Constitution Daily

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Hamilton named as best Cabinet member, but who is the worst?

April 9, 2013 by NCC Staff


The Burr-Hamilton Duel
The Burr-Hamilton Duel.

Constitution Daily readers have spoken: Alexander Hamilton is their favorite Cabinet member of all time. But who will they pick as the worst presidential adviser in history?

Hamilton won in the finals of our annual Presidential Madness contest, besting former vice president John Adams in a battle of George Washington’ key Cabinet members.

Hamilton, the nation’s first treasury secretary, and Adams, its first vice president, were picked after 10 days of voting that selected the following “dream team” Cabinet:

Vice president (historical): John Adams

Vice president (modern): Al Gore

Secretary of state (historical): Thomas Jefferson

Secretary of state (modern): Hillary Clinton

Secretary of war (historical): Henry Stimson

Secretary of defense (modern): Caspar Weinberger

Attorney general: Robert Kennedy

Secretary of the treasury: Alexander Hamilton

But now, we ask readers to do an about-face and pick the worst Cabinet member of all time. Our editorial staff has a lot of candidates for that list, too, but we narrowed it down to five people.

1. Aaron Burr. The third vice president, Burr tried to defeat his own running mate, Thomas Jefferson, in a runoff presidential election. He was later indicted for murder after he killed Hamilton in a duel.

2. John Breckinridge. The vice president under James Buchanan, Breckinridge had one thing in common with Burr: He was charged with treason. Breckinridge lost the 1860 presidential election to Abraham Lincoln and then became a Confederate army general.

3. Albert Fall. The face of the Teapot Dome scandal, the Harding administration interior secretary took bribes to let oil companies drill on government land. Fall was the first Cabinet member to do jail time because of his actions in office.

4. Robert McNamara. The defense secretary for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, McNamara’s role in the Vietnam War has long been controversial, including his depiction of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

5. James Watt. The colorful Watt was President Reagan’s first interior secretary and offended environmentalists, banned the Beach Boys from a National Mall concert, and then resigned after making inappropriate remarks about affirmative action.

You can pick your choice for worst Cabinet member ever in our poll below.

[polldaddy poll="7025382"]

Note: If you can't see the poll above, use this link:

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Hamilton named as best Cabinet member, but who is the worst?

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