Our country has had its fair share of great and not-so great presidents. Then again, one who I consider to be fantastic, someone else may think the opposite. But, I think there is a simple recipe of characteristics to make a great president. In order to be a great president, one must have courage, persistence, intelligence, and charisma. The ability to Identify these characteristics in candidates will not only bring us to have a greater respect for previous presidents but also, be able to help us decide who to vote for in future elections.
Most of our presidents were courageous in one way or another, but there are a few that truly stand out among the rest. Think of how difficult it is to stand by your beliefs when your friends disagree with your view. As a president, it is even more difficult. Abraham Lincoln constantly displayed courage during his presidency. Lincoln went against half of the country when he made clear that slavery was wrong and should be abolished. Even though his ideals were rejected by many, he stood by his beliefs and made a huge impact on our country. Even before Lincoln’s inauguration, many southern states including South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, began to secede from the nation. Rather than completely giving up, Lincoln led the north in the Civil War. This war split our country in half, and even literally split some of our states. It set brother against brother and caused a great uprising in our country. With his courage, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in rebellious areas were considered free.
Another president that showed great courage was Franklin Roosevelt. After being diagnosed with polio, he continued in his political ventures, and eventually gained presidency. His wife, Eleanor, said “I think probably the thing that took most courage in his life was his mastery and his meeting of polio. I never heard him complain.” This shows how truly courageous Roosevelt was, in the midst of such pain. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, rather than freaking out and making everyone panic, Roosevelt calmly decided what we should do next. In 1940, FDR decided that we needed to help England by supplying them with whatever weapons, ammunition and money we could. This strongly aggravated liberals, isolationists, and even some of his own generals.
Another characteristic that makes a great president is persistence. This characteristic goes hand-in-hand with courage. As a president, you have to be able to learn from your mistakes, and overcome them as well. Again, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt display such persistence. Abraham Lincoln grew up very poor and had to have many jobs when he was young. But he was determined to make something of himself, so he taught himself to be a lawyer, and eventually became president.
When FDR realized that the New Deal wasn’t working how he had anticipated, he came up with a new and improved plan and was able to admit his shortcomings. Roosevelt once said, “When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” That is exactly what Roosevelt did, even while battling polio.
One more trait that a great president, or even a leader in general, must have is intelligence. Roosevelt grew up in a very wealthy family and attended the most prestigious of schools, including Harvard. Not only did he have book smarts, but wisdom too. When elected, he inherited the problems of the Great Depression and had to decide how to handle many difficult situations while in office.
In contrast, Lincoln wasn’t from a wealthy family and had to work his way to the top on his own. He only had eighteen months of formal schooling, so he was self-taught. He loved to read and write and it was his perseverance that finally got him into the White House. Like Roosevelt, Lincoln was faced with many difficult issues while in office. He had to intelligence on when to…