(Bellows Falls, Vermont) -- Okay we’re down to the wire in this campaign season with just over two weeks to go. All the coverage has been very interesting (but very stressful). So today, just some fun political trivia as I venture through Vermont looking at fall colors to sooth my soul before the final campaign rush.
“Two ‘fer” – Vermont is the second least populous state in the nation behind Wyoming, but the tiny Green Mountain State has produced two presidents, Chester Arthur and Calvin Coolidge. However, both men left Vermont before ever achieving their political pinnacle. Arthur became politically active in New York; Coolidge in Massachusetts. Both ascended to the presidency after the death of their boss. Arthur after the assassination of President James Garfield; and Coolidge after the sudden death of President Warren Harding. Coolidge is buried in his hometown of Plymouth, Vermont while Arthur is buried in New York.
“Who is that Man?” -- In neighboring New Hampshire, the state highway signs feature a profile image of a famous Granite State resident. When I looked it up, I found that it was Franklin Pierce, our 14th president. Given New Hampshire’s prominence in electing U.S. Presidents, I am surprised there have not been more from here.
“Name the Original Thirteen!” – If I don’t keep current on my history, I get a bit rusty, I admit it. Being in Vermont, Hew Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts over the weekend made me wonder – which were the original 13 colonies? I know, it seems easy, but it’s not. I would have sworn Vermont was in the original 13, but it wasn’t; same with Maine, so here goes: The original 13 colonies, (flag photo above), are Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. (For the record, Vermont was originally part of New York; Maine was originally part of Massachusetts).
“New England” – Speaking of membership, there is only one clearly defined region in the United States, and that is New England. There are six states, period! Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Six – no more; no less! I mention this because someone recently tried to tell me New York was also part of New England. It ain’t. This region is clearly defined; others are nebulous. I had a co-worker once who argued that Colorado was in the Midwest. It’s not. Kansas may have a case for Midwest – albeit vague – but not Colorado. Some count Texas and Oklahoma in the South; many disagree. Again, the only unarguably defined U.S. region is New England.
“Whose da’ Boss?” – There is a lot of pride over which state has elected the most U.S. Presidents. It’s not precise, since some Presidents were born in one state; but were elected from office from another. For example, Abe Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but as a grown man, was elected President as a resident of Illinois.
“By the Original 13” – This is amazing. Our original 13 states have produced 26 of our 43 Presidents. That’s staggering. I mean in the first several decades of the country you might expect that, but 238 years later, it is still true. While many were born and elected from the original 13 colonies, some were born in New England – George W. Bush in Connecticut, and George H.W. Bush in Massachusetts, only to have been later elected from Texas. Maybe it’s about roots!
“By Region” – As a region, New England states have produced eight Presidents who either were born here, or were born and elected from one of these states. By the way, 12 or our 43 Presidents graduated from either Harvard (Massachusetts) or Yale (Connecticut), so the region’s educational influence is substantial.
“By State” – This is a trick question because some Presidents were born and elected from the same state; while others were born in one state, but grew up and were elected elsewhere. Let’s look at the two lists. States that elected the most Presidents: New York 6; Ohio 6; Virginia 5 and Massachusetts 4. Presidents by birth state: Virginia 8; Ohio 7; Massachusetts 4; and, New York 4. So, three of the original 13 states remain fertile ground for producing Presidents.
“On the Other Hand”- For all the strength Massachusetts has had in producing Presidents, it is 0 for 3 in its most recent tries. Gov. Michael Dukakis (D-MA); Sen. John Kerry (D-MA); and Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) were all nominated for President by their parties in recent years, only to lose the election. Still, Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) are considered strong prospects to be President someday, so the original 13 states continue to put forth viable candidates.
“Why All of this Matters?” – Electing Presidents is still steeped in much tradition. There seems an inclination (rational or not), that candidates born, raised, or educated in the Northeast are somehow more qualified for that office. If we tossed in Vice Presidential nominees and Presidential nominees who failed to win, the list would include an even more disproportionate number of New Englanders or candidates who hailed from the original 13 colonies. As we get ready to choose nominees in both parties for 2016, watch how this phenomenon plays out because it is still a factor
What factors are important to you in electing a President? How important are geography, history, and education? Let me know by clicking the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.
Photo courtesy: USFlagDepot.com