The Verdict

Great men with larger-than-life personalities … do not always make the best Presidents.  Too much of their focus is directed inward, and the needs of the electorate are overlooked (see Jackson.)  Consistency is required when dealing with momentous issues.

In the right place at the right time

James Knox Polk was the right man… in the right place, at the right time.  He was not flashy, brilliant, cagy, or diabolical as many have charged.  Polk was steady, determined, erudite, and conscientious; some might even call him boring.  His presence demanded respect, but did not inspire awe.  He possessed a keen mind and was an excellent administrator.  Simply put, he got things done, with nearly no regard for his own legacy.

For too long revisionists in academia… have kept the real Polk from us.  Hopefully this blogger has been able to shed new light on an important figure long shrouded by academic misdeeds.  Polk now sits comfortably in the top ten lists of most Presidential historians…where he belongs.


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Misreading the Same History

Cold Warriors

Cold Warriors

Kennedy wanted to end the Vietnam war.   Conspiracy theorists on both sides point to National Security Memo #263 as the smoking gun in Kennedy’s secret plan to get our troops out of Vietnam; and, also Memo #273 as proof the warmonger Johnson wanted to escalate the war.  Both accounts are demonstrably false.  Memo #263 simply states that Kennedy wanted to follow the recommendations of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and General Maxwell Taylor following their visit to South Vietnam(withdrawal was not one of them.)   The second memo was drafted November 21, 1963 and is clearly a Kennedy document approved by Johnson.  In an interview given on the Huntley-Brinkley Report Kennedy reaffirmed our commitment to South Vietnam and his belief in the “domino theory.”  Kennedy did not want to end the war in South Vietnam and Johnson did not personally choose to escalate it. 

 

September 9, 1963: "I think we should stay. We should use our influence in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw."

September 9, 1963: “I think we should stay. We should use our influence in as effective a way as we can, but we should not withdraw.”

Far too many amateurs historians have duped… suspicious  Americans for academic credibility and financial gain.  Oliver Stone lends his tarnished credibility to the misreading of a complicated series of policy decisions.  Stone does not deal in complexities- as a film maker, he prefers stories with heroes, villains, and tidy plots.  For reasons unknown, Stone and his acolytes refuse to accept Jack Kennedy for what he was- a Conservative Democrat committed to the policy of containment as laid down by his Democratic predecessor, Harry Truman.  Vietnam was a national tragedy and a painful scar on our history- trying to make John Kennedy the martyr of it is a fraudulent endeavor.

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Review of “President Nixon: Alone in the White House” by Richard Reeves

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

President Nixon: Alone in the White House” by Richard Reeves was published in 2001. Reeves is a former journalist and the author of sixteen books, including biographies of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. He has served as Chief Political Correspondent for The New York Times, as National Editor and Columnist for New York Magazine and Esquire and was Chief Correspondent for PBS’s “Frontline.”

Reeves’s book is neither a comprehensive survey of Nixon’s life nor a thorough study of his presidency. But anyone who has read the author’s 1993 biography of JFK will recognize this 609-page book’s rapid pace and its birds-eye view of events which took place in and around the Oval Office during most (but not quite all) of Nixon’s presidency.

The book begins with a first-person introduction to its subject – Reeves’s perspective on his presidency, his character and his idiosyncrasies. It…

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Harriet Hanks, Lincoln’s Cousin-Niece

Presidential History Blog

It’s a complicated family line.

The Lincoln-Hanks Kinship

Abraham Lincoln, as everyone knows, was the son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks.

A photograph of Thomas Lincoln, coupled with an “imagined” picture of Nancy Hanks Lincoln.

Nancy Hanks, Abe’s mother, had an aunt, also named Nancy Hanks, who had an illegitimate son named Dennis, born in 1799, about seven years before Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks married. At an early age, Dennis (whose mother presumably died) went to live with Elizabeth and Thomas Sparrow, aunt and uncle to the Aunt Nancy Hanks. His great-aunt and -uncle.

When Abe was around six, the Lincolns decided to move to Indiana. The Sparrows joined them, and took Dennis. Within three years, Nancy Hanks Lincoln died. So did Elizabeth and Thomas Sparrow. Dennis Hanks moved in with Tom Lincoln and his two young children, Abe, now nine, and Sarah, two years older.

The only…

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Americans to Americans

Robert E. Lee chose General John B. Gordon… to officially surrender the Army of Northern Virginia to the Union on April 12, 1865.  Gordon was an amateur soldier who proved to be the consummate warrior.  Through the course of the conflict Gordon was badly wounded seven times, with five minnie balls hitting him at the battle of Antietam in 1862.  Lee often praised Gordon’s actions in battle,  “characterized by splendid audacity.”

True citizen soldier

US Grant selected General Joshua L. Chamberlain… to accept the Confederate surrender.  Chamberlain was a college professor (of rhetoric) who enlisted in the 20th Maine Vols. He served with distinction from Fredericksburg to Petersburg, winning the Medal of Honor for his defense of Little Round Top during the Gettysburg campaign.  Chamberlain was wounded six times (nearly dying at Petersburg in 1864)  and cited for bravery four times during his service.

Soul of a Lion

As Gordon led the Confederate army past… the Army of the Potomac, Chamberlain ordered the men to “Carry Arms”, the snap of the leather and metal signaled a marching salute.  Gordon, surprised by the gesture, ordered the Confederates to respond.   Chamberlain described Gordon’s performance, “At the sound of that machine like snap of arms, however, General Gordon started, caught in a moment its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horse’s head swung down with a graceful bow, and General Gordon dropped his sword point to his toe in salutation.”    Gordon truly understood the significance of the gesture, “Chamberlain called his men into line and as the Confederate soldiers marched in front of them, the veterans in blue gave a soldierly salute to those vanquished heroes—a token of respect from Americans to Americans.”

Americans to Americans

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Confederate Monument Dilemma

PracticallyHistorical offers the following analysis….

  • The Confederate flag should never be flown over government buildings or property
  • The Confederate flag should not be banned
  • Monuments to Confederate leaders, political or military, should not be kept on government or public property
  • Monuments dedicated to unnamed soldiers who fought for the Confederacy should be allowed on public property
  • Communities have every right to determine which people are publicly memorialized
  • The destruction seen in Durham is unacceptable
  • The actions of the KKK and ne0-Nazi groups in Charlottesville are unacceptable
  • Confederate monuments in cemeteries should be left alone
  • Confederate monuments on battlefields should be left alone 
  • Comparing Confederate leaders to our Founders is unacceptable
  • Destroying or defacing monuments to our Founders is unacceptable 
  • Studying Confederate history is necessary
  • Confederate Civil War reenactors should not be ostracized
  • Slavery caused the Civil War
  • Not all Confederate soldiers fought for slavery
  • Not all Union soldiers fought to free slaves 
  • We need to keep reading, writing, and learning…..

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Slippery Slope on Display- Hubris pt. 4

Jefferson said:

“I, am laying the foundation of an University in my native state, which I hope will repay the liberalities of it’s legislature by improving the virtue and science of their country…I have been myself the Architect of the plan of it’s buildings, and of it’s system of instruction. four years have been employed on the former, and I assure you it would be thought a handsome & Classical thing in Italy…I have preferred the plan of an Academical village rather than that of a single, massive structure…So it’s most splendid object, and a constant gratification to my sight. “

Go to community college, kiddies…

No one is comfortable giving President Trump credit for much… but the spoiled, ungrateful cretins who desecrated Jefferson’s likeness on the campus of HIS University   are bringing Trump’s somber picture to life.  He warned that the removal of statues to Confederate leaders may lead to similar action against our Founders, like Washington and Jefferson.

 

In the heart of his beloved academical village… Jefferson’s life’s work is naively slandered in name of  trendy activism and political correctness.  Students taking full of advantage of Jefferson’s foresight, vision, and effort dare to question the man and manner their opportunities were provided.  The hubris required to demand the removal of the University’s Founder; as well as, linking him to traitors who fought to destroy the country he helped create- is beyond comprehension.  Twenty-somethings so self-centered and lazy as to carry dozens of photographs of themselves(dressed and undressed)- possess a moral superiority over Thomas Jefferson?   Irony….

To stop desecrating my memory

The post-millennial generation has doomed us… the Founders predicted our fate if the population became ignorant and forgot its past.

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