January 03, 2010

happy new year, 1825

2010 brings with it a whole new phase for At Times Dull. james monroe is regularly referred to as the last founding father. he fought under washington in the revolutionary war, but came to fame for his accomplishments in the early senate. as he turned the reins over to JQA in 1825, the era of America being run by veterans of the revolution officially came to a close, and a generation of men who had been raised in an independent nation took over. revolutionary heroes stopped being presidents, senators, justices, and diplomats, and started being icons. or rather, they started being the founding fathers

the latter half of 2009 took dave and i through the bombastic early phases of america. there were the firebrand idealists, who orated our nation to freedom (these people are patrick henry, alexander hamilton, and samuel adams). then there were the nation builders, who slowly and painstakingly, with many mistakes, fashioned a federal government from the ashes of war (these people are adams, jefferson, and monroe). now, with all the freedoms won (and rewon in 1812), and infrastructures structured, the president becomes an executive.

james monroe's presidency saw no wars, insurrections, or stalemates. it saw some treaty negotations, internal improvements, a moderately serious economic downturn, and a doctrine. by this time, monroe had had enough predecessors to learn from their mistakes (don't keep the last guy's cabinet, don't suffer fools in the military, make sure your diplomats have brains), and enough of their wisdom to fall back on. in one case, when monroe wasn't sure whether something was constitutional or not, he actually went and asked madison, a convenience which surely could be envied by many of his successors. i won't embarrass him by pointing out again that he wasn't a genius (oh, oops), but i will say that being a genius started to be a lot less necessary. the job was in place, just listen carefully and be a good leader.

2010 is going to be a real touchstone year for us. leaving the founding fathers in 2009, this year will take us from JQA to at least Grant. of those 13 presidents, exactly four could be called household names (Quincy Adams, Jackson, Lincoln, Grant), leaving us with the forgettable nine of the of the 19th century (Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Taylor, Filmore, Pierce, and Buchanan).

folks, we are not on money any more.


  1. but James K. Polk is my favorite They Might Be Giants song. That counts for something, right?

  2. james k polk is one of my favorite presidents. i will reveal why in about 4 months.

  3. yay! something to look forward to in April!