Who Were the Presidents’ Favorite Presidents?
By Mark Mancini
Everyone’s got their role models, and world leaders are no exception. Among U.S. presidents, many—including these eight—have professed a deep admiration for some of their predecessors. Which commander-in-chief would top your list?
1. James Buchanan
Born during George Washington’s administration, Buchanan regarded the first president as his personal hero.
2. Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln took Washington fanboyism to a whole new level. In Honest Abe’s mind, the man was more than some great leader or national hero. Washington, he felt, also deserved to be remembered as nothing less than a completely flawless person. “It makes human nature better to believe that one human being was perfect,” Lincoln reasoned, “… that human perfection is possible.”
3. Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy admired Abraham Lincoln so much that, during his 1905 inaugural ceremony, the “Bull Moose” wore a ring that contained an actual lock of hair from the 16th president. When Roosevelt’s first daughter, Alice, happened to be born on Lincoln’s birthday (February 12th), he was positively elated by the coincidence.
4. Harry S Truman
Having grown up in Jackson County, Missouri, Old Hickory always held a special place in Truman’s heart. Thanks to his lobbying efforts, a dynamic statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback was mounted before the local courthouse, where it still stands today (a miniature version later went on display in Truman’s Oval Office). The 33rd president also admired Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Polk, Cleveland, Wilson, and both Roosevelts.
5. Dwight Eisenhower
Who did Ike like? Washington. Eisenhower began admiring his fellow general-turned-president at a very young age, and devoured several texts on his revolutionary battle strategies. He was also quite captivated by the lives of Julius Caesar, Socrates, and Hannibal.
6. Lyndon Johnson
Johnson campaigned so energetically for FDR’s social programs in 1937 that he dropped 40 pounds while doing so. Later, he got to meet his idol when Roosevelt visited the Lone Star state shortly thereafter. During their chat, 28-year-old Johnson (ambitious as always) straight-up asked the president for an Appropriations Committee post, a request FDR politely dodged.
7. Richard Nixon
Even as a young boy of 11, Nixon waxed poetic about Abraham Lincoln, calling him a “martyred patriot” in his childhood diary. While running for office, Nixon frequently called upon his Republican colleagues to help unify the party as Lincoln once had.
8. Ronald Reagan
The Gipper was quite fond of Calvin Coolidge. “I happen to be an admirer of silent Cal,” he said, “and believe he has been badly treated by history… I’ve done considerable reading and researching of his presidency. He served his country well and accomplished much.” Reagan’s decision to replace the Cabinet Room’s long-standing Truman portrait with Coolidge’s likeness caused a brief media uproar in 1980.