What You Didn’t Know
About Your Presidents

The United States has seen 44 presidents since the Constitution established the office and was established in 1789.

I thought I’d spend this President’s Day telling you a few things you probably didn’t know about some of our past presidents and reference them to current events.

President George Washington

President George Washington

George Washington, our first president, warned the new nation of becoming involved in “foreign intrigue”. He believed we should be a nation of “honest brokers” much like the Swiss. He suggested we have no treaties or compacts and should be involved in trade with every other nation. Question: What would George Washington think of our ties with NATO and SEATO, today?

James Madison, one of the authors of the US Constitution vetoed the Bonus Bill of 1817. This bill called for funds to finance roads, bridges, and canals. Congress believed under the “General Welfare” provision it had the power to tax its citizens to establish such infrastructure. In Madison’s words:

President James Madison

President James Madison

“Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms “common defense and general welfare” embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust.”

In modern English, general welfare doesn’t mean everything politicians feel obligated to fund. We’ve come a long way.

President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, while preserving the union did so by using power granted in the Constitution to suspend the guarantee of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus protects citizens from being held without charge. Does the Constitution still allow presidents to hold suspects indefinitely—look at Guantanamo.

Theodore Roosevelt, is credited as being the first progressive president. It was Teddy who first went to battle against large corporations and the “robber barons” of the late 19th century. Many would argue, however, his involvement actually made it

President Theodore Roosevelt

President Theodore Roosevelt

easier for larger companies to dominate smaller one. Armour and Swift Meatpackers were targets for government surveillance and regulation based upon health practices of the day. Government regulations placed on these large meatpackers were inconvenient but not as damaging as it was to smaller meatpackers held to the same standard. In effect government regulations made it nearly impossible for small companies to stay in business.

President Dwight Eisenhower

President Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II warned of the growing military-industrial complex in the United States. President Eisenhower was concerned that a revolving door between the military and industry would lead to billions of dollars being dumped into companies without REAL need by the military.

What President Eisenhower didn’t see was the modern practice of not just the revolving door of the military to military contractors but also the Wall Street to Congress and back growth of political lobbyists.

Barak Obama, has played over 206 rounds of golf since becoming President of the United States six years ago. By contrast President Eisenhower played 800 rounds of golf while commander-in-chief. In all fairness, however, Eisenhower’s term of office was fairly uneventful compared with current world events.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Keith is the resident writer and troublemaker at Empowered Pros.
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