Measure of Rulers

It is difficult to imagine life without a president. We cannot for instance imagine a king or dictator ruling over us, can we? But at least since FDR's New Deal, people increasingly want a president that will make the economy work for them. Generally speaking, most of us want a chief executive who uses his power to make things right all around. He needs to make sure that we are provided for in our careers, education and retirement. The Constitution (remember limited government?) provides no such results-based job duties for the president, much less a way to carry them out. Surely it would take a divine being to match all of the expectations we have for our presidency.

In previous civilizations, kings were often thought to be divine in origin or at least in appointment. In contrast, we elect our own presidents. And they share our frailties. The vices and virtues of the former White House occupants have been well documented. But what makes a great leader, or even a statesman? And why are there so few? We shall consider some of their good and bad characteristics as we look back at our presidents. In doing so, we must remember that our chief executives are often reflections of the society that elects them.

Feature Articles:

My Own Private Rushmore
James Nuechterlein
The author ranks the presidents. Is your favorite on his list?

Abraham Lincoln: Leader for all Ages
Edwin Meese
The former U.S. Attorney General considers the leadership of our 16th president.

The Life of Calvin Coolidge
Dr. Michael Platt
Calvin Coolidge, often scourged by modern historians, may have been one of the most decent and wisest men ever to occupy the White House.

The Founders' View of Character and the Presidency
Scott R. Stripling
America's Founders thought of the presidency in terms of human nature itself. In doing so they provide a lesson regarding the fragility of self-rule.

Their Own Words:

Evil Empire Speech
Ronald Reagan
President Reagan speaks out against totalitarianism, particularly the Soviet Union's form of it, in this speech before the House of Commons.

Slavery, Constitution and War (Letter to A. G. Hodges)
Abraham Lincoln
In this brief letter, President Lincoln relates the question of slavery with that of protecting the Union. It is instructive in revealing the factors and principles that go into making fundamental choices, something all great leaders must do.

Farewell Address
George Washington
In this most famous address, Washington states, among other things, that religion is necessary for political prosperity.

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