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Old April 5th, 2018, 03:50 PM   #1

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James Madison's Presidency


Partly inspired by the War of 1812 thread, where the discussed impacts of the War of 1812 seemed to be mostly unintentional or at least not related to the presidency at all. Historians supposedly lambaste Madison for his handling of the War of 1812, which was an administrative morass that resulted in the capital being burned down and the executive branch reaching its weakest point up to that time.

Yet one can observe here that James Madison is regarded by scholars as one of the better chief executives, with an aggregate ranking in the top 15. He even ranks above John Adams and James Monroe. I disagree with these traditional historians' rankings in many facets, but I find Madison to be a particularly perplexing case. Can anyone explain why his tenure in office is considered one of the better ones? I don't doubt his reputation as a Founding Father, but I find his reputation as president to be somewhat undeserved. Does he have accomplishments outside of the War of 1812 that merit him being in the upper third of POTUSes?
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Old April 5th, 2018, 08:16 PM   #2
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He's the president who lost Washington.

But then we got it back.
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Old April 5th, 2018, 08:18 PM   #3

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I meant to post this link in the OP when I mentioned the place that people could observe his high rankings.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histor...survey_results

Personally, I would consider Washington to be the best of the five Founding Fathers who served as Presidents. No surprise there. After that, I honestly hold Monroe's administration in the highest esteem, particularly as it reflected Washington's tenure more closely than any of the other three's. Adams and Jefferson come next; both pivotal and ultimately effective presidents who were essential to the preservation and expansion of America as a democratic republic but were nonetheless flawed and the first significantly unconstitutional executives. I can find nothing to rank Madison in the same league as any of the other four, however. With each of the others, one could easily point to a major, positive breakthrough with a long-lasting legacy. On the other hand, the chief association with Madison's presidency is the War of 1812, which from an executive and administrative perspective, was a disaster.

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Old April 6th, 2018, 07:24 AM   #4

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I'm curious about this also. Madison was definitely not a good war time leader. Unnecessary war for an unprepared nation with elderly revolutionary war generals leading the military at the start, causing failure after failure.
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Old April 7th, 2018, 06:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Living Daylights View Post
Personally, I would consider Washington to be the best of the five Founding Fathers who served as Presidents. No surprise there. After that, I honestly hold Monroe's administration in the highest esteem, particularly as it reflected Washington's tenure more closely than any of the other three's.
I honestly hold Monroe in high regard as well. As a headline - his first term was so successful, the other party deteriorated to nothing, and he ran for reelection unopposed. Top that?

We have to cut Madison some slack. A great general secretary and a poor chief executive.

Last edited by Code Blue; April 7th, 2018 at 06:16 AM.
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Old April 7th, 2018, 06:32 AM   #6

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I honestly hold Monroe in high regard as well. As a headline - his first term was so successful, the other party deteriorated to nothing, and he ran for reelection unopposed. Top that?
I don't dispute that Monroe was highly successful, but it's probably worth noting he was also one of the luckier presidents. The Federalists were already on the ropes after the War of 1812 and American morale was high. All Monroe had to do was "not screw up", essentially. He wasn't perfect, either. My understanding is that tensions with the Indians increased especially during his presidency.

The problem is that those benefits from the War of 1812 had nothing to do with Madison's handling of the war, which was far from positive.

Quote:
We have to cut Madison some slack. A great general secretary and a poor chief executive.
I'm not saying Madison was one of the worst, but surely there are fifteen presidents who performed their jobs in the White House better than the one who got it burned down did?
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Old April 7th, 2018, 06:53 AM   #7

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The term ´White House´ was coined by Theodore Roosevelt. Previous to Teddy it was referred to as the ´Executive Mansion´.
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Old April 7th, 2018, 10:52 AM   #8
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All Monroe had to do was "not screw up"
And how many of them only to do that, but didn't?
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Old April 7th, 2018, 04:08 PM   #9

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Quote:
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The term ´White House´ was coined by Theodore Roosevelt. Previous to Teddy it was referred to as the ´Executive Mansion´.
This is true, but the term is used retroactively quite often.

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And how many of them only to do that, but didn't?
I've already said I consider Monroe one of the more successful presidents. Nevertheless, I think it's entirely fair to be more lenient towards the presidents who were dealt bad hands/harsher on ones who were lucky.
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Old April 7th, 2018, 04:24 PM   #10
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In 1820 James Monroe was re-elected with all but one of the electoral votes. The only stated reason the elector gave for not voting for Monroe was that he thought only Washington deserved the honor of a unanimous vote.
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