Top 20 Most Powerful Politicians Who Were Never President

by Jonathan Hobratsch

Below is a list of 20 influential Americans that were never elected president. I’ve made the decision by looking at American figures that were considered for the presidency. Some on this list opted against running for president.

Every candidate was analyzed for experience, influence, political ability, charisma, integrity, party leadership, party support, electability, ambition and vision. Many presidents that were elected would probably not make this list. We do not always elect the best candidate.

I should note, that his is not a list of who would necessarily be the best presidents, since their platforms are not being considered. This list is not even a list of politicians I necessarily like; although, some are favorable to me.

At the end, I give a list of all the candidates I seriously considered. I’d like to know if you agree with my list.

==================================================================

1 – Henry Clay

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: C
Party Leadership: A
Party Support: A
Electability: B
Ambition: A
Vision: A

Clay is arguably the most powerful member of Congress in the first half of the 19th century. His national economic plan, “The American System,” resulted in the creation of the Whig Party, which was the Democratic Party’s primary rival for about two decades. He was that party’s leader.

Clay was a four-time US Senator from 1806-1852, a three-time Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the controversially appointed (“Corrupt Bargain”) Secretary of State for President John Quincy Adams.

Clay ran for president five times: 1824, 1832, 1840, 1844 and 1848. In two of these elections, 1832 and 1844, he was his party’s nominee. In 1824, he was one of four candidate on the election day ballots. Thus, he was a general election candidate three times. He lost the nomination on two occasions, both to two generals who were far less able politicians than Clay: William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor. Clay was nearly the nominee in both of these elections.

==========================================================================

2 – William Jennings Bryan

Experience: C
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: A
Integrity: A
Party Leadership: A
Party Support: B
Electability: C
Ambition: A
Vision: A

Bryan was the leader of the populist/progressive wing of the Democratic Party for about thirty years from about 1895-1925. In fact, if it wasn’t for Bryan’s blessing, Woodrow Wilson would never have defeated Champ Clark for the Democratic nomination in 1912. Bryan influenced national politics, especially earlier in his career, as the leading voice of popular democracy, labor, farmers and those not attached to big business and big banks.

Bryan is arguably the most influential inexperienced politician. Perhaps his role as an outsider was part of his charm among voters. He had served as a US Rep for Nebraska between 1891-1895, before he ever ran for president, and he was Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of State from 1913-1915, after his attempts at the presidency.

Bryan ran for president three times (1896, 1900, and 1908) and was the nominee in each of these attempts. In 1896, he was the youngest nominee in presidential history at age 36. In 1920, Bryan hoped to be the compromise choice at the deadlocked Democratic convention, but he only received a few token votes. Bryan’s influence was still strong enough in the 1924 election that the party elected Bryan’s younger brother, Charles, as the VP candidate for the party.

========================================================================

3 – George Clinton

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: A
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: B
Electability: B
Ambition: B
Vision: B

Clinton might be the most important early US politician that is relatively unknown in the 21st century. If Thomas Jefferson and James Madison of Virginia were the architects of the Jeffersonian Republican Party (sometimes called Democratic-Republicans), then George Clinton and Aaron Burr of New York added a second front door and the second floor. Jefferson’s ideal was a Southern agrarian society. Clinton and Burr made the party palatable to Northerners and urbanites.

Clinton served as governor of New York for over two decades (1777-1795; 1801-1804). Federalist John Jay perforates his string of service. After his governorship, he was the VP for both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. It was the common strategy of the party at the time to elect a Virginian for president and a New Yorker for VP. Clinton replaced Burr on Jefferson’s ticket for his second term. He was retained by Madison, until Clinton’s death in office in 1812.

In the first presidential election, 1788-1789, Clinton was the only major anti-Federalist candidate for the presidency. In 1792, he was the leading Jeffersonian Republican candidate. Following 1792, Clinton supporters moved to the younger and more ambitious Aaron Burr. Clinton remained on the presidential ballot for 1796 but Burr took most of the votes.

=========================================================================

4 – James G. Blaine

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: C
Party Leadership: A
Party Support: C
Electability: B
Ambition: A
Vision: A

You most likely would have considered Blaine to be the most considerable Republican if you lived during the last quarter of the 19th century. From 1869 until 1892, he was a dominant force, leading the reformist, “Half-Breed” wing of the Republican Party, which believed in moderate policies and appointing people by merit, rather than by party loyalty.

Blaine entered the US House of Representatives during the Civil War in 1863. In 1869, he was elevated to Speaker of the House, a position he held until 1875. The next year he was elected to the US Senate, where he remained until 1881, when he was appointed as President James A. Garfield’s Secretary of State. He resigned the position following Garfield’s assassination, since the new president, Chester A. Arthur, was a member of the Stalwart, conservative faction of the Republican Party. He didn’t hold office again until President Benjamin Harrison made Blaine his Secretary of State in 1889. Blaine, despite poor health, stayed on until 1892. He died the next year.

Blaine did not run for president until 1876, since Lincoln and Grant dominated the Republican Party during Blaine’s early career. Blaine was the frontrunner in 1876, and one of two leading candidates in 1880 (the other was former Pres. Grant), but the party was so divided between Half-Breeds and Stalwarts that a compromise choice, Rutherford B. Hayes and James A. Garfield, was ultimately selected at these conventions. In 1884, Blaine defeated incumbent president Chester A. Arthur for the nomination, but he lost against Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland in a close general election. Following this defeat, Blaine declined to run for president in the future; although, there was a strong and active “Draft Blaine” effort at the 1892 convention, which could have worked to beat out incumbent president Benjamin Harrison if there wasn’t also a “Draft McKinley” at the same time.

========================================================================

5 – William Seward

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: C
Party Leadership: A
Party Support: C
Electability: C
Ambition: A
Vision: B

Seward wanted to be what Lincoln became: an icon. Seward started off as one of the leaders of the Northern Whigs, who were more likely to advocate abolitionism than Southern or Border State Whigs. In 1855, Seward joined the new Republican Party and quickly saw himself as the most important politician to join the new party. In 1860, he expected to be the presidential nominee.

Seward was elected governor of New York in 1839 and served until 1842. From 1849 to 1861, he was dominate figure in the US Senate. When the moderate Republican Abraham Lincoln became president, he needed the support of the Northern Republicans, and so he made Seward his Secretary of State. He continued to serve Andrew Johnson in this post after Lincoln’s assassination.

While Seward only ran for president in 1860, he was considered a likely candidate many times. In 1844, the abolitionist Liberty Party tried to convince Seward to be their nominee, but he sat out the election and voted for the Whigs. In 1856, Seward could have been the nominee, but since a general election victory was unlikely, he decided to wait another four years. In 1860, he was the frontrunner, but the moderate Abraham Lincoln, who had home-field advantage at the convention, was able to upset Seward for the nomination. Mostly satisfied with Lincoln and Grant, and unable to compete with their popularity, Seward gave up any future presidential aspirations.

=====================================================================

6 – Aaron Burr

Experience: B
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: D
Party Leadership: A
Party Support: B
Electability: C
Ambition: A
Vision: A

Burr, along with George Clinton, were crucial in expanding the influence of Jeffersonian Democracy in the North. He rose to power in New York with the help of George Clinton, who first appointed him to political office as the state Attorney General, where he was a strong advocated for democracy. Eventually, he converted one of his social clubs into the powerful political machine known to history as Tammany Hall. Burr’s influence in New York expanded beyond the two key Federalist New Yorkers, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, and even eclipsed George Clinton’s until Burr’s political fall.

Burr was first elected to national office when he unseated Hamilton’s father-in-law, Philip Schuyler, for the US Senate in 1791. He remained a senator until 1797. From 1801-1805 he served as Jefferson’s first VP. Burr opted to run for governor of New York, while he was still VP, but he lost in a landslide, as Hamilton and fellow Jeffersonian Republican George Clinton both united against Burr. Hamilton’s role in bringing down Burr was controversial enough that Burr challenged Hamilton to the famous duel in Weehawken, NJ.  Burr retired from politics after President Jefferson took Burr to trial for treason for plotting to grab land out West (he was acquitted).  Burr lived about three decades longer as a lawyer, but he was no longer a force in politics.

Burr was a candidate for president in 1792, 1796 and in 1800. In 1800, he tied with Jefferson for the most electoral votes. As it was a tie, the election was sent to the House for a decision. Hamilton, who had tried to convince Jay to nullify the New York vote, to ensure a Federalist Victory (Jay was too honest to comply), then supported his former arch-nemesis, Thomas Jefferson, over Aaron Burr, who he now disliked more. After numerous ballots, Jefferson was elected president and Burr was made his VP. Had Burr won election as governor of New York in 1804, he likely would have run for president in 1808, and so on, until he won.

==================================================================

7 – Robert Taft

Experience: B
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: C
Integrity: A
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: C
Electability: C
Ambition: A
Vision: A

Taft was the son of President William Howard Taft and the grandson of Attorney General Alphonso Taft. As a US Senator, Robert Taft may arguably be more influential than either of his ancestors. He led the conservative wing of the Republican Party throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. He was the leading isolationist, pro-business, anti-New Dealer of his time. Despite his somewhat extreme views, he was widely respected and well-liked. Taft, more than Goldwater, Nixon or Reagan, can claim to be the father of Modern Republican Conservatism.

Taft got a late start in national politics. He was elected to the US Senate when he was about 50 years old, where he quickly worked with conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats to protest much of the New Deal. Taft died in office in 1953. His son Robert Taft, Jr. later became a US Senator, and his grandson, Bob Taft (Robert Taft III), was a rather liberal Republican governor of Ohio from 1999-2007.

Taft was a presidential candidate in three elections. He first ran for president in 1940, as a first term senator. Despite this, he came in second in the ballot at the convention. In 1948, Taft came in second once again for the Republican nomination. In his last attempt for the presidency, Taft bested Eisenhower in the 1952 Republican primaries, but was defeated at the Convention when a rule change shifted enough delegates to Eisenhower to ensure the World War II general was the nominee.

=====================================================================

8 – John Sherman

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: C
Integrity: B
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: C
Electability: B
Ambition: A
Vision: B

The younger brother of General William Tecumseh Sherman was considered an economic wizard during his day, as well as one of the leading US senators. His name is given to both the Sherman Antitrust Act, which aimed to weaken monopolies, and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which increased inflation by adding silver to the money supply in order to help poor farmers pay off their debts.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, inspired the 31-year old Sherman to run as an anti-slavery candidate for the US House of Representatives for Ohio. After winning the election, Sherman quickly gained prominence, and was nearly elected as Speaker of the House. In 1861 he was elevated to the US Senate. From 1861-1897 he served in the senate, except between 1877-1881, when he was Secretary of the Treasury. In 1897, he was made Secretary of State, but he resigned the next year when he realized that his memory was failing.

Sherman ran for president on three occasions. In 1880, Sherman was the leading compromise choice in a deadlocked convention, until delegates switch to fellow Ohio politician James A. Garfield. Sherman received less consideration in 1884. However, in 1888 he was the front runner, since the leading Republican James G. Blaine, decided to sit out of the election. Sherman led for six ballots until Benjamin Harrison took the lead and the nomination.

======================================================================

9 – Stephen A. Douglas

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: B
Charisma: B
Integrity: B
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: C
Electability: B
Ambition: A
Vision: B

Douglas is best known as Lincoln’s counterpart in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. However, Douglas did much more than debate Lincoln, who was considered a relatively minor politician by comparison at the time. He was a moderate Democrat that, unlike most major Democrats, looked to the future by favoring modernization. He was proponent of Western expansion, the railroads and democracy. It was primarily Douglas who figured out a way to get the Great Compromise of 1850 through Congress by submitting it piece by piece. His concept of Popular Sovereignty and his primary authorship of the Kansas-Nebraska Act have tarnished his reputation. During the Civil War, he worked hard to keep states from seceding from the Union by traveling across country for support of the Union. He died of typhoid fever in in mid-1861 during these efforts.

From 1843 to 1847 he served the US House of Representatives for Illinois. In 1847, he was elevated to the US Senate where he remained until death. The famous Lincoln-Douglas debate was part of the US Senate election of 1858. Lincoln barely won the popular vote, but Douglas won the election 54-46 since the state legislature elected US Senators at the time.

Douglas was a candidate for the presidency in three straight election. In 1852, he was nearly a compromise choice for president, leading on two ballots at his party’s convention. In 1856, he was the primary compromise choice, but he could never take down James Buchanan at the convention, who he later endorsed. By 1860, it was seemingly his turn to be president, since he was the clear frontunner for his party. However, after Douglas’s nomination the Southern Democrats broke from the Democratic Party and formed their own version of the Democratic Party. Lincoln easily defeated the split party.

=======================================================================

10 – John Jay

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: C
Integrity: B
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: A
Electability: B
Ambition: C
Vision: B

John Jay may be the most experienced politicians to never become president. His fame rests chiefly on three things: He was the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the negotiator for the Jay Treaty, and he was one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers. The Jay Treaty, which was controversial in its day, averted a new war with Great Britain,  established a stronger trade network between the two countries, and included many other concessions from both sides. John Jay, along with Alexander Hamilton, were the leading Federalists in New York, opposing the forces of New York Jeffersonian Republicans, George Clinton and Aaron Burr.

John Jay was an original delegate of the Continental Congress in 1774, before his 30th birthday. He wasn’t present during the signing of the Declaration, but he did serve as the president of the Congress in 1778 and 1779. In the 1780s he was the minister to Spain and then Secretary of Foreign Affairs (precursor to Secretary of State). When Washington was inaugurated as the first president, he offered Jay the new official position of Secretary of State, but Jay declined. He did accept Washington’s nomination as Chief Justice, however. Jay stayed on the court from 1789 to 1795, and then decided to run for governor of New York. Jay served as governor until 1801. In 1800, Jay refused to take part in an illegal scheme by Hamilton to ensure a Federalist victory in the presidential election. In the same year, outgoing president John Adams appointed John Jay as Chief Justice, but Jay turned down the offer, opting to retire from politics. He also declined to run for reelection as governor. Jay’s retirement lasted nearly three decades.

Jay could have been an ideal president, considering he had executive, judicial, legislative and foreign affairs experience. Jay received electoral votes in three elections: 1788/89, 1796 and 1800. In the first election, he came in third behind George Washington and John Adams.

===================================================================

11 – Arthur Vandenberg

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: C
Integrity: A
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: B
Electability: B
Ambition: C
Vision: B

Vandenberg is generally considered one of the great 20th century senators, along with Robert La Follette, Robert Taft, and Robert Wagner. He was considered a foreign policy expert. Initially an isolationist, he soon was crucial in the creation of the United Nations. He’s also credited as  leading mind for America’s post-war foreign policy. During FDR’s presidency, he supported most of the early New Deal programs, but opposed the later programs.

In 1928, Vandenberg was appointed US Senator of Michigan to fill a vacancy. He remained in the senate until his death in 1951. A former progressive Republican in his youth, Vandenberg evolved into a member of the Conservative Coalition, which was composed of a mixture of conservative Republicans, like Robert Taft, and Southern Democrats. This coalition can be seen as an early stage of the eventual North-South switch between Republicans and Democrats in national elections from 1964 to the present. The difference is that Northern conservatives, including Vandenberg and Taft were in favor of Civil Rights.

Vandenberg was a candidate for president in two elections: 1940 and 1948. His best shot came in 1940, when he was considered top-tier candidate until popular businessman Wendell Wilkie joined the race. In 1948, most of his demographic favored Robert Taft of Ohio.

=================================================================

12 – Alexander Hamilton

Experience: C
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: D
Party Leadership: A
Party Support: B
Electability: C
Ambition: A
Vision: A

Along with Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton is sometimes mistaken as having been president, because they’re both on currency.  Hamilton is on money because he created our system of finance and commerce. He was also the founder of the Federalist Party and an author of the Federalist Papers, along with James Madison and John Jay.

During the American Revolution, Hamilton served as an officer and an aide for General Washington. After the war, he was a delegate to Congress for New York. When Washington became president, Hamilton was named Secretary of the Treasury, which Hamilton took to mean as Prime Minister. Indeed, Jefferson was generally ignored in favor of Hamilton by Washington. In 1795, Hamilton resigned from the cabinet, partially because of a scandalous affair. Nevertheless, he was still Washington’s primary adviser, even writing Washington’s farewell address. From 1799-1800, Hamilton was the senior officer in the army. In 1800, Hamilton plotted against Adams, trying make Charles Pinckney the Federalist nominee. This backfired. Most Federalists stayed with Adams, and some of the votes went to Jefferson and Burr. Hamilton attempted, but failed to illegally nullify the vote in New York to prevent a Federalist defeat. When the election went to the House between Jefferson and Burr, Hamilton worked to get Jefferson elected. Hamilton also schemed to block Burr’s election as governor of New York.

Contrary to what some people say, Hamilton, though born in the West Indies, was eligible to be president. He, like the other foreign-born Founding Fathers, automatically became natural born citizens upon the creation of the United States, as stated in the US Constitution. Hamilton would have liked to have become president, but three things got in his way: 1) He had to let George Washington and John Adams go first. 2) The Jeffersonian Republicans were much more voter-friendly, and so the Federalist Party was unelectable by 1804. 3) Aaron Burr killed him. Because of these, Hamilton never ran for president. However, there are some that believe he may have been trying to either create a new, stronger party, or alter the Federalist Party into one that was more overtly Christian. Jefferson was often accused of being an atheist, and while Hamilton wasn’t very religious, he was willing to use religion to win.

====================================================================

13 – Charles Evans Hughes

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: B
Charisma: B
Integrity: A
Party Leadership: C
Party Support: B
Electability: B
Ambition: B
Vision: C

Hughes is like John Jay in his range of experience. Both are politicians that should have been president. He was somehow both a progressive and a conservative, since he supported most progressive programs, but he also believed in limited government. In this way, he endorsed progressive programs at the state level, but was much more hesitant to support them at the the federal level, such as with programs like the New Deal.

Hughes was a progressive Republican governor of New York from 1907-1910. In 1910, President Taft made Hughes a justice on the Supreme Court, where he ruled in favor of business regulations. In 1916, he resigned from the court to run for president. From 1921-1925, he served presidents Harding and Coolidge as Secretary of State. In 1930, President Hoover made Hughes Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which he held until his retirement in 1941. He was considered a swing judge on the court. He died in 1948.

Hughes was a candidate for president several times. In 1908, he was nearly tied for second place for his parties nomination, but Taft was nominated in a landslide. In 1916, he one his party’s nomination on the third ballot. He nearly defeated incumbent president Woodrow Wilson for the presidency. Hughes performed so well in 1916, that many expected his renomination, but he chose not to be a candidate. He wasn’t a nominee again until 1928, but he didn’t get much attention, since Herbert Hoover was the popular front runner.

======================================================================

14 – Robert La Follette

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: B
Charisma: B
Integrity: A
Party Leadership: C
Party Support: D
Electability: C
Ambition: A
Vision: A

La Follette is arguably America’s most famous progressive politician. He’s also considered one of the 20th centuries greatest US Senators. During his service he fought ferociously for civil rights, labor rights, civil service reform, primary elections. He also opposed entry into World War I. The primary difference between Teddy Roosevelt’s progressivism and  La Follette’s is that Roosevelt believed it could only be accomplished at the federal level, while La Follette preferred progressive measures to be made at the local level (“The Wisconsin Idea”).

La Follette entered the US House for Wisconsin from 1885-1891. He was governor in 1901-1906, before appointing himself to the US Senate. He stayed in the senate until his death in 1925.

La Follette was a candidate in five elections: 1908, 1912, 1916, 1920 and 1924. In 1908, Taft won the nomination overwhelmingly. In 1912, La Follette won two states in the primaries, but Teddy Roosevelt, who was running on a progressive platform, drained most of La Follette’s votes. In 1916 and 1920, he failed to catch on outside of Wisconsin. However, in 1924, he came in second against the conservative incumbent Calvin Coolidge. Since both parties nominated conservatives, La Follette decided to run as a 3rd party. He won Wisconsin and attracted almost 17% of the vote. He died the next year.

====================================================================

15 – Hubert Humphrey

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: B
Charisma: C
Integrity: C
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: B
Electability: B
Ambition: A
Vision: C

Humphrey was an anticommunist liberal, who was also one of the strongest advocates for civil rights. While JFK created the Peace Corps, the idea was first Humphrey’s.

He first gained prominence as a 33-year old mayor of Minneapolis in 1945. He took a senate seat in 1949 and held it until 1964, when he became LBJ’s VP.

In 1952, first term senator Humphrey was a presidential candidate at age 41. He won Minnesota, but failed to gain support elsewhere. In 1956, he was seriously considered for VP, but was not elected. In 1960, he ran for president again, but came in 6th at the convention. In 1968, as VP, he ran for the presidency for the 3rd time. While he did not enter the primaries, he was able to secure nomination at the convention, but he lost to Nixon in the general election. In 1972, he ran for president a 4th time, winning most of the primary votes, but he lost in delegates. In 1976, Humphrey declined to run for president. He died two years later.

==================================================================

16 – Robert F. Kennedy

Experience: C
Influence & political ability: C
Charisma: A
Integrity: B
Party Leadership: C
Party Support: C
Electability: B
Ambition: A
Vision: A

As senator, RFK fought for civil rights and combated poverty. While initially seen as supportive of the Vietnam War, he gradually grew to oppose it. His influence may have been far greater had he not been killed.

Kennedy reached national prominence between 1957 and 1959 when he battled corrupt union bosses, such as Jimmy Hoffa. In 1960, he was the campaign manager for his brother’s successful presidential campaign. The next year, at age 35, Kennedy was appointed attorney general by his brother, serving as John F. Kennedy’s top adviser. After JFK’s assassination, Kennedy stayed on as attorney general for LBJ.

In 1964, Kennedy was seen as a potential presidential or VP candidate. LBJ ruled out RFK, and Kennedy decided to try for a senate seat in New York, which he won.  In 1968, RFK ran for president, but he was assassinated after winning the California primary.

======================================================================

17 – Thomas Hart Benton

Experience: B
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: B
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: B
Electability: C
Ambition: C
Vision: B

Thomas Hart Benton, known as “Old Bullion” for his love of gold over paper currency, is arguably a more electable US Senator than his esteemed contemporaries Webster and Calhoun. As senator he was arguably the leading proponent of US expansionism and Jacksonian Democracy. He authored the first homestead acts, which provided cheap land for settlers willing to move Westward.

Benton served as a US Senator for Missouri from 1821 to 1851. While a preeminent member of his party, his influenced decreased in the mid-to-late 1840s as he became increasingly uneasy with slavery, despite owning slaves. He also developed into a strong Unionist, who was opposed to the ardent state’s rights view of fellow Democrat John C. Calhoun. He’s evolving views cost him his senate seat. In 1852, he was able to win a space as a US Rep for Missouri, but he lost his seat in 1854, with his vocal opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He failed in his bid for the governorship in 1856.

Benton never ran for president, but he was arguably the experienced, forward thinking moderate that should have been a nominee for the Democrats at the time.

=======================================================================

18 – Daniel Webster

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: D
Integrity: A
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: C
Electability: D
Ambition: B
Vision: A

Webster, who was originally a US Rep for New Hampshire, would ultimately become famous as a US Senator for Massachusetts. Just as John C. Calhoun was the icon for the interests for the Deep South, Webster became the icon for the interest of New England. In both cases, despite their nationwide fame, they were both only regional favorites. Yet, Webster, like Calhoun, had profound abilities and advantageous experience for the oval office.

He won his first election to the US House of Representatives for New Hampshire as a Federalist in 1812, and he quickly opposed war and supported the interests of mercantile New England. In 1817, he left Congress and moved to Massachusetts, where he was elected as a US Rep for that state from 1823-1827. Between 1827 and 1852, he served both in the US Senate and twice as secretary of state. He was twice offered the VP spot on the Whig ticket, turning down William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor, both of whom died in office.

Webster did not run for the presidency until 1836, when he was one of four Whigs running in the general election as part of a hair-brained strategy to take down Martin Van Buren in different sections of the country. Webster performed well in Massachusetts. He attempted a presidential run again in 1848, but he was defeated by the politically naive Zachary Taylor for the nomination. He made one last run for the presidency in 1852, but he failed to get nominated again. He died before election day.

======================================================================

19 – John C. Calhoun

Experience: A
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: B
Integrity: C
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: C
Electability: D
Ambition: B
Vision: A

Calhoun began as an ardent nationalist, supporting some programs he’d later disavow, such as federally funded infrastructural improvements and high tariffs. Over time, he became the icon for state’s rights advocates, especially in the Deep South. He believed that the states had the right to nullify federal laws.

Calhoun first entered national politics in 1810 as a US Rep for South Carolina, when he was about 28 years old. By 1817, he was secretary of war. In 1824, he ran for president, but ultimately dropped out to become the VP for the eventual winner. In 1828, Andrew Jackson defeated John Quincy Adams for the presidency, but he kept Calhoun as his VP. Calhoun, like George Clinton, served two presidents as VP. However, Calhoun detested Jackson and resigned the vice presidency to join the US Senate. He remained in the US Senate until 1850, except for when he served as John Tyler’s Secretary of State.

Calhoun ran for the presidency in 1824 and 1844, failing to get nomination both times.

=================================================================

20 – Salmon P. Chase

Experience: B
Influence & political ability: A
Charisma: C
Integrity: C
Party Leadership: B
Party Support: C
Electability: D
Ambition: A
Vision: A

Chase was a member of at least six political parties, of which four of these he helped create. He was a prominent voice for abolitionism before the Civil War and something of a financial wizard.

He was twice senator of Ohio and once Ohio’s governor. He served as Abraham Lincoln’s first secretary of the treasury. In 1864, Lincoln made him the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

From 1856-1872, he was considered a nominee for president; however, he was never nominated by any party. In 1856, Chase, along with other major Republican leaders, such as William Seward, opted not to run for the presidency, since the party leaders expected to lose the election. In 1860, Chase ran against a strong field of candidates, losing to Lincoln. In 1864, Chase plotted to fight Lincoln for the nomination in the event the prolonged Civil War tarnished Lincoln’s reputation. Four years later, in 1868,  Chase, still chief justice, ran for president as a Democrat, but couldn’t get support from a party radically different from him. In 1872, he ran for unsuccessfully for president as a Liberal Republican, a party he helped created, which combined Democrats and disgruntled Republicans. He died the next year.

====================================================================

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order): William B. Allison, Thomas F. Bayard, Joe Biden, William Borah, John W. Bricker, Lewis Cass, Chris Christie*, Roscoe Conkling, William H. Crawford, John J. Crittenden, Mario Cuomo, Thomas Dewey, Everett Dirksen, Bob Dole, Benjamin Franklin, Al Gore, Estes Kefauver, Gary Hart, Jack Kemp, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, William Knowland, Henry Cabot Lodge Sr., Huey P. Long, William Gibbs McAdoo, John McCain, Eugene McCarthy, Thomas Brackett Reed, Nelson Rockefeller, Mitt Romney, Elihu Root, Horatio Seymour, Al Smith, Adlai Stevenson, Charles Sumner, Samuel J. Tilden, Robert Wagner, Earl Warren.

In addition to these names, dozens of others were considered, but rejected immediately.

*Some may be puzzled by the inclusion of Chris Christie. In the 2012 election, and before the scandals emerged for the 2016 election, he was arguably one of the strongest candidates in recent times. He chose to sit out of the 2012 race despite being a favorite heading into that election. The pre-scandal Christie was arguably a much stronger candidate than McCain or Romney were as candidates.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s