Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grace Coolidge Biography

I just finished Robert Ferrell’s biography of Grace Coolidge, Grace Coolidge: The People’s Lady in Silent Cal’s White House, which is part of the Modern First Ladies series. (You might remember I reviewed the Mamie Eisenhower biography from this series last fall.)
This is a very well written and researched biography and definitely worth the time to read. My one critical comment is that after reading it, I didn’t feel that I really knew Grace Coolidge. After reading the Mamie biography, I did have that feeling. The chapter on Mrs. Coolidge’s life after the White House was very brief and seemed to skim that period of her life, rather than really delve into it.

I’d like to start by saying that after reading this biography, I can say for certain, I couldn’t have put up with Calvin Coolidge! President Coolidge was not a people person and often had trouble dealing with other people and personalities, while Mrs. Coolidge was very much a social person. She really knew how to work with people and tried to soften her husband’s image to others. This was one of her major contributions to his political career.

I found the Grace’s early years fascinating. Grace Goodhue was a teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf before marrying Calvin Coolidge and had a college degree. The author does point out that while she did graduate, she didn’t take college seriously – she simply wasn’t an academic minded person, although she did acceptably. For her college was a social experience. I was glad the author took the time to point this out since we often assume that a woman going to college in this period meant a strong determination for that degree, while for Grace, it was more of a sideline.

One of the low points of Grace’s life, and her marriage, was after her son’s, Calvin, Jr., death. Both Calvin and Grace Coolidge were very religious and turned to religion in their grief, but turned separately, rather than together.

As First Lady, Grace Coolidge made news for her clothes. She was always well dressed in some of the latest fashions. Although her husband was definitely a penny pincher, he actually sometimes encouraged her spending on clothes and took pride in her appearance. Mrs. Coolidge was active as First Lady in social activity, but did little with politics. Her husband was against her involvement in politics and so her most political moves were fundraising, for instance for the Clarke School for the Deaf.

Mrs. Coolidge actually wrote an autobiography, which I hope to eventually read, as did Calvin Coolidge. A good part of the Coolidge papers were purposefully destroyed by Calvin Coolidge, a very private man, and so while there are many of Mrs. Coolidge’s letters from other sources, there are not a lot from their personal collection. My next reading actually is a biography of Calvin Coolidge – I decided to do them together!

Monday, July 28, 2008

American Revolution

A recent US News and World Report had a series of articles on the American Revolution. They are all interesting, but here I am going to focus on the two that pertain to George Washington.
How Washington’s Savvy Won the Day
This article points out again, as all of us here already know, what a disservice has been done to Washington because much of the writing on him amounts to hagiography. Washington wasn’t a great tactician, but he knew how to adapt and was able to overcome that:
Realism, strategic imagination, adaptability, and political savvy are all aspects of Washington's generalship that more than made up for his tactical deficiencies, as a new batch of political and military histories of the Revolutionary era show. All of those qualities emerged forcefully after the demoralizing defeats in and around New York in the summer of 1776, when the Americans were repeatedly crushed by the forces of Adm. Lord Richard Howe and his brother Gen. William Howe. "In twelve weeks," writes Brandeis University historian David Hackett Fischer in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington's Crossing, "George Washington lost large parts of three states, and 90 percent of the army under his command."

Yet Washington took cool stock of the situation. Seeing that pitched battles against the larger, better-trained British and Hessian troops were a formula for defeat, Washington wrote to the Continental Congress in September to advocate a defensive war that "should on all occasions avoid a General Action or put anything to the risque unless compelled by a necessity into which we ought never to be drawn." In addition to formulating his doctrine of a "war of posts"—with smaller forces hitting quickly wherever the enemy set up its bases—Washington stood up to republican idealists like John Adams, who believed that a largely volunteer militia, motivated by the ideals of liberty, should form the core of the war effort. Early defeats had only added to Washington's conviction that militias were inadequate; a disciplined army that would not melt away in the face of artillery and the well-drilled ranks of red-coated soldiers was, in his view, the necessary backbone of a protracted struggle.

‘Town Destroyer’ Versus the Iroquois
While most of us think of “Father of our Country,” when Washington is mentioned, the Iroquois had a different name for him – “Town Destroyer:”
This lesser-known title also had its origins in 1779, when General Washington ordered what at the time was the largest-ever campaign against the Indians in North America. After suffering for nearly two years from Iroquois raids on the Colonies' northern frontier, Washington and Congress decided to strike back. From his headquarters in Middlebrook, N.J., Washington authorized the "total destruction and devastation" of the Iroquois settlements across upstate New York so "that country may not merely be overrun but destroyed."

According to this article, that term is still used as an Iroquois name for the President of the United States.

So go read these articles as well as the other interesting ones!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

"Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe."

After writing my post about Batman and Teddy Roosevelt yesterday, I spent some time today looking up more information about Teddy's career as a reformer and crime fighter. There is a lot of course.

One quote in particular stands out. Teddy wrote, "Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe." That seems a pretty apt description of Batman. However, I do not think President Roosevelt was a member of the lunatic fringe despite what the hardcore Republicans thought of his Progressive movement. The quote is from Roosevelt, Theodore (1913). Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography.

This quote indicates that Teddy recognized that sometimes people with the best of intentions can go farther than they should. I wonder what he would have thought of Batman?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Did Teddy Roosevelt Help to Inspire Batman?

I was watching the History Channel tonight. The program was Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight. As I just watched The Dark Knight yesterday, I thought this would be a fun show to watch. Much to my surprise, a former American President came up!

In the program, director Chris Nolan is reported to have said, “Bruce Wayne is Teddy Roosevelt.”

My quick note taking skills were tested. Here are the parallels that the program brought up:

1. Both Bruce Wayne and Teddy Roosevelt were from wealthy, urban families that were active in philanthropy.

2. Both Bruce and Teddy had strong fathers that both admired. Teddy himself noted of his father, ""My father, Theodore Roosevelt, was the best man I ever knew. He combined strength and courage with gentleness, tenderness, and great unselfishness. He would not tolerate in us children selfishness or cruelty, idleness, cowardice, or untruthfulness." (Quote from Roosevelt, Theodore (1913). Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography, Chapter I, p. 13.)

3. Both Bruce and Teddy suffered a tragic loss on a single day. Bruce's parents were murdered in one night while Teddy lost both his wife and mother on the same day.

4. Both men went into exile for a time. Bruce disappeared and then trained in the martial arts while Teddy lived in the Montana Badlands for a few years.

5. Both Bruce and Teddy turned their grief info a force for good. Bruce became Batman while Teddy fought the spoils system as a member of the United States Civil Service Commission and served a commissioner of the New York City Police which he then helped to reform. Later of course, Teddy used his zeal to make many positive changes as President.

My wife also volunteered to me that Teddy Roosevelt was frail as a youth. Also, Bruce Wayne is shown as being hapless and powerless when his parents were murdered. My wife also noted that Batman was ultimately disappointed that his hoped for successor (Harvey Dent) was not up to the task just as President Roosevelt's successor (Taft) was a disappointment for Teddy.

It is nice to think that Batman (or at the least the current film version of him) was directly inspired by President Teddy Roosevelt.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Honoring First Ladies

Please forgive a brief maintenance post. I have recently updated the description of this blog to reflect what has been apparent for sometime. This blog is also about First Ladies. The new description reads begins with, "Blog relating to the American Presidency, specific American Presidents, and First Ladies."

For the most part, Jennie W. gets credit for this. As of today, there are 80 posts labelled First Ladies. There are probably more which have I have failed to be tagged properly. The "office" of First Lady is directly tied the American Presidency and this is appropriate for this blog.

Although my tagging is not perfect, here are the labels on this blog for First Ladies:

- Abigail Adams

- Angelica Van Buren

- Barbara Bush

- Bess Truman

- Betty Ford

- Dolly Madison

- Eleanor Roosevelt

- First Ladies

- Grace Coolidge

- Harriet Lane

- Julia Grant

- Julia Tyler

- Lady Bird Johnson

- Laura Bush

- Lou Hoover

- Lucy Hayes

- Mamie Eisenhower

- Martha Washington

- Mary Todd Linclon

- Nancy Reagan

- Sarah Polk

There are other First Lady posts as well. However, I endeavored to retrospectively tag only those who had two or more posts. As long as Jennie W. is tagging here (which I do not take for granted), I am sure there will be many more.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Who is this?

Can anyone figure out who this is?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

American Experience: Eleanor Roosevelt

I found this to be an acceptable biography, but I didn’t think it had the depth of the presidential biographies I have watched from PBS. One thing I think hurt it was the most of the interviewees were mainly relatives (mostly grandkids) rather than historians. While I enjoy the first hand accounts, I would have liked to see them more evenly distributed among historical opinions. It just made it seem biased and less academic.

The discussion of her childhood hit the high points, but having read Caroli’s Roosevelt Women (this link is my review of it), I felt there was more to say. I also think the importance of Sara Roosevelt in creating the Eleanor we know was very much overlooked. This biography really fell back on the version of Sara as the stereotypical mother-in-law gorgon. Caroli did a much more in-depth job of looking at this relationship.

I did like the fact that they did discuss the possibility of lesbianism. Reading some of Eleanor’s letters to female friends, like Lorena Hickok, it is impossible to deny the possibility especially considering what is known about the Roosevelt marriage. The program certainly made no definite answer to this question, but I personally don’t think it is really possible to make that call, so I was happy with that solution.

One really great part of this biography was that they used video and audio footage of Mrs. Roosevelt and this really gave a personal feel to her and I think added a lot. I also liked the discussions of the Roosevelt marriage and the problems with the children. Looking at Eleanor’s childhood, though, she really never had a model to work from.

The part on her work after FDR’s death was also very well done, especially her work with the United Nations. I also knew she had campaigned against Eisenhower, but found that section very interesting. I also found this bit on their opinions of each other from the NPS site on Eleanor (Val-Kill – which the program talked about as very important to Eleanor):
As Eisenhower rose in his countrymen's estimation, his standing with Eleanor Roosevelt sank, and she worked assiduously to defeat him in 1952 and 1956. At the outset of his political career, she thought he was long on glamour and short on political conviction, particularly when he failed to defend General George Marshall, the man most responsible for his rapid promotion during World War II, against charges of communism. She also thought his choice of Richard Nixon (who had played on his California constituents' fear of communism to defeat her friend Helen Gahagan Douglas for the Senate in 1948) was particularly irresponsible –especially after Eisenhower suffered a massive heart attack in 1955. Later she felt Eisenhower catered too much to public opinion in his handling of Senator Joseph McCarthy's allegations of communism in the federal government. She also deplored his administration's poor record on civil rights, especially his reluctance to implement the Supreme Court's directive to end school segregation in the aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. She was particularly incensed over his initial failure to send federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957 to protect black students attempting to integrate the high school there.

For his part, Eisenhower liked neither ER's politics nor her style. In the wake of his 1952, election he accepted her resignation from the U.S. delegation to the United Nations with only a perfunctory letter of thanks, despite her significant contributions to the organization's success. He also barred her from White House social events because of remarks she had purportedly made about his wife, Mamie. The two were never reconciled although Eisenhower did attend ER's funeral in 1962.

On the PBS site, you can also explore Eleanor’s FBI file or read “My Day” columns in addition to the materials from the biography.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Harry Truman in WWI

You can check out this article on Harry Truman’s service in the artillery in World War I. Battery D, his unit, wasn’t the easiest:
On 11 July Truman replaced Captain John Thatcher as commander of Battery D. The men of Battery D were unhappy with the change, as Thatcher had been very popular. Truman's letters to Bess indicated that he was extremely happy with this assignment, that being a battery commander was his main ambition. Battery D had a bad reputation, was known as Dizzy D, and had gone through four battery commanders in eleven months. The 194-man battery was mostly (96 percent) Irish and German Catholics, many of whom were college students from Rockhurst College in Kansas City, fond of breaking army regulations. On the day that Truman took over Battery D, the men of the battery gave him the Bronx cheer when they were dismissed from formation. Some staged a fake stampede of the horses and got into a fight that sent four men to the infirmary. Truman called all the non-corns together, told them that they were responsible for their own sections and that "I didnt come here to get along with you. Youve got to get along with me...." Things improved after that.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Who is this?

I find this one quite interesting - anyone know who this is?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

American Experience: Harry Truman

I watched the PBS American Experience biography on Harry Truman recently. It was very well done (although quite long). To me, the best part of the discussion of the atomic bomb. I really found it informative and plan to use that section in my history classes. I think that it easy to talk about this in hindsight, but we often forget to really think about in context of the time (at least that is what I often see my students). I also use two articles from HNN, one by Maley and Mohan and one by Gruhl in my classes.
I also found the text of leaflets dropped on Japan on the PBS site and am sharing one with you here:
ATTENTION JAPANESE PEOPLE. EVACUATE YOUR CITIES.
Because your military leaders have rejected the thirteen part surrender declaration, two momentous events have occurred in the last few days.

The Soviet Union, because of this rejection on the part of the military has notified your Ambassador Sato that it has declared war on your nation. Thus, all powerful countries of the world are now at war with you.

Also, because of your leaders' refusal to accept the surrender declaration that would enable Japan to honorably end this useless war, we have employed our atomic bomb.

A single one of our newly developed atomic bombs is actually the equivalent in explosive power to what 2000 of our giant B-29s could have carried on a single mission. Radio Tokyo has told you that with the first use of this weapon of total destruction, Hiroshima was virtually destroyed.
Before we use this bomb again and again to destroy every resource of the military by which they are prolonging this useless war, petition the emperor now to end the war. Our president has outlined for you the thirteen consequences of an honorable surrender. We urge that you accept these consequences and begin the work of building a new, better, and peace-loving Japan.

Act at once or we shall resolutely employ this bomb and all our other superior weapons to promptly and forcefully end the war.

EVACUATE YOUR CITIES.

The show also used pieces of Harry’s diary and correspondence to talk about his opinion of the other leaders as he met them at Potsdam. The biography discussed Harry’s opinion of Stalin as well as Stalin’s of him.

Harry’s diary entry after talking with Stalin:
July 17, 1945
Just spent a couple of hours with Stalin. Joe Davies called on Maisky and made the date last night for noon today. Promptly at a few minutes before twelve I looked up from my desk and there stood Stalin in the doorway. I got to my feet and advanced to meet him. He put out his hand and smiled. I did the same, we shook, I greeted Molotov and the interpreter and we sat down.

After the usual polite remarks we got down to business. I told Stalin that I am no diplomat but usually said yes and no to questions after hearing all the arguments. It pleased him. I asked him if he had the agenda for the meeting. He said he had and that he had some more questions to present. I told him to fire away. He did and it is dynamite -- but I have some dynamite too, which I am not exploding now. He wants to fire Franco, to which I wouldn't object and divide up the Italian colonies and other mandates, some no doubt that the British have. Then he got on the Chinese situation told us what agreements had been reached and what was in abeyance. Most of the big points are settled. He'll be in the Jap war on August 15. Fini Japs when that comes about.

We had lunch, talked socially, put on a real show, drinking toasts to everyone. Then had pictures made in the backyard.

I can deal with Stalin. He is honest, but smart as hell.

Then this section from the video of Stalin and Truman is also very revealing:
ALONZO HAMBY: Truman was rather impressed by Stalin. He thought that here was a tough guy. Stalin struck him as frank and straightforward, a sort of political boss type, who would keep his word once he gave it.

NARRATOR: Truman said later that Stalin reminded him of the Missouri kingpin Tom Pendergast.

DAVID MCCULLOUGH: Joseph Stalin was nothing like Tom Pendergast. This was one of the most blood thirsty, murdering, evil men of our time. But Truman had that very American idea - that old, American idea - that if he could just meet the fellow, shake his hand, look him in the eye, size him up - that they could work together, work things out. And everything would be o.k.

NARRATOR: "I can deal with Stalin," Truman wrote. "He is honest but smart as hell." Stalin was less sanguine. He told an aide that Truman was worthless. The Soviet dictator had already determined that he would surrender nothing of any consequence when the bargaining began. That evening - July 17 - Truman, Stalin and Churchill sat down to discuss the fate of Eastern Europe.

A few other comments of mine from the video:
  • I found that Harry wanted to be a concert pianist as a child fascinating considering his background. Then his daughter, Margaret, got into singing, but it seemed she wasn’t very good at it! She got very bad reviews after a concert in DC and Harry exploded at the commentator, although it sounds like the commentator was on the mark.
  • I really came away from the video with a dislike of Bess Truman. She just seemed selfish and very inconsiderate of Harry. I realize that she didn’t like the limelight of politics, but still it seemed that she really deserted him when he needed her. He just seemed to go on adoring her anyway.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lady Bird Trivia

To go with the guessing game from last week, here are some odds and ends about Lady Bird Johnson – I really just wanted to share that first one as I used to live in Grand Forks.

In 1976, Lady Bird performed with the Winnipeg Symphony in Grand Forks, ND. She recited four passages: excerpts from the Dec of Independence, narrative from Copeland’s A Lincoln Portrait and William Schuman’s New England Tripytch, and parts of LBJ’s Great Society speech. She also performed twice more in Winnipeg.

President Ford awarded Lady Bird the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

And just for fun – a picture of Lady Bird in a barnstorming plane.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Paula Deen and the Carters


I was flipping through channels a couple of days ago and saw that Paula Deen (on the Food Network) had the Carters on her new show! It was obviously canned, but still rather cute and a fun look into the Carter's house in Plains, GA:

Like the Carters themselves, it's an unpretentious kitchen — a smallish space with walls papered in a blue flowered print and the house's original 1961 cabinets repainted white. At the end of a U-shaped run of counters, a window over the sink looks out on an overgrown holly.

The appliances are sensibly Middle American: a Kenmore dishwasher, a Spacemaker microwave oven, a GE side-by-side refrigerator trimmed with magnets (one for peanut butter, naturally) and a couple of beer can openers so rusty they might date to the era of Billy Beer. Among the photos on the fridge are ones showing Rosalynn catching a fish and Jimmy building a house with Habitat for Humanity.

Deen, who just built a house herself in Savannah, figured "about 20" of the Carters' kitchens would fit inside hers. "It's ob-scene," she said, pouring syrup all over the last syllable.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Washington Pugilist: On Hayes

How tough was President Hayes? Via a link I received in the comments, I found a site called the Washington Pugilist. It has an article titled On Hayes.

The site notes:

A civilized lawyer who lived a healthy, comfortable life before the war, Hayes grew stronger and fitter as a soldier. "Ruddy" was one of four Civil War veterans to become president, and while all were generals, Hayes was the only one to be injured; fantastically, and repeatedly, as it were. Five times he was injured, and had four horses killed from underneath him, one of which threw him violently to the ground causing a severe concussion--his second most serious injury of the war. He was believed dead more than once, so convincingly so that his death was reported in the press. One thread which weaves through each tale of narrow escape is that his ability to keep moving despite devastating injuries helped him avoid capture and kept him alive. This evasiveness and cunning would serve him well in a fight.

The most serious injury occurred at the Battle of South Mountain in 1862, when a musketball struck below his left elbow, splintering a bone and tearing a blood vessel. During the time of the Civil War, a man was unlikely to survive such a devastating injury. Not only did Hayes survive, but he kept his arm. His healing was described by medical historian Rudolph Marx as taking an "unusually short time even by modern standards," who likewise hypothesized that he "must have possessed rare powers of recuperation and an extraordinary resistance to the common type of wound infections." This, of course, does not prove that Hayes had superhero-like healing abilities, rendering him completely immune to all human illness and able to stop bullets with his head. But it certainly raises the burden of proof for those who suggest he didn't.

Of course, his ability to survive the bitter and highly disputed election of 1876 also proves his durability and toughness. This Washington Pugilist site looks like it is worth watching.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

McKinney is 2008 Green Candidate

In a recent post (Third Party Candidates in 2008) I wrote, "The Green Party has yet to decide upon a nominee but will have one before November."

They have decided. The Green Party nominated former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney as its presidential candidate today. CNN in McKinney running for president as Green candidate quoted Green Party spokeswoman Scott McLarty as saying, "Every vote that she gets helps the Green Party. The United States needs an alternative party. The narrow two-party system we have right now has not served us very well."

I find this nomination interesting as the Libertarian Presidential candidate (Bob Barr) is also a former Congressman from Georgia. Many are speculating that some Georgians will vote for Barr costing McCain votes and maybe swinging the state to Obama. Is the same true for McKinney in the opposite direction? Could she siphon off Obama votes helping McCain? Could Barr and McKinney offset each other?

This could be interesting if Georgia really is in play this election. It has gone Republican handily recently but...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Third Party Candidates in 2008

Over the Independence Day holiday weekend, I watched a lot of news coverage of the upcoming 2008 Presidential election. Not surprisingly, the coverage was almost all about Obama and McCain. Little mention was made of other candidates who are also running for President.

There are a variety of third party and independent candidates running for the presidency in 2008. Some will appear on most state ballots while some will appear on few or none. Unless the unthinkable happens, they have no chance of even carrying a single state. Ballot access laws, media bias, and a states where the winner takes all of the Electoral College votes (no matter how close the vote was), pretty much assures this. Of course, ideas that lack any popular support may also be a factor for a few candidates...

However, your vote will not determine the election. No single vote will. Whichever candidate you think would make the best President should get your vote, even if they can not win. Voting for a candidate you don't like because they are the best of two bad choices is kind of like wasting your vote. In acknowledgement of this, here is a list of third party candidates which may be on your ballot this fall. Take a look. Then laugh, become a supporter, or just keep one or more of them in mind.

Some candidates:

Ralph Nader (http://www.votenader.org/) - Did he or did he not cost Gore the presidency in 2000? He is running again as an Independent.

Bob Barr (http://www.bobbarr2008.com/) - This is the Libertarian Party candidate. He is getting some coverage because of hopes or fears that he will take votes away from McCain in Alaska and Georgia which could swing those states to Obama.

Chuck Baldwin (http://www.baldwin08.com/) - This is the Constitution Party candidate.

Frank McEnulty (http://www.frankforpresident.org/) - This is the New American Independent Party candidate.

Gloria La Riva (http://www.pslweb.org/) - This is the candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.

Gene Amondson (http://www.geneamondson.com/prohibition-party-2004.html) - The candidate of the Prohibition Party. Yes, they are still trying to ban alcohol in the USA.

Brian Moore (http://www.votebrianmoore.com/) - He is the Socialist Party USA and Liberty Union Party nominee.

RĂ³ger Calero (http://www.themilitant.com/2008/7202/index.shtml) - The Socialist Workers Party candidate.

The Green Party has yet to decide upon a nominee but will have one before November.

Here are two hoax campaigns:

General Zod (http://www.zod2008.com/) - The villain from Superman II has a really nice site.

Chrisopher Walken (http://www.walken2008.com/) -Trust me, this is a hoax...

If you have links to other active presidential campaigns (or hoax campaigns), feel free to add them as a comment.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

Boyhood Home Found

George Washington's boyhood home has finally been located. Since there is little information on Washington's early years, this is a very exciting discovery:
"There is little actual documentary evidence of Washington's formative years. What we see at this site is the best available window into the setting that nurtured the father of our country," Levy said.

Three likely locations were excavated over seven years. The site where the foundations of Washington's home were discovered was built during the first part of the 18th century - Washington was born in 1732 - fit the type of house in which Washington would have lived and also yielded artifacts likely linked to his family.

"Now that we have identified the home, we can begin understanding Washington's childhood," Muraca said, as well as dispel some of the folklore surrounding the president's life. For instance, the tale of Washington's chopping down the cherry tree with a hatchet and confessing to his father has never been proven.

While where Washington's home was (Ferry Farm, a national historic site) was known, the actual house had not been found until now.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Which Presidents were also Generals?

The July 14th issue of Newsweek has a quiz on page 6 titled "Take Your Brain for a Spin." Question 1 asks, "How many presidents achieved the rank of general or higher?" Much to my surprise, the quiz answer was 3! It listed Washington, Grant, and Ike.

Well, that is wrong! I think the answer is 7. Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison were both a general in the War of 1812. Zachary Taylor was a general in the Mexican War. And James Garfield was a general in the American Civil War.

I am not quite sure how Newsweek got their answer. I think Newsweek is plain wrong.

Update:

It looks like the answer is actually 12.

1. George Washington, Revolutionary War
2. Andrew Jackson, War of 1812
3. William Henry Harrison, War of 1812
4. Zachary Taylor, Mexican War
5. Franklin Pierce, Mexican War
6. Andrew Johnson, Civil War
7. Ulysses Simpson Grant, Civil War
8. Rutherford Birchard Hayes, Civil War
9. James Abram Garfield, Civil War
10. Chester Allan Arthur, Civil War
11. Benjamin Harrison, Civil War
12. Dwight David Eisenhower, World War II