Responsibility and Leadership: Eisenhower and Montgomery

No one is perfect and with the hindsight of history, it is a simple matter to question a commander’s battlefield decision or a president’s strategic direction. Given the unmistakable reality of human imperfection, some of history’s greatest figures can be defined by how they accepted their own imperfections and failures. Specifically, comparing Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery’s and General Dwight Eisenhower’s comments regarding some of their greatest battles, two very different pictures of these two leaders emerge with respect to responsibility.

The Weight of George H.W. Bush’s War Decision

President Bush in Saudi Arabia

President Bush in Saudi Arabia

In most instances, the personal deliberations of presidents making the decision to send Americans to war are outside public knowledge. While there may be public speeches outlining the case for war, those public deliberations can differ widely from the president’s personal deliberations.

Through a series of diary entries and letters to family, however, the internal deliberations of President George H. W. Bush in the lead up to the first Gulf War can be explored. Not only do these documents illustrate the difficult decision Bush faced, they demonstrate a keen sense of humanity.

Lincoln’s Assassination From the Front Row

President Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln

History is full of emotion. From the anger present in American households after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor to the elation at hand when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon, emotion walks hand-in-hand with history.

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater is no different. Journeying through the diary of Horatio Nelson Taft provides a front row seat to the emotion experienced as a nation’s hero fell under an enemy’s gun.

Churchill’s Unneeded Wartime Letter

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill

Throughout time, it has been common for soldiers deployed to war zones to write a letter to loved ones in the event they are killed in combat. Deployed to the Western Front in World War I, this practice was followed by Winston Churchill in the aftermath of his resignation from the Admiralty.

Lincoln and the Lure of Dictatorship

George Washington reviews troops during the Whiskey Rebellion.

George Washington reviews troops during the Whiskey Rebellion.

In the nearly 226 years since the United States Constitution was ratified, America has weathered numerous storms. From the Whiskey Rebellion to September 11, crisis after crisis has been addressed. While the powers of each of the various governmental branches have fluctuated based on the demands of the situation at hand, one reality has remained constant: true dictatorial powers have never been assumed.

This is not to say, however, that such power grabs have not been suggested.

The First State Dinner

President Ulysses S. Grant

President Ulysses S. Grant

On February 11, 2014, President Obama will host a state dinner honoring French President Francois Hollande. As the official announcement for the dinner states, the diplomatic event presents “opportunities to further strengthen the U.S.-France security and economic partnership.” These goals link President Obama’s state dinner with the very first state dinner hosted by a United States’ president.

Zebulon Pike’s Instructions

Zebulon Pike in 1810.

Zebulon Pike in 1810.

President Thomas Jefferson’s June 20, 1803 instructions to Meriwether Lewis ranks among the most famous instructions given to an explorer in American history. Not only do Jefferson’s instructions showcase the personal interests of the third president of the United States, they demonstrate the national purpose of the Corps of Discovery. Significantly, Jefferson’s instructions also serve as a model for subsequent explorations of the American West.

William Clark’s Promotion

One of the many amazing aspects of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s journey across the continental United States is their shared command of the Corps of Discovery. On this topic, Stephen Ambrose noted that “[d]ivided command almost never works and is the bane of all military men, to whom the sanctity of the chain of command is basic and the idea of two disagreeing commanders in a critical situation is anathema.”

History’s Unneeded Speeches

imageEarlier this week, the British Government released a draft of a speech Queen Elizabeth was to give at the commencement of World War Three. Echoing the words of Winston Churchill during the darkest days of World War Two, the proposed speech calls upon British resolve and urges “families [to] remain united and resolute” so that “our country’s will to survive cannot be broken.”