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Which President Would Win A Fight to the Death?

Knife fight! Andrew Jackson vs. Thomas Jefferson vs. Richard Nixon vs. ...?

Leslie Loftis


February 18, 2013 - 10:00 am
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Editor’s Note: For President’s Day today we’re republishing this post from Leslie Loftis from last September, which asked a question worth pondering on a regular basis.

My children are back in school, and I am able to return to my school day routine of reading The Transom after my older set get on the bus and my twins get dressed and make their beds. Admittedly, I don’t always make it to the end of the newsletter in one sitting, but the end is the best part. After the wonky political and economic news summaries, The Transom has an interesting links section, a slightly more serious version of Debby Witt’s Odd Links at The Corner.

This gem recently greeted me: “In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every President, Who Would Win and Why?” Perhaps because I have an eight-year-old son who took to the discussion like a moth to a flame when I discussed it with his uncle and father over dinner, this struck me as a very promising history lesson plan… one that the PC/we-need-feminized-men guardians would never allow.

This is an excellent example of the type of discussion that would engage young boys (and old ones based on the comment threads) but send experts and some moms into frets of whether it promotes aggression. Boys can’t even talk about theoretical fighting. When the boys get bored, rather than face that boredom is one of aggression’s main fuel sources, we drug them and congratulate ourselves that the little girls are doing so well.

I will grant that a knife fight is a bit harsh for a school lesson, but the game is easily modified to a survival island scenario, like Christ White posted. Both posts and comments are chock full of intriguing — and highly memorable — assertions. Think of the research possibilities!

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In 1806, in a duel over an insult offered to his wife by a man named Dickinson, Andy Jackson took a bullet in the chest and still killed his man.

Perhaps another president, including Washington, GHW Bush, Teddy, Truman or any of the 19th century presidents that saw combat against Indians, Mexicans or in the Civil War may have killed men, but not in a situation where they knew that their man died, as in Jackson's case.

Grover Cleveland, while sherriff of Buffalo, NY, personally killed at least two convicted murderers, by hanging. Of course the men he executed were trussed up like turkeys and didn't have much fight in them, but it was a job he would not ask one of his subordinates to perform in his stead. Still, that is no recommendation for Grover should be go to close quarter battle with Old Hickory.

In short, while the personal valor of many of the presidents has been demonstrated to be a matter of earned pride, the only real killer in the bunch was Andrew Jackson, and I would bet on Andy for the win, with saber, pistol or knife.

2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
Obama is the only one of them who would bring a knife to a gunfight.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
I'm pretty sure Obama would send a surrogate to this little soiree'. So would Bill Clinton. Much too smart to expose themselves to that kind of plebian danger.

Watch Obama for the drone strike, though.
2 years ago
2 years ago Link To Comment
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