Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Life after the White House

In honor of this week's opinion poll, I found a series of articles on Presidents after the White House (as a note, there are six parts to this series..I linked to the first one and you can access the rest from the sidebar menu).

For the sake of fairness, I decided to pull what this series had to say on each of our choices for this week and then one "extra" of my choosing. I linked each excerpt the part it came from.

Thomas Jefferson (Part I)
Thomas Jefferson accomplished more after retiring than most people do in their entire career. In addition to his renewed correspondence with John Adams and many others, he founded the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia and served as its first rector, or president. Jefferson wanted to create a university “ based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind to explore and to expose every subject susceptible of its contemplation.” He designed the building, supervised the construction, hired the faculty and determined the curriculum. He also instituted the system of academic electives. The University of Virginia, called Mr. Jefferson’s University by the students and faculty, continues today as one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the country.

Ulysses Grant (Part III)
Ulysses S. Grant, hero of the Civil War, was elected President in the first post-war election. After serving two terms, he retired and spent two years touring the world, being received by enthusiastic crowds and heads of state all over the world. He settled in New York City and invested all his savings in the firm of Grant & Ward, in which his son was a partner. Ward proved to be a crook, and Grant lost all his money, leaving him almost penniless. To make a living, he wrote magazine articles that were so well received that he decided to write his memoirs. With the help of his publisher, Mark Twain, his memoirs were published and brought his wife a fortune. Unfortunately, Grant did not live to see his final success. He knew he was dying of throat cancer as he wrote the book, and finished just days before he died.

Herbert Hoover (Part V)
Herbert Hoover was elected by a landslide in 1928, and defeated for re-election by a landslide in 1932, due to the Great Depression, which began shortly after he took office. After attending the inauguration of his successor, he retired to his home in Palo Alto, California. Hoover was an “ex-President” longer than any other person in our history. In his later years, he lived mostly at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. He was a vocal critic of the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt, calling most of its programs “fascistic.” He was especially critical of Roosevelt’s decisions to go off the gold standard, recognize the Soviet Union, and his attempt to “pack” the Supreme Court. He campaigned for Alf Landon, the Republican candidate opposing Roosevelt in 1936. In 1938, Hoover toured Europe and met with Adolf Hitler. He found Hitler “partly insane” but intelligent and well informed. Hoover opposed U.S. entry into World War II until the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the war, he served as chairman of the relief organizations for Poland, Finland, and Belgium, and opposed dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. After the war ended, President Truman appointed Hoover coordinator of the Food Supply for World Famine, a position he filled in 1946-1947. His most prominent service during his retirement was as chairman of the Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government, popularly called the Hoover Commission, in 1947-1949, and of the Commission on Government Operations, called the second Hoover Commission, 1953-1955. The first commission made 273 recommendations for streamlining the government, roughly three-fourths of which were adopted. The second commission made 314 recommendations, about three-fourths of which were adopted. The most significant of these recommendations resulted in the combination of functions into new cabinet level Department of Defense and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Hoover opposed U.S. participation in the Korean War. Shortly before his death on October 20, 1964, he endorsed Barry Goldwater, the conservative Republican candidate for President. Among the books Hoover wrote during his retirement years were “The Challenge to Liberty” in 1934, “The Problems of Lasting Peace” in 1943, his “Memoirs” in 1952, “The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson” in 1958, and the three-volume “An American Epic” in 1961.

Jimmy Carter (Part VI)
Jimmy Carter is considered by many to be the best ex-President we have ever had. Jimmy Carter became President after narrowly defeating Gerald Ford in the election of 1976. In 1980, Jimmy Carter was soundly defeated for re-election by Ronald Reagan. Carter retired to his home in Plains, Georgia, to find the family peanut farm deep in debt as a result of its handling in a blind trust during his Presidency. He put the family business back in order and taught political science at Emory University, founding the Carter Center of Emory University in 1982. In 1986, The Carter Presidential Center was completed in Atlanta. It included the Carter Center of Emory University and the Jimmy Carter Library.

Carter is best known for his humanitarian work with Habitat for Humanity. Carter personally helped to build houses in New York City and around the country. The sight of Carter in work clothes and tool belt became a familiar one to many Americans. Carter engaged in many other humanitarian efforts. In 1991, he founded the Atlanta Project to coordinate government and private efforts to solve social problems that affect poor families.

Carter also participated actively in international affairs. Since the 1980’s, he has helped monitor elections in a number of nations. In 1991, Carter created the International Negotiation Network Council. The council is made up of former heads of state and other prominent people willing to conduct peace negotiations or monitor elections. In 1991, the military leaders of Haiti overthrew the elected President of Haiti and seized control of the government. In 1994, Carter went to Haiti and led the negotiations that convinced the military leaders to allow the elected President to return to the country and finish his term in office. Also in 1994, Carter traveled to North Korea on a trip that reduced tensions between that country and the United States over North Korea’s suspected nuclear arms program.

Carter has written several books since leaving the White House, including “Keeping the Faith: Memoirs of a President (1982) and “Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life” (1987) which he wrote with his wife, Rosalynn. He regularly makes speaking appearances on behalf of humanitarian issues.

John Quincy Adams (my "extra" choice - Part I)
Probably the greatest ex-President of all times was John Quincy Adams. After his resounding defeat for re-election to the White House, he returned to his home in Quincy, Massachusetts. The next year, the people of Quincy asked him to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Adams agreed to run on two conditions: 1) that he never be expected to promote himself as a candidate and ask for votes and 2) that it be understood he would pursue a course in Congress independent of any party and the people who elected him. Under those terms, he was elected and held his seat in the House until he died in 1848, on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. After his first election to the House, he wrote in his diary, “I am a member-elect of the Twenty-Second Congress. No election or appointment conferred upon me ever gave me so much pleasure. My election as President of the United States was not half so gratifying to my inmost soul.” Having been during his long career a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican and National Republican parties, he was elected to the House as an Anti-Mason and later as a Whig.

As a member of the House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams often found himself in the minority on major issues. He supported the continuation of the Bank of the United States, opposed the annexation of Texas, and voted against the declaration of war with Mexico in 1846. His greatest victory was his successful struggle against the Gag Rule. In 1836, the House had voted to automatically table without debate any petition critical of slavery. Adams felt this violated the constitutional right of petition and fought against the rule for eight years. Finally, in 1844, the House voted to repeal the Gag Rule. During his long tenure in the House, Adams earned the nickname of Old Man Eloquent. He suffered a serious stroke in 1848, and was carried to the Speakers chambers, where he died several days later. John Quincy Adams remains the only President to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives after his term in the White House.

1 comment:

klkatz said...

One thing I always found curious about Jefferson was that he did all that writing, yet never pieced together a book of his own.

No wonder... he was too busy.