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Most libertarian US presidents

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sirmonty posted on Tue, Jan 27 2009 9:43 AM

Out of curiosity, who does Mises.org think are the 5 most libertarian presidents the US has ever had?

 

Obviously, none of them were 100%, but if you had to choose, who would they be?

 

EDIT:  Also, who do you feel are the top 5 least libertarian?

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Cool Cal.

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Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Grover Cleveland would probably be the top three. However, I'm not sure about who would be the other two.

Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found.

          - Edmund Burke

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eliotn replied on Tue, Jan 27 2009 9:52 AM

sirmonty:

EDIT:  Also, who do you feel are the top 5 least libertarian?

Include FDR in this list.

Schools are labour camps.

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Sphairon replied on Tue, Jan 27 2009 10:05 AM

sirmonty:
EDIT:  Also, who do you feel are the top 5 least libertarian?

I'd go for George Washington on that one. He might have been a heroic fighter in the War of Independence, but he paved the way for (or at least did nothing to prevent) central government with an iron fist, corporate fascism and government-enforced puritanism, all with one measure: the "tax on distilled spirits and carriages".

Even if he himself seems to have played a minor role in instituting the tax, he ordered the very troops that were assigned to crush the tax resistance. He set the precedent. All the tyranny thereafter could point to "libertarian Washington" for justification.


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sirmonty replied on Tue, Jan 27 2009 10:06 AM

What I have for the best are:  Calvin Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and Grover Cleveland, but I can't think of a fifth one offhand.

For the worst I have:  Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and Abraham Lincoln so far.

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sirmonty replied on Tue, Jan 27 2009 10:07 AM

Sphairon:

sirmonty:
EDIT:  Also, who do you feel are the top 5 least libertarian?

I'd go for George Washington on that one. He might have been a heroic fighter in the War of Independence, but he paved the way for (or at least did nothing to prevent) central government with an iron fist, corporate fascism and government-enforced puritanism, all with one measure: the "tax on distilled spirits and carriages".

Even if he himself seems to have played a minor role in instituting the tax, he ordered the very troops that were assigned to crush the tax resistance. He set the precedent. All the tyranny thereafter could point to "libertarian Washington" for justification.

 

Good point.

 

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liberty student:

Cool Cal.

2nd.  I'm considering on studying Coolidge further to see if he stands up to scrutiny.

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He was by no means perfect, but he did expose Hoover for the idiot he was prior to Hoover ramping up the Depression, by all accouts Coolidge was a modest and humble, hard working man, and the last laissez-faire President.

The knocks on him that I can see are that he he presided over the Roaring 20s, and thus a massive inflationary period, but really one pretty much presides over inflation or deflation under a central bank, the seeds for such are usually sown earlier than any one or two terms served.

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Answered (Not Verified) Mark B. replied on Tue, Jan 27 2009 11:17 AM
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The top LEAST libertarian are easy.

1.  Lincoln - Classic authoritarian.

2.  FDR - Again, very authoritarian.

3.  Wilson - Again, authoritarian.

4.  Theodore Roosevelt - authoritarian

5.  George W. Bush - authoritarian

It should be no great suprise that these 5 also make my list of worst Presidents, with 1, 2, 3 and 4 being the same on both lists.  Bush being tied for 7th. :)

 

While none were truly libertarian, the closest to libertarians were likely:

1.  Jefferson

2.  Madison

3.  van Buren

4.  Cleveland

5.  Coolidge

Obviously, these men all had their faults, but were the closest we have had to true libertarians.

 

liberty student:

He was by no means perfect, but he did expose Hoover for the idiot he was prior to Hoover ramping up the Depression, by all accouts Coolidge was a modest and humble, hard working man, and the last laissez-faire President.

The knocks on him that I can see are that he he presided over the Roaring 20s, and thus a massive inflationary period, but really one pretty much presides over inflation or deflation under a central bank, the seeds for such are usually sown earlier than any one or two terms served.

It would be interesting to hypothetize was might have happened had Coolidge run for reelection in 1928.  He would likely have handled the Panic of 1928 properly as Harding handled the Panic of 1921.  No Hoover New Deal.  No FDR, thus no FDR New Deals.  Without a world wide depression, Hitler may never have come to power, thus no World War II.

Coolidge once said of Hoover, "That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad."

If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.
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Mark B.:

The top LEAST libertarian are easy.

1.  Lincoln - Classic authoritarian.

2.  FDR - Again, very authoritarian.

3.  Wilson - Again, authoritarian.

4.  Theodore Roosevelt - authoritarian

5.  George W. Bush - authoritarian

It should be no great suprise that these 5 also make my list of worst Presidents, with 1, 2, 3 and 4 being the same on both lists.  Bush being tied for 7th. :)

 IMHO, Wilson has to be the worst. Federal Reserve. WWI, anti-civil liberty crackdown, centralization, progressivism. Also the impact of WWI is the Versailles treaty which in turn set the stage for FDR in WWII. Also the Fed created the Panic of 1928 which brought FDR to power and birthed the final welfare state as we now know it.  Lincoln's war was equally horrible but atleast he did have the good consequence of eliminating slavery and there was still room for laissez-fairists post-Lincoln. After the crash by WILSON's Fed, no such room was left. A combination of his War and his Fed's depression brought communis, fascism and Nazism into power. Wilson is the worst. He is the father, or "fuhrer" if you will, of the 20th Century, the Century when the world turned away from a gradual move towards the individual with some exceptions to a gradaul move towards the economic and social collective.

Mark B.:

While none were truly libertarian, the closest to libertarians were likely:

1.  Jefferson

2.  Madison

3.  van Buren

4.  Cleveland

5.  Coolidge

 

 I would change it as such:

 Cleveland

Jefferson

Van Buren

Harding-He was the one who actually handled the 21 panic so well, brought the troops home from Haiti and cut Wilson's huge income taxes. In addition, he let the socialist slime Debs go free after Wilson held the old man in a cage for his thought crime. 

Coolidge

 

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I don't necessarily see how Jackson can be on this list. Sure, he had a couple of good things, the bank, hard money, and some state rights. But he was a huge expansionist in terms of presidential power. If it wasn't for the bank he would be a bad president for me. He just gets average because of that IMO.

Van Buren was the real laissez faire guy.

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I think Jackson wasn't very nice to the Indians either.

I just wanted to make sure Cal got on the list.  I'm a big fan.  Smile

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sirmonty replied on Tue, Jan 27 2009 12:32 PM

You are right, Jackson certainly wasn't perfect (the way he treated the Indians was pretty terrible), but he had many policies that we Austrians would certainly support.

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