Many of our presidents knew each other personally and were friends with one another. These friendships opened new political opportunities that wouldn't have otherwise existed, significantly shaping their mutual careers. They provided important continuity between administrations, helping practices and ideas transcend generations. In short, friendships between U.S. presidents have changed the course of history.
The warm and convivial friendship between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft bolstered their careers and ultimately led each to the White House. Tragically, a bruised ego and political cat-fight fractured this once close friendship as they battled one another with shocking vitriol during the 1912 presidential campaign. In a three-way race both Taft and Roosevelt lost to Woodrow Wilson. Theirs was a warm friendship and sad rivalry that shaped the landscape of the nation and the world. Through it all, Taft had the bigger heart and Roosevelt the bigger ego. In their post-presidency years, they experienced a limited reconciliation, although their relationship was never the same as it had been in the early years of the friendship. Taft openly wept at TR's funeral.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and newly-minted Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson formed a friendship of political expediency. They were both master politicians and thrived in the presence of one another. FDR might not have won a third term without the friendship and campaign fundraising of Johnson, and LBJ's budding political career could have been cut short without FDR's intervention to stop an IRS investigation.
There have been other significant friendships between presidents that have shaped our history including but not limited to the following that will hopefully be the subject of a future book:
- Soldier and Bookworm: George Washington and James Madison
- Confronter and Harmonizer: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
- Friends and Political Partners: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
- Father and Son: John Adams and John Quincy Adams
- Great Engineer and the Man from Missouri: Herbert Hoover and Harry S Truman
- Loveless Political Marriage: Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon
- Tricky Dick and Boy Scout: Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford
- Rivalry and Reconciliation: Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter
- Poppy and Bozo: George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton
May the stories of presidential friendships in this book inspire us and our leaders to intentionally cultivate relationships that transcend politics. Friendships change our lives and the course of history.
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About the Author
PresidentialHistory.com includes an award-winning blog (PR Newswire for Journalists, Beyond Bylines selected it as their top "Presidential Blogs We Love" in February 2018). In addition to resources about presidential sites, books, and various links, his website includes a popular Presidential History News video series. These short and fun videos recreate and imagine what it would look like if a modern television news anchor reported on key events in presidential history.
Mike has been interviewed by and quoted in a variety of national and international media outlets including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Reader's Digest, Associated Press, Today.com, Bloomberg BNA, HuffPost, and BBC. He is an opinion contributor to TheHill.com and History News Network.
He is a member of the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association. He participated in the Siena College Research Institute's 2018 and 2022 Survey of U.S. Presidents, ranking presidential performance.
Mike has undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration (University of Puget Sound), and a Master of Divinity degree (Fuller Theological Seminary).
Table of Contents
Politician and Judge
Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft 9
Master and Pup
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson 53
About the Author 111