30 Franklin Pierce

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

Franklin Pierce started his presidency vowing to not reopen the slavery issue settled by the compromise of 1850, unfortunately he was unable to keep this promise. In 1854 Pierce was persuaded by Senator Stephen Douglas and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis to go along with the Kansas Nebraska Act. Douglas was even prudent enough to get Pierce to submit a written draft stating his support of the law. Douglas favored the law, because he wanted a transcontinental railroad built with it’s eastern terminal in his home state of Illinois.

The Kansas Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of the 36°30′ parallel. The Act ended up re-opening the slavery issue, which had been settled by the Missouri Compromise & The Compromise of 1850, and fractured the political parties along sectional lines. Bleeding Kansas was another outgrowth of the law, which erupted into actual violence and can be seen as a mini civil war of its own. Violence began in 1855, and ended in 1861 In all 56 people died in bleeding Kansas. The Kansas controversy also led to the rise of John Brown, whom only came to the territory to fight slavery. He eventually committed the  Pottawatomie Massacre, and later his raid on Harpers Ferry. By foolishly going along with Douglas and “popular sovereignty”, Pierce derailed his entire presidency, and became one of the few elected presidents unable to be re-nominated by his party.

Pierce was also an avid expansionists, and he cared not whether the new land would be slave or free territory. During his term he was able to acquire the Gadsen Purchase from Mexico for $10 million in 1853. He had also sought Baja California, but Mexico was unwilling to part with it. He made another bigger attempt with his planned purchase of Cuba from Spain in 1855. Under the  Ostend Manifesto Pierce offered to pay either $120 million of wrest control of Cuba outright. Had it not been for the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854, Pierce might have been able to pull off the acquisition, but after the laws passage, Pierce was seen as a tool of the slave interests.

One other positive of the Pierce Administration was his ability to pay the federal debt down from $60 Million to $11 million during his lone term. Had it not been for the massive error of going along with the Kansas Nebraska Act, Pierce would have been a halfway decent president.

 

31 Grover Cleveland

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve non consecutive terms, a distinction that’s not likely to be repeated.

As president, Grover Cleveland had little use for people of color. He outright refused to enforce the 15th Amendment protecting rights of blacks. He repealed other laws protecting blacks in the south, and in fact was elected in large part due to Jim Crow laws. He lobbied congress to pass the Scott Act, which wouldn’t allow Chinese emigrants to re-enter the country if they had left. Cleveland even went after Native Americans with the Dawes Act. This act allowed the government to take away about 67% of the remaining Indian lands, including the state of Oklahoma. He even also opposed women’s suffrage, though it wasn’t known until he left the White House. Grover Cleveland clearly saw basic human rights as being for white man only, and clearly governed with that in mind.

Another group that Cleveland had no sympathy for was disabled war veterans. Maybe this was because he bought his was out of fighting in the civil war, so he felt little obligation to former veterans. He vetoed the Dependent Pension Bill, which would have given any man who served 90 days during any war and who could not earn a living a monthly pension of $6 to $12. Cleveland called this bill a “premium of fraud”, most people would call it a minimum of compassion. Cleveland further vetoed more than 275 individual pension bills during his first term in office. Cleveland is largely held in high esteem by historians for such vetoes, but denying pensions to disabled veterans is not the “Great Act” a president should be known and celebrated for. There was also a practical reason for the veteran’s pension bill Cleveland vetoed and Harrison passed, these individual pension bills were clogging up congress. Another famous veto Cleveland gets praised for is the Texas Seed Bill. This bill was passed as a relief measure to help victims of a natural disaster, an extended drought, by giving them seeds to replant with. In his veto message Cleveland stated “though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.”

Grover Cleveland didn’t just hold disdain for non whites, war veterans and drought victims, he also had a special place in his heart for union workers as well. The Pullman company forced employees to live in “Pullman towns” in a form of quasi slavery. When the company forced workers to take a 25% pay cut, without reducing rents, the Pullman workers went on strike. The American Railroad Union refused to move any trains with Pullman cars on them. The only way the President could legally intervene in the strike was if the Governor of Illinois asked for his help. The governor of Illinois, John P. Altgeld, did not want to request troops because he believed that workers should have the same rights as their bosses. Never one to be restricted by the Constitution, Grover Cleveland illegally sent federal troops in anyway, to intervene on behalf of the exploitive Pullman company. The Pullman Strike was important because it was the first time a federal injunction had ever been used to break up a strike.

The Panic of 1893 was first caused by the overbuilding of railroads. These railroads were overbuilt, because the government subsidized the building of new lines, without regard to quality or selection of optimal routes. By giving federal aid based on amount of track laid, the government was rewarding overinvestment in railroads. This investment would eventually need to be liquidated, causing railroad failures, then bank failures leading to a recession. Such a recession confronted Grover Cleveland soon after starting his second term. Even though Cleveland can’t be blamed for the onset of the recession, he can be blamed for his reaction to it. Cleveland fought the recession through two actions, repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and enacting the Wilson-Gorman Tariff. Cleveland made a weak economy into the worst recession until that time in American history by increasing internal taxes, which means less money for investment, and reducing tariffs which increases competition for US companies through the Wilson-Gorman Tariff. He also restricted the money supply through the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. Whereas the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act was a good thing, the timing couldn’t have been worse. The three worse recessions up until that time, the panics of 1837, 1856 & 1893, all had two things in common: reduced tariffs and a credit crunch through a reduced money supply.

Grover Cleveland showed his short sightedness in world affairs by withdrawing two important treaties. The first was the Zavala Treaty from senatorial consideration. This treaty gave the United States the right to construct a canal in Nicaragua that was to be owned jointly by the two nations. Not seeing that the United States could eventually need the ability to more quickly move it’s fleets to protect both of it’s coasts shows a major lack of vision. The second treaty Cleveland withdrew was a treaty to annex Hawaii, which eventually happened anyway.

Cleveland also intervened on behalf of Columbia, by sending a small detachment of marines to help that country squash a Panamanian rebellion. Grover Cleveland also risked war with two major European powers in matters of little importance to the United States. The first was in Samoa, a small group of islands in the south pacific. Cleveland risked war with Germany over the small islands when they sought to take them as an imperial colony, as other European powers had been taking other colonies in the area. Cleveland sent a fleet to the islands, but it was damaged along with a German fleet during a cyclone. This eased tensions until President McKinley could solve the issue peacefully with the Tripartite Convention, which divided the islands between the United States, Germany & Great Britain. The other instance that Cleveland risked war was in a Venezuelan-British Guiana boundary dispute. Claiming that the disputed boundary came under the Monroe doctrine was dubious at best. Britain wasn’t trying to establish a new colony, or take over Venezuela, they were trying to negotiate the boundary of an existing colony. The area claimed by both nations contained rich gold mines. The Venezuelans smartly gave Americans concessions in the mines, and then asked President Cleveland to arbitrate the matter. Britain, clearly seeing the conflict of interest, and the Venezuelan bribe, balked at U.S. involvement, leading Cleveland to write a “twenty-inch gun” missive in which he threatened Britain with war, and he sent the U.S. Navy to confront British warships near Venezuela. Rather than go to war Britain agreed to accept arbitration. Cleveland deserves serious demerits for nearly involving the United States in three potential wars that held little to no importance to the United States.

32 James Buchanan

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

James Buchanan started his presidency under the shadow of the impending Dred Scott decision. The Dred Scott case involved a slave who had been brought to the free Wisconsin territory. Scott argued that he became free upon entering free states and territories. Buchanan stated that the territorial question was “happily, a matter of but little practical importance” since the Supreme Court was about to settle it “speedily and finally”, and proclaimed that when the decision came he would “cheerfully submit, whatever this may be”. Why was Buchanan so willing to accept the courts decision in the Dred Scott case? Because Buchanan had interfered in the decision as president elect. He had wrote Justice  John Carton in January inquiring about the case, and suggesting that a broader decision should be returned. Carton had responded to Buchanan that the decision would be against Dred Scott, but it would be a narrow decision without northern support. Buchanan then went on to convince fellow Pennsylvanian Justice Robert Cooper Grier to allow the court to leverage the case into a much broader decision that would repeal the Missouri Compromise. Clearly Buchanan thought that by agreeing with the cases decision before it was handed down, would help to garner public support. This was very disingenuous, since Buchanan himself actually changed the scope of the case.

On the issue of slavery, and it’s extension, Buchanan believed in “popular sovereignty”, which would allow residents of a territory to decide for themselves whether a territory would become a free state or slave state by popular vote. While popular sovereignty may have sounded like the fairest way to decide the issue, it was basically a ruse by pro slavery forces as a way of spreading slavery. Having already filled up all the territory where slavery was allowed under the Missouri Compromise with existing states, popular sovereignty, or the introduction of new territory was the only way slavery could be expanded. New territory had been already added to the nation with the annexation of Texas, which expanded slavery, and the lands gained through the Mexican-American war, which ended up being unsuitable. There were a few attempts at adding Cuba, but those had been blocked. Seeing that territorial expansion had run it’s course, pro slavery forces had now turned to popular sovereignty as their only hope. In affect popular sovereignty would only apply to areas where slavery had been barred, making proslavery forces the only potential winners.

Buchanan showed his pro-slavery colors during the Kansas crisis. Ever since the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the territory of Kansas had become a battleground between pro-slavery forces and abolitionist. Pro slavery forces felt that the Kansas-Nebraska act was passed with the idea that Kansas would enter the union as a slave state and Nebraska would enter as a free state. They saw this as a 50-50 compromise, and the abolitionist push into Kansas as an attack on their rights. The abolitionist seen slavery as a moral injustice that shouldn’t be allowed to spread, they in fact wanted it to be outlawed. Buchanan felt that sectional tensions would be eased if Kansas entered the union as a slave state brining back the 50-50 balance that had been upset when California became a state. The problem is that such a balance would not last long, eventually the larger numbers of people in Free states would have eventually settled more states. If Kansas had entered the union as a slave state, the free soil residents could have simply moved north to Nebraska and re-upset the balance. Once the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution was submitted to congress, Buchanan whole heartedly pursued his  50-50 policy. He made every effort to secure Congressional approval, offering favors, patronage appointments and even cash for votes. The fact that the Lecompton constitution had been approved through widespread voter fraud and against Buchanan’s beloved principle of popular sovereignty didn’t seem to bother him at all.

With the impending election of Abraham Lincoln as President, secession of southern states became a real possibility. As current president, James Buchanan sat idly by and did nothing. Once Lincoln was elected, and states stared to secede, Buchanan sent a message to congress stating, that secession was illegal, but that the government couldn’t do anything to stop them. Had Buchanan actually acted, as Milliard Fillmore did in 1850, by strengthening southern forts and moving military forces where they could be used to stop secession, war might have been averted. Instead Buchanan allowed the rebels time to strengthen their government and defenses, helping to lead to the bloodiest war in American history.

Oddly enough, in the face of another rebellion of sorts, Buchanan had no trouble with flexing military muscles, even though he had incomplete information. In March of 1857 Buchanan received conflicting information from federal judges, that Mormons had been disrupting their offices. Buchanan accepted the wildest rumors and sent the Army in, and disposed Brigham Young as governor replacing him with a non Mormon. Buchanan obviously had no trouble squashing a rebellion in Utah on scant, conflicting reports and little to no evidence. This is in direct opposition to his non reaction to southern secession, shows that his understanding of the office seems to have been molded by personal prejudices more than the law.

Buchanan also presided over the panic of 1857, which was brought on, in part by the Tariff of 1857. The revised tariff law lowered rates on manufactured goods, lowering demand for American built goods leading to a depression in the manufacturing sector. Buchanan further exuberated the problem by reducing the money supply, creating a credit crunch. Buchanan’s poor handling of the economy caused this recession to last until the outbreak of the civil war, and led to massive debt increases during his term.

33 Martin Van Buren

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

Martin Van Buren was the 8th president of the United States. He was Andrew Jackson’s hand-picked successor. Van Buren continued Andrew Jackson’s programs, most of which were bad.

Van Buren’s term was consumed by the Panic of 1837, which was the Great depression of its day. While the panic was created by Andrew Jackson’s bank war and specie circular, Van Buren does desrve some of the blame for his mishandling of the economy. First of all, Van Buren was unwilling to rescind the specie circular, he then followed that decision up with his creation of the Independent Treasury. The specie circular and independent treasury both create a credit crunch, which prolonged and deepened the recession. In the end, the panic of 1837 ended Van Buren’s  presidency in the election of 1840.

Van Buren’s  Indian policy was basically an extension of Andrew Jackson’s. Van Buren oversaw the completion of Jackson’s Indian removal policy, which would be termed ethnic cleansing by todays standards. Van Buren also continued the Second Seminole War, which was the longest and costliest indian war ever. Unfortunately Van Buren didn’t have the foresight of John Tyler, who simply ended the war.

The Amistad case was a major occurence during Van Buren’s term. The Amistad was a Spanish vessel that was transporting slaves that were captured in Africa. During the voyage, the African captors took over the ship and directed the remaining crew to take them back to Africa. The crew tricked the Africans, and sailed north at night, where they were captured by an American ship. Van Buren wanted the Africans to be returned to the Spanish to become slaves, even though the Spanish had broken international treaties against the slave trade. Van Buren even ordered his Secretary of state, John Forsythe, to direct the US Attorney to keep the matter out of the courts and under executive control. In the end the US Supreme court ruled that the Africans should be freed and returned to Africa.

1938 Mormon war and “extermination” order forced the Mormons from Missouri. Van Buren refused to help the Mormons for political reasons, as he didn’t want to lose Missouri vote in the upcoming 1840 election. Because of this, President Van Buren holds a place of particular disrepute in the Mormon consciousness. In the fall of 1839 Joseph Smith and a small party traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with as many influential politicians as they could to seek redress for the Mormons being driven from the state of Missouri. The President meet with Smith twice, and on his second visit gave this famous reply to the Smith’s request: “Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you. If I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri.”

Under Van Buren a boundary dispute disrupted between Maine and New Brunswick that came to be termed the Aroostook War. While both sides sent militia to the area, hostilities never ensued. Van Buren should be given some credit for avoiding war, but he basically kicked the can down the road by not actually settling the disputed border.

Another incident where Van Buren kicked the can down the road was the Texas issue. After winning independence from Mexico, Texas wanted to be annexed into the United States. Considering the make up of Texas’s citizenry, and it’s desire to be a part of the United States, annexation was a forgone conclusion. Van Buren further forgave Mexican debts for seemingly no reason other than to appease Mexico. Had Van Buren been able to see the writing that was clearly on the wall and annexed Texas, he could have used the debts as a bargaining chip to a peaceful resolution of the Texas-Mexico border. Unfortunately, Van Buren decided not to act, and event eventually led to the Mexican-American War, which was a major catalyst for the civil war.

34 John Adams

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

John Adams was the second President of the United States. The major defining issue of Adams term was whether the United States would go to war with France.

In 1797 Adams sent a diplomatic commission to France. The commission was approached through back channels demanding bribes and loans before negotiations could commence. Though such demands weren’t uncommon in Europe at the time, Adams took offense. Adams released the dispactches with the names of French officials changed to X, Y & Z, leading to the name of “the XYZ affair”. The release of the documents led to congress annulling the 1778 Treaty of Alliance with France, and also led to the naval “Quasi-War” with France. The XYZ Affair pushed the United States to the brink of war with France. Preparations for war moved along briskly. Washington was called out of retirement to lead a new army, and the US Navy was established. Adams is generally credited with keeping the US out of war at the expense of being reelected. The problem with this assessment is that Adams pushed the US to the brink to begin with. It was only after seeing the folly of his ways that Adams changed direction and salvaged peace. Had he acted properly to begin with, heroics wouldn’t have been needed, so he deserves little credit for making right what he put wrong to begin with.

Another outgrowth of the XYZ affair was the enactment of the Alien and Sedition Acts. These laws increased the residency requirement from 5 to 14 years, authorized the President to imprison or deport any aliens considered “dangerous” to the United States and restricted speech “critical” of the government. The critical speech law didn’t cover speech against the vice president, Thomas Jefferson as he was a political rival of Adams. The acts served to eventually destroy the Federalist part, and were among the worst violations of the constitution, and a strong threat to the bill of rights.

Adams retained Washington’s entire cabinet, until after Washington died in 1799. This was a major mistake, as many cabinet members weren’t loyal to him, and even worked against him behind his back. Adams spent about half his presidency in Quincy Mass, and would leave major policy decisions to his cabinet. His absence and inability to remove cabinet members were definitely signs of an incapability to operate as an effective executive.

35 Theodore Roosevelt

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

Theodore Roosevelt became president upon the assassination of William McKinley. This happened shortly after the turn of the century at the beginning of the progressive movement.

Generally considered Roosevelt’s biggest accomplishment was the building of the Panama  Canal. An isthmus canal had long been a dream of the United States, but the Spanish-American war showed the need for the canal, making it’s building a certainty. There were two proposed routes, one through Panama and one through Nicaragua. Roosevelt was bent on Panama, and when Columbia wanted what Roosevelt thought was too much money, he decided to foment rebellion in Panama. Basically, Roosevelt disgraced the United States to save a few million dollars .

Roosevelt also extended the Monroe Doctrine by adding his corollary to it. The Roosevelt corollary basically states that the US could “intervene” in other countries to keep Europeans out. This is very hypocritical. Basically the US would invade and occupy neighboring countries to keep others from invading and occupying those countries. I’m sure that those countries seen very little difference between American or European occupiers. Also, the Monroe Doctrine isn’t international law. Roosevelt even recklessly courted war with both Germany and Britain in defense of Venezuela, when Venezuela wasn’t paying it’s debts.

Roosevelt also oversaw the Philippines insurrection and ordered military commanders to end the guerrilla war anyway necessary. This included the burning of entire villages, torture and killing all Filipinos down to age 10. TR tried to whitewash the whole incident, but the blood was clearly on his hands.

Roosevelt passed several reforms through Congress, some were good like The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 & Pure Food and Drug Act. Others were very bad. Two of these dealt directly with railroads. The first was the Elkins Act – banned railroad rebates to large companies and outlawed bulk rates. It’s practical that railroads would give discounts to secure large customers, as it would allow for better planning of route, and larger cargoes can be hauled for lower incremental costs. The other The Hepburn Act, gave the ICC the power to set “just and reasonable” rates. Who is to decide what is “just and reasonable”? This act helped to trigger the panic of 1907

The worse thing TR did was to continuously disregard the constitution and congress in many of his actions, by stating he could do anything he wanted “for the greater good”. The idea that the president is above the law and has unlimited powers is a very dangerous one.

Roosevelt ingrained federal coercion by intervening in a coal strike, mainly for political purposes. He threatened both sides by saying he would use the army to seize the mines if they didn’t accept arbitration. TR was known as the “trust buster” for the many anti-trust cases during his term. Unfortunately, the law was applied using Roosevelt’s “greater good” argument. Companies were sued not based on whether they broke the law, but based on if they were “good” companies. The inconsistent application of the law wasn’t only unfair and unconstitutional, it also caused uncertainty within the economy.

Roosevelt is greatly hailed for his environmental conservation. Whereas environmental conservation is a good thing, Many times TR took lands out of public use through executive orders against the will of Congress and without any reguard to private citizens rights.

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36 LYNDON JOHNSON

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: https://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

Lyndon Johnson became president upon the assassination of John F Kennedy. This happened in the middle of the civil rights movement and as the war in Viet Nam was heating up.

Johnson’s legacy rest mainly on his support of civil rights legislation. Whereas Johnson does deserve some credit for moving civil rights laws forward, he is given far too much credit. The civil rights movement had been picking up steam since the end of world war II. In 1948 Truman issued an executive order to desegregate the military, which was completed by Eisenhower. Eisenhower further finished desegregating the US government. Eisenhower also sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to uphold the Supreme Courts ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, and supervised the passage of the civil rights Acts of 1957 & 1960. The first civil rights laws since reconstruction. When Kennedy was assassinated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had already passed the house and was making it through the Senate. Many historians believe the law would have passed had Kennedy not been assassinated. There should also be more credit given to civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and brave citizens like Rosa Parks. Television coverage of violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators played a vital role as well. By brining the ugly truths of Jim Crow laws into American homes, it made Americans have to face the facts of racial oppression. As can easily be seen the civil rights movement was well on its way long before Johnson became president. His support certainly helped, but I don’t believe he could have stopped events, only slowed them down.

While in congress from 1937 to 1957, Johnson fought and voted against every civil rights bill that came before Congress. This included not only bills aimed at ending the poll tax and segregation in the armed services, but even against legislation aimed at ending lynching. He assailed Harry Truman’s entire civil rights program as”farce and a sham–an effort to set up a police state in the guise of liberty.” He also softened the Civil Rights Act of 1957 as Senate majority leader. Johnson’s support of civil rights was definitely helped him in courting black votes in northern states, which gave him his best chance at victory, even if it meant losing southern states that voted election in 1948 even after the “Dixiecrats” bolted the party and unified behind the candidacy of Strom Thurmond in 1948, over Truman’s pro civil rights stance.

Opposing civil rights would have also undermined Johnson’s beloved Great Society programs. It would be hard to argue for economic “rights and equality” while squelching basic human rights and equality of African Americans. If it was acceptable for the government to stand aside and do nothing as basic, constitutional rights were stripped away, how could the government then turn around and introduce expensive programs to promote economic equality? Not only that, the major cornerstone of the Great Society was federal funding of education. Southerners had long fought any federal involvement in education in fear that the government would desegregate public schools. In order to get his education bills through congress he would definitely need every northern vote he could get, opposing civil rights would have definitely hampered his efforts.

The Great Society was Lyndon Johnsons program to remake American Society. It consisted of over 100 laws that promoted civil rights, fought a “war on poverty”, introduced federal funding for education along with many other programs.

While Johnson’s War on Poverty promised much, the complete eradication of poverty, it delivered little. After World War II, the poverty rate was in steady decline until 1966, since 1966 poverty has stabilized. Basically Johnson’s programs changed an economy that was seeing a steady decrease in poverty and turned it into one in which poverty merely fluctuates. The problem is, that the anti-poverty programs are set up in such a way that it keeps people in the programs, by incentivizing them not to better their situation in life. The programs also incentivize single parent homes, as it is much easier for them to get benefits than it is for a married couple. A good example of a “great Society” program was the Job Corps, which was set up in 1964.  Studies have shown that finish job corps training have no more success in the job market than those who drop out of the system, even though the training cost as much as a Harvard education. The National Welfare Rights Organization was set up in 1966 to increase welfare recipients, basically encouraging government dependence rather than self reliance. Basically the “Great society” was a set of poorly planned and poorly executed laws that blindly threw money at social problems and created a huge expensive bureaucracy that did little to help the poor and a lot to increase the debt. Not only that, Johnson deliberately understated the continuing costs of his programs to aid in their passage

Lyndon Johnson introduced the federal government into public education. This intrusion started with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and has grown ever since. Before Johnson became president, public education was purely administered by state and local governments. In the 1950s the United States ranked 2nd in education, today it ranks 17th, clearly a failure of top down federal education programs.

No failure during Johnson’s term was bigger than his handling of the war in Viet Nam. He inherited a minor war from Kennedy in which 16,000 troops were fighting and expanded it to a major war in which over 500,000 soldiers were fighting. Even though He felt the war was unwinnable, and he never even tried to formulate a winning strategy, Johnson persevered in greatly expanding the war. Believing he would be attacked for “losing Viet Nam”, and it hurting his re-election chances in 1968. To fight a war for purely political purposes in which over 58,000 American died is one of the most despicable things any American president has ever done. Not only that, he dumped the entire mess  onto his successor.

Johnson wasn’t above using the office of the president to punish his enemies. Lyndon B. Johnson used the I.R.S. to harass and put pressure on groups opposing the Vietnam War. He also had the FBI plant operatives into anti war groups to spy on them and incite violence. Johnson made wide use of illegal wiretaps against civil rights leaders, anti war protesters and Barry Goldwater during the 1964 campaign.

Johnson’s programs wreaked havoc upon the economy. His massive Great Society programs, escalation of the Viet Nam war, and encouraging the Federal Reserve to have a loose monetary policy led to inflation in 1965. To combat inflation Johnson implemented a 10% tax increase on June 28 1968. The economy went into a recession in 1969, and stagflation was born. Johnson also diverted money from social security, which was in a seperate fund,to the general revenue fund to hide debts.