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What are you famous for, Mr. President?

By Way Yu

Goodbye, Bubba, it was nice knowing ya.

That Texas cowboy known as Dubya steps into the White House after the January inauguration. As George W. Bush wipes his shoes on the welcome doormat, you can be sure he'll be pronouncing phrases like "bringing back family values."

But no matter what the Republicans and news organizations are saying, it remains to be seen how history will view Bill Clinton. His eight years as American President #42 are still up in the air as far as history books are concerned: Will history remember the prosperous era enjoyed under his administration, or the Monica Lewinsky scandal? Are his Oval Office accomplishments to be overshadowed by his personal flaws? Only time will tell.

History is a funny thing: it's written by scholars but shaped by time. And we, the public, often pick and choose what to remember and honor. Past presidents are often memorialized by the masses for just a few of their accomplishments. George Washington (1789-1797), for example, is known only for the two positions he held: general in the War of Independence against Great Britain and later, as the first President of the United States. The stuff in between is just that: stuff.

And the other Presidents, what is their fame or notoriety? In celebration of the recent passing of the presidential torch from Clinton to Bush, here is a quick snapshot of how some of the more well-known presidents are accounted for in history:

John Adams (2nd President, 1797-1801) and John Quincy Adams (6th, 1825-1829). Known as the grandfather-grandson team. John Adams was a great statesman of his time, and was known to be a rival of his successor.

Thomas Jefferson (3rd, 1801-1809) - He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and as 3rd President, remained a strong supporter of individual rights. However, his political views have recently come under scrutiny as evidence of his support on slavery has surfaced.

James Madison (4th, 1809-1817) - The "Father of the Constitution" and essayist in the "Federalist Papers," Madison is famous for his eloquent and persuasive political writings.

Andrew Jackson (7th, 1829-1837) - A widely popular president, Jackson's politics were known as "Jacksonian Democracy," which gave birth to the Democratic Party.

Zachary Taylor (12th, 1849-1850) - He died after serving only 16 months in office.

Abraham Lincoln (16th, 1861-1865) - The man whose profile graces the penny. Many would argue that he is the most prominent president in US history because of his Emancipation Declaration abolished slavery. He was also the first president to be assassinated.

Andrew Johnson (17th, 1865-1869) - Became President after Lincoln's assassination. His policies towards helping rebuild the South after the Civil War ended angered many, and made him a political target. He is remembered as being the only president to have been tried for impeachment.

Theodore Roosevelt (26th, 1901-1909) - The President who changed American politics by expanding the powers of the President in both foreign and domestic affairs. His other greatest legacy is conservation and the protection of national monuments and parks.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (32nd, 1933-1945) - The only president to be elected to four terms of office. He helped America overcome the Depression with The New Deal, a set of initiatives that mixed socialism with democracy. (Social Security was born under his administration.) During his last term, he led America through WW2.

John F. Kennedy (35th, 1961-1963) - His handsome, young looks and idealism brought hope to the American public. The line "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country," is possibly the only inauguration speech ever to be both remembered and repeated. Unfortunately, contributing to his fame was his assassination during a parade in Dallas. JFK is also known for his beautiful family and stylish wife, Jackie O.

Richard M. Nixon (37th, 1969-1974) - His greatest accomplishments were in the foreign arena, where he pulled American troops out of Vietnam and strengthened relations with China and the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, his presidential actions were tainted by the Watergate Scandal. He is remembered as the only President to have resigned from office.

Ronald Reagan (40th, 1981-1989) - A former movie star, he received the most electoral votes ever in a presidential election. Sadly, most of us know him as the President who has Alzheimer's disease.

There you have it.

All presidents no doubt had many great achievements during their terms of office. But only with distance can the public truly determine how well a president lead the country. So Bill, thank you for playing and you'll get your scores in a few years. George W. Bush, good luck. Now, get ready for to show us your stuff...

Sources: Brittanica Online

Way Yu graduated with a dual degree literature and history major from Claremont McKenna College last May. Now, she's working at a dot-com and doing the daily grind.

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