Last Thursday, I sorted all 43 Presidents of the United States of America into Hogwarts Houses and offered a contest: whoever wrote the best rebuttal would win a free copy of the audiobook of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot. There were some fantastic answers! If I had audiobooks for every entry, I would give you all a copy. Before listing a few of my favorites, I’d like to thank MacMillan Audio for providing said audiobook. If you’re interested, you can download a clip by clicking Marriage Plot Clip.

3rd Place – Jen Nagle:

Okay, looks like the author needs to read David McCollough’s biography on John Adams. John Adams was NOT an ambitious man, so Slytherin is right out.

Without Abigail’s encouragement that he was the right man to see things done, he would have never done a third of what he did, much less stand for President and be elected Washington’s VP. He was urged out of retirement to serve as Washington’s VP.

I cannot rave too much about David McCollough’s biography! The book is as entertaining as fiction and the HBO Mini Series was also wonderful.

Furthermore, Adams himself said the ONLY reason he passed the Alien & Sedition Acts was that he believed *his* *constituents,* the people who *elected* *him,* wanted him to pass them. It tore him up inside to sign it. But he was a President who believed that he needed to do what  he people who *elected* *him* told him to do — none of this rogue “cowboy action” that Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s Secretary of Treasury was demanding. Hamilton was trying to go for an *invasion* of France and Adams would have none of it… which led to a lot of the attacks on Adams. Adams did not believe in political parties and he did not believe he should use his Veto power as much as it is used in Modern times. THAT in itself explains the passage of the Alien & Sedition Acts.

He faced down some incredibly dangerous times with the help of his friends — and his dearest friend, his wife, Abigail. Gryffindor.

The author is correct in suggesting that I have not read David McCullough’s biography. I agree with some of what’s said here, but from my own reading (I’m largely indebted to Gordon S. Wood’s Empire of Liberty), I found Adams to be obsessed with power (he very much wanted to model the presidency on the absolutist court of France) and class (it’s not for nothing that he called Hamilton “the bastard son of a Scottish peddler.”) Also, big time Slytherin points for passing the Alien & Sedition Acts and for desiring that America be a mixed republic of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Finally, I very strongly disagree that Adams wasn’t an ambitious man.

2nd Place – mmailiw:

I have to disagree with your assignment of Franklin Delano Roosevelt into Gryffindor House.  First of all, if he were a Gryffindor, I’d imagine that he likely would have been trumpeting his polio and inability to walk with pride (“look at what I can do despite it”); instead, he acted in the interest of self preservation by concealing his condition so well that nearly everyone thought he could still walk.

Looking at this, one could already be thinking of Slytherin as his correct house – and there are quite a few other things that support this as well.  For example, Salazar Slytherin always prized “a certain disregard for the rules” in his students – and what could represent that more than changing the unwritten rules to benefit himself and his own ends?  (Think about his holding the presidency for four terms instead of just two… as well as his trying to stack the Supreme Court with more justices until two of the ones already on the court switched the way they voted to give him a majority!)

Also, we can move onto his Fireside Chats – all of which simply strike me as being in the persuasive tone of a Slytherin (“the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” seems leonine from a distance until you realize what he’s getting at:  a successful plan to jumpstart the economy by convincing others to have confidence in the banks instead of simply hoarding the money).

Finally, let us look at FDR’s tastes in food, which was a pretty intense issue between FDR and his wife Eleanor; Eleanor’s choice of White House chef, Henrietta Nesbitt, consistently served food that was not up to his standards… to the point that he would regularly sneak out to his yacht on Fridays to have delicious seafood and meats instead (and that he joked that his goal for his fourth term was to fire Mrs. Nesbitt)!  This intense love for creature comforts reminds me a lot more of the Slytherin Head of House Horace Slughorn (who had very specific tastes for delicious foods, among other things) than anyone else – so I view this as a point for Sorting him into Slytherin as well.

I have to say, this is pretty persuasive. In the first draft of this list, I had FDR in Slytherin for many of these reasons (I flirted with the idea of sorting each term into a different house) but was talked out of it. I ended up moving him from Slytherin house to Gryffindor, because I decided that 11-year-old FDR would have demanded to be placed there, thinking of himself as a man of bold action. In a way, I think he was probably a Gryffindor with a heart of Slytherin. Incidentally, that makes him the opposite of LBJ, who is a Slytherin with a heart of Gryffindor.

1st Place – Janet Potter:

Let’s talk about John Tyler.

Tyler was an ambitious politician. In the messy world of political parties in the 1830s, he decided to be a Whig more because he violently disliked the Democratic party bigwigs Jackson and Van Buren than because he actually agreed with Whig policy. As was usually the case, presidential candidates would choose a Southern VP to balance the ticket, so when William Henry Harrison’s campaign was like “you’re a Whig, right?” he was like “uhhhh, sure, if it gets me to the White House.”

Then WHH died, and there was no law saying who took over in the event of a president’s death. “Guys, it’s me, I’ll take over,” said ambitious John Tyler. “Really? Perhaps we should check the books on that, let Congress talk about it?” “No need,” says Tyler, “I’ll just be president now.”

What does the new Whig president do? He vetoes every Whig bill that comes through Congress. “Hey! We thought you were a Whig! We got you elected!” say the Whigs. “Whatever,” says John Tyler.

His cabinet resigns en masse. The Whigs officially denounce him. He is called the traitor president, the “president without party.” He is now on the record as disliking both the Democrats and the Whigs. You can guess how much he got done. Oh, and was he a flaming racist? Did he openly insult the emperor of China? Did he refuse to meet with Hawaiian emissaries because they looked too black? Why, of course!

After his term as president, had he had enough of being a dick to Washington? No! He was elected to the Confederate Congress. I’ll say that again, THE CONFEDERATE CONGRESS.

He died in 1862, and remains the only American president whose death wasn’t officially mourned in Washington.

John Tyler is in Slytherin or I am a koala bear.

You are not a koala bear, Janet. John Tyler is a Slytherin! What a dick! What a comment! Even though you lose 2 points for not mentioning Tippecanoe or implicating Tyler in WHH’s death. Congratulations, Janet!

This was really fun! Thanks to everyone who read and commented!

(Pictured: Jonathan Franzen, 46th President, Slytherin)


 

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