Shadow And Custodial Presidents Essay, Research Paper
Shadow and Custodial Presidents
Grant (1868) Cleveland (1892)
Throughout the history of the world there have been many people remembered for their actions and a great deal more forgotten for no real reason. This does not exempt more recent history. After the American Civil War, six lesser-known Presidents, Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Harrison, have been given titles of either shadow or custodial presidents. A shadow, is a section of darkness, or a part that follows behind. Some of the Presidents seem to have fallen into the shadows of other events, people, and issues. Others put themselves there, just stepping out long enough to take care of a few urgent tasks then sink back into the unknown. Custodial Presidents a term implying that the man is there only to fix problems already out of hand. He does not create policies or change the course of the nation, just keeps it on its way. Truthfully, some of these men are deserving of these titles. Others may not be.
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant 1868-1876
Towards the end of President Johnson s term in office, Johnson and Grant began to have public disagreements about the state of the Union. Due to these quarrels Grant aligned himself with the Radical Republican political party. Grant was already well known for his triumphs during the Civil War and was thus, the popular choice for Presidential Nominee.
Grant was the son of an Ohio tanner. He was educated at West Point, where he graduated 21st out of 39. Grant fought in both the Mexican and Civil Wars. In 1864 President Abraham Lincoln appointed Grant to the Position of General in Chief.
As President, grant had difficulty in making wise judgements. He was a man who tried, in most ways; to be honest, but still found himself in association to dishonest acts.
Grant was known to accept a considerable amount of gifts from political admirers. He was also seen with the speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk. Two men, who were planning to corner the market in gold. Grant did realize their plan, and he tried to put an abrupt halt to it. However his action caused a tremendous amount of fiduciary turmoil. Grant in no way curbed Radical Reconstruction, in the South. At times he aided it with military force.
Mostly, during his two terms as President, Grant spent a great deal of time cleaning up the messes that him and others had created. Therefor, he had little time to address issues that were presently arising. Grant has been labeled a Custodial President for these reasons, and the term is fitting.
After his Presidency Grant became involved with a financial firm that later went bankrupt. Soon following he was diagnosed with cancer of the throat and died in 1885, shortly after completing his memoirs.
Rutherford B. Hayes 1876-1880
At the center of the most debated presidential election ever, is Rutherford Hayes. A man who spoke well, presented himself properly, and made moderate changes in America.
Hayes was born in the state of Ohio in 1822. Later, he was educated at Kenyon College and Harvard Law School. Afterward he fought in the Civil War, where he was wounded in action. Hayes was elected into Congress in 1865, and served three terms as the Governor of Ohio between1867 and 1876.
Hayes ran for the Presidency in 1876, and had the minority of the popular vote. However, Zachariah Chandler, Republican National Chairman, was aware of a loophole in the election process. The electoral vote was in Hayes favor 185 to 184.
Upon election, Hayes demanded that his dealings with lobbyists and politicians should be based upon the merit and importance of each issue, rather than political considerations of the person. He also chose men to be part of his cabinet that he believed to of a high caliber. Much to the disgruntlement of many Republicans, this cabinet included an ex-Confederate and a man who bolted from the Republican Party.
Hayes promised to try and protect the rights of former slaves in the South, while reestablishing a peaceful, local self-government. In order to accomplish this Hayes removed troops from the Southern states. Hayes and the people who followed his efforts were dedicated to their cause, but could not win over the Solid South.
His attempts at rebuilding the nation were unrealized and never rarely commended. Hayes office inspired some people for a few years, but made no real impact on the Union. These factors caused Hayes to be labeled a shadow president. A title he rightfully earned.
After serving only one term in office, Hayes retired to Ohio where he died in 1893.
James Garfield 1880-1881
Being the second President shot in office, Garfield died in September of 1881 without completing his term of office.
Garfield was born in Ohio in 1831 and was educated at William s College. Later he taught at the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute before being elected to the Ohio State Senate in 1859. His main concern while in office was bringing the seceded states back into the Union. After this term, Garfield was elected 18 times into Congress and became the leading Republican in the House.
Once in office Garfield focused on strengthening the authority of the Federal government. He made examples of his importance by taking a firm command of what issues Congress dealt with. Garfield also tried to maintain healthy relationships with foreign governments.
In the summer of 1882, Garfield called a conference for all American republics. This conference never took place, however, because Garfield was shot on July 2, 1881, before the meeting was to be held. Grant died mid-September that year.
Had Garfield lived to complete his term of office he may have been one of the greatest Presidents of all time. He showed signs of being a good leader and an honest gentleman. Unfortunately, his shortened term causes him to be looked upon as one of the less effective and less important Presidents. Thus becoming a shadow President.
Chester A. Arthur 1881-1884
Chester A. Arthur was known for having the look of a President. He was born in Fairfield, Vermont to a Baptist preacher. Arthur graduated from Union College, proceeded to teach school, and was later accepted into the bar.
In 1871, President Grant appointed Arthur as Collector of the port of New York. Arthur, like Grant, was a follower of the Spoils System. He served as vice- President until the time of Garfield s death. Upon becoming President he acted more as a status symbol than a government official. Arthur was always seen with the elite of Washington and other large cities. Congress, at the time, was also trying to limit some of the President s responsibilities.
During Arthur s term, the tariff became a dividing issue between political parties. He signed the Tariff Act of 1833, but it had little effect because as many prices were raised as were lowered.
Next Arthur enforced new laws about immigration. He stopped paupers, lunatics, and criminals from entering the country, and then limited Chinese immigration for ten years.
Arthur retired with no fame or real accomplishments to his name. He was just a maintenance man. The country had a few problems and he put a quick fix on them then stepped back into his world of people and parties. Arthur has been labeled a Custodial President, and the term fits his actions like a glove.
Arthur did not run for a second term. He died in 1886, a man generally respected.
Grover Cleveland 1884-1888; 1892- 1896
Grover Cleveland accomplished three interesting acts in his years as President of the United States. First, he is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms of office. Second he is the only President to ever be married while holding office in the White House. Lastly, Grover Cleveland was the first Democrat to be elected after the Civil War.
Cleveland was born in1837 in New Jersey. While practicing law in Buffalo, he gained a reputation of being focused on his work. Shortly, he became the Mayor of Buffalo and then Governor of New York.
Upon election as President, Cleveland dove right into fixing the nations major problems. He stopped allowing economic groups to receive special favors. Cleveland put a halt to the expectations of farmers to receive continuous aid. Veterans whose claims were phony received no pension.
The railroads became furious when Cleveland ordered investigation of some of the western lands held by government grant. After the inquiry 81,000,000 acres were returned to previous owners. The railroads became more enraged when Cleveland signed the Interstate Commerce Act, which tried to set Federal regulations on the railroad.
In 1892, when Cleveland returned to office, the country was in an economic depression. Instead of approaching failing business, mortgage foreclosures and unemployment separately, he set his sights on correcting the Treasury crisis, which would in turn take care of the others. Cleveland would tolerate no disloyalty from anyone. When railroad workers went on strike in Chicago, he sent in Federal troops to handle the matter.
Cleveland also put an end to the dispute with Great Britain over the Venezuelan border. This boosted the Nation s patriotism immensely.
Cleveland was a man of vast accomplishments. He was not the type of man that left a task uncompleted. Some label Grover Cleveland a custodial President because many of his efforts were focused on correcting problems others had created. This is false. President Grover Cleveland was an executive President: man who not only observed trouble spots and fixed them but also prevented other foreseeable complications from occurring.
Cleveland retired to the quite of his New Jersey home, where he died in 1908.
Benjamin Harrison 1888-1892
Benjamin Harrison was commonly known as Little Ben. He was a man 5 foot 6 inches in stature, but much larger than that in his politics.
Harrison was born in Ohio in 1833. He was educated as a lawyer at Miami University in Ohio. He then joined the Republican Party as a respected lawyer. In the 1880 s Harrison was elected to the U. S. Senate. He was known for fighting for Indians, homesteaders, and veterans of the Civil War.
In office, one of the main aspects of Presidency Harrison focused on was foreign policy. In 1889 the Pan American Congress met in Washington to establish an information center. Harrison also tried to annex Hawaii.
Within the country Harrison expanded the navy, made subsidies for steamships lines available, and signed bills for internal improvements. He also wanted to protect the American consumer from monopolies, so he signed the Sherman Anti-Trust act.
Harrison had great problem, the tariff, facing him. He tried to make revisions in the tariff. These revisions made it so the Treasury surplus was nonexistent before the end of his term in office. Along with the surplus went the prosperity of most of the working class.
Harrison mostly focused, in his presidency, on issues that were important at the moment, but not so important as to be memorable. His time as President has fallen into the shadows. No great travesties or victories occurred during his time and so he will remain a shadow president.
After is retirement in Indianapolis and marriage in 1869, Benjamin Harrison died in1901, a respected man.