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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

February 7 Presidential Losers: Rufus King

Presidential Loser #7: Rufus King, 1816

By 1816, the Federalists were in such disarray, they couldn’t even summon the organizational gumption to hold a caucus, so Rufus King, two-timer loser for VP, became the default candidate for anybody who just didn’t want to vote for Monroe.  Too bad for Rufus, theren't were many of these people, because this was the Era of Good Feelings, a strange thing since The War of 1812 had been pretty much a disaster for the US. 
All the parties involved later claimed victory, but the British had burned Washington and forced the president to flee for his life, and if war is a matter of keeping score, the Americans lost about 2,200 lives, and the British only lost about 1,600.  We did get some great songs out of the war: a lawyer named Francis Scott Key was inspired to compose a poem about the bombardment of Ft McHenry, 1  and the Battle of New Orleans inspired a pop tune by the same name in the 20th Century.  To be fair, the Battle of New Orleans was fought in extra innings since peace had already broken out, but it still elevated the stature of Andrew Jackson, and – as I have said earlier – made for a great song.  But even if the War of 1812 ended in a tie, folks were pretty content with the way things stood, so all in all, poor Rufus never had a chance.

The Result

James Monroe: 183
Rufus King: 34

1. The title of the poem was "The Defense of Fort McHenry," and it was later given the (much better) name of "The Star Spangled Banner" and set to an unsingable melody to become our national anthem.  Every school child knows the melody was originally a British drinking song, but what they don't know is what an unendurably lame drinking song.  The lyrics in part run thus:

To Anacreon in heaven where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition,
That he their inspirer and patron would be,
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian:
Voice, fiddle aud flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot!
And besides I'll instruct you like me to entwine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

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