AE Monthly

Articles - November - 2007 Issue

Seven Forgotten Presidents?

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Millard Fillmore, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester Arthur.


Then there is Rutherford B. Hayes. His name was back in the news during the election of 2000, as Hayes was also a minority president, selected when another branch of government, in this case the House of Representatives, selected him over the leader in the popular vote. To garner the southern support needed to "elect" Hayes, who trailed in both the popular and electoral vote, Republicans agreed to compromises such as removing federal troops from the South, opening the door to almost a century of segregation and Jim Crow. Hayes reputation was ruined before he ever started.

Finally, we have Chester Arthur. A political hack from New York, he rose to the presidency when James Garfield was assassinated. Surprisingly, Arthur asserted his independence from the Republican Party machine and bosses who created him, to their surprise and consternation. However, the machine would return the favor in 1884 when it refused to renominate him. Instead it selected James G. Blaine, the "continental liar from the State of Maine." Imagine losing to someone like that. Arthur is the last incumbent president to seek but be denied his party's nomination.

All of this leads us to wonder why so many others were slighted. Could not at least one of the Harrisons make the list? William Henry was the one who died after one month in office, while Benjamin Harrison is best known as the answer to the question, "who served in-between Grover Cleveland's two nonconsecutive terms?" Of course Cleveland himself isn't remembered for much other than serving those nonconsecutive terms. And what about James Knox Polk and Zachary Taylor? Or how about Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan? Don't they too deserve their proper non-recognition?

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