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An Apparent Double Standard

October 6, 2015

Warren G. Harding’s Vice President successfully carried out Harding’s normalcy program after Harding’s death. He was then elected to a presidential term of his own.

John Quincy Adams’s Vice President served in the same office in the Administration of his successor and arch rival. He had his own agenda which was at odds with both Adams and Adams’s successor. He never became President himself.

Warren G. Harding’s Secretary of State later became Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941.

John Quincy Adams’s Secretary of State ran for President against Adams’s arch rival and lost. He later ran for President against the arch rival’s nicknamesake and lost again.

Warren G. Harding’s Treasury Secretary continued in that office through the Coolidge Administration and through most of the Hoover Administration. Hoover himself had been Harding’s Commerce Secretary and was retained by Coolidge until 1928.

If legacy is the measure of success, Warren G. Harding should be considered a better President than John Quincy Adams, but Harding has very often been ranked last of all Presidents. Is there a good reason for this, or does this merely reflect the bias of those who write history?

Historians have been very unfair to Harding, and there are sociological reasons for their bias.

Historians have also praised John Quincy Adams better than his presidential scorecard would indicate. In this case they are absolutely correct. We’ll discuss this more next time.

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