March concludes our Presidential Talent Tournament. We hope that you had fun learning more about the gentlemen who have helped to shape and lead our country! Before we conclude, let’s pay our respects to the March Presidential birthdays.
James Madison is up first. He was our fourth president and was born on March 16, 1751. Madison was a key president because he is remembered as the “Father of the Constitution” as well as a major champion to the Bill of Rights. James Madison was quite the intellectual. Growing up he studied Latin, Greek, Sciences, Mathematics, Rhetoric, Philosophy, Speech and (Whew!) Debate. It is no surprise, then, to learn that Madison is recognized for being America’s first graduate student. In addition to being a very distinguished thinker, he helped to found the American Whig Society. Much danger and peril prevailed during the establishment of the Continental Congress, so James Madison developed and used a secret code in order to write and communicate with Thomas Jefferson and other friends. We owe a great amount of respect to a man that risked his life to help establish the rights that we still enjoy today.
Born March 15, 1767, we recognize Andrew Jackson. He was the first president who did not come from a wealthy family. This accomplishment taught many Americans that anyone, with hard work, can succeed. Andrew Jackson’s election was seen as the rise of the common man. He was the 7th president, and like many other presidents, studied law. Prior to becoming a frontier lawyer, he received a sporadic education and worked in a saddle-maker’s shop. He was given the nickname “Old Hickory” because he was known for having a very tough and aggressive personality. He fought in duels, some fatal to his opponents. Andrew Jackson achieved an esteemed military career during the War of 1812. During election, opponents referred to him as “jackass”. Jackson liked his nickname and used it as a symbol. In 1835, Andrew Jackson achieved what no president has been able to do since.: he paid off the entire national debt! Today Jackson’s portrait can be seen garnishing the US $20 bill.
John Tyler, born March 29, 1790, was America’s 10th president. John Tyler was Vice President to William Henry Harrison, and was playing marbles when he learned of William Henry Harrison’s premature death and that he would become president. Tyler’s most notable accomplishments were for making Florida part of the Union and for the annexation of Texas. John Tyler was an accomplished musician and enjoyed playing the violin. He was not popular during his presidency because he supported state rights, which alienated him from his political allies. John Tyler opposed the Whig platform and made an unsuccessful attempt to form a new party. As a result of his opposition, most of his cabinet resigned. The Whigs dubbed Tyler “His Accidency”. Although some credit John Tyler for his accomplishments and political boldness, it is said that historians hold his presidency in low esteem.
Born on March 18, 1837 is not just our 22nd, but our 24th president as well. Stephen Grover Cleveland was so popular with the American people that he won the popular vote in 1884, 1888 and again in 1892. There was even a move to get him to run for president again in 1904! Grover, which he preferred to be called, won praise for his honesty, independence, integrity, and the commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. He maintained a successful career practicing law for a number of years. Grover fought political corruption and was considered by historians to be one of America’s better presidents. Stephen Grover Cleveland acted on his own convictions instead of opposition within his political party.