Grant's Presidency

The character of Presidents is often judged by the adversities they have overcome-- or, conversely, not have had to overcome. Lincoln overcame depression, TR overcame the loss of his first wife, FDR overcame polio (though he didn’t, even if he managed to live with it until his early death from a heart condition caused in part by how much stress he put on his heart because his legs were useless). JFK overcame Addison’s Disease and Lyndon Johnson never overcame his awe and dependence on the leftover JFK Harvard crowd that filled his Cabinet. Ron Chernow’s new biography, “Grant”, gives us a chance to reevaluate the way we judge Presidents. He thinks about the career trajectory of U. S. Grant as more important than the drinking which did indeed lead to his early departure from a military career but which otherwise did not interfere with his talents.  Let us use this alternative approach for a comparison of some American Presidents.

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