Constitution Daily

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Presidential Madness (Rounds 3 & 4): Secretary of war and defense

March 27, 2013 by NCC Staff


United_States_Department_of_Defense_Seal.svgOur two-week contest to pick the best presidential Cabinet ever continues with two matchups involving the men who led America through war and peace.

Join Presidential Madness!

At Constitution Daily, madness in March doesn’t just apply to the NCAA—it’s also an awesome excuse to give the bracket treatment to the executive branch of government. This year, it's all about the presidential Cabinet.

Get into Presidential Madness by downloading a bracket [PDF] and predicting who you think will make it to the finals as best Cabinet member of all time. Check in and vote each day at Constitution Daily for the latest round of polling.

Round 3: Secretary of war (pre-WWII)

The War Department predated the Constitution, and its leaders headed the Army and were third in line to the presidency. It was replaced by the Defense Department after World War II.

1. John C. Calhoun. Served 1817 – 1825. As James Monroe’s secretary of war, Calhoun tried to modernize the military and expand its ability to function nationally.

2. Edwin Stanton. Served 1862 – 1869. Stanton managed the Civil War effort for President Abraham Lincoln, and his later feud with Andrew Johnson led to Johnson’s impeachment.

3. William Howard Taft. Served 1904 – 1908. Taft served President Theodore Roosevelt in important matters in Panama and the Philippines, and as a de facto vice president.

4. Henry Stimson. Served 1911 – 1913, 1940 – 1945. Stimson had two tours at the War Department, including managing a 13-million-member military during World War II, and overseeing the atomic bomb program.

Pick your favorite in our polls below, and check back each day to see a new Presidential Madness vote!

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

Round 4: Secretary of defense (post-WWII)

The Defense Department grew out of World War II; its leaders had to manage a complex, global military force.

1. Melvin Laird. Served 1969 – 1973. A former congressman, Laird served under Richard Nixon, supervised the winding down of the Vietnam War, and ended the draft.

2. Caspar Weinberger. Served 1981 – 1987. Weinberger lead the Defense Department for Ronald Reagan and oversaw a massive effort to build up the military as the Soviet Union crumbled.

3. Donald Rumsfeld. Served 1975 – 1977, 2001 – 2006. He first led the military under Gerald Ford and returned to the Defense Department to head the post-9/11 efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

4. Robert Gates. Served 2006 – 2011. Having served under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Gates was known for his bipartisan leadership and broad government and academic background.

[polldaddy poll="6993990"]

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


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