevelt and he was famous for being awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role as negotiator in the Russo-Japanese War. Roosevelt was the first American to ever receive the award. He was also the first US President to leave the country to visit the Panama Canal and Japan.

Most people recognize John F. Kennedy as the youngest president in the history of America but this is not entirely true. To be more exact, JFK was the youngest man to be elected into office at the age of 43.

No other US president was as athletic and energetic as Theodore Roosevelt. He was weak and sickly as a child and had to be home-schooled due to chronic asthma attacks. He later made up for his lack of physical activities in his adulthood, participating in various sports and was blinded in the left eye due to a boxing injury while in office.

He was also responsible for naming the presidential office and residence the “White House”. The structure was previously referred to as the “President’s Palace”, the “Executive Mansion”, and the “President’s House” until Theodore Roosevelt established the present name back in 1901 when he had the words “White House – Washington” printed on his stationary.

Aside from being the first US president to travel outside the country, he was also the first American leader to take a flight in an airplane on October 11, 1910. When the Wright brothers invented the airplane, US President Theodore Roosevelt took a 4 minute flight to test the new invention himself.

Theodore Roosevelt was a progressive leader during his time. He held office as US president from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909 and defied big corporations. He was tough and had a no-nonsense approach in his fight against corruption.

He had a notable record for protecting civil rights and held up women’s suffrage. He defended a female postmaster by the name of Minnie Cox and invited the first African-American, Booker T. Washington, into the White House. Theodore Roosevelt was also famous for giving a speech right after being shot by a would-be assassin.

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Richard Nixon Fri, 24 May 2013 12:33:00 +0000 Richard Nixon endured the most public downfall of any president of the United States. His legacy will be forever tainted by the Watergate scandal. Unfortunately this means that the more positive aspects of his administration seem destined to be forgotten – it also means that his decades of service as a politician will be overshadowed.

Richard Nixon was born in 1913 in Yorba Linda, California. Both of his parents were Quakers, and their financial situation could be described as on the breadline. Richard did well at school, and he ended up going to Duke University School of Law – he turned down a scholarship at Harvard due to family problems. Nixon had hoped to join the FBI after graduation but for some reason he ended up sitting for the bar in California. In 1942 he signed up to join the navy, so that he could serve his country in World War II.

President Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon first became involved in politics in 1945 when he began a campaign which led to him being elected to congress. He championed conservative causes such as new laws to limit the power of trade unions, and this won him many admirers in the Republican Party. In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to select Richard Nixon as his vice-president, and he held this role until in 1961. At the end of his vice-presidency he ran for president but lost to John F. Kennedy. It was 1969 when he managed to become the thirty-seventh president of the US.

While serving as president, Richard Nixon ordered illegal activities in order to spy on people he didn’t trust. These dirty tricks were leaked to reporters from the Washington Post, and this led to the Watergate Scandal. Richard Nixon lied about his involvement, and when his lies became obvious he was forced to resign as president.

Richard Nixon after Watergate

Richard Nixon was unable to recover from the political fallout of Watergate. He did make a limited return to public life, and he continued to be viewed as an elder statesman by many in the Republican Party. Richard Nixon died in 1994 at the age of 81.

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Ronald Reagan Mon, 29 Oct 2012 09:48:37 +0000 Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States. Born in Illinois in 1911, he graduated from Eureka College before becoming a radio broadcaster in Iowa and then moving to Los Angeles in 1937 to pursue what became a successful acting career. Some of his most notable films include: Knute Rockne, All American; Kings Row; Bedtime for Bonzo. Ronald Reagan became the president of the Screen Actors Guild and a spokesman for GE. His stint with GE got him interested in politics. He had been a Democrat but changed his opinion on issues throughout the 50s before registering as a Republican in 1962.

In 1964, Ronald Reagan gave a powerful speech in support of Republican Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. His political acuity garnered a lot of attention and he was persuaded to run for Governor of California and won twice. He ran in the Republican Presidential primaries, losing twice before winning the nomination in 1980. He defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter in a landslide election. Ronald Reagan was known for his successful economic policies dubbed ‘Reaganomics‘ which promoted economic growth through reduced tax rates and slashed government spending. He even became the first President to survive an assassination attempt after John Hinckley, Jr. shot him. Ronald Reagan was a fierce anti-Communist and ordered an invasion of Grenada to defeat a bloody military coup.

Ronald Reagan won reelection in another landslide in 1984 and dubbed his renewed era as ‘Morning in America‘. He took stances which precipitated the ending of the Cold War and made a famous speech at the Berlin Wall directed at USSR President Gorbachev telling him to ‘Tear down this wall’. He ordered a massive military buildup in the arms race with the USSR and called the country the ‘evil empire’.

In 1986, the famous Iran-Contra scandal was revealed in which the US had traded arms with Iran in return for seven American hostages, and funnelled arms-sale proceeds to anti-Communist militants in Nicaragua. It was never clear how much Ronald Reagan knew when, and all of the convicted officials were pardoned by the next President.

Ronald Reagan died in 2004 following a decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s. He remains one of the most popular American Presidents.



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Thomas Jefferson Wed, 10 Oct 2012 09:53:13 +0000 Thomas Jefferson, one of the most important figures in American history, was born in Virginia in 1743 and grew up a brilliant, athletic and hardworking young man.

After leaving the College of William and Mary, Jefferson became a lawyer. His willingness to teach himself and his fascination with law made him the perfect delegate from Virginia to the Second Continental Congress in 1775. It was in Philadelphia, that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration in Independence. He returned to Virginia to serve at its governor in 1779.

Once the Revolutionary War was over, Thomas Jefferson was appointed as an ambassador to France. He nurtured the relationship the new nation had with the French.

Upon his return from France in 1789, Jefferson accepted the role as President George Washington’s Secretary of State and spent the next four years formulating philosophies and politics such as states’ rights and the decimal based money system that would be the forerunners of modern structures we have today.

In 1796, Thomas Jefferson ran for president against his friend, John Adams, and lost, taking instead, the role of Vice President. His time spent in that office was full of intrigue and controversy and his relationship with Adams was often antagonistic.

Thomas Jefferson was elected President of the United States in 1800. It was during his administration that the U.S. acquired the Louisiana Purchase which vastly expanded its territory. Jefferson appointed explorers William Clark and Meriweather Lewis to explore this new wilderness and document its geography, biology and topography. Arguably, Jefferson’s obsession with knowledge changed the United States forever. Jefferson was reelected to a second term and faced challenges as he decided the U.S.’s role in trade and foreign affairs, specifically the relationship with France. Some historians argue that Thomas Jefferson’s decisions during his second term forced America to the war of 1812.

After the presidency, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and personally designed its architecture. Jefferson died, fittingly, on July 4, 1826, the same day as his friend and rival, John Adams, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s legacy, one of education and knowledge, lives to this day.

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Barack Obama Mon, 01 Oct 2012 09:53:59 +0000 Barack Obama is the 44th and current President of the United States of America. He is the first African-American to hold the office. Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to an American mother and Kenyan father, who left the family. Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia after his mother remarried before returning to Hawaii and later Occidental College in California. He then graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review.

He was a community organizer in Chicago before becoming a civil rights attorney and later taught at the University of Chicago Law School. Barack Obama served three terms in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 to 2004 and had an unsuccessful campaign for the United States House of Representatives in 2000. In 2004 he raised his profile dramatically during an acclaimed speech at the Democratic National Convention. He then won his campaign for United States Senate that fall, representing the state of Illinois. He defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2008 and then defeated Republican Senator John McCain in the Presidential election. He took the oath of office on January 20, 2009. Soon after taking office Barack Obama was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009.

While President, Barack Obama signed two key pieces of legislation in response to the recession. He signed an economic stimulus package called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, followed by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. He also signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, repealed the policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell regarding gays in the military, and pulled troops out of Iraq while increasing levels in Afghanistan. Barack Obama gave the final order to proceed when Navy SEALS found and killed Osama Bin Laden.

Barack Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare. The legislation has faced much criticism and many lawsuits and was struck down in parts by the United States Supreme Court, though much of it stands. His administration has also faced some controversy regarding an operation called Fast and Furious, in which guns were sold to Mexican gangs without being tracked and were later used in the murder of a US Border Patrol Agent.

Barack Obama is running for reelection this coming November.

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Who was George Washington? Fri, 16 Mar 2012 08:33:15 +0000 Following a modest Virginia childhood, George Washington rose to military prominence during the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. He later was instrumental in the creation of the United States Constitution and served two terms as the nation’s first president.

George Washington

George Washington

George Washington was one of the founding fathers of the United States and served as the country’s first president from 1789 until 1797. He is considered one of America’s first heroes because of his accomplishments during the French and Indian War and Revolutionary War and due to his political achievements.

George Washington was born in Virginia in 1732 to a poor family. His father died when George Washington was young and he had very little formal education, but he trained himself to become a surveyor and woodsman.

While still a young man, George Washington enlisted in the Virginia militia and advanced to the rank of colonel during the French and Indian War. Soon after the war, he married Martha Custis, a rich widow from Virginia.

George Washington began his political career in 1758 when he was elected to serve in the state’s government, called the House of Burgesses.

In 1775, Washington was appointed as Commander in Chief of the colonies’ army. George Washington led poorly trained and ill-equipped Patriot troops to victory against the British in 1781 and was widely recognized for his military brillance.

Following independence, the colonies struggled to be ruled under the Articles of Confederation. In 1787, George Washington presided over the country’s first Constitutional Convention and helped draft the United States Constitution. It took nine years for Convention members to ratify the Constitution, which calls for a representative government consisting of three branches that check and balance each other.

Following the convention, Washington was elected as the country’s first president. During his tenure, Washington oversaw the creation of the Bill of Rights and appointed Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury and Henry Knox as the Secretary of War.

Following his death in Virginia in 1799, the capital of the United States was moved from Philadelphia to an area closer to Washington’s home. The area was named Washington in his honor.

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Kennedy & Johnson Tue, 13 Mar 2012 14:36:30 +0000 American presidents Kennedy & Johnson presided over a tumultuous time in recent American history. The conflict in Vietnam was quickly becoming a war of attrition, and the civil rights legacy of both Kennedy & Johnson is a monumental advancement in American society.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

Kennedy & Johnson ran together in the 1960 presidential election. During this time, the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. were involved in a space race. Russia succeeded in sending Sputnik, the first unmanned satellite, into earth’s orbit. Kennedy set Johnson to task on creating a more aggressive approach to leadership and science in American education. Johnson foresaw great potential in NASA and aided their programs significantly.

The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Kennedy‘s term. Cuba, close to the southern coastal U.S., was under Fidel Castro’s communist regime. The American administration organized an invasion to overthrow Castro. The operation, called the Bay of Pigs Invasion, failed. Kennedy & Johnson had to bargain for captured soldiers and CIA agents, paying a sizable ransom to Cuba. Afterward, neither side could trust the other.

The U.S.S.R. president Khrushchev decided to store nuclear arms on Cuban soil. Positioning nuclear weapons a stone’s throw from American soil frightened the entire American populace. Kennedy & Johnson gave an ultimatum that brought the world very close to a disastrous nuclear war. Thankfully, Khrushchev decided to stand down and a tentative peace was made.

Regarding Vietnam, Kennedy & Johnson believed that if communism expanded even slightly, more and more countries would fall to it. Therefore, Kennedy sent Johnson to meet with the president of South Vietnam and the U.S. became embroiled in the conflict to keep communism at bay. The conflict stretched into the following years of Johnson’s term and became a very bloody war with a large social resistance.

Both Kennedy & Johnson contributed significantly to the civil rights movement. Kennedy appointed Johnson head of the Equal Employment Opportunities section to advance equality in the workforce. After Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which denounced Jim Crow laws, and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 that outlawed racial discrimination at the polls.

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President Truman Tue, 13 Mar 2012 14:32:11 +0000 Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, served from the last days of World War II in 1945 until the early Cold War days of 1953. The Cold War defined much of President Truman‘s tenure, though he also pursued an ambitious program of social legislation. Along the way, he found time for a personal scandal that, by modern standards, is almost heartwarming.

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman

Truman assumed office when President Franklin Roosevelt died suddenly on April 12, 1945. Just four months later, President Truman made what some view as the most controversial decision of his presidency: He ordered two atomic bombs dropped on Japan after the Japanese refused an ultimatum to surrender.

After World War II, President Truman faced a new set of challenges. Soon after the war, he supported the Marshall Plan, a massive program of American aid to Europe to help rebuild the devastated continent. To persuade Congress to back the plan, President Truman explained that a destitute Europe would be more susceptible to Communism.

The rising fear of Communism marked Truman’s America. Democrats and Republicans alike supported his Truman Doctrine of containment. A Communist victory in China’s civil war in 1949, however, coupled with Soviet nuclear success, fanned American fears of Communist infiltration. These anxieties culminated in Senator Joseph McCarthy’s accusations that Truman’s administration harbored “subversives” in important government positions.

President Truman faced still more division on domestic policy. A Democrat, President Truman pressed a broad legislative program that he called the Fair Deal. Mixing support for unions, civil rights and national health insurance, it gained little support in Congress. Ultimately, almost none of the Fair Deal passed.

Even closer to home, President Truman avoided the marital scandals of many other presidents. He did, nevertheless, spark controversy by writing to Paul Hume, a music critic who wrote an unfavorable review of a performance by Truman’s daughter, Margaret. Truman told Hume that he could expect a broken nose and two black eyes should Truman ever meet him. President Truman received criticism for this letter, though he explained the he wrote it as a father, not as a president.

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