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Too Much Eggnog and Presidential Rankings
The cadets of West Point got their eggnog-on. Take a minute to read how the Christmas celebration got out of hand and the next round of presidential rankings as an extra treat!
The United States Military Academy was founded in 1802 after President Jefferson declared the establishment of an educational institution for America's future army leaders. Sitting strategically on top of the Hudson River in New York, West Point is a vital national asset, shaping our distinguished combat heroes.
In that spirit, we remember that on this day, December 24, 1826, the cadets at West Point tried to burn it to the ground in an epic rage featuring too much eggnog.
The story begins about a week earlier when four cadets were partying at a local tavern. They almost got into a fight with the owners overtaking a barrel of whiskey and returning to the academy. They ended up purchasing the booze from another tavern and recruited fellow students who served as guards to help them sneak it in.
There were two parties going on by Christmas Eve, the official one in the south barracks and the unofficial one in the north barracks. Whiskey and eggnog were served in the north. Boring wine and beer were served in the south, which served as the dignified, official celebration, despite the fact alcohol was banned.
Things started harmless enough. Cadets in the north barracks got loud, and their superior officer checked on what the noise was about. Finding a bunch of drunk cadets spread out all over the room, the hall monitor lectured them to shut the front door and go to bed.
The Hall monitor goes back to bed, only to be roused again by repeated knocking on his door, when each time he looked to see who it was, no one was there. Finally catching one in the hall, fighting then erupted out of the blue as a drunk cadet descended on the officer. The commotion caused more drunk cadets to rally behind their brother.
Shots were fired. Windows were broken. About 20 cadets were blitzed on the spiked eggnog, and a few hours in, the sober cadets had enough. The riot was squashed when they stepped in and easily overtook their inebriated opposition. Miraculously, no one was killed. The next day formation was called, and I’m sure that was fun for everyone.
Of the 21 cadets primarily involved in what has been called the Grog Riots, 19 were convicted and expelled, although five of them were able to be reinstated and graduated later. The two that weren't charged, one ended up being an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, while the other went on to become the one and only president of Confederate States of America. Also, interesting note, the future General of the Army of Northern Virginia testified in two cases, and I'm not sure if he testified favorably or unfavorably. I’m sure he did it with class.
Okay, we got rankings to get to, so let's jump in!
7: Teddy Roosevelt
2017 Ranking: 12
2019 Ranking: 11
2021 C-SPAN Ranking: 4
Term – September 14, 1901– March 4, 1909
Roosevelt is one of five presidents on Mount Rushmore, and that's because TedDog did many good things. He busted up monopolies, was a conservationist creating a national parks service, and helped broker an end to the Japanese/Russian War. We like the Panama Canal, right? Ted made that happen.
He expanded the Navy, which was good when we did about a century earlier. Only this time, we sent the Navy into Asia. Fast forward a century and a half, and how has that proposition been going?
Roosevelt had a great relationship with his Secretary of War, William Taft, who not coincidentally spent time as the Governor of the Philippines. Yes, those Philippines. Roosevelt groomed Taft to take his place, which he did in 1909, only to have Taft upset Teddy for his style of governing and, in 1912, ran against Taft, ultimately letting this dude take the White House. Good times.
Why did I rank him here?
I love Roosevelt's regulation. We are experiencing the same need for tech, wildly consolidated industries wielding too much power and not enough for the people to balance it out. He'll never be a top-five president to me because I didn't particularly appreciate how he changed the way of life for the Japanese. Read The Imperial Cruise by James Bradley if you get the chance.
6: Harry S. Truman
2017 Ranking: 7
2019 Ranking: 6
2021 C-SPAN Ranking: 6
Term – April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
Truman oversaw the Marshall Plan, which provided $13 Billion in economic aid to Western European countries after World War II. From 1948 till 1952, Europe experienced its fastest period of growth in history, and every similar program since has been compared to this incredible initiative.
Truman did not seek Congressional approval for the Korean War, instead gained approval from the United Nations. This decision backfired when the popularity of the war waned, and legislators rightfully assessed the blame to Truman. Truman had a lot of corruption in his administration, particularly around the IRS.
George W. Bush has compared himself to Truman in defense of his ill-fated plan to invade Iraq, and Bush has claimed history will judge him favorably, like Truman in the Korean War. Interestingly, Truman fired General MacArthur for failures of that war, while Secretary Rumsfeld was allowed to resign with great fanfare from the White House, despite the failure of that war.
Why did I rank him here?
Truman's efforts for racial equality in the government and military are admirable. Despite opposition, and ultimate failure to get anything meaningful passed, Truman laid the foundation that it was only a matter of when, not if, the United States would correct inequality. I also loved the motto "The Buck Stops Here" and the president's responsibility for the decisions he makes. Remember not so long ago, the guy in the White House who took no responsibility for anything. There are some people who wish he was back there.
Merry Christmas! Don't drink too much eggnog. My paternal grandfather used to ask for whiskey in his. I never once saw the man drink a sip of alcohol, except when Christmas rolled around and served eggnog. I like eggnog, but I've never put whiskey in it because it sounds gross.
If you have a favorite holiday drink, please, share it below! I love Christmas Ale. Great Lakes Christmas Ale, specifically, but will take any Christmas Ale if offered. Be well!