James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Greatest President

Jeffrey Rogers Hummel argues that it is Martin van Buren. The case is compelling: van Buren averted war with Mexico by refusing to annex Texas, and refused to "liberate" Canada even when there were uprisings in both upper and lower Canada.

When there was a financial panic, van Buren called Congress in session to cut taxes and spending (between 10 and 20% over four years). And he created an independent Treasury, which would receive and pay out only gold and silver. Banks were completely unregulated at the federal level, the money supply shrank, there was rampant deflation, and yet production - i.e., the economy grew. He lost re-election in 1840 and lost the Democratic nomination in 1844 because he refused to annex Texas unless on good terms with Mexico.

The warmongers triumphed, as they always do; we fought a war over Texas, conquered the West, and heightened sectional bitterness that led to secession and war.

All because they refused to follow van Buren's principles and leadership. Hummel's lecture was too brief to cite van Buren's mistakes and flaws, but did indicate that van Buren lived up to the principles of the American founding better than any other President.

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