Does “executive experience” equate to Presidential success? Part 2

To see the rules for my analysis, and the first four Presidents, check out Part 1.

I want to try to fit in a couple more old white dudes before I feed the kids lunch!

#5 – James Monroe. Monroe was a senator and governor of Virginia before becoming President, so he does have executive experience. Was he good? All signs point to yes! After all, his presidency was known as the “Era of Good Feelings”. He made great strides in domestic policy, sponsoring greater feelings of nationalism. He is perhaps best known for the Monroe Doctrine (declaring the Americas’ independence from colonization and foreign rule), which arguably set the USA’s course toward being a superpower. So… EE: yes; Good: yes.

#6 – John Quincy Adams. He did a lot of ambassador type work, and served as a very successful Secretary of State under James Monroe. But no official executive experience. Adams was the subject of a lot of bad blood for the way the election went down, and was thusly rendered pretty impotent with Congress. While there’s no argument with his accomplishments both before and after his presidency (when he actually served in the US House of Representatives for 17 years after his one term as President) his presidency is characterized by its lack of accomplishment. He had lofty and noble ideas, but they were often out of touch with the current political climate and he was hugely disliked as president. Andrew Jackson defeated him handily after his first term. So… EE? No. Good? No.

#7 — Andrew Jackson. He was a plantation owner, lawyer, and military officer, among other things. By all accounts he was a very successful plantation owner, making a number of large land acquisitions and at one point owning upwards of 150 slaves. His military career was, in a word, legendary. He achieved the rank of major general and appears to have been the very model of one – he led some very important victories. One victory was over the Seminole in Florida, convincing Spain to relinquish their positions there and paving the way for Florida to become a state. Jackson also served as the first governor of Florida for a few months. So, I’d say he has executive experience — the combination of successful plantation owner (and self-made at that), a heroic military career at a fairly high rank (major general isn’t in my definition of executive power but he was very successful in his role), and his short time as governor. He also served as a Representative and Senator, but we all know that doesn’t count. 😉 His presidency is the subject of much speculation. Some seem to look toward his ability to reduce the national debt and expand the scope of presidential authority to raise him on a pedestal. Others see him as a tyrannical hothead who took everything personally, seemed to formulate his personal political beliefs out of spite, started the Spoils system, perpetuated the Trail of Tears and other Native American removals, and feel he was the closest to having a Caesar-type ruler as the U.S. has ever come. (One of his many nicknames was “King Andrew”.) I’m not sure his moderate successes outshine the many negatives of his presidency. Thus, my personal inclination is to say he did more harm than good. So, I’m going to say…. EE: yes; good: no.

OK, time to feed the kids lunch. More coming soon!!

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2 responses to “Does “executive experience” equate to Presidential success? Part 2

  1. I think it’s so fascinating that both Adams men were not great presidents but were great lawyers and men. JQ successfully argued the Amistad case, and not only served for the remainder of his life in the House (working tirelessly for emancipation), he died there, right on the House floor.

    I agree with your assessment of Jackson, too. He ignored the judgement of the Supreme Court. ‘King Andrew’ fits very well.

  2. you forgot Jackson had no respect for the supreme court and congress

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