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Analysis of Five United States Presidents

Rutherford B. Hayes, a lawyer, was the 19th president of the United States and served in that capacity from 1877–1881. He was narrowly elected by one electoral vote after the highly disputed presidential election of 1876. He was elected by a congressional commission despite losing the popular vote to his opponent, Samuel Tilden. A Republican, Hayes announced in advance that he would serve only one term if elected. Hayes pledged protection of the rights of blacks in the South, but at the same time advocated the restoration of “wise, honest, and peaceful local self-government.

” He was a stringent advocate of financial conservatism, and he attempted to rebuild the Republican party in the South. He was known for his dignity, honesty, and moderate reform, but did not use a significant amount of executive power during his single term. James A. Garfield was the 20th president of the United States and served in 1881. In the summer of his first year as president, Garfield was shot and mortally wounded by a distraught attorney who had sought a post in Garfield’s administration.

In September 1881, Garfield succumbed to the wound. In his eight months in office, Garfield was known for his assault on political corruption and his battle for executive power versus the legislative branch of the federal government. He claimed that his office was the Executive of the United States, not the “registering clerk of the Senate. ” Thus, he was a strong and significant advocate for executive power. Chester A. Arthur was our 21st president and served from 1881-1885.

As Vice President, Mr. Arthur succeeded President Garfield following his death in late 1881. Despite being President Garfield’s running mate, Mr. Arthur tended to side with the prevailing Senate legislative balance of power until he became president. Upon his ascendance to the presidency, Arthur began to advocate and assert more executive power at the expense of legislative power. Public pressure, heightened by the assassination of Garfield, forced an unwieldy Congress to heed the president.

His administration enacted the nation’s first federal immigration law, and he sought to lower tariff rates because the federal government was routinely operating with budget surpluses. Mr. Arthur died of kidney disease in 1886 shortly after his single presidential term ended. Grover Cleveland was our 22nd and 24th president and served his terms from 1885-1889 and from 1893-1897. He was the first Democrat to be elected president following the Civil War, and he was the only president to serve two terms that were not concurrent.

He wielded executive power effectively and strongly by using his veto power often. He was among the first presidents to curtail favors to special interest groups, and he thought that federal economic assistance to special interests could lead to dependency. His second term began with an economic depression, and he made greater efforts to deal with the federal treasury crisis than he did to aid business and farm failures and unemployment. Benjamin Harrison was our 23rd president and served from 1889-1893.

He was known for his foreign policy initiatives and he generally worked closely with Congress on federal budget issues and other issues. Thus, he did not wield executive power as strongly as some of his predecessors. He signed substantial congressional appropriation bills that led to national infrastructure improvements and an expansion of the United States Navy. During a period of federal budget surpluses, he was instrumental in lowering several tariffs. Treasury surpluses then disappeared later in his term, and he was defeated by his predecessor, Cleveland, in the presidential election of 1892.

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