The president of any country is supposed to be someone who has the best in mind for the state and well being of its people. In our hardest times we look to the president for leadership and support, while trusting that his motivation is always in the right place with our future in mind. However, some of the things our presidents have done over the years may surprise or shock you. Here are some of the biggest mistakes you may never heard of or known about that I learned while researching politics and governmental policies.
Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Herbert Hoover was the 31st president of the United States and had no end of shortcomings on his presidential skills. Hoover was elected right before the Great Depression and was given the office with only the skills of a manager and a technocrat, someone who has a great deal of technical knowledge in an industry. When the Great Depression took hold he started relief efforts with an effort to create jobs, however, he resisted any straightforward relief to the masses that were suffering. Since he was a poor communicator he often was seen as hard and uncaring. My great grandmother often referred to Hoover as the absent president.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
While Grant had good intentions, there was no end to the corruption that occurred while he was in office. This corruption was unprecedented in size and served no benefit to the 18th president. Along with the greed and dwindling federal resources he was prosecuted heavily for his radical call for the reformation or racial standings in the South. His support for the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and attempts to force out the Ku Klux Klan were controversial at best and was met with the South’s reinforcement of racial slavery policies. While he was known as a president that separated the country while trying to unite it, his reputation will continue to rise as his well intentions come to light on these issues.
John Tyler (1841-1845)
John Tyler was sworn into office when William Harrison died from pneumonia after only serving 30 days as president. Tyler’s party ran the popular “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too” slogan and defeated the Democratic party with his Republican and Aristocratic platform. While he was a popular choice during voting he pulled a quick switch once in office. He quickly renounced everything his own party stood for including the start of a national bank for resources. The entire cabinet that had been appointed by Harrison was so appalled that they quickly resigned. Later, Tyler had to fight to stay in power as the former cabinet members took several steps to try and impeach him. His one success was to establish the law that when a vice president succeeds another to the top position, they have no less authority than an officially elected president.
Pierce was a Democrat from New Hampshire and was known as a northerner that had southern style principles which some say contributed to the start of the Civil War. The 14th president was a veteran of the Mexican War and believed that expansion of states was the optimum next step for our country. His methods and expansion efforts were not always received well. Without success he proposed that annexing Cuba was a good military move, using weapons and force if necessary. His opponents quickly put a stop to this plan suspecting that Pierce was trying to add another slave state to the South. Theodore Roosevelt later wrote that Pierce was “a servile tool of men worse than himself… ever ready to do any work the slavery leaders set him.”
James Buchanan (1857-1861)
James Buchanan was born in Pennsylvania and was known for his deeply religious views and abhorred slavery. He was also the only president to ever be elected while a bachelor. Following election he was called the cowardly president for his refusal to challenge the status quo and left many things left unchanged. During his inaugural address he exclaimed his support for the Dred Scott Decision, which ruled that Congress had no power to keep slavery out of their corresponding territories. More damage to his reputation came when he was unwilling to challenge the states that declared the intent to withdraw from the Union. Believing the Constitution gave him no power to act against those that wished to secede, he stood idly by and watched as the situation spun out of control. Until his dying day Buchanan wrongly believed what he did was the right thing and he would be remembered in good graces for competing his Constitutional duties.
Although we haven’t yet had a perfect president, these five surely had some large glaring faults that can’t be ignored. Be glad the next time your president makes a small mistake that at least it wasn’t as bad as these.
US News- The 10 Worst Presidents