U.S. Presidents come to office with a list of priorities. Examples include lowering taxes, increasing domestic production, pushing environmental protection, driving equality, and fairness, and so forth. Not only did they move the direction of the country, but they helped shape attitudes through great leadership efforts. Though the list of American presidents to be admired is long, here is a mini sampling of some remarkable ones who had significant impact on public policies and influenced parties on both sides to build a stronger America.
George Washington (1732-1799) – Washington was commander in chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary war and served two terms as America’s first president. Though he was the only U.S. president not to live in the White House, as it was yet to be built, he is considered one of the greatest U.S. leaders of all time. As a trusted Commander-in-Chief, he helped establish the executive branch and the tradition of a cabinet of advisors. He also set precedence for interactions with them and cultivated respect for the higher office by seeking to represent all people. Though his legacy has been called into question for having slaves, he freed all the enslaved people he owned in his 1799 will, which was uncommon during that period.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) – Lincoln left a legacy of achievements behind unlike any other U.S. President in history. He was a great leader, speaker, and negotiator. But above all, he led the nation during a tumultuous time, while the Civil War was occurring. On a personal level, today he is known for his integrity. On a political level, he accomplished a great amount during his just over four years of Presidency. He was instrumental in preserving the Union, bringing slavery to an end, and creating a future of freedom for African Americans. He is often described as an activist president, one who acted by calling out the state militia, expanding the army and navy, and issuing the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 as examples. He will forever be remembered for his dedication to duty and for safeguarding the nation during the tough times in which he presided as America’s sixteenth President.
Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) – Reagan was a man full of ideas and visions for the nation. The actor turned politician began implementing new political and economic initiatives dubbed Reaganomics. He advocated for tax reductions, economic deregulations, reduction of government spending, and this marked one of the longest and strongest periods for America. Reagan is also widely remembered for his strong belief in freedom and for developing a plan and winning the Cold War, an ongoing political rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and respective allies. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, “Ronald Reagan won the Cold War without firing a shot.”
Presidents are elected leaders who run the Executive Branch and act as head of state and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Generally, they are deemed strong and wise by the public and have citizen’s best interests at heart. And they are largely responsible for enforcing laws written by Congress . They also appoint the heads of the federal agencies, including the cabinet. But, moreover, they hold the public trust and the direction of our nation in their hands. Thus, whenever citizens are called upon to vote, it’s important to understand the character of those we elect and to choose leaders like those above who seek to safeguard our rights and freedoms and build a stronger and better America for all.