You can click on the page “Executive Experience: Is it important?” above to see all the previous posts on this topic.
#8 – Martin Van Buren. He was a Secretary of State and a Vice President, which do not qualify him… but was governor of New York state for like 3 months. So that counts! Van Buren was instrumental in building the political system as it exists today, which is quite noteworthy. Historians, however, do not hold him, as a President, in very high regard. The United States went through a really bad economic depression during his tenure, and his insistence on clinging to his strong beliefs in Jeffersonian and Jacksonian democratic ideals prevented him from taking actions as President to ease the depression. Also, despite his leadership in the political arena, he somehow could not manage to get the Congress to pass any sort of measure to try to ease the depression until three years into it. His impotency seem to be his greatest presidential legacy. So… EE: yes. Good: no.
#9 — William Henry Harrison. I simply don’t have the heart to try to count him. It’s way too hard to assess the value of his presidency when he died 32 days into it. Perhaps had he kept his coat on at his inauguration I’d have more to write about. Thus WHH gets a pass. What’s interesting to note is that beyond this reputation regarding his unfortunate demise, I realized I didn’t know a thing about him. He became a national hero as a general in the War of 1812, and before that has been governor of the Indian territory (present-day Illinois and Indiana) during which he managed to finagle the Native Americans out of thousands of acres of land for little to no compensation. His presidential campaign was notable for two reasons. First, it was the first ‘modern’ political campaign. Although WHH was from what might have been the wealthiest family in Virginia, his handlers managed to create an image of him as a commoner, a man of and for the people. Second, he was the first Whig elected to office.
#10 – John Tyler. Tyler was the first VP to take over the role of president because of the president’s death. Before his 32 days as VP, his experience included being a lawyer, governor, and senator. It may be Tyler’s greatest presidential accomplishment that he managed to become president after WHH’s death at all; there was a lot of confusion over the wording in the Constitution regarding the succession of the veep should the president die, and not everyone thought that it meant Tyler should become the de facto president. His presidency also included the entry of Texas as a state… and little else. He was stubborn and uncompromising and thus just didn’t get much done. Plus as a slave-owning aristocrat he was mostly out of touch with everyone in the country except other slave-owning aristocrats. So… EE: yes; Good: no.
Ten down, 33 to go! But alas I must pick up Lane from preschool.