Today, on Presidents' Day, the National Review solicited short answers from contributors about their favorite Presidents. Washington and Lincoln, of course, feature prominently. But there is also tongue-in-cheek praise for the contributions of William Henry Harrison, who was President for only one month before dying. Jacob Sullum lifts up Harrison "because he left office before he could do much damage."
Two contributors, quite rightly, praise the underrated Chester A. Arthur, who served less than one term in office after President Garfield died. Although he was a product of New York machine politics, Arthur created the civil service system to replace the open spoils system of government employment. And after a diplomatic crisis with Chile, Arthur led the reconstruction of the badly-decayed U.S. Navy.
There is not a lot written about Arthur, compared to other Presidents. In part, this is because he had his private papers burned shortly before his death and rarely discussed personal business. Arthur did not have vain exhibitionism which has led so many modern Presidents to record their every conversation or build enormous libraries as monuments to themselves.
Which U.S. President is your favorite?