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Pick the Good One

In a new book on ranking the Presidents:

A key lesson of the book is that historians tend to give high marks to an “activist” presidency without judging whether the activism had good or ill effects. Take Andrew Jackson, a dynamic leader who almost always figures in the historical Top Ten. But in Jackson’s own Farewell Address, in 1837, he cites as his three main accomplishments: destroying the Bank of the United States, forcibly evicting Indian tribes from the lands granted them by treaty and preventing South Carolina from nullifying federal law. “Two out of three were clearly mistakes, and shouldn’t gain much credit,” Mr. Felzenberg drily says, granting the rightness of only the antinullification policy.

The first sentence is spot on. But of Jackson’s three accomplishments only the first is right. The second and third are abominations. A review of the book is in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal.

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