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Theodore Roosevelt was only elected to one term as President, but he completed most of the second term of William McKinley as well as the full term he was elected to in 1904. The presidency of Theodore Roosevelt began on September 14, 1901, following the assassination and death of President William McKinley. He ran for and won a full four-year term as president in 1904, easily defeating Democratic nominee Alton B. Parker.

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Roosevelt became President at age 42. He remains the youngest person to become President of the United States. In his first term Roosevelt established his reputation as a "trust buster" in February of 1902 when, just a few months after taking office, he authorized the prosecution of the Northern Securities Trust Company for anti-competitive practices. Later, in October, Roosevelt intervened in the Anthracite Coal strike, setting a precedent for federal mediation in conflicts between labor and capital. Previously all government interventions in labor disputes had been to help crush strikes. In foreign policy, he focused on Central America, where he worked to bring about construction of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt convinced Congress to support his vision of a canal through Panama, but the treaty Congress approved was rejected by the Colombian government. When the Panamanians learned of this, a rebellion followed, was supported by Roosevelt, and succeeded. A treaty with the new Panama government for construction of the canal was then reached in 1903.

Roosevelt was able to secure the Republican Party's nomination for President in 1904, staving off the possibility of a challenge to Roosevelt for the 1904 Republican nomination by Senator Mark Hanna of Ohio. Roosevelt and Ohio's other Senator, Joseph B. Foraker, forced Hanna's hand by calling for Ohio's state Republican convention to endorse Roosevelt for the 1904 nomination. Hanna was forced to publicly endorse Roosevelt. Hanna died in early 1904, and Roosevelt faced little effective opposition for the 1904 nomination. Roosevelt followed the tradition of incumbents not actively campaigning on the stump. The Democratic Party's nominee in 1904 was Alton Brooks Parker. Democratic newspapers charged that Republicans were extorting large campaign contributions from corporations. Roosevelt denied the charges and at the same time he ordered the return of a $100,000 campaign contribution from Standard Oil. The issue had little impact on the election. Roosevelt won 56% of the popular vote, and Parker received 38%. Roosevelt also won the Electoral College vote, 336 to 140. Before his inauguration ceremony, Roosevelt declared that he would not serve another term, a pledge he would later come to regret.

As his second term progressed, Roosevelt broke with the conservative wing of the Republican Party when he proposed a series of reforms, most of which failed to pass Congress. Roosevelt's influence waned as he approached the end of his second term, as his promise to forego a third term made him a lame duck. He pushed for a national incorporation law (at a time when all corporations had state charters), called for a federal income tax and an inheritance tax. In the area of labor legislation, Roosevelt called for limits on the use of court injunctions against labor unions during strikes. He wanted an employee liability law for industrial injuries and an eight-hour work day for federal employees.

A Congressional investigation in 1905 disclosed that corporate executives donated tens of thousands of dollars in 1904 to the Republican National Committee. In 1908, Democratic Governor Charles N. Haskell of Oklahoma levelled the accusation that Senators in the pocket of Standard Oil lobbied Roosevelt, in the summer of 1904, to authorize the leasing of Indian oil lands by Standard Oil subsidiaries. He said Roosevelt overruled his Secretary of Interior Ethan A. Hitchcock and granted a pipeline franchise to run through the Osage lands to the Prairie Oil and Gas Company. The New York Sun made a similar accusation and said that Standard Oil, a refinery who financially benefited from the pipeline, had contributed $150,000 to the Republicans in 1904 after Roosevelt's alleged reversal allowing the pipeline franchise. Roosevelt branded Haskell's allegation as "a lie, pure and simple" and obtained a denial from Treasury Secretary Shaw that Roosevelt had neither coerced Shaw nor overruled him.

In 1907, Roosevelt faced the greatest domestic economic crisis since the Panic of 1893. The U.S. stock market went into a slump in early 1907. Many in the financial sector blamed Roosevelt's regulatory policies for the decline in stock prices. The nation still lacked Lacking a strong central central banking system, the government was unable to provide a coordinated response to the poor economic conditions. Many private banks were in poor financial condition. The slump reached the stage of a full-blown panic in October, when two investors failed to take over United Copper. Working with the Secretary of the Treasury, financier J.P. Morgan organized a group of businessmen to avert a crash by pledging their own money. Roosevelt helped Morgan by allowing U.S. Steel to acquire the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company, despite anti-trust concerns. He authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to raise bonds and commit federal funds to the banks.

After the panic, most congressional leaders agreed on the need to reform the nation's financial system. With the support of Roosevelt, Senator Nelson Aldrich introduced a bill to allow National Banks to issue emergency currency. The proposal was defeated by Democrats and progressive Republicans who believed the bill to be was overly favorable to Wall Street. Instead, Congress passed the Aldrich–Vreeland Act. The bill created the National Monetary Commission to study the nation's banking system. The commission's recommendations would eventually lead to the creation of the Federal Reserve System.

A split the the Republican Party developed from the conflict between the interests of corporate America and the working class. The media was fuelling popular outrage over corporate scandals. Journalists like Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell wrote exposes of corporate scandals and abuses. The Republican Party divided between conservatives like Aldrich and progressives like Albert B. Cummins and Robert M. La Follette. Roosevelt leaned toward the left wing of his party, known as the Progressives. In his last two years in office, Roosevelt became increasingly distrustful of big business, despite its close ties to the Republican Party. Roosevelt called on Congress to enact a series of radical new laws. He pursued a new economic model which included a larger regulatory role for the federal government. He argued that 20th-century capitalists risked little but reaped huge profits on the backs of the laboring class. Without a redistribution of wealth away from the upper class, Roosevelt feared that the country would turn to radicals or fall to revolution.

In January 1908, Roosevelt sent a special message to Congress, calling for the restoration of an employer's liability law, which had recently been struck down by the Supreme Court. He also called for a limits on the use of court injunctions against labor unions during strikes, an eight-hour work day for federal employees, a postal savings system to provide competition for local banks, and legislation barring corporations from contributing to political campaigns.

Roosevelt's progressive policies proved popular in the Midwest and Pacific Coast. He gained support among farmers, teachers, clergymen, clerical workers and some proprietors. He encountered opposition from eastern Republicans, corporate executives, lawyers, the party establishment and Congressmen. Populist Democrats such as William Jennings Bryan expressed admiration for Roosevelt's message, and one Southern newspaper called for Roosevelt to run as a Democrat in 1908, with Bryan as his running mate. Roosevelt never seriously considered leaving the Republican Party during his presidency. Conservative Republicans such as Senator Nelson Aldrich and Speaker Joseph Cannon remained in control of Congress. These Republican leaders blocked the more ambitious aspects of Roosevelt's agenda, although Roosevelt was able to win passage of a new Federal Employers Liability Act and a restriction of child labor in Washington, D.C.

One other controversy arose near the end of Roosevelt's presidency, when accusations arose over whether a French company engineer influenced Roosevelt in choosing the Panama route for the canal over the Nicaragua route. Roosevelt denied charges of corruption concerning the canal in a January 8, 1906 message to Congress. In January 1909, Roosevelt brought criminal libel charges against the New York World and the Indianapolis News known as the "Roosevelt-Panama Libel Cases". Both cases were dismissed by U.S. District Courts, and after his Presidency, on January 3, 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the lower courts' rulings.

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Roosevelt left office still quite popular. He remained a major world figure until his death in 1919 and was quite active in his "retirement". (The story of his post-presidential years is retold in David Pietrusza's 2018 book TR's Last War, reviewed here in this community.) A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association ranked Roosevelt as the fourth greatest president in history, after George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
William McKinley is ranked among the upper tier of Presidents and this ranking is almost certainly deserved when one considers the problems on his desk when he entered the Presidency. He was elected in the aftermath of the Panic of 1893, at a time when there was disagreement over how currency would be backed (on the gold standard, the silver standard, or by both, i.e. bimetallism). There was also the age-old tariff issue in which high tariffs hurt some segments of the economy and helped others. Adding to his challenges was a war with Spain that would arise during his first term.


McKinley confronted each of these challenges as a responsible leader. He proceeded cautiously into war, despite the pressure from those wanting to rush into it. When victory in the Spanish–American War came about, he presided over a time of American expansionism, as the nation took ownership of Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico. He presided over an period of restored prosperity. The 1897 Dingley Tariff was passed which leaned on the side of protecting American manufacturers and factory workers from foreign competition. The money debate was resolved with the passage of the Gold Standard Act of 1900 that rejected free silver Rapid economic growth and a decline in labor conflict practically assured McKinley's re-election in 1900.

In the 1896 presidential election, McKinley had defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan in a campaign in which McKinley called for "sound money", promised that high tariffs, and denounced Bryan as a radical who promoted class warfare. He faced Bryan again in the 1900 presidential election, but this time the central issue was imperialism in the Philippines. Bryan also reprised his old favorites of high tariffs, and free silver. McKinley's supporters argued that the new high tariff and the commitment to the gold standard were responsible for the nation's prosperity and economic recovery from the Panic of 1893. It was hard for Bryan to argue with that. Republicans were generally successful in state and local elections around the country in 1899, and McKinley was optimistic about his chances at re-election in 1900.

McKinley's renomination as the Republican Candidate in 1900 was a no-brainer. The only question about the Republican ticket concerned the vice presidential nomination. Vice-president Garrett Hobart had died in late 1899. McKinley liked Elihu Root, the Secretary of War, but McKinley decided that Root was doing too good a job at the War Department to move him. At the time, the Republican party's rising star was New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt. After a stint as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt had resigned and raised a cavalry regiment that had fought bravely in Cuba. Roosevelt returned home covered in glory. He was elected Governor of New York on a reform platform in 1898. Many supporters recommended him to McKinley for the second spot on the ticket, and Roosevelt saw it as a stepping stone to the presidency in 1904. McKinley's chief advisor Mark was firmly opposed to picking Roosevelt, whom he considered to be overly impulsive. Political boss and New York Senator Thomas C. Platt disliked Roosevelt's reform agenda, and he wanted to get Roosevelt out of his state by making him vice president. Roosevelt had the broadest range of support from around the country. McKinley took the position that the choice belonged to the convention, not to him. On June 21, 1900, McKinley was unanimously renominated and Roosevelt was nominated for vice president on the first ballot.

As he had done in 1896, Bryan embarked on a speaking tour around the country while McKinley stayed at home, this time making only one speech. Roosevelt became the campaign's primary speaker. McKinley never doubted that he would be re-elected. On November 6, 1900, he won the largest victory for any Republican since 1872. Bryan carried only four states outside the solid South, and McKinley even won Bryan's home state of Nebraska.

Soon after his second inauguration on March 4, 1901, William and Ida McKinley embarked on a six-week tour of the nation. They travelled by rail, proceeding from Washington through the South, to the Southwest, and then up the Pacific coast. They headed east again, and planned to end the tour with a visit to the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York on June 13, 1901. First Lady Ida McKinley fell ill in California, causing her husband to limit his public events and cancel a series of speeches he had planned to give. McKinley postponed his visit to the fair until September.

McKinley enjoyed meeting the public, but on his visit to Buffalo, his secretary George Cortelyou was concerned with his security. It was a time when there had been recent assassinations by anarchists in Europe, such as the assassination of King Umberto I of Italy in 1900. On two occasions Cortelyou tried to remove a public reception from the President's rescheduled visit to the Exposition. McKinley refused to cancel the event. Cortelyou arranged for additional security for the trip.

On September 5, McKinley delivered his address at the fairgrounds, before a crowd of some 50,000 people. It was his final speech. McKinley urged reciprocity treaties with other nations to assure American manufacturers access to foreign markets. In the crowd at the time was Leon Czolgosz, who had come to the fair with plans to assassinate McKinley. He had managed to get close to the presidential podium, but did not fire, because he did not believe he would get a clear shot. Czolgosz, had been inspired by anarchist Emma Goldman in Cleveland. He believed that McKinley's assassination would somehow advance the anarchist cause.

The next day, September 6, McKinley was scheduled to hold a public reception at the Temple of Music on the Exposition grounds. Czolgosz got into the receiving line, where had a gun concealed in a handkerchief. When he reached the head of the line, he shot McKinley twice in the abdomen.

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Ever gracious, the fallen McKinley called on those who had subdued Czolgosz not to hurt the assassin. He also asked Cortelyou to break the news of his wounding gently to the First Lady. McKinley was taken to the Exposition aid station, where the doctor was unable to locate the second bullet. A primitive X-ray machine was being exhibited on the Exposition grounds, but it was not used. McKinley was taken to the Milburn House at 1168 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, the home of lawyer John Milburn.

In the days after the shooting McKinley appeared to improve. Doctors issued optimistic reports of how McKinley was recovering from his wounds. Believing that the President would recover, Vice President Roosevelt departed on a camping trip to the Adirondacks. Subsequent review of McKinley's medical treatment has called into question why such optimistic predictions were made. It was likely that his wounds had become infected and there were no drugs at the time that would control this infection.

On the morning of September 13, McKinley's condition deteriorated. Gangrene was growing on the walls of his stomach, slowly poisoning his blood. McKinley drifted in and out of consciousness all day. By evening, the stoic McKinley too knew he was dying. He said to his physicians, "It is useless, gentlemen. I think we ought to have prayer." Relatives and friends gathered around him. The First Lady was heard to cry, "I want to go, too. I want to go, too." McKinley calmly responded, "We are all going, we are all going. God's will be done, not ours". The weakened President put an arm around his wife and some present recalled him singing a part of his favorite hymn, "Nearer, My God, to Thee", with the First Lady also singing softly. McKinley died at 2:15 a.m. on September 14, 1901.


Theodore Roosevelt had rushed back to Buffalo and took the oath of office as president. Czolgosz, put on trial for murder nine days after McKinley's death. He was found guilty, sentenced to death on September 26, and executed by electric chair on October 29, 1901.
Grover Cleveland remains as the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms. In 1884, he defeated James G. Blaine to become the first Democrat to win the Presidency since before the Civil War. Cleveland lost his bid for re-election in 1888 to Republican Benjamin Harrison, despite winning the popular vote in that election. In 1892 Cleveland won the rematch with Harrison. It is said that when the Clevelands left the White House in 1889, Cleveland's wife Francis promised that they would be back, and she was correct.

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But the second term was not without its problems, despite the hiatus that Cleveland had enjoyed. Early in his second term, in 1893, Cleveland had what was believed to be a cancerous tumor in his jaw. He secretly underwent oral surgery to remove the tumor. Cleveland decided to have the surgery secretly. The nation was undergoing a severe depression known as the Panic of 1893. Cleveland believed that in order to avoid further panic that might worsen the financial depression, he needed to keep his condition out of the news. The surgery occurred on July 1, 1893. It was timed in order to give Cleveland time to make a full recovery in time for the upcoming Congressional session. The surgeons operated aboard the Oneida, a yacht owned by Cleveland's friend E. C. Benedict, as it sailed off Long Island. The surgery was conducted through the inside of the president's mouth, to avoid any scars or other signs of surgery. The surgery left Cleveland's mouth disfigured due to the size of the tumor. A second surgery was later performed in which Cleveland was fitted with a hard rubber dental prosthesis that corrected his speech and restored his appearance. The White House falsely told reporters that Cleveland was having two bad teeth removed, and the press did not question this. Cleveland's operation would not be revealed to the public until 1917.

Shortly after Cleveland's second term began, the Panic of 1893 struck the stock market, and the Cleveland administration faced an acute economic depression. The panic was sparked by the collapse of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. At the time, European credit played a major role in the U.S. economy and European investors often invested in the American economy. But international investor confidence had been damaged by a financial crisis in Argentina, which had nearly caused the collapse of the London-based Barings Bank. Europe itself was experiencing poor economic conditions. The Argentinian financial crisis led many European investors to liquidate their American investments. Making matters worse, the south was experiencing a poor cotton crop, an important export at the time. All of this left the U.S. financial system with insufficient financial resources. The U.S. still did not have a central banking system, so the federal government had little control over the money supply. As panic spread, a May 1893 bank run throughout the nation left the financial system with even less resources.

Cleveland was opposed to bimetallism (backing currency by both gold and silver.) He though this encouraged the hoarding of gold and discouraged investment from European financiers. He argued that adopting the gold standard would alleviate the economic crisis by providing a hard currency (i.e. one with secure backing). He sought to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and end the coinage of silver-based currency. Cleveland called a special session of Congress, set to begin in August 1893. The House of Representatives debated for fifteen weeks before passing the repeal by a considerable margin. In the Senate, the repeal of silver coinage was equally contentious. Cleveland was able to convince several Senate Democrats to support repeal The repeal bill passed the Senate by a 48–37 majority. It was the beginning of the end of silver as a basis for American currency.

The repeal failed to restore investor confidence, as hundreds of banks and other businesses failed, and 25 percent of the nation's railroads were in receivership by 1895. Unemployment rates rose above 20 percent in much of the country, while those who had jobs experienced significant wage cuts. The economic panic also caused a drastic reduction in government revenue. In 1894, with the government in danger of being unable to meet its expenditures, Cleveland convinced a group led by financier J. P. Morgan to purchase sixty million dollars in U.S. bonds. The deal resulted in an infusion of gold into the economy, allowing for the continuation of the gold standard. Cleveland was criticized for relying on Wall Street bankers to keep the government running.

The Panic of 1893 caused significant labor unrest across the United States. A group of workingmen led by Jacob S. Coxey began to march east toward Washington, D.C. to protest Cleveland's policies. This group, known as Coxey's Army, called for a national roadbuilding program to give jobs to workingmen, and a bimetallist currency to help farmers pay their debts. The march began with just 122 participants, but as others joined Coxey's Army along its route, a much larger force arrived in Washington. The marchers were dispersed by the U.S. Army and were prosecuted for demonstrating in front of the United States Capitol. Coxey returned to Ohio to unsuccessfully run for Congress as a member of the Populist Party in the 1894 elections. Coxey's Army did not present a serious threat to the government, but it signaled growing labor unrest.

As railroads suffered from declining profits, they cut wages for their workers. By April 1894, the average railroad worker's pay had declined by over 25 percent since the start of 1893. Socialist Eugene V. Debs led the American Railway Union (ARU) in organized strikes against the Northern Pacific Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad. The strikes soon spread to other industries, including the Pullman Company. After George Pullman refused to negotiate with the ARU and laid off workers involved with the union, the ARU refused to service any railroad car constructed by the Pullman Company, beginning the Pullman Strike. By June 1894, 125,000 railroad workers were on strike. The railroads carried the mail, and because several of the affected lines were in federal receivership, Cleveland decided to act in the conflict. Cleveland obtained an injunction in federal court, and when the strikers refused to obey it, he sent federal troops into Chicago and 20 other rail centers to enforce the court order. Governor John P. Altgeld of Illinois angrily protested Cleveland's deployment of troops. Newspapers supported Cleveland's actions, but the use of troops turned organized labor against Cleveland's administration. Cleveland's action was be upheld by the Supreme Court in the case of In re Debs, which sanctioned the president's right to intervene in labor disputes that affected interstate commerce.

Another issue concerned the McKinley Tariff, which Democrats opposed because the argued that it raised consumer prices. West Virginian Representative William L. Wilson introduced a tariff reduction bill, co-written with Cleveland administration, in December 1893. The bill proposed moderate reductions in the tariff. It proposed that the shortfall in revenue be made up by an income tax of two percent on income above $4,000. Corporate profits, gifts, and inheritances were also to be taxed at a rate of 2%. After lengthy debate, the bill passed the House by a considerable margin. The bill passed the Senate with more than 600 amendments attached that nullified most of the reforms. Cleveland was outraged with the final bill. However he believed that the bill was an improvement over the McKinley tariff and allowed it to become law without his signature. The personal income tax included in the tariff was struck down by the Supreme Court in the 1895 case, Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co.

Cleveland was no supporter of increased civil rights for African-Americans. Ge approved of the 1896 Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, which recognized the constitutionality of racial segregation under the "separate but equal" doctrine. With the Supreme Court and the Cleveland administration both unwilling to intervene to protect the suffrage of African-Americans, Southern states continued to pass numerous Jim Crow laws, effectively denying suffrage to many African Americans through a combination of poll taxes, literacy and comprehension tests, and residency and record-keeping requirements.

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In the 1894 mid-term elections, Republicans won their biggest landslide in decades, taking full control of the House. Democrats experienced losses everywhere outside of the South. For the last two years of his term, Cleveland faced a Republican-controlled Congress, and the remaining Democrats in Congress consisted largely of agrarian-oriented Southerners who held little allegiance to Cleveland. Cleveland's support for the gold standard made him unpopular within his own party and made his renomination by the Democrats highly unlikely. The Panic of 1893 had destroyed Cleveland's popularity, even within his own party. Cleveland never publicly announced that he would not seek re-election, but he had no intention of running for a third term. Cleveland kept silent on who might succeed him . His agrarian and silverite enemies won control of the Democratic National Convention, They rejected and criticized Cleveland's administration and the gold standard. They nominated William Jennings Bryan on a Silver Platform. Cleveland supported the Gold Democrats' third-party ticket that promised to defend the gold standard, limit government, and oppose high tariffs, but he declined the splinter group's offer to run for a third term. The economic and other woes of his second term torpedoed any possibility of a third term for Cleveland or for any hand-picked successor.
After Abraham Lincoln died, the most popular man in the Union (outside of the former Confederate states) was General Ulysses Grant. After Lincoln was assassinated, Grant continued his service under Lincoln's successor President Andrew Johnson. Grant became disillusioned by Johnson's approach to Reconstruction, Grant received support from the "Radical" Republicans. In 1868 Grant was elected to be the youngest 19th Century president. In his first term he Grant stabilized the post-war national economy, created the Department of Justice, and prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan. He also appointed African-Americans and Jewish-Americans to prominent federal offices and in 1871, Grant created the first Civil Service Commission.


Midway through his first term, Grant experienced some difficulty in maintaining party unity. Although Grant had implemented some civil service reforms, some in in party questioned his commitment to reform. In New York, state Republicans under the leadership of Senator Roscoe Conkling controlled the lucrative New York Customs House, using it as means of rewarding supporters and raising party funds by demanding donations from those given jobs. In March 1871, Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri and General Jacob D. Cox, Grant's former Secretary of Interior, led a schism in which one hundred Republicans in Cincinnati broke from the party and formed what became the Liberal Republican Party. They were committed to more aggressive civil service reform, as well as low tariffs. They denounced the corruption within the administration and demanded the withdrawal of federal troops from the South. The Liberals nominated Horace Greeley, a leading Republican New York Tribune editor and a fierce enemy of Grant, for president. Weakened from their position during the civil war, the Democrats adopted the Greeley ticket and the Liberals party platform. Republicans borrowed from the Liberals party platform. They called for lowered tariffs and greater civil service reform. Grant won reelection easily. He received 3.6 million votes (55.6%) votes to Greeley's 2.8 million votes and an Electoral College landslide of 286 to 66. Grant was sworn in for his second term by Salmon P. Chase on March 4, 1873.

In his second inaugural address, Grant reiterated his commitment to freedom and fairness for all Americans, and stressed the benefits of citizenship for freed slaves. But his second term would encounter problems in other areas that would divert energy from his civil rights agenda. The foremost of these was what became known as the Panic of 1873. Grant had wanted to promote a strong US dollar. He signed into law the Coinage Act of 1873, which ended the legal basis for bimetallism (the use of both silver and gold as money), and established the gold standard. The Coinage Act discontinued the standard silver dollar and established the gold dollar as the sole monetary standard. Problems arose when the gold supply did not increase as quickly as the population, resulting in currency deflation. Silverites (those who wanted the country to be on the Silver standard) wanted more money in circulation to raise the prices that farmers received. They denounced the Coinage Act, calling it the "Crime of 1873". They argued that the deflation made debts more burdensome for farmers.

More economic problems plagued Grant's second term. In September 1873, Jay Cooke & Company, a New York brokerage house, collapsed after it failed to sell all of the bonds issued by Cooke's Northern Pacific Railway. The collapse rippled through Wall Street, and other banks. Brokerages that owned railroad stocks and bonds were also ruined. On September 20, the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading for ten days. Grant traveled to New York to consult leading businessmen and bankers for advice on how to resolve the crisis. Grant believed that the Panic of 1873 was only an economic fluctuation that affected bankers and brokers. He instructed the Treasury to buy $10 million in government bonds, in order to inject cash into the system. The purchases curbed the panic on Wall Street, but an industrial depression struck the nation. Eight-nine of the nation's railroads went bankrupt.

Congress hoped inflation would stimulate the economy. They passed what became known as the "Inflation Bill" in 1874. Many farmers and workingmen favored the bill, which proposed adding $64 million in greenbacks to circulation. Eastern bankers opposed it because it would have weakened the dollar. Grant believed the bill would destroy the credit of the nation, and he vetoed the bill. Grant then pushed Congress to pass a bill to further strengthen the dollar by gradually reducing the number of greenbacks in circulation. When the Democrats gained a majority in the House after the 1874 elections, the lame-duck Republican Congress did so before the Democrats took office. On January 14, 1875, Grant signed the Specie Payment Resumption Act, which required gradual reduction of the number of greenbacks allowed to circulate and declared that they would be redeemed for gold beginning on January 1, 1879.

The other issue that plagued Grant's presidency in his second term concerned widespread corruption in government offices. Many of Grant's executive departments were investigated by Congress. Grant often trusted his former wartime comrades and stubbornly defended cabinet members and appointees involved in corruption.

Grant's appointed New York Collector Thomas Murphy, an ally of Roscoe Conkling, resigned from office prior to the 1872 election. Murphy had created a corrupt profiteering ring at the New York Custom House. Grant appointed Chester A. Arthur, another Conkling man, to replace Murphy, and administration of the Customs House steadily improved. Pressured by an 1872 Congressional investigation, Grant ordered prosecutions of men involved in the bribery scandal. Grant's reputation was damaged by being associated with Conkling's patronage machine. On March 3, 1873, Grant signed a bill that increased pay for federal employees. It was called the "Salary Grab Act" by Grant's enemies and Congress repealed the law later that year, although but Grant was allowed to keep the President's doubled $50,000 annual salary. By the end of 1873, public confidence in government rule and Congress had reached its lowest point.

Scandals escalated in Grant's second term. Grant appointed Benjamin Helm Bristow, a man known for his honesty, as Treasury Secretary. He began a series of reforms in the department. Bristow's anti-corruption house cleaning discovered another scandal in 1875. Under the Bristow's direction, an investigation uncovered the notorious Whiskey Ring that involved collusion between distillers and Treasury officials to evade paying the Treasury millions in tax revenues. Much of this money was being pocketed while some of it went into Republican Party coffers. Bristow informed Grant of the ring in mid-April and in May, at Bristow's instruction, Federal marshals raided 32 installations nationwide and arrested 350 men. 176 indictments were obtained, leading to 110 convictions and $3,150,000 in fines returned to the Treasury.

Grant appointed David Dyer as federal attorney to prosecute the Ring in St. Louis. Among those indicted were Grant's old friend General John McDonald, supervisor of Internal Revenue. Grant wrote to Bristow, "Let no guilty man escape". Bristow's investigation discovered that Grant's former aide, General Orville Babcock, had received kickback payments, and that Babcock had secretly forewarned McDonald, the ring's mastermind boss, of the coming investigation. On November 22, 1875, the jury convicted McDonald. On December 9, Babcock was indicted. Grant refused to believe in Babcock's guilt, was ready to testify in Babcock's favor, but Secretary of State Hamilton Fish warned Grant that doing so would put Grant in the embarrassing position of testifying against a case prosecuted by his own administration. Grant remained in Washington and on February 12, 1876, gave a deposition in Babcock's defense, expressing that his confidence in his secretary was "unshaken". Grant's testimony likely helped bring about the jury's acquittal of Babcock. Babcock kept his position of Superintendent of Public Buildings in Washington.

The Interior Department under Secretary Columbus Delano was also rife with fraud and corrupt agents. Delano was later forced to resign after it was discovered that Surveyor General Silas Reed had set up corrupt contracts that benefited Delano's son, John Delano. Grant's Secretary Interior Zachariah Chandler, who succeeded Delano in 1875, cleaned up corruption and reformed the department. When Grant was informed by Postmaster Marshall Jewell of a potential Congressional investigation into an extortion scandal involving Attorney General George H. Williams' wife, Grant fired Williams and appointed Edwards Pierrepont in his place.

When the Democrats took control of the House in 1875, they launched a series of investigations into corruption in federal departments.[474] Among the most damaging was the Indian Ring scandal, which involved Secretary of War William W. Belknap taking quarterly kickbacks from the Fort Sill tradership. This led to Belknap's resignation in February 1876. Belknap was impeached by the House, but was acquitted by the Senate. Grant brother Orvil set up "silent partnerships" and received kickbacks from four trading posts. Congress also discovered that Secretary of Navy Robeson had been bribed by a naval contractor, but no articles of impeachment were drawn up against him. In November 1876, Grant apologized to the nation and admitted mistakes in his administration, saying, "Failures have been errors of judgement, not of intent."

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The collected scandals of his presidency, the country's weak economy, and the Democratic gains in the House led many in the Republican party to distance themselves from Grant. They feared that Grant would run for a third term. Ultimately, Grant declined to run. The 1876 Republican convention settled on Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, a reformer. This led to the most controversial election in US history.
Abraham Lincoln gave two inaugural addresses and both were magnificent for their rhetorical brilliance and eloquence. The second of the two was delivered on March 4, 1865. Lincoln was beginning his second term as President of the United States, a term that would last just six weeks. There were reasons for optimism at the time of Lincoln's second inauguration. Victory over the secessionists in the Civil War was imminent and the end of slavery was at hand. But Lincoln did not use the speech to gloat. Its tone was one of humility and generosity. In the speech, he sought to advocate against harsh treatment of the defeated South, while recognizing the evil of slavery.


Present in the crowd at the inaugural address were John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln's assassin, and David Herold, George Atzerodt, Lewis Paine, John Surratt and Edmund Spangler, some of the conspirators involved with Lincoln's assassination. Before Lincoln was sworn in, Vice President-elect Andrew Johnson took his oath. At the ceremony Johnson, who had been drinking (he later claimed it was to offset the pain of typhoid fever) gave a rambling address in the Senate chamber and appeared to be quite drunk. Ever loyal and generous, Lincoln assured Republicans that this was a one off, telling them "Andy aint no drunkard."

In his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln spoke about Divine providence. He said that he wondered what God's will might have been in allowing the war to occur, and why it had grown to the terrible dimensions which it had. He used the biblical phrase, "but let us judge not, that we be not judged," paraphrasing the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1, "Judge not, lest ye be not judged." Lincoln also quotes another of Jesus's sayings: "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." Lincoln's quoted this passage from Matthew 18:7. He also quoted Psalms 19:9 "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether".

Lincoln talked about the end of the institution of slavery and how providential this was. He said, in his address:

The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Remarkably, Lincoln did not believe his address was particularly well received at the time. Historians from successive generations disagree. Many consider the address to be one of the finest speeches ever given in American history.

Lincoln's second term began as the war was ending. General Ulysses Grant's army had reached the town of Petersburg,in Virginia, beginning the Siege of Petersburg in June 1864. The Confederate Army lacked reinforcements, and Robert E. Lee's army shrank with every costly battle. After Lincoln won reelection in November 1864, Francis Preston Blair, a personal friend of both Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, unsuccessfully encouraged Lincoln to make a diplomatic visit to Richmond. On February 3, 1865, Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward held a conference at Hampton Roads with three representatives of the Confederate government: Vice President Alexander H. Stephens, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter, and Assistant Secretary of War John A. Campbell, to discuss terms to end the war. Lincoln knew that he was bargaining from a position of strength and he refused to allow any negotiation that viewed the Confederacy as an equal. The meetings produced no results.

Grant ground down the Confederate army following several months of trench warfare. Due to the city's important location, the fall of Petersburg would likely lead to the fall of Richmond, but Grant feared that Lee would decide to move South and link up with other Confederate armies. In March 1865, with the fall of Petersburg appearing imminent, Lee tried to break through the Union lines at the Battle of Fort Stedman, but the Confederate assault was repulsed. On April 2, Grant launched an attack that became known as the Third Battle of Petersburg, which ended with Lee's retreat from Petersburg and Richmond. In the subsequent Appomattox Campaign, Lee hoped to link up with General Joseph E. Johnston, who was positioned in North Carolina, while Grant sought to force the surrender of Lee's army.

On April 5, Lincoln visited Richmond. As he walked through the city, freedmen greeted him as a hero. One such man was heard to proclaim, "I know I am free for I have seen the face of Father Abraham and have felt him". On April 9, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox and the war was effectively over. Following Lee's surrender, other rebel armies soon did as well.

On April 11, Lincoln gave a speech at the White House in which he promoted voting rights for African-Americans. In the crown was the man who would become Lincoln's asassin, John Wilkes Booth. On hearing Lincoln's words, Booth told an associate "That means nigger citizenship. That is the last speech he will ever give." Booth asked Lewis Powell to shoot Lincoln on the spot, and when Powell refused, Booth said to David Herold, "By God, I'll put him through."

According to Ward Hill Lamon, three days before his death Lincoln told Lamon about a dream he had in which he wandered the White House searching for the source of mournful sounds. Lamon claimed that Lincoln had described the dream thusly:

I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. "Who is dead in the White House?" I demanded of one of the soldiers, "The President," was his answer; "he was killed by an assassin."

For months Lincoln had been looking pale and haggard, but on the morning of his assassination he told people how happy he was. He and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln took a carriage ride in which they discussed a future trip to California. The Lincoln's made plans to attend Ford's Theatre that evening, and had invited General Ulysses Grant and his wife Julia to join them. Julia Grant convinced her husband to declined the invitation as Mary Lincoln and Julia Grant were not on good terms. Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris (daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris) joined the Lincolns instead. Lincoln's bodyguard, William H. Crook, advised him not to go to the theatre, but Lincoln said he had promised his wife. Lincoln's party arrived late and settled into their box. The play was interrupted and the orchestra played "Hail to the Chief" as the full house of some 1,700 rose in applause.

Policeman John Frederick Parker was assigned to guard the president's box, but at intermission he went to a nearby tavern along with Lincoln's footman and coachman. About 10:25 P.M., Booth passed a note to the usher and was admitted into the President's box. Once through this door, which swung inward, Booth barricaded it by wedging a stick between it and the wall. From here a second door led to Lincoln's box. Booth knew the play by heart, and waited to time his shot with the laughter at one of the funniest lines of the play, delivered by actor Harry Hawk: "Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!". Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot. Booth opened the door, stepped forward, and shot Lincoln from behind with a derringer. The bullet entered Lincoln's skull behind his left ear, passed through his brain, and came to rest near the front of the skull after fracturing both orbital plates. Lincoln slumped over in his chair and then fell backward. The dying President was taken across the street to Petersen House. After remaining in a coma for nine hours, Lincoln died at 7:22 am on April 15, 1865.


In most surveys of US Presidents, Lincoln generally ranks first or second (exchanging places with George Washington.) Lincoln had hoped for a moderate Reconstruction. He expressed the wish to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. His successor would have a different view.
When he was elected as president in 1828, many doubted that Andrew Jackson would want a second term as President. Jackson was not a politician. He was a recent widower and believed the nastiness of the election campaign he had just fought had caused the recent death of his wife Rachel, who had been labelled an adulteress and a bigamist by Jackson's political opponents. Jackson believed that he had been robbed in the presidency in 1824 because of what he called a "corrupt bargain between John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay. He took office in poor health and from the start of his presidency, men like Clay, John C. Calhoun and Martin Van Buren had their eyes on Jackson's job. But he would prove them wrong.

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In his first term, Jackson had to deal with the so-called "Tariff of Abominations", passed by Congress in 1828. It set the tariff at a historically high rate. The tariff was popular in the Northeast, but southern planters strongly opposed high tariff rates. Opposition was especially intense in South Carolina. The South Carolina Exposition and Protest of 1828 was a document secretly written by Calhoun. It asserted that their state could "nullify" the tariff legislation of 1828. Jackson wanted the tariff left in place until the national debt was paid off. The crisis was defused when the tariff was amended, and Jackson threatened the use of military force if South Carolina attempted to secede.

As the 1832 election approached, it was unclear whether Jackson would seek re-election. But Jackson announced his intention to seek re-election in 1831. The Democrats held their first national convention in May 1832 and Martin Van Buren won the vice presidential nomination on the first ballot of the 1832 Democratic National Convention. In December 1831, the National Republicans convened and nominated a ticket led by Henry Clay. The major issue of the election was the national bank. The tariff and especially Indian removal were also important issues in several states. The national bank poured thousands of dollars into the campaign to defeat Jackson. Earlier that year, Jackson had vetoed of the national bank recharter. On January 6, 1832 Bank President Nicholas Biddle submitted to Congress a renewal of the Bank's charter. The submission came four years before the original 20-year charter was to end. Biddle's recharter bill passed the Senate on June 11 and the House on July 3, 1832. On July 4, Jackson told Martin Van Buren, "The Bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me. But I will kill it." Jackson officially vetoed the bill on July 10. The veto message attacked the Bank as an institution that supported only the wealthy.

Jackson won the election by a landslide, receiving 54 percent of the popular vote and 219 electoral votes. This was a slight decline from his 1828 popular vote victory. Jackson's victory in the 1832 election meant that he could veto any extension of the national bank's charter up to the time that the bank's charter expired in 1836. Jackson wanted to ensure that the national bank would be abolished. He wanted to remove federal deposits from the national bank, but this required the Secretary of the Treasury to issue an official finding that the national bank was a fiscally unsound institution. The bank was clearly solvent. In January 1833, at the height of the Nullification Crisis, Congressman James K. Polk introduced a bill that would provide for the removal the federal government's deposits from the national bank. The bill was easily defeated. After his inauguration in March 1833, Jackson renewed his offensive against the national bank, despite some opposition from within his own cabinet. Throughout mid-1833, Jackson made preparations to remove federal deposits from the national bank, sending Amos Kendall to meet with the leaders of various banks to see whether they would accept federal deposits.

Jackson ordered Secretary of the Treasury William Duane to remove existing federal deposits from the national bank. Duane refused to issue a finding that the federal government's deposits in the national bank were unsafe. In response, Jackson replaced Duane with Roger Taney, who received an interim appointment. Rather than removing existing deposits from the national bank, Taney and Jackson pursued a new policy in which the government would deposit future revenue elsewhere, while paying all expenses from its deposits with the national bank. The Jackson administration placed government deposits in a variety of state banks which were friendly to the administration's policies. Jackson's critics called these banks as "pet banks." Biddle responded to the withdrawals by stockpiling the national bank's reserves and shrinking credit, causing interest rates to rise. The move backfired. It increased resentment against the national bank. The transfer of large amounts of bank deposits, combined with rising interest rates, resulted in a financial panic in late 1833.

When Congress reconvened in December 1833, the withdrawals from the national bank and the subsequent financial panic were the big issie it had to address. Neither the Democrats nor the anti-Jacksonians exercised complete control of either house of Congress. Henry Clay introduced a measures to censure Jackson for unconstitutionally removing federal deposits from the national bank, and in March 1834, the Senate voted to censure Jackson in a 26–20 vote. It also rejected Jackson's appointment of Roger Taney as Treasury Secretary, forcing Jackson to find a different treasury secretary. He eventually nominated Levi Woodbury, who won confirmation.

On April 4, 1834, the House passed a resolution that the national bank "ought not to be rechartered" and that the deposits "ought not to be restored." The House also voted to allow the pet banks to continue to serve as places of deposit, and sought to investigate whether the national bank had deliberately instigated the financial panic. By mid-1834, the panic had ended, and Jackson's opponents had failed to recharter the national bank or reverse Jackson's removals. The national bank's federal charter expired in 1836. Biddle's institution continued to function under a Pennsylvania charter, but it never regained the influence it had had at the beginning of Jackson's administration. In January 1837, when the Jacksonians had a majority in the Senate, the censure was expunged after years of effort by Jackson supporters.

The national economy boomed after mid-1834 as state banks liberally extended credit. Jackson was able to pay off the entire national debt in January 1835, the only time in U.S. history that that has been accomplished. In the aftermath of the Bank War, Jackson asked Congress to pass a bill to regulate the pet banks. The debate over financial regulation became tied to a debate over the disposition of the federal budget surplus and proposals to increase the number of pet banks. In June 1836, Congress passed a bill that doubled the number of pet banks, distributed surplus federal revenue to the states, and instituted Jackson's proposed bank regulations. Jackson considered vetoing the bill due to his opposition to the distribution of federal revenue, but he ultimately decided to let it pass.

As the number of pet banks increased from 33 to 81, regulation of the government's deposits became more difficult, and lending increased. The growing number of loans led to a boom in land prices and land sales. Seeking to curb land speculation, Jackson issued the Specie Circular, an executive order that required buyers of government lands to pay in specie. The Specie Circular undermined the public's trust in the value of paper money; Congress passed a bill to revoke Jackson's policy, but Jackson vetoed that bill on his last day in office.

Jackson's efforts had negative effects, though the brunt of them were borne not by Jackson, but by his successor, Martin Van Buren. If there was a "second-term curse" on Jackson's presidency, its ill effects were felt by Van Buren, not Jackson. The period of good economic conditions ended with the onset of the Panic of 1837. Jackson's Specie Circular was intended to reduce speculation and stabilize the economy. But it left many investors unable to afford to pay loans in gold and silver. The same year there was a downturn in Great Britain's economy, resulting in decreased foreign investment in the United States. As a result, the U.S. economy went into a depression, banks became insolvent, the national debt increased, business failures rose, cotton prices dropped, and unemployment dramatically increased. The depression that followed lasted until 1841, when the economy began to rebound.

Another indicator that Jackson was protected from any sort of curse concerns an incident that took place in his second term. On January 30, 1835, the first recorded attempt to kill a sitting President of the United States took place just outside the United States Capitol. When Jackson was leaving through the East Portico after the funeral of South Carolina Representative Warren R. Davis, Richard Lawrence, an unemployed house painter from England, aimed a pistol at Jackson, which misfired. Lawrence then pulled out a second pistol, which also misfired. Speculation is that the humid weather caused the double misfiring. A feisty Jackson attacked Lawrence with his cane. Davy Crockett and others present at the scene restrained and disarmed Lawrence.

Lawrence was later found to be insane and was institutionalized. Among the many reasons he gave for his actions, one of them was that he was in reality Richard III, a deposed English king. (Richard III had died in 1485). He said that Jackson was his clerk.


Later, the pistols were tested and retested. Each time they performed perfectly. Jackson's supporters claimed that the President had been protected by Divine Intervention.
Did James Monroe have a second term curse? If so, it was a minor one, though like almost all lame-duck presidents, his influence declined as he neared the end of his eight year run as president. Monroe served as president of the United States from 1817 to 1825. He is perhaps best known for his foreign policy principle, known as the "Monroe Doctrine", which condemned further European colonization of the Americas. That took place in his second term, as part of his annual message of 1823. Perhaps the roughest patches of his presidency took place in his first term, when an economic panic struck (in 1819) and the first "compromise" between northern states and southern states had to be brokered (the "Missouri Compromise of 1820"). It's hard to imagine a President who was nearly re-elected unanimously, and whose presidency ushered in what became known as the Era of Good Feelings, as being the subject of any sort of curse.

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Monroe is considered by many to be one of the last of the Founding Fathers. He fought in the American Revolution and was wounded in the Battle of Trenton by a musket ball to the shoulder. After studying law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783, he served as a delegate in the Continental Congress. In 1790 he was elected to the Senate of the first United States Congress, where he joined the Democratic-Republicans. He later served as the Governor of Virginia and rose to national prominence as a diplomat in France when he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. During the War of 1812, Monroe served in critical roles as Secretary of State and later did double duty as Secretary of War under President James Madison after Madison fired the incompetent John Armstrong. Monroe faced little opposition from the waning Federalist Party, and was easily elected president in 1816.

Although he was a protege of Thomas Jefferson, Monroe shared one very important principled belief with George Washington. Like Washington, Monroe also wanted to eliminate political parties and factionalism. The Federalist Party declined as a national institution during his presidency because of their unpopular opposition to the War of 1812. Monroe made two long national tours to reinforce the notion that he was the people's president and not the property of his political party. At Boston, deep in the heart of Federalist territory, his 1817 visit was hailed a success. One Boston editorial writer dubbed it to be the beginning of an "Era of Good Feelings." Frequent stops on these tours allowed innumerable ceremonies of welcome and expressions of good will. Monroe was seen by more Americans than any previous president, and his travels were reported on in detail in the local and national press.

The period during which Monroe served as president continued to be referred to as the "Era of Good Feelings" due to the lack of partisan conflict. That's not to say that everything was sweetness and light. In his first term Monroe faced the Panic of 1819, the first major recession in the United States since the ratification of the Constitution. He supported many federally-funded infrastructure projects, but vetoed other projects due to constitutional concerns. Monroe supported the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri as a slave state but excluded slavery in the remaining territories north of the parallel 36°30′ north.

In foreign policy, Monroe, with the able assistance of his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, acquired East Florida from Spain with the Adams–Onís Treaty, realizing a long-term goal of Monroe and his predecessors. Signed after the First Seminole War near the end of Monroe's first term, the Adams–Onís Treaty also solidified U.S. control over West Florida, established the western border of the United States, and included the cession of Spain's claims on Oregon Country. The Monroe administration also reached two treaties with Britain, marking a rapprochement between the two countries in the aftermath of the War of 1812. The Rush–Bagot Treaty (signed in 1817) demilitarized the U.S. border with British North America, while the Treaty of 1818 settled some boundary disputes and provided for the joint settlement of Oregon Country.

Monroe was deeply sympathetic to the revolutionary movements in Latin America and opposed European influence in the region. In 1823, Monroe pronounced what later became known as the Monroe Doctrine, which declared that the U.S. would remain neutral in European affairs, but would not accept new colonization of Latin American by European powers.

During Monroe’s first term, the country had suffered an economic depression and slavery had emerged as a divisive issue. Despite these problems, Monroe ran for reelection unopposed, in large part due to the collapse of the Federalist Party. He is the only president other than George Washington to do so. A single elector from New Hampshire, William Plumer, cast a vote for John Quincy Adams, preventing a unanimous vote in the Electoral College.

In his second term, in 1822, Congress passed a bill authorizing the collection of tolls on the National Road, with the tolls being used to finance repairs on the road. Monroe vetoed the bill. In detailed reasons for his dissent, Monroe set out his constitutional views which supported the veto. He believed that while Congress might appropriate money, it could not undertake the actual construction of national works nor assume jurisdiction over them. In 1823, Monroe proposed that Congress work with the states to build a system of canals to connect the rivers leading to the Atlantic Ocean with the western territories of the United States, and he eventually signed a bill providing for investment in the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Company.

Monroe was a supporter of a movement supporting the colonization of Africa by former slaves. Congressman Charles F. Mercer of Virginia and Reverend Robert Finley of New Jersey established the American Colonization Society (ACS) to further the goal of African colonization. Most adherents of the society supported colonization as a way to provide for the gradual emancipation of slaves and diversify the Southern economy. In 1819, the Monroe administration agreed to provide some funding to the ACS, and, much like the national bank, the society operated as a public-private partnership. The U.S. Navy helped the ACS establish a colony in West Africa, which would be adjacent to Sierra Leone, another colony that had been established for free blacks. The new colony was named Liberia, and Liberia's capital took the name of Monrovia in honor of President Monroe. By the 1860s, over ten thousand African Americans had migrated to Liberia. Though initially intended to be a permanent U.S. colony, Liberia declared independence in 1847.

Under the administration of Thomas Jefferson, the federal government had taken control of the Yazoo lands from Georgia in the Compact of 1802. As part of that agreement, President Jefferson promised to remove Native Americans from the region. Georgians pressed Monroe to remove the remaining Native Americans to regions west of the Mississippi River. Monroe sought to do this peacefully by offering to purchase the lands, but the Native Americans rejected the Monroe administration's offers. Unlike subsequent Presidents such as Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren, James Monroe was unwilling to forcibly evict the Native American tribes, and he took no major actions regarding Indian removal.

Monroe is considered by many to be one of the most under-rated presidents. He presided over a period in which the United States began to concentrate less on European affairs and more on domestic issues. His presidency saw the United States settle many of its longstanding boundary issues through treaties and he also helped resolve sectional tensions through his support of the Missouri Compromise and by seeking support from all regions of the country. Polls of historians and political scientists tend to rank Monroe as an above average president. A 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Monroe as the eighteenth best president, while a 2017 C-Span poll of historians ranked Monroe as the thirteenth best president. I would rank him much higher than that. (A ranking of Presidents conducted in this community in 2012 placed him at number 7.


In the 1824 presidential election, four members of the Democratic-Republican Party sought to succeed Monroe, who remained neutral among the candidates. Monroe's dream of political unity and the absence of political parties never materialized. His departure led to an intra-party split, made worse when John Quincy Adams emerged as the victor over General Andrew Jackson and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford in a contingent election. Jackson had finished first in the voting, but failed to win a majority. His loss in the House of Representatives led to accusations of a "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Henry Clay. Monroe' presidency concluded the first period of American presidential history before the beginning of Jacksonian democracy and the Second Party System era. Following his retirement in 1825, Monroe was plagued by financial difficulties. He died in New York City on July 4, 1831.

Remembering Richard Nixon

On January 9, 1913 (106 years ago today) Richard Milhous Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, was born in Yorba Linda California. His parents were Frank and Hanna Nixon and he was the second of five sons. According to some sources, he was named for King Richard the Lion-hearted of England. He has the unenviable distinction of being the only president to resign the office. Nixon had previously served as a U.S. Representative and Senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961.

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Richard Nixon graduated from Whittier College in 1934 and Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina, in 1937. He returned to California to practice law. In 1940 he married the former Thelma "Pat" Ryan and in 1942 the couple moved to Washington DC where he worked for the federal government at the Office of Price Administration. Four months later he began his service in the United States Navy during World War II. He resigned his commission after the war on New Year's Day of 1946.

Nixon was elected in California to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. In 1948 as a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, his pursuit of the Alger Hiss case established his reputation as a leading anti-communist, and elevated him to national prominence. In 1952 Senator Nixon was selected to be the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 1952 election. Nixon served for eight years as vice president. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy. Two years later he lost a race for Governor of California in 1962, following which he told reporters "you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around any more." But that wasn't correct. In 1968, he ran again for the president and was elected, defeating Democrat Hubert Humphrey.

At first Nixon escalated America's involvement in the Vietnam War that he inherited from the previous administration, but he subsequently ended U.S. involvement by 1973. Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two nations, and he signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the Soviet Union the same year.

Domestically, many of Nixon's policies offended some in his conservative base. He was very progressive in response to many social issues. For example, he launched initiatives to fight cancer and illegal drugs. He also imposed wage and price controls, enforced desegregation of Southern schools, implemented environmental reforms, and introduced legislation to reform healthcare and welfare. While he was President, the first manned spacecraft landed on the moon, that being Apollo 11. But it was also Nixon who later replaced manned space exploration with shuttle missions. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1972.

Nixon's second term was marred by the Watergate scandal, in which operatives working with the knowledge of the Committee to Re-Elect the President, were caught breaking in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Mistrust of Nixon abounded and he became pejoratively referred to by his critics as "Tricky Dick". It was a terrible shame, because it was totally unnecessary for Nixon's re-election. As the scandal escalated, and investigators followed a trial that led to the White House, Nixon lost almost all of his political support, and faced certain impeachment. On August 9, 1974, he resigned the presidency. After his resignation, he accepted a pardon issued by his successor, Gerald Ford.


In retirement, Nixon's work as an elder statesman, authoring nine books and undertaking many foreign trips, which helped to rehabilitate his public image. His wife Pat died on June 22, 1993, of emphysema and lung cancer. Her funeral services were held on the grounds of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace and Richard Nixon was distraught throughout the ceremony. Less than a year later, Nixon suffered a severe stroke on April 18, 1994, while preparing to eat dinner in his Manhattan home. A blood clot resulting from his heart condition had formed in his upper heart, broken off, and traveled to his brain. He was taken to New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan, alert but unable to speak or to move his right arm or leg. Damage to the brain caused swelling and he slipped into a deep coma. Richard Milhous Nixon died at 9:08 p.m. on April 22, 1994, with his daughters Tricia and Julie at his bedside. He was 81 years old.
One of the Founding Fathers,James Madison served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the Continental Congress during and after the American Revolutionary War. In the late 1780s, he helped organize the Constitutional Convention, which produced a new constitution to replace the ineffective Articles of Confederation. After the Convention, Madison became one of the leaders in the movement to ratify the Constitution, and his collaboration with Alexander Hamilton produced The Federalist Papers, among the most important treatises in support of the Constitution. In 1788, Madison won election to the United States House of Representatives and acted as a close adviser to President George Washington. He was one of the most prominent members of the 1st Congress, helping to pass several bills establishing the new government. He drafted the first ten amendments to the Constitution during the 1st Congress.

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But Madison broke with Hamilton over the issue of centralization of power advocated by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Along with Thomas Jefferson, Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party, which became one of the nation's two first major political parties alongside Hamilton's Federalist Party. After Jefferson won the 1800 presidential election, Madison served as Jefferson's secretary of state from 1801 to 1809. Madison succeeded Jefferson with a victory in the 1808 presidential election.

The central issue during Madison's presidency was relations with the two great European powers during the ongoing Napoleonic Wars. Initially, American merchants benefited from the war in Europe since it allowed them to increase their shipping activities. But things changed when both the British and French began attacking American ships in an attempt to cut off trade with the other country. In response to persistent British attacks on American shipping and the British practice of impressment, Thomas Jefferson had tried a trade embargo that failed to achieve its goal. Towards the end of his first term in office, Madison, prompted by the "War Hawks" in Congress, supported a declaration of war against Britain, beginning the War of 1812.

As the attacks on American shipping continued, the American public called out for war with Britain. While many blamed both Britain and France for their aggressive acts against the United States, Democratic-Republicans, including Madison, considered Britain to be far more culpable. Many Americans called for a "second war of independence" to restore honor and stature to the new nation, and an angry public elected a "war hawk" Congress, led by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. With Britain in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, many Americans, Madison included, believed that the United States could easily capture Canada. On June 1, 1812, Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war and the declaration was passed along sectional and party lines, with intense opposition from the Federalists and in New England, where the economy had suffered during Jefferson's trade embargo.

But the country was not prepared for war against a major world power. Thomas Jefferson had decreased the size of the federal government, including the armed forces. Madison asked Congress to put the country "into an armor and an attitude demanded by the crisis." He recommended enlarging the army, preparing the militia, finishing the military academy, stockpiling munitions, and expanding the navy. This was easier said than done. Madison faced a divided cabinet, a factious party, obstructionist governors, and incompetent generals, as well as militia who refused to fight outside of their states. There was a lack of unified popular support. In New England, there was even talk of secession as these states refused to provide financial support or soldiers for the war.

Events in Europe made the American course even worse. Shortly after the United States declared war, Napoleon launched an invasion of Russia, and the failure of that campaign turned the tide against French and towards Britain and her allies. In the years prior to the war, Jefferson and Madison had reduced the size of the military, closed the Bank of the U.S., and lowered taxes. These decisions added to the challenges facing the United States as it tried to mobilize for a war with a world power that was no longer fighting the French.

Madison hoped that the war would end in a couple months after the capture of Canada, but he was wrong. Governors in the Northeast failed to cooperate in his plans for their militias to band together for an invasion of Canada.. Some state militias either sat out the war or refused to leave their respective states. He was also plagued with incompetent military leadership and as a result, Detroit surrendered to a smaller British force without firing a shot. The American campaign in Canada, led by Henry Dearborn, ended with defeat at the Battle of Stoney Creek. Meanwhile, the British armed American Indians, most notably several tribes allied with the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, in an attempt to threaten American positions in the Northwest.

Madison also lacked the means to fund the War. His Treasury Secretary, Albert Gallatin, had to contend with the national bank being closed, major financiers in the New England refusing to help, and government revenue depending on non-existent tariffs. Congress was willing to authorize an expanded military, but they refused to levy direct taxes to pay for it. Lacking adequate revenue or local lenders, the Madison administration relied heavily on high-interest loans furnished by bankers based in New York City and Philadelphia.

After the disastrous start to the War of 1812, Madison accepted a Russian invitation to arbitrate the war. He sent Albert Gallatin, John Quincy Adams, and James Bayard to Europe in hopes of quickly ending the war. While the negotiators were en route, the U.S. experienced some military success, particularly at sea. The United States had built up one of the largest merchant fleets in the world, though it had been partially dismantled under Jefferson and Madison. Madison authorized many of these ships to become privateers in the war, and they captured 1,800 British ships. General William Henry Harrison defeated the forces of the British and of Tecumseh's Confederacy at the Battle of the Thames. In March 1814, General Andrew Jackson broke the resistance of the British-allied Muscogee in the Old Southwest with his victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

Despite these successes, the British continued to repel American attempts to invade Canada. A British force captured Fort Niagara and burned the American city of Buffalo in late 1813. In early 1814, the British agreed to begin peace negotiations in the town of Ghent. After Napoleon's defeat, the British began to shift soldiers to North America. Under General George Izard and General Jacob Brown, the U.S. launched another invasion of Canada in mid-1814. Despite an American victory at the Battle of Chippawa, the invasion stalled once again. Meanwhile, the British increased the size and intensity of their raids on the Atlantic coast. General William H. Winder tried togather a concentrated force to guard against a potential attack on Washington or Baltimore, but his orders were countermanded by Secretary of War John Armstrong. The British landed a large force off the Chesapeake Bay in August 1814, and the British army approached Washington on August 24. An American force was defeaed at the Battle of Bladensburg, and British forces set fire to the federal buildings of Washington, including the White House. First Lady Dolley Madison rescued White House valuables and documents shortly before the British burned the White House. The British army next moved on Baltimore, but the British called off the raid after the U.S. repelled a naval attack on Fort McHenry.

Madison returned to Washington before the end of August, and the main British force departed from the region in September. The British attempted to launch an invasion from Canada, but the U.S. victory at the September 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh ended British hopes of conquering New York. To plan for an expected British attack on the city of New Orleans next, newly-installed Secretary of War James Monroe ordered General Jackson to prepare a defense of the city. On January 8, 1815, Jackson's force defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans, unbeknownst to the fact that a peace agreement had already been reached.

In February of 1815, Madison learned that his negotiators had reached the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war without major concessions by either side. Both sides agreed to establish commissions to settle Anglo-American boundary disputes. Madison quickly sent the Treaty of Ghent to the Senate, and the Senate ratified the treaty on February 16, 1815. Most Americans at the time believed that the American victory at New Orleans had forced the British to surrender.

But despite the pride that many Americans felt over the victory at New Orleans, the war was an administrative disaster for Madison. It proved that the United States had neither a strong army nor financial system. Despite the lack of gains in the war, the timing of the treaty convinced many Americans that the United States had won a great victory in the war, and Madison's popularity grew. The Federalists collapsed as a national party in the aftermath of the war, which they had strongly opposed.

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Madison entered office intending to continue the limited government agenda began his Democratic-Republican predecessor, Thomas Jefferson. However, after of the war, Madison saw the folly in many of these policies for his young nation. He now favored higher tariff, he increased military spending, and supported the establishment of the Second Bank of the United States. Madison left office highly popular, and his chosen successor, James Monroe, was elected with little opposition. But most historians are critical of Madison's presidency, especially of his handling of the War of 1812, and his taking the nation into a war against a powerful enemy when it was unprepared for a war.

Happy Birthday Millard Fillmore

Every year on this day (January 7th) a ceremony is held at the grave of President Millard Fillmore at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo New York. Faculty, staff, students, administrators and friends of the University of Buffalo gather at Fillmore’s gravesite at Buffalo's Forest Lawn Cemetery to mark the birthday of the university’s first chancellor, who was also the 13th president of the United States and the founder of many Buffalo institutions, like the Buffalo History Museum, the Buffalo Historical Society, Buffalo General Hospital and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. On January 7, 1800 (219 years ago today) Millard Fillmore (no middle name) was born in Moravia, Cayuga County, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Millard Fillmore was the last President to be a member of the Whig Party. As Zachary Taylor's Vice President, he assumed the presidency on July 9, 1850, following Taylor's death. Fillmore was a lawyer from western New York state, and one of the first members of the Whig Party. He served in the state legislature from 1829 to 1831, as a U.S. Representative for two non-consecutive terms (1833–1835 and 1837–1843), and as New York State Comptroller from 1848 to 1849. He was elected Vice President of the United States in 1848 as Taylor's running mate, and served from 1849 until Taylor's death in 1850, at the height of the "Crisis of 1850" over slavery. When the Compromise of 1850 was proposed, it was ironic that Fillmore the northerner supported it, while Taylor, the southerner and slave holder, opposed it.

Fillmore had been an anti-slavery moderate, but not an abolitionist, and he opposed abolitionist demands to exclude slavery from all of the territory gained in the Mexican War. Instead he supported the Compromise of 1850, which briefly ended the crisis, though his critics argue that he merely kicked the problem down the road. In foreign policy, Fillmore supported U.S. Navy expeditions to open up trade with Japan, he opposed French designs on Hawaii, and also opposed Narciso López's "filibuster" expeditions to liberate Cuba from Spain. He sought re-election in 1852, but lost his party's nomination to General Winfield Scott.

When the Whig Party broke up prior to the 1856 election, Fillmore and other conservative Whigs joined the American Party, the political arm of the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic "Know-Nothing" movement. He was selected as the American Party candidate for President in 1856, but finished third, with 21.6% of the popular vote and only Maryland's 8 electoral votes.

During the Civil War, Fillmore denounced secession and agreed that the Union must be maintained by force if necessary, but he was also very critical of the war policies of President Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln died, an angry mob splashed ink on Fillmore's house because he did not follow the custom of decorating the home with black bunting. After the war, he supported the Reconstruction policies of President Andrew Johnson. He died at 11:10 pm on March 8, 1874, at his home in Buffalo following a stroke. His last words are alleged to be, "the nourishment is palatable", referring to some soup that he was being fed.

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This year the University of Buffalo and other community partners marked the 219th anniversary of Fillmore's birth in a ceremony that is being held this morning 10 a.m. EST in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo. The program will begin at Fillmore’s gravesite with brief remarks, a prayer by Rev. Joan Montagnes of the United Universalist Church in Buffalo, and the presentation of wreaths by representatives of the White House, Millard Fillmore legacy organizations and the Forest Lawn Group. Col. Eric L. Laughton, medical group commander for the 107th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard in Niagara Falls, will present a wreath on behalf of the White House. The program then will move to the cemetery’s Margaret L. Wendt Archive & Resource Center for a reception hosted by Forest Lawn and the Buffalo Club. Bill Parke, a member and historian for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo, will speak about “Millard Fillmore and His Debtor Legislation.”

In the ceremony, the University of Buffalo publicly acknowledges that Fillmore played a role in the history of slavery in the U.S., which includes the Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act. This year’s commemoration marks the 54th consecutive year that the university has organized the event, a tradition that dates back to 1937. From 1937 until 1964, the anniversary ceremonies were organized by Charles Templeton, a UB alumnus who worked with the city of Buffalo and the Buffalo Board of Education to program the annual events.


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