Martin Van Buren

333 words | 2 page(s)

Hummel’s means of ranking presidents is sensible, though it is somewhat difficult to quantify. Concepts like “liberty” are necessarily qualitative and subjective, and this leaves significant middle ground for one who might want to compare different presidents against one another. The job of a president is complex, but generally speaking, one can assess how well a president is doing his job by how well the American people are able to live under the care of that president. These concepts are difficult to untangle, but this is a necessary component when dealing with this type of discussion.

In general, Martin Van Buren might be one of those presidents that is not given enough recognition. The author notes that most historians tend to overrate – or have a “soft spot”- for presidents that expand central power and expand the nation’s territorial influence. According to the author, a better metric for evaluation is how much peace a president is able to achieve. This is a good standard that challenges historical conventions. Why should war be considered a good thing? Is keeping the country out of war not something that presidents should be lauded for? Van Buren was the type of president that did not go unnecessarily to war. For this reason, he might be seriously underrated by the people who purport to compare presidents and their accomplishments.

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The author, too, calls for more simplicity in evaluation. Van Buren, it seems, did not have that many wild, radical ideals, but rather, he is punished by history for simply suggesting that presidential governance should be about sticking to the rules set forth in the constitution. The author’s proposition is right. Just because a president is not flashy should not disqualify him from consideration as a great president. Van Buren seems to have done many things right, and when using the right system of evaluation, one should be able to see this.

  • Hummel, Jeffrey Rogers. “Martin Van Buren: America’s Greatest President.” Independent Review 4 (1999): 255-281.

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