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Presidential Misdeeds

Fierce debate among early political factions led to many allegations of misdeeds and abuse of power in Washington's administration, but there was no serious misconduct.

Historians have reached no consensus in their interpretations of the administrations of George Washington and John Adams, but two statements can be made with little fear of contradiction. Read more >>

The Senate's inquiry into a Kennedy Administration defense contract is considered one of the longest and most extensive congressional investigations ever undertaken.

The Kennedy administration took office under a small political cloud. Allegations of fraud and vote-stealing filled the air in the days following John F. Read more >>

There was widespread misconduct in Harry Truman’s administration, but historians discount the president's responsibility. 

Harry S. Truman became president of a country much changed from the pre-war America of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Relative prosperity born of war had replaced depression, and government had turned its attention from combatting hardship to underwriting an immense military enterprise. Read more >>

Though no scandals touched Eisenhower personally, the media showed occasional interest in the number of gifts he received.

Because of the heavy barrage of criticism the Republicans had directed at the scandals in the Truman administration during the 1952 campaign, both the executive and legislative branches were particularly sensitive to the issue of corruption in government for the duration of Dwight D. Read more >>

To many voters—some Republicans as well as most Democrats—Hayes's title to the presidency was a fraudulent one.

Rutherford B. Hayes entered the White House under the cloud of the disputed election of 1876 and the ensuing electoral crisis, and the cloud did not dissipate during his four years in office. Read more >>

Ulysses S. Grant had to respond to more charges of misconduct that took the form of financial corruption than any other president.

In addition to cabinet m

Did the James Buchanan know his Secretary of War, a future Confederate general, sent 110,000 muskets to armories in the South in 1860?

Many historians point to the presidency of James Buchanan as the nadir of antebellum public ethics. All of the trends of corruption at the lower ranks of the government seemed to culminate in three years, and the rate of exposure increased dramatically. Read more >>

Monroe was seen guilty of impropriety, not wrongdoing. But his reputation suffered.

President Monroe twice diverted public funds for private use (probably to cover expenses for his travel to try to reunite the country after the War of 1812.) Read more >>

Prior to Watergate, Harding's bribery ring was regarded as the greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics.

Ultimately, three of Harding's appointees, including a cabinet officer, went to jail. Two other officials committed suicide. Read more >>

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