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Friday, January 25, 2013

January 25, 2013: Second Terms: The Runner-Ups

[With Monday’s Inauguration Day, Barack Obama begins his second term as President. So this week I’ll be highlighting some interesting second term moments and issues from American history. As always, your responses, thoughts, and other ideas, on Obama’s second term or any other one, will be appreciated for the crowd-sourced weekend post!]
Briefer thoughts on the second terms that almost made the cut for a full post in this week’s series.
1)      The Virginians: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, the Virginia triumvirate who held the presidency from 1801 through 1825, each served two terms. The two biggest events of the period happened in their first terms—the Louisiana Purchase and the opening of the War of 1812—but there’s plenty of interest in the second terms: Aaron Burr’s 1807 treason trial; the Battle of New Orleans in 1814-1815; the Missouri Compromise of 1820. All worth their own posts—maybe next time, Virginians!
2)      Andrew Jackson: Jackson’s second term was full of high-stakes showdowns, from the Nullification Crisis that foreshadowed the Civil War and the unfolding battle between Jackson and Nicholas Biddle’s National Bank to the conflict over Indian Removal that led to the Trail of Tears. Really seems like there’s a full post in there—my bad, Old Hickory!
3)      Ulysses S. Grant: You might have thought that no presidential administration could top Grant’s first term for corruption, nepotism, and scandal. Then there was Grant’s second term, which proved you mistaken. Yikes, Hero of Appomattox. Yikes.
4)      Late 19th/Early 20th Century Pseudo-Second-Termers: Grover Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, so does he count? Then there’s William McKinley, who served less than 5 months of his second term before he was assassinated. Finally, there’s Teddy Roosevelt, who took over for McKinley, finished that term, and then was elected to another—his second? His first? I dunno. Sorry, guys, but not quite clear enough to make the cut.
5)      Everybody Else: Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman are the same as TR—took over when Warren Harding and Franklin Roosevelt died, were only elected once, missed the cut. FDR himself was elected to four terms—does he still have a second term in that case? As for Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush—you all were close competitors, lots of interesting late 20th and early 21st century trends and issues, plenty to AmericanStudy there. Sorry, dudes. Just didn’t happen.
But of course there’s a great way to focus more on these second terms—add your thoughts on any or all of them for the weekend post! See you then,
PS. You know what to do!

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