Happy President’s Day and may the odds be ever in your favor. As you go about your day, I hope you have enough fight in your heart to defend your vote in the recent election. I’m kidding. President’s Day, the national holiday to commemorate all US presidents, should have no violence. Instead of engaging in political debate or sharing the latest article that slams Mr. Trump on Facebook. Here are five presidents that have stories worthy of celebration.
1. Thomas Jefferson.
Popularly known for writing the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson snagged the deal of the day in 1803 when he paid just four cents per acre for the entire Louisiana territory. The land acquired from the French spanned from the Mississippi River to the Rockies and all the way up to present day Montana. In exchange, France received ample funds to support the war with Britain. Meanwhile, Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore and map the land. With the addition, the size of the US doubled. The first state from this territory, Louisiana, was admitted into the Union in 1812. Thanks Mr. Jefferson! Because now we have the Arkansas Razorbacks and New Orleans gumbo.
2. William Henry Harrison.
In 1840, William Henry Harrison won the presidency with John Tyler as his running mate. The Panic of 1937 and the Crisis of 1939 lowered Van Buren’s popularity. So, the Whig party took this opportunity to propose Harrison as a candidate. To win the campaign, Harrison was portrayed as a war hero. Posters, slogans, and songs characterized Harrison as a “log cabin and hard cider” man from the West. His image circulated throughout the nation, in effect, the Whig party separated Harrison from the established politicians that were responsible for the economic mess. Sound familiar? This was the first presidential campaign that running mates sought to win over the hearts of the American people. Yes, Harrison was the president that caught a cold from giving a long inaugural address in the cold and rain. He died a month later, but nevertheless, he had a great campaign slogan!
3. Abraham Lincoln
History remembers Lincoln as the humble man who preserved the Union, who began the process of freeing the slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation, and who gave one of the most famous speeches, The Gettysburg Address. Lincoln made it clear that by fighting in the Civil War, men were fighting to save their country. He famously said, “...I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side." Elected just before the Civil War began, Lincoln had a tough job ahead of him. He believed in preserving America and ferociously led the fight against the south. However when the Union won, he desired for the south to rejoin peacefully and without punishment.
4. Franklin D. Roosevelt
In the 1930s, the Great Depression suffocated the American people. FDR’s term began in 1933 and would not end until 1945. He took action immediately and proposed his New Deal. This plan consisted of reform bills and government programs. Programs such as the Civilian Conservations Corps and The Tennessee Valley Authority reduced unemployment and provided relief to the American people. Throughout his term, he spoke directly to the American people by radio. His fireside chats comforted the nation as they faced tough crises. He famously states, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Through his presidency, the nation not only survived the depression but also, endured and saw victory in WWII. Increasing government spending through his New Deal reforms and military expenditures saved the US economy. Alas, his term ended when he died in 1945, but he remains one of the most admired presidents.
5. Ronald Reagan
He took office in 1981 following the Carter administration. Reagan inherited an economy in ruins. So, he proposed a tax plan to combat the lack of economic growth. His plan was known as Reaganomics, supply-side economics, or trickle down economics. He proposed a large tax cut, focusing on businesses and on higher income citizens. He increased military spending to bolster US capability in the Cold War. Reagan reduced regulations on businesses and cut back on government social programs. The initial effect of Reaganomics led the nation into a recession, the nation was experiencing short term effects of expansionary policies. However, by the second half of his first term, the economy stabilized and for the rest of his presidency, the nation experienced economic growth. His plan worked so well, they even named the policies after him.