Presidents versus Senators

Conflicts and Rivalries That Shaped America


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About the Book

Landmark political confrontations between sitting presidents and powerful senators have occurred throughout American history—some have shaped the nation. This book takes an in-depth look at seven of those major “Washington wars,” including the personal rivalries that spawned each one, the strategies and events that transpired as a result, and the aftermaths and impacts on the country.  Neither compromise nor surrender were considered in these intense debates, which left scars on the national psyche. Each episode could be worthy of a historical narrative all its own but considered together they illustrate the long and bitter history of democratic warfare between the leaders and branches of government at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

About the Author(s)

A retired journalist and communications specialist with nearly 50 years writing experience, F. Martin Harmon is the author of six non-fiction books. He previously worked at two daily newspapers, three Southern universities, and most recently the historic polio rehab center founded by Franklin Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia.

Bibliographic Details

F. Martin Harmon

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 303
Bibliographic Info: 50 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2021
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8314-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4341-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface: Great Political Rivalries and Conflicts 1
Introduction: Landmark Political Confrontations 3
Prologue: All-Time Greats and Taking on the White House 5

Section One. Battle Over the Bank: Andrew Jackson vs. Henry Clay
1. Setting the Stage with Campaign Strategy 10
2. Chronological Review of a Political Gamble 20
3. The Ensuing Expansion of Presidential Power 33

Section Two. The Bleeding Kansas Fight: James Buchanan vs. Stephen Douglas
4. Breakdown of the Jacksonian Democrats 42
5. Lack of Leadership Amidst Drift to Disunion 54
6. Lincoln, Civil War and Republican Rule 67

Section Three. The Reconstruction Conflict: Andrew Johnson vs. Charles Sumner
7. Political Opposites on a Collision Course 78
8. The Rage Over Southern Reconstruction 86
9. “Glorious Failure” or What Might Have Been 112

Section Four. Crusade for the League: Woodrow Wilson vs. Henry Cabot Lodge
10. Political Enemies on a Collision Course 120
11. The Ammunition of Lasting Animosity 132
12. One-and-Done and Back to Normal 147

Section Five. Surviving the Red Menace: Harry Truman vs. Joseph McCarthy
13. The Cold War Launch of a Red Hot Demagogue 158
14. Turning the Other Cheek in a ­No-Win War 170
15. From Fearmongering to Covert Action 187

Section Six. Civil Rights or Segregation: Lyndon Johnson vs. Richard Russell
16. Anatomy of an Impending Political Breakup 198
17. The End of Debate; the Start of Equality 212
18. Personal Legacy Waylaid by Foreign Escalation 228

Section Seven. The Canal Giveaway: Jimmy Carter vs. Paul Laxalt
19. From “Perpetuity” to “Inviting Disaster” 238
20. Reversing Course into a Proxy War 245
21. The Diminishing Returns of Global Leadership 256

Epilogue: If Keeping Score, Closer Than Anticipated 264
Chapter Notes 265
Bibliography 281
Index 285