Presidents by Fate

Nine Who Ascended through Death or Resignation

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About the Book

Throughout the history of the United States, only nine men were elevated to the White House by the death or failure of a sitting president, and their legacies are as mixed as their circumstances.
This book evaluates the similarities and distinct differences of these men, their varying degrees of ambition and readiness, and how each handled their suddenly enormous duties.
Some became presidential legends, while others are counted among the worst. Their shared stories shed light on America’s political development during the last two centuries.

About the Author(s)

A retired journalist of 45 years, F. Martin Harmon last worked as public relations director at Georgia’s Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, an historic facility founded by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1927. He has published five books and lives in Senoia, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

F. Martin Harmon
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: 31 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7742-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3684-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction: Common Bond, Shared Burden 1
Preface: A Unique Fraternity 3
Prologue: Hometown Disappointment 5
Part I. Their Careers: The Basics
1. John Tyler—Establishing Precedent 10
2. Millard Fillmore—Repeating History 14
3. Andrew Johnson—A Lack of Temperament 17
4. Chester Alan Arthur—The Unlikeliest President 20
5. Theodore Roosevelt—Never One Who Enjoyed It More 24
6. Calvin Coolidge—Boom Times 27
7. Harry Truman—Better Than Expected 30
8. Lyndon B. Johnson—Political Disciple 34
9. Gerald Ford—Restoration Project 38
Part II. Their Biographies: An ­In-Depth Review
10. Tyler, Texas and Setting the Record Straight 42
11. Fillmore and the Seeds of Discontent 61
12. The First Johnson Struggles to Measure Up 77
13. The Surprising Story of Chester Alan Arthur 96
14. America’s Change Agent—Theodore Roosevelt 110
15. Reinventing “Silent Cal” Coolidge 122
16. Overachieving with “Give ’em Hell Harry” 133
17. The Second Johnson Weaves a Powerful Web 147
18. Gerald Ford—Right Man for a Time Gone Wrong 157
Part III. Their Burden: Rankings, Similarities and Contrasts
19. Where They Rank 164
20. Humble Beginnings; Absence of Ambition 167
21. Accidental Similarities 170
22. Party Abandonment or Abdication 176
23. Racial Ramifications 180
24. Alternate Agendas 185
25. Lasting Accomplishments and What Ifs 188
26. Political Pros or System Politicians 191
Epilogue: It Will Happen Again 195
Chapter Notes 197
Bibliography 215
Index 217