At 3Bros, we are always happy to take a moment to contemplate or to celebrate something good. In this case, it’s Presidents’ Day, set aside to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Grab a stroopwafel and join us as we reflect on this day during our coffee break.
It is really remarkable that the presidency has survived as an elected position. While the president has great powers, the peaceful transition of power every four years has kept that person from becoming a king or dictator. That’s indeed something to celebrate. We’ll try to steer clear of controversies, but please know that we are well aware of presidential faults, mistakes, and injustices.
We thought we’d look at which U.S. Presidents shared our Dutch heritage.
Among those with Dutch heritage, you’ll find Warren G Harding, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, the Roosevelts, and Martin Van Buren.
Maarten Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York, in December 1782. He was Secretary of State and later vice president during Andrew Jackson’s presidency. Inaugurated in 1833, Martin was the first U.S. president born after the Revolutionary War. The one-term president left the office in 1841 and ran again in 1848 as the candidate for a short-lived third party.
Van Buren promoted the idea that political parties should be based on shared philosophies. His ideas and actions apparently influenced the strong two-party system that is meant to focus on ideas, not personalities. An outspoken abolitionist, he supported President Lincoln’s policies despite the fact Lincoln wasn’t in Van Buren’s party.
Theodore Roosevelt, who had Dutch ancestry, is best known as a conservationist, creating our national park system. That’s quite a legacy that has grown thanks to the work of countless Americans. He was the 26th President, stepping into the role after the assassination of President McKinley in 1901.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also of Dutch ancestry, became president in 1933. These two men were in different political parties and weren’t really related. Instead, it was Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady, who was a niece of Theodore’s.
The second President Roosevelt served longer than any other president, leading the country during the Great Depression and World War II. He was elected to four terms and died shortly after his fourth inauguration at his beloved Little White House in Warm Springs, a place that’s just a short drive from the 3Bros stroopwafel bakery in Fayetteville, Georgia.
When opponents couldn’t beat FDR, they saw it as a lesson that the presidency should be limited to two terms. That’s how we ended up with the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1951. Presidential candidates surely are better for knowing, in advance, that the presidency is not for life.
That brings us back to George Washington who voluntarily stepped down from his military career to become the civilian president. Later he would step down from the presidency, indicating his belief in democratically elected leadership. It is this legacy that is definitely worth celebrating.
Abraham Lincoln led the country through the terrible Civil War. He deserves credit for holding the U.S. together. We’ll never know what he could have done if he hadn’t been assassinated as the war was ending. We’d say that his legacy was in showing us that a president can and should be honorable, courageous, and humane despite what’s happening to them or to the country.
Whether you spend Presidents’ Day reflecting on Washington, Lincoln, or the presidency itself, we invite you to grab a cup of hot tea or coffee and put a stroopwafel on top. In just a few minutes, you’ll enjoy the crunch outside and gooey center of the most delicious Dutch treat made in the United States.