In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?

Hello everyone!

One of my most-visited sites on the web is Reddit.com, and one of my favourite subreddits is HistoricalWhatIf, an online community that debates historical hypotheticals. Earlier today someone asked the question, In a mass knife fight to the death between every American President, who would win and why? Someone beat me to the obvious answer that a final showdown would see Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt doing a dagger-wielding version of a Mexican standoff, so I took it too far and walked through how I thought every president would turn out. An hour later the result greatly exceeded the maximum 10,000 character limit for a post, so I’ve decided to blog about it instead.

To begin, here were the original conditions of the hypothetical, as suggested by the redditor Xineph:

  • Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency. Fatal maladies have been cured, but any lifelong conditions or chronic illnesses (e.g. FDR’s polio) remain.
  • The presidents are fighting in an ovular arena 287 feet long and 180 feet wide (the dimensions of the [1] Roman Colosseum). The floor is concrete. Assume that weather is not a factor.
  • Each president has been given one standard-issue [2] Gerber LHR Combat Knife , the knife [3] presented to each graduate of the United States Army Special Forces Qualification Course. Assume the presidents have no training outside any combat experiences they may have had in their own lives.
  • There is no penalty for avoiding combat for an extended period of time. Hiding and/or playing dead could be valid strategies, but there can be only one winner. The melee will go on as long as it needs to.
  • FDR has been outfitted with a [4] Bound Plus H-Frame Power Wheelchair, and can travel at a maximum speed of around 11.5 MPH. The wheelchair has been customized so that he is holding his knife with his dominant hand. This is to compensate for his almost certain and immediate defeat in the face of an overwhelming disadvantage.
  • Each president will be deposited in the arena regardless of their own will to fight, however, personal ethics, leadership ability, tactical expertise etc., should all be taken into account. Alliances are allowed.

With the scenario set, here’s my take on it:

1) George Washington – Commanding presence, strong physique, military training, viewed as a hero by everyone asked to shank him: He makes Top 10 without question. Of the guaranteed top three (I’m going to call them the Holy Trinity for the purposes of this rambling rundown), my money is on Jackson being the one who murders him; he wouldn’t blink, either. They were closer in age, and the hero myth wouldn’t be quite as firmly set. Besides, I’m pretty sure Jackson didn’t blink when he sneezed…

2) John Adams is going out early. Nothing against the man, but portly well-spoken lawyers bring lampoons to a knife fight. It doesn’t end well.

3) Thomas Jefferson. I’d like to say he’d make a good show of it, but he was a bit of dandy… Middle of the pack, but his dying words would be incredibly quotable.

4) James Madison. He’s just too short. I’m sorry: You need reach in a knife fight. The bravado of the philosophy behind Manifest Destiny only gets you so far. He’ll die early, and his small corpse will be one of the least important tripping hazards as the battle wears on.

5) James Monroe. It’s surprisingly difficult to say how he’d do, because he’s just so damned unmemorable. An argument could be made that he’d last a while for the simple reason that his opponents would try to place him. “Who are you again?” That would be distracting.

6) John Quincy Adams. That man had a murderer’s face, a murderer’s eyes, and a murderer’s haircut. Based on these intimidating characteristics alone I’m going to say he makes Top 10. If he teams up with dear old Dad and they watch each other’s back they might even become crowd favourites until the portly lawyer is overcome by a rabid Jackson/Lincoln/Teddy Roosevelt assault.

7) Andrew Jackson –It’s already been said: The man’s nickname was Old Hickory because he walked around town with a bludgeon that to the untrained eye was a walking stick. A man who can beat a would-be assassin within an inch of his life with a cane is going to be a murder machine when provided with an implement designed to end a man’s life. I think of the Top Three he’d be reckless enough to go down first, but he’d also probably have the highest overall kill count.

8) Martin Van Buren. I’m going to put it out there: Jackson and Van Buren may have formed a pact early on (they were as friendly as anyone ever gets with Jackson). Plus, when he shouted obscenities in his native Dutch it might’ve spooked the presidents of the 20th Century whose military service included time fighting ‘ze Germans.’ I’m going to say he makes middle of the pack before Jackson forgets who his friends are and tears into him like a wolverine.

9) William Henry Harrison — The man’s most famous for dying on his 32nd day in office. I know the hypothetical puts him in his prime, but I think the fact that every president after him considers him feeble means he’ll be hunted down and eliminated early.

10) John Tyler – No one liked John Tyler, especially Team Jackson-Van Buren. Not only would he be hunted down, but he would have an unmemorable death unless Van Buren tries to go for style points. Five minutes into the scrap, people would ask each other, “Who was that again? Why is Jackson wearing his scalp as a beret?”

11) James Polk — I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. That man had some grit and gumption and more than his share of character. He said what he meant, and he did what he said. He will not be one of the early deaths, although I think the Top 10 escapes him for a simple lack of ambition. Promising to serve a single term and then following through on that promise? He doesn’t dream big enough to escape the knives of the Holy Trinity.

12) Zachary Taylor: ‘Old Rough and Ready’ had a 40-year military career fighting men armed with hatchets. I like his odds in a knife fight. I really do. Top 10 for sure. Top 5 is not unrealistic. This is a man to watch, folks. If Lincoln and Jackson give him an inch, he’ll bury six inches between their ribs before Roosevelt righteous-indignation’s him to death.

13) Millard Fillmore. Let’s be honest: Weak character, unmemorable fellow, a little stout all his life, boring. No part of this guy suggests he’s going to come out well. Dead early, and only the presidents alive during his lifetime are even going to know whose corpse they keep tripping over.

14) Franklin Pierce. In his prime he was a soldier in a era where bayonets were the main thing that got the job done. He also has a touch of madness in his eye in his official portrait. I’m going to say he makes it to the middle of the fight. Beyond that, I can’t say.

15) James Buchanan. I’m going to put it out there: I think he’d be picked on. I believe at least half of the presidents after his time would want to be the guy to murder Buchanan. Dead early, and his corpse would be stabbed a few times to makes sure, and only Harriet Lane –his niece– is left to mourn him.

16) Abraham Lincoln is one of the Holy Trinity of this rumble. I put him ahead of Jackson and behind Teddy R., but it really would be a sight to see.

17) Andrew Johnson. I’ve got to be honest: This is one of the rare lapses in my understanding of history. Maybe Johnson was a badass, but my suspicion is that despite coming up from nothing he was a lifelong politician who couldn’t make friends. He was the first impeached president. Someone within his generation is going to have a grudge, and I don’t know what mitigating circumstances he has to defend himself. Dead early?

18) Ulysses S. Grant. A career soldier and a mean drunk. Ruthless. Comfortable with blood on his hands. Formidable physically. I think Grant is going to do very well. Top 10 certainly, and maybe he battles with Polk and Taylor for Top 5 outside the Holy Trinity?

19) Rutherford B. Hayes was wounded five times in the Civil War. He was a big guy, and he didn’t lack for courage. That said, he was a bit of a straight shooter and more than a little bit of a straight arrow: Principles can get in the way of winning in a knife fight. Also, that beard is begging someone to take it in their fist and throw him off balance. I see him making the later half of the scrap, but not the Top 10 unless he catches a lucky break.

20) James Garfield. I respect the man, and he served in the Civil War, but I just don’t know enough about his service and physique to make more than an educated guess: He’d hold his own in a fight, but the Holy Trinity would see the end of him at some point.

21) Chester A. Arthur had the build of a brawler, but even in his prime I wonder if his poor health would be a handicap. Dead in the first half, but certainly not among the first dead.

22 & 24) Grover Cleveland paid a man $150 so he didn’t have to fight in the Civil War. Even his biographer said his qualities were typical rather than unusual. I’m going to say among the first 20 dead.

23) Benjamin Harrison. I wonder if he’d try to get to know his grandfather –the marked for death William Henry Harrison– and therefore leave himself vulnerable to a quick shanking. I don’t know enough about him to say otherwise, so I envision a family reunion ending cruelly and bloodily fairly early in the festivities.

25) William McKinley. The man is famous for sitting on his porch and letting the party machine do the heavy lifting. A calm head and broad shoulders might see him through the early fracas, but I think he lacks the fire in the belly required to make his mark. Dead in the first half.

26) Theodore Roosevelt: The man, the legend. A member of the Holy Trinity, and my personal favourite to come out on top. Anyone who gets shot at the start of a long speech and delivers the whole thing anyway –a man who beat asthma by strength of character and who lost vision in one of his eyes while boxing in the White House– has the tenacity to endure more than a few knife wounds if he thinks he’s right and everyone else is wrong. Let’s also not forget how much time this man spent with a skinning knife in his hand: The Smithsonian is a monument to this man’s ability to butcher creatures of all shapes and sizes. He also liked to call his enemies cowards, and the force of his personality could easily unbalance those who would try to argue against his will.

27) William Howard Taft. What did that man look like in his prime? I suspect even at his most physically fit he could go toe to toe with the stereotypical 21st Century Wal-Mart patron. I just don’t think he was ever healthy enough to make a good showing in this arena. Dead early, and his corpse might well be used as a low wall or some sort of artificial hill to lend advantage to his conquerors.

28) Woodrow Wilson. A brilliant mind and a delicate physique. Dead very early. If Teddy Roosevelt in his prime knew that Wilson would be president after him, I suspect Wilson would be a hunted man early in the fight.

29) Warren G. Harding was a lover, not a fighter. Dead in the first half, although I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of his surprising all of us and making it a long way before his inevitable defeat.

30) Calvin Coolidge. He made a name for himself as a man of action during the Boston Police Strike, but I don’t think he’d have the staying power to see through a knife fight. I’m prepared to be wrong, but I just don’t know enough about him to venture an opinion beyond what I’ve already said.

31) Herbert Hoover. I think Truman would help him in the early stages of the fight, but there were enough presidents who grew up during the Great Depression who might like to settle a childhood animosity or two. He wouldn’t be long for this world in a fight with The Greatest Generation.

32) Franklin D. Roosevelt in this scenario has a pretty impressive chair, and that’s going to protect a lot of his vital organs, give him a low center of gravity, and otherwise lend him an advantage not available to other presidents. Plus, one third of the Holy Trinity (Uncle Teddy) isn’t out to murder him and might even back him up. I see Franky D. going far, but at some point Old Hickory or Honest Abe is going to be spooked by the futuristic chair and lash out. That’ll be the end of him.

33) Harry S. Truman would make a good show of things, but he was a little guy. No reach. No intimidation. That said, he keeps calm under pressure and is willing to make hard decisions. I definitely think he’d be a major force early on, perhaps even delivering the coup de grace on those left suffering.

34) Dwight D. Eisenhower has a solid military background, and in his prime he should have been a force to be reckoned with. That said, his penchant for negotiation and seeking consensus is going to infuriate Andrew Jackson. When that mad man comes after Ike without anyone to pull them apart it will be a duel worthy of a 14-part 20-second-in-real-time anime epic.

35) John F. Kennedy. What was his prime? When did he get the bad back and Addison’s Disease? JFK would go down swinging, and he’d leave a beautiful, charismatic corpse. Maybe he makes Top 10, and certainly he makes it through the early melee. Beyond that, I don’t dare speculate.

36) Lyndon B. Johnson was a giant of a man, a Texan, and more than a bit of an asshole. He would be a force to be reckoned with, absolutely. Top 10 possibly, and a staying power throughout the struggle. Beyond that, it’s not up to me.

37) Richard Nixon doesn’t have the physique to go the distance in a battle like this, but I think he had the cunning and the drive to live a lot longer than the majority. I worry that he’d try to take on Kennedy or Johnson early, which might be the end of him. That said, maybe he can convince Jackson to do his dirty work for him?

38) Gerald Ford was another big guy, but I suspect he had too soft a heart for a knife fight. He would defend himself, certainly, but would he hunt down the weak and give them the old cold steel? At some point the hesitation would catch up with him.

39) Jimmy Carter and a knife fight is a comical thought to me. Among the first dead would be my suspicion.

40) Ronald Reagan looks like he would know a thing or two about brawling, and he spent a lot of his prime in either the military or playing a cowboy. I expect he’d go far, but not far enough. Twenty years after the battle people will rewrite the fight to make him a lion among bobcats, but that’s mostly driven by nostalgia.

41) George H. W. Bush gets painted as an intellectual, but he was a war hero and head of the CIA. I’m also confident his son would team up with him from the very beginning. They’d make a formidable team, and I would expect great things from the two of them.

42) Bill Clinton is another big guy, but he’s a lover, not a fighter. He’d give it his very best shot, but I hesitate to say he’d last very long at all.

43) George W. Bush would team up with his father, and the two of them at their prime would be a match for just about anyone outside the Holy Trinity. That said, of the two of them he’ll be the weak link. When he stumbles, his father will overextend himself trying to help. My expectation is they’ll die within moments of each other, but probably surrounded by heaps of their foes.

44) Barack Obama –for all his wonderful qualities– is not a scraper. He’d probably try to negotiate an end to hostilities, and while seeking a middle ground some loon would get the better of him. In an arena full of knife-wielding war veterans, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that he’d make it through the first few minutes.

…And scene!

ADDENDUM: September 6, 2012 — This is already by far my most popular post in the last three years, with 67,996 viewers as of this update. Of course I’m delighted that you’ve all enjoyed it so much, and I apologize to all of you more knowledgeable on the subject matter than I am: I will not make any major edits to the content, but I acknowledge that I failed to sell Lincoln, underestimated Carter’s nerve, oversold Grant and Johnson, and could have spent a lot more than an hour fleshing this out into a detailed orgy of historically accurate violence. Cheers!

511 Responses to In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?

  1. goodolbluey says:

    Excellent rundown, and I agree with you on almost all points. Thanks for posting this!

    • Teddy Roosevelt: the only US President to recive the Medal of Honor.

      • brandon says:

        JFK did, however, win the Navy and Marine Corps medal for his heroics in world war II, a man not to be underestimated.

      • Eric A. says:

        Although at the peak health of his presidency Kennedy was in very rough shape. He had debilitating back and intestinal diseases.

      • Owen says:

        Brandon, JFK won medals largely through his daddy’s machinations behind the scenes. His bad back and the fact that he was high on morphine a lot of the time means he goes out early.

      • Cal Future says:

        Lincoln the only president to hunt and kill vampires…think about the possibilities…

      • Darrell says:

        Teddy Roosevelt did not win the medal of honor. His son of the same name received it for actions on D-Day.

      • Jim H. says:

        President Teddy Roosevel did, indeed, receive the Medal of Honor. It was a posthumous award given in 2000. The medal is on display in the White House’s Roosevelt Room opposite Teddy’s Nobel Prize. Whatever – this whole exercise was hilarious!

      • zee web says:

        Someone mentioned JFK and the Navy and Marine Corps medal, Distiguished Flying Cross beats that one, George HW Bush, WWII.

      • Bette Souza says:

        JFK swam several miles pulling a man in his teeth after his boat was bombed. And loved football, played in college and so did Ford.

      • ehreval says:

        “Brandon, JFK won medals largely through his daddy’s machinations behind the scenes. His bad back and the fact that he was high on morphine a lot of the time means he goes out early.”

        Utter nonsense. You should really read the accounts of what happened after the PT109 got sunk by the Japanese. The man walked across coral reef in his bare feet to get help.

      • JFK was incredibly driven, and pushed himself through the pain. In this situation, he wouldn’t want to disappoint his father, and would go out trying his damnedest to live up to the image of what his brother, Joe Jr., could have done in the same situation.

    • justin porter says:

      Obama wins. Two words. DRONE STRIKE!

    • Chase Beam says:

      Heres how it would play out: bloody and fatigued, Abe and Jackson team up on Teddy , knowing that he has the most skill with a blade. Abe strikes Teddy down because of his reach and Jackson stabs Abe in the back because hes that malicious. Then for good measure, Jackson walks around the entire area to check for anyone else living. Then tricky Dick pulls out a pistol after playing dead and shoots Jackson.

    • Roger Drew Williams says:

      I think you (along with most other people) underestimate Gerald Ford. He was a boxer as well as an All-American football player for Michigan (center) and Yale, and was offered a position by the Green Bay Packers as well as the Detroit Lions around 1940 or so. He was director of physical training on board his ship in the Navy, and survived a typhoon that killed 800 others. Most importantly, he grew up named Leslie! If that doesn’t teach someone how to be a fighter, I don’t know what does.

      • db3300 says:

        You need to re-read the rules. The contest is based on their best level of fitness during their presidency. I liked Ford but he fell down the steps of Air Force One a couple of times. That would have taken the fight right out of him.

    • Katie says:

      Seems like Lincoln’s prowess is overrated. Yes, he was very tall– but also likely had Marfan’s syndrome (giving him long limbs, defects of the heart valves, skeletal anomalies, and maybe even bad eyesight). I don’t think he’d make it to the top 10, even in his prime.

      • JWD says:

        Lincoln was an impressive fighter in his day. He routinely wrestled and routinely won (beating the town bully became part of his political story). In his youth he would have been quite tough, even with Marfan’s.

      • Mary says:

        I agree 100% with this. He just wasn’t that healthy.

      • Timmy says:

        Yeah, when Lincoln was a kid, he was formidable by all accounts.

        But by the time he made president, his various ailments and years of hard living had caught up to him. He was pretty rickety by then. A large, slow moving target and therefore a very early exit.

        For opposite reasons, I like Obama for a surprise finalist. He doesn’t have the killer instinct, but he’s in shape, he’s got good speed and can jump. He’d move around a lot, assessing the fight rather than participating in it. Then he’d make his move.

        Just ask Bin Laden.

      • History Teacher X says:

        We keep saying that, “in his day.” What day is that and did it occur during his presidency? John Quincy Adams left the White House in 1829 and went back to the House of Representatives. Andrew Johnson left the White House in 1869 and won back his Senate seat from Tennessee. No president has left the White House and entered MMA training. As someone pointed out below, William Howard Taft was a heavyweight champion wrestler at Yale. By the time he became president, he was built like a manatee.

      • Mike says:

        Actually, the consensus now seems to be that Marfan’s is unlikely. He and the rest of his family had unremarkable cardiovascular histories and visual abilities.

        That and I’ve read conflicting reports as to how skinny Lincoln actually was. All agree that he was enormously tall (for the era, and still tied with LBJ for tallest POTUS ever), but while some claim he was 6’4″, 160lbs, others describe him as heavily muscled.

        And the stories of physical prowess with Lincoln don’t stop after his youth.:

        “While the presidential party lounged on the deck, Lincoln playfully demonstrated that in ‘muscular power he was one in a thousand,’ possessing “the strength of a giant.’ He picked up an ax and ‘held it at arm’s length at the extremity of the [handle] with his thumb and forefinger, continuing to hold it there for a number of minutes. The most powerful sailors on board tried in vain to imitate him.'”

        Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2005-10-25). Team of Rivals (pp. 436-437). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

        Dude was physically stronger than young, muscular sailors during his Presidency. TR was all talk, Lincoln was calm action. My money’s on #16. If Lincoln goes down it’s only because other Presidents (and there are a lot of smart, ruthless guys there) figure he’s a big threat and form a temporary alliance to eliminate him. Even then I think it depends on who’s in that alliance. If we’re talking Clinton, Taft, and Nixon, then I think Lincoln’s gonna do just fine.

    • Brian Miller says:

      I’m going to have to give it to Teddy. He is the only one that has both A) Military experience
      and B) A penchant for shouting “BULLY” whenever something cool happens. All of his opponents would know that he has another jugular laid bare to his blade by his battlecry, making them nervous, and therefore more prone to make mistakes.

    • Norm says:

      A few questions before picking likely winner: 1) Arena shape – rectangle like a football (either kind) field or rounded ends like a ice hockey rink? Square corners help the owner of the corner! How are the contestants clothed, period dress and shoes or all clothed the same -say gym shorts and bare foot? Physical condition – best of their lives or as when they were/are in office? That is Regan with dementia, JFK with bad back and Addison’s and so on. Kind of hard to select without the answers, or do I make up my own conditions?

    • Norm says:

      I have made several assumptions due to lack of information and/or guide lines. Assumptions: 1) Contestants will wear the dress and shoes of their era; 2) Their health will be what it was/is while in office; 3) Can field strip dead for weapon and clothing to be used as armor; 4) All contestants will start from a position at the perimeter of the arena spaced 21 ft apart ( this comes from personal space being an area 3’ x 3’ or 9 sf, the perimeter divided by 44 (# of constants) equals a spacing of 21 lf); 5) Constants will be placed at random with several constants between relatives; 6) the arena contains 51,660 sf or 7,380 personal spaces.

      Therefore my selection for the finial 3 would be from the younger constants. This fight is going to include a lot of running around just to get to an opponent. I think the last group standing will include Grant, Jackson, Lincoln, T Roosevelt, Truman, Carter, Clinton, Bush 2nd, and Obama.

      Out of this group I think that it is fairly even up with the odds going to Grant, Jackson, T. Roosevelt. Depends on who can throw a knife and has picked up a spare knife or two and possibly some extra clothing to be used as armor.

      Remember this fight is to the last man standing, there are no friends.

    • zee web says:

      James Monroe was seriously wounded by a sword at the Battle of Trenton and was expected to die. He didn’t.

    • Barack Obama says:

      Obama would call in a drone and kill them (and everyone else in the vicinity), thereby claiming victory

      • Teddy the U.S. Marshall from the Wild West Wins! says:

        (everyone else in the vicinity – including himself) Although how does he call it in? By yelling to the sky?

    • miratrinity says:

      Grant hated the sight of blood. Its something he picked up from working in his dad’s tannery shop as a kid.

    • Trina says:

      You underestimate the competitiveness of Jimmy Carter. Highly athletic & can throw a mean fastball (sic., knife). I say, in his prime, he would have made it past the early melee, but succumb prior to the top ten.

      • Teddy the U.S. Marshall from the Wild West Wins! says:

        As soon as he threw his knife, someone else would stab him with theirs, which they were not foolish enough to throw away.

    • Bette Souza says:

      Pretty good run down except for Carter. He served 8 years in the military and was trained at Annapolis Military Academy. Worked as a farmer and house builder. He’s old now, but I think he wouldn’t have been first down by a long shot.

    • Bette Souza says:

      Polk sure looks mean in his pictures. Got Oregon Territories and got Alaska from the Russians.

      • Tennessean says:

        Polk was tough enough to undergo a surgery that left him sterile without any pain killers. Alaska was acquired primarily due to William Seward under President Andrew Johnson.

    • Bette Souza says:

      I wouldn’t count out Obama too fast. Community Organizer in South Chicago takes some grit. But more than that he seems to be facile in picking up clues from people. He’s always comfortable whether it be a baby sticking its finger in his mouth or someone lifting him up in a pizza parlor. I’d say he and Reagan have the ability to psych people out. Appear congenial but thinking in an analytical way. Reagan tore down the wall and Obama got Bin Laden (of course not them themselves). Of course, I’m talking about Reagan before he got befuddled. He was pretty fit and road horses like a real cowboy.

    • Bette Souza says:

      George Bush was a cheerleader in college that would take some agility. However I think he spent most of his time in college and in National Guard partying hardy. Both he and his father were pilots but not sure about knife fighting. My bet would be on Barbara Bush coming in and taking over.

    • Bette Souza says:

      I know who would lose. Andrew Johnson. 1. He was a tailor and made a quilt for his lady love. 2. He let them impeach him.

    • Ryan Wise says:

      Something like half of all presidents were related to Washington, including Lincoln, so this would be a family feud. If we’re going to take social factors into account and not just individual strength and ability, it will be hell to get most of these guys to fight anyone.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogical_relationships_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States

      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/10/barack-obama-related-to-sarah-palin-rush-limbaugh-bush.html

    • Zach and Hannah says:

      We here feel that Nixon is liable to stab himself in his non-dominant arm within the initial stages of the melee, smear blood on his chest, and play dead until the endgame.

    • Joe says:

      I say we do the run down again after Hillary gets elected. Since she is the only person in the fight who won’t be distracted by attempts to pulverize a testicle toting genital sack, she will come out the victor…Hillary, the biggest, baddest, meanest Man among Men.

  2. nicksantan says:

    Very amusing! But you didn’t extrapolate on why Abe Lincoln is rated so highly, other than presumably he is an awesome president!

    • Abe Lincoln was 6’4″ tall, and a natural wrestler. At his first political speech when he saw a supporter in the crowd being attacked, Lincoln grabbed the assailant by his “neck and the seat of his trousers” and threw him.

      • yes i think Abe is the real dark horse here…he spent YEARS splitting logs with an Ax, so that edged blade muscle set had to be finely honed for damage…6’4″ in an era where a tall man was 5’11” (i think the average height of men 100 years ago was 5’8″ as compared to 5’11” nowadays….

    • Ira says:

      Don’t seem to know much about history, Abe was quit the wrestler, even beat a bear! Was a rail splitter early in his life. (come on, look it up!) in great shape. Walked alot.

    • Eric Gibson says:

      Lincoln was know to be quite a scrapper. The man was pleasant and had a great sense of humor, but also had a really hot temper, and was quick to got fist-o-cuffs with rowdy rivals. I think Lincoln is very well placed at number 2 on the list, just behind Teddy.

    • sglover says:

      As noted historian Tyler Durden observed, “Big guy, big reach. Skinny guys fight till they’re burger.”

      But I’d put my money on either Taylor or Jackson. Most likely Jackson, for his sheer dogged viciousness.

    • Taryble says:

      He also chose broadswords, in a 10′ pit, when challenged to a duel early in his career.

  3. John Hamer says:

    Bush 43 would team up with his mom if she were in this, but he’s no ally of his dad, 41.

    In a knife fight, I’d put money on Johnson 36. That guy was one tough fighter.

    • First ladies weren’t part of the equation –let alone mothers– but that would certainly add further dimensions to the situation, absolutely! As for Johnson 36, I agree: I believe I gave credit where it was due, but would he outlast his foes if they teamed up on him? A polarizing figure makes enemies, and bluster doesn’t carry the day when men have knives in their hands…

      • anonymoose says:

        Bush 2’s mother would be a First Lady, just not his.

      • Blue dog says:

        I recall reading in a biography of Johnson 36 that in college, he caught a classmate cheating in a late-night card game, sucker punched him, then threw himself on the bed pinwheeling his legs in the air and yelling “I quit! I quit!” I think that he knew how to use his height to intimidate but was at heart a coward.

    • Ira says:

      And what is your reasoning for your Bush statement?

    • See that was my thought as well (re: Bush elder and younger). In his prime W would be younger W, who was rebellious and drunk half the time, no? Elder Bush would just as soon cut the boy to teach him a lesson as team up with him in my mind.

    • Ah, just read below the clarification about “physical peak”. Think that makes the Bush team up more likely. There’s still a chance, though.

      • Eric C. says:

        W would never have been in such a fight. He’d have wrangled an assignment in the Reserves and watched from afar.

      • Bruce Guest says:

        Eric C, you’re an idiot. Typical democrat BS. You don’t know the half of it, but you’re first to quip, true idiot. W was probably the most athletic President of our lifetimes, and didn’t cry about injury, like Clinton did with the knee, remember? W had the same injury and was walking the very next day, Billy boy was wheelchair bound for a week and a half! I’d put the Bush’s up there like the author suggested. Partisan free, unlike the feeble Eric C.

      • History Teacher X says:

        Bruce: Are we talking W drunk or sober? I’d rank him higher if we could get some beer near him.

      • Strategery says:

        Is Bruce Guest kidding? George W. lost a one-on-one fight to a pretzel. He’d last as long as his promise to hunt down Bin Laden.

    • William says:

      If they were able to call in reinforcements JFK would win for sure. He did make the Green Berets (10th SFG) an official group in the Army and we would back him up! Also you listed the incorrect knife that is given at the end of the Q-Course..we were given the Yarborough knife not the gerber, similar knife but not the same.

      • Andrew says:

        Thank you for pointing out the difference in the knife–LTG Yarborough and COL Banks were about to roll over in their graves! I think the two are more dissimilar than you let on. You know, one has history and the other, well, doesn’t…

      • Bruce Guest says:

        JFK was in the Navy. He was disqualified from the Army. Green Berets were not even invented yet. JFK got out in 1945, Army Special Forces began in 1952. The only special force at that time was the Marine Corps Force Recon, they were the ones who taught the Green Berets, and the Seals. You could give JFK a kudo for the Seals, but that’s about it.

    • Citizen Alan says:

      Bush 43 actually once tried to drunkenly start a fist-fight Bush 41 when he was in college. When 43 was in office, there were reports of how well 41 was getting along with Bill Clinton, of all people. I think Oedipal issues and 41’s private belief that 43 disgraced the family name means they’re more likely to fight each other early even though alliance is the smart play.

  4. This is brilliant. I can only hope that some ambitious young movie direction will happen upon this blog post and see the money written all over it.

    • Supergenius says:

      This would make a hysterical animated short…

    • musicjunkie5 says:

      Hunger Games US President edition… :)

    • brokenwc says:

      A 43 person, every man for himself fight scene would be incredible to watch even w/o the angle of every participant being an American president. I’d argue for Peter Jackson as someone who has shown he knows how to handle logistically complicated fights.

      • tfly999 says:

        Neil Marshall. He has the added bonus of taking chances on crap. He’d do something like this and make it look glorious.

      • Timmy says:

        Based on “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” I like Guy Richie for this production. Although Ronny Yu, the guy who made “Formula 51″ could be a darkhorse…

        (OK, maybe this is getting a little too meta)

  5. I think what you neglected is that a number of the middle fielders are smart enough to team up against the obvious contenders for the title. In particular, I think a number of them would seek an alliance with Washington — and since he wouldn’t be busy busting Congress’s balls for not supplying needed arms, he’d be willing to accept some assistance. With his ability to lead an army, I think he could coordinate some strikes.

    Given that his personality was strikingly cold, and he seemed at times to despise… well, everybody. I think his target after watching the first few moments of the fight is going to be Andrew Jackson. At this point, he takes the role of Bane. He sends midfielders like Ike and Truman after Jackson, as a team. Naturally they still lose, but this puts THEM out earlier in the game and softens Jackson, and with his second wave (Polk and Van Buren, maybe?) he flanks Jackson and takes him out. This takes Jackson out of the top 10 (through no fault of his own) and I think moves Washington up to at least the top 5, if not the top 3.

    Then we have our Mexican standoff, as predicted. Washington and Lincoln are tough guys, and I’m going with my intuition that they would be hesitant allies (hesitant only because they know one of them has to die eventually) (it’s possible, even, that Washington and Lincoln pair up early on), and I think Teddy is the one most likely to go quasi-berserker at this point. He seriously wounds either Washington or Lincoln, and the uninjured one kills Teddy, then finishes off his former ally.

    • My friend, that’s worthy of its own blog post. Thank you for sharing!

      • Lew Bryson says:

        Truly, well-thought. Washington was a notably big and strong man in his prime, but his qualities as a general shouldn’t be underestimated.
        On the other hand…the man failed to go for the throat on some occasions, and showed way too much mercy in the Whiskey Rebellion. Too much mercy for this scenario, that is; mercy was brilliantly applied in the Whiskey Rebellion.

    • Mike says:

      I couldn’t have said this better myself! Washington spent his entire life trying to subdue his passions. Yet it has been said that if he were born in the wilderness he would have been the fiercest man among all the savage tribes!

    • Will says:

      Something to think about: Jackson was an incredibly charismatic leader of men (frontiersman who took no shit mind you) who fought in at least 3 duels – one of which he was shot in the ribs and then proceeded to carefully aim and shoot his opponent in the gut – and achieved the most one-sided victory in the history of the Indian Wars. I think he is far more likely to lead a team of presidents than Washington

  6. James Moline says:

    This is really great. Very well thought out.

    One thing, though, I love Abraham Lincoln; he’s absolutely my favorite president. But suggesting that wrestling ability and height give him a real advantage over any of the presidents with real combat experience is just wishful thinking. Pierce, Grant, Taylor, Hayes… I think any of them could have taken him. Unless you want to argue that no one would want to go near him out of simple respect. I could get behind that.

    • It’s a fair point. Maybe I was coloured by the fact that the first three brawlers who came to mind were also the first choice of the early posters on the Reddit article in question. I only reviewed the other presidents’ military careers later.

    • tfly999 says:

      I’d go with the respect notion, particularly to one like Grant, who would have more personal loyalty.
      Kennedy’s service in the navy proved he had physical attributes and training that might make him higher ranking, maybe top 15.

    • Owen says:

      Lincoln was also very strong and agile. Frontier life will do that to you. He could hold an axe out at arm’s length for long periods of time without wavering, so I’m sure he had the strength to hold his own. As for Pierce, he would have been eight sheets to the wind (perhaps the heaviest drinking politician of his time, when average whiskey consumption was something like seven or eight gallons a year), and thus probably gets shanked in the back early on.

    • henry says:

      You’re forgetting that Abraham Lincoln fought vampires on the side with bladed weapons…sheesh, pick up a history booki.

  7. [...] (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Which U.S. president wins in a knife fight? The rules: To begin, here were the original conditions of the hypothetical, as suggested by the [...]

  8. Anon says:

    Carter was a submariner. They’re made of pretty stern stuff.

    • Johnny says:

      And helped with the clean-up of the first nuclear meltdowns back when he was a Navy guy. Sure, he ate granola at the end, but in his prime I imagine he was made of very stern stuff.

  9. Brady says:

    you make some great points. I have long suspected, though, that Andrew Jackson could not be killed by mortals. The man took a bullet essentially to the heart without hitting the ground, and then stood back up and killed his opponent. If this is true, not even Lincoln could stop him, unless he found a way to give him phlebitis or whatever during the contest.

    • but you forget, Lincoln is also a vampire hunter! He might could take Jackson one on one.

      • Brady says:

        in that case, I think Chester Arthur deserves more consideration, seeing as how he’s a Sasquatch Trainer:

        http://frenzy1.badassdigest.com/chester-a-arthur-sasquatch-trainer/

        From the filmmakers who brought us “Rutherford B. Hayes: Urban Vigilante”!

      • Fed_Up says:

        All vampire joking aside, Jackson not only took the bullet in the duel, he PLANNED to do so, because, as he said, he was a poor (slow) shot, & he swore that he would have stood through being shot in the head (near verbatim quote), in order to avenge his wife’s honor. Also, Jackson did *not* fall during the duel – the only way they knew he’d been hit was that his boot filled up with blood.

        In a knife fight, Jackson is the clear winner.

  10. John says:

    I agree with a lot of your points, but you’re really being overly dismissive of Carter. He was a Naval Academy graduate who was once lowered into a nuclear reactor that had melted down. Sure, he’d be in his early fifties in this particular contest, so I don’t see him winning it, but personal bravery and tactical thinking are not something he is lacking in.

    As for our current president, Obama has the twin advantages of youth and health, while also being on the upper end of reach. His overly-cautious nature might serve him pretty well in this situation: He can be counted on at least not to just run in full speed from the starting bell. Not that I think he’d win the whole shebang up against veterans who had actually killed people with knives, but Obama would likely live to see the majority of the assembled Presidents dead on the ground.

    • Great comment, and of course you’re right: I’ve never heard of Carter’s history, and Obama may well surprise us all. That said, youth and fitness aren’t a factor in this contest. The criteria of the hypothetical put each president at his personal physical peak.

      • John says:

        The conditions you posted stipulate that: “Every president is in the best physical and mental condition they were ever in throughout the course of their presidency,” which I took to mean that we have to assume that each competitor is only as young as they could have been during the beginning of their presidency. Otherwise, the primary exception to that rule (FDR’s wheelchair) doesn’t make sense, as he contracted polio in his forties.

      • Good point! Forgive me, I wrote the thing a week ago. I must’ve forgotten that point. I beg your pardon.

      • Schnitzie says:

        Obama is woefully underrated here. As if it weren’t enough that his steely resolve and commitment to practice, training and strategic backup (adding the 2 Chinooks, just-in-case) led to the successful assassination of Bin Laden, his calm, cool, collected and utterly poker-faced performance at the Correspondents Dinner on the night of the raid should settle the question, once and for all, that as Granola-crunchy he may seem, girrrrl, HE WILL CUT YOU!

        And, OOPS, he killed Khaddafy, too, when no one was looking.

    • Owen says:

      Yeah, but Obama was a) a heavy smoker for years and b) not athletic enough to get off the bench for his preppy high school basketball team. I’d say he’s middle of the pack at best.

    • James says:

      I’ll be the guy to point out that Obama is black…..so there’s that. none of the old white guys post-lincoln are gonna want to be the guy to kill the only black dude at the party. plus he has the advantage (if he plays the part) of the first 20ish presidents assuming he’s there to fetch their towels and drinks, so he could likely slit several unsuspecting throats when they let their guards down.

      Not to mention he’s at least somewhat athletic, and built like a basketball player adding agility and lanky reach. I suspect he’d make friends with the shadows, possibly behind Lincoln and lay low, and quite possibly run up a decent tally before W lets his anger out for being blamed for everything and not getting any credit for the years or work leading up to the Bin Laden thing.

      In fact, I think quite likely W’s attack on Obama will be his demise as he’ll act on impulse and get careless. He’ll get Obama, but he’ll die for it.

      • Smart Grunt says:

        Seriously? There were several racists post Lincoln, most of them Democrats. Harry Truman wrote his wife some really vile stuff, and LBJ only signed civil rights bills because according to him, “I’ll have to n*ggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years.” So Obama would have a big target on him, and wouldn’t have the skills to defend himself.

    • Learned Hand says:

      This is why before reading the post and refreshing myself on some of the presidents, I had Obama as the victor.

      In a mass melee like this temperament counts a little more than physical attributes. The victor is going to be the person who managed to stay out of it the longest. He will still need a good physique and reach, but watching and waiting is key.

      This is why I am pro Obama in the fight and anti-Teddy. I think Teddy rushes right into the thick of the battle. He is just too macho to live in this situation. Also, there is a great chance he loses his glasses and is in a world of hurt. Now maybe he has his going off to war with ten spare sets of glasses clothes on, and that gives him some hope, but odds are he is blinded just long enough.

      Obama on the other hand knows when not to commit. I see him circling the arena and only striking when someone gets too close. I think he makes it far.

      • History Teacher X says:

        I have to agree here. Also, recall that TR essentially died of a broken heart when his son Quentin was killed in the Air Corps over France in July of 1918. TR didn’t survive even a year once he discovered that war kills loved ones and young men and isn’t just some glorious ideal setting for painters to work.

  11. Chris Gladis says:

    Someone has to illustrate this – especially the mega-epic, multi-part duel between Jackson and Eisenhower. Great idea, lots of laughs. Thanks!

  12. jwrosenzweig says:

    This is probably unexpected news, given your comments about him, but Taft was the intramural heavyweight wrestling champion at Yale—exactly how well those skills would serve him in a knife-fight is probably debatable, but I think “dead early” is a bit too dismissive of what were clearly once prodigious physical powers, and I bet Taft’s wingspan would help him outlast the Jimmy Madisons in the arena.

  13. Bowen Jolley says:

    I don’t think you’re giving McKinley or Reagan enough credit, both were shot while in office. McKinley took days to die after being shot and Reagan survived it. McKinley also saw plenty of Civil War Battles and had plenty of grit from that time. Though he certainly wouldn’t be in his physical prime by the time he was president, he was a bit tougher than what propagandists portray.

    • mvago says:

      He’s actually giving Reagan too much credit. The Gipper was in the military, but he spent most of his service making training and propaganda films (and then told stories of his wartime exploits that only happened on the silver screen, not in real life). Also, he was 70 years old when he took office – one of the oldest presidents. Teddy Roosevelt was 42. I know who my money’s on.

      • Odysseus says:

        Reagan never, never, never claimed any personal combat experience. That is a myth created by the press. I think it started when he once described an historical event and a reporter, noting a similarity to a movie, but not realizing the movie was based on fact, claimed he had confused fact with fiction. From there the story grew to claims that Reagan claimed his movie exploits were actual combat experiences. In actuality, he never made any such claim.

  14. Sal Paradise says:

    In defense of James Monroe. Monroe dropped out of The College of William & Mary to fight in the Revolutionary War, never to return to college. He took a nasty shot to his left shoulder at the Battle of Trenton and spent three months recovering from the wound. John Trumball included Monroe in his portrait of the battle. He is laying almost in the center of the painting looking like a wounded badass. He also appears in Trumball’s painting of Washington Crossing the Delware, Monroe is the guy holding the flag. Unlike his friends and neighbor’s Jefferson and Madison, Monroe was a solider and willing to get into a scrap. I think you have greatly underestimated him.

    • Sal Paradise says:

      correction; I mistakenly mention that Monroe is laying in the center of the painting but he is actually leaning on another soldier for support. I also misspelled soldier in the above post.

      • Leslie says:

        I agree with your comments regarding James Monroe. He also had the grit and power to tell the
        Europeans to leave their hands off the Western Hemisphere!

  15. [...] In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? « … – August 30th ( tags: humor history fight death US presidents ) August 30th, 2012, @ 1:05 pm | Tags: links | Category: delicious links | Comments are closed | Trackback this Post | 0 views [...]

  16. Skotty says:

    I’m all for cloning research progressing and moral restraints degenerating to the point that we can not just imagine this epic battle royale.

  17. calminginfluence says:

    I would suggest that while your analysis of the physical and mental attributes the different presidents is well thought out, the shape of the arena is perhaps not taken into account sufficiently, i.e. in an oval, one cannot be cornered. For instance, I can easily picture one of our more squirrely presidents like George W. running a real scrapper like Teddy Roosevelt ragged in his efforts to avoid actual combat.

    I would also give less weight to Ronnie’s military background (liaison officer of the Port and Transportation Office, San Francisco; First Motion Picture Unit (officially, the “18th Army Air Force Base Unit”) in Culver City, California.) and more weight to Jimmie’s military background (graduated 59th out of 820 midshipmen at the Naval Academy; nuclear submarine commander).

    Just my opinion; Otherwise, I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out.

  18. Imagine this in a true “Hunger Games” scenario, rather than the crude “Gladiator” setup. Then, cunning and strategy would be a factor rather than brute force. I think the Holy Trinity might come out a bit different if the true talents of these men are allowed to show through…

    • AHLondon says:

      My thoughts as well. He underestimates the likes of Washington and Coolidge, both of whom could do the Katniss thing and strategically lay low until most of the baddies have fallen. You know Cool Cal, only confront the problems that you must. The Adams and Bush men could survive a good while this way too. They’d bury Carter with flowers when he launches an ill advised attack.
      Imagine a Washington, Coolidge, Ike alliance.

      • Sarah says:

        Heck yes! So happy someone else said something about Coolidge! I really feel like the author underestimated him, even in the arena situation. Seeing as when he died, Dorothy Parker was quoted as saying “How can they tell?”, you can’t ignore the possibility of him playing dead! :P
        But particularly in a Hunger Games type situation, he’d be brilliant.

      • Bette Souza says:

        General Washington never won a battle.

  19. Eric Coger says:

    Ford, a great center while at Michigan (O-linemen are all scrappers, it gets nasty in the trnches) would block for (he pardoned him) Nixon, who would meticulously strike out at guys clenched with Ford. Obama would lose early and fast with little fight, he is a coward through and through and has no natural allies. Kennedy and Nixon were actually friends. If anyone is going after Kenneday early it is Johnson. Carter may have been a Navy grad, but he was a nuclear physicist through and through and would not even fight, he is one of the first to die.

    • Rick Martin says:

      Looks like some dimwit let his poor understanding of politics guide his assessment of the Presidents. Try harder, troll.

  20. TreeOfLiberty says:

    Old Hickory (Andrew Jackson) would mop up the floor with them… He was an indian fighte,r and the bravest president we will ever have as a nation. His last words were ” I killed the Bank!”

    • I’m inclined to agree, and I would give Zachary Taylor a little more respect for the same reasons. A long time, heavily battle tested military guy. But of course as with all of them, the question is how well those qualities translate to surviving a multi-participant knife fight. I’m thinking Jackson, Taylor, and Grant last longer than described. Can’t argue about Teddy, but wasn’t he a sickly kid with asthma? Tenacious and determined, but not sure how physically imposing he would have been.

      Very interesting topic for debate. Amusing and maybe a bit farfetched, but it provides an opportunity to analyze the personal strengths and weaknesses of each man.

      • Odysseus says:

        Teddy was weak and asthmatic as a child and overcame that through sheer willpower. He worked out hard to develop his physique and became a very good boxer. One time when he was out west a rough, tough cowboy thought he was just an eastern dude and began making fun of him. Teddy dropped him easily.

      • noddles says:

        teddy was extremely fit during his presidency. also an old school jujitsu (danzan ryu among others) adept which teaches defense against multiple attackers and knife techniques

    • Odysseus says:

      Another thing about Taft, his weight might actually prove advantageous. Fat people are strong, they have to be to move all that mass. Furthermore, all those layers of fact act as padding. You could stick a knie in up the hilt on most parts of Taft’s body and. It touch a major organ. Although he might lose a lot of meleys, he could take a lot more apparent damage and keep on swinging.

    • Odysseus says:

      While I have as much respect for Jackson as anybody, by the time he became president the hard years of frontier fighting were catching up to him. He was pretty crippled in both knees. I understand he could barely walk. I may be wrong, maybe he was in better condition when he was first elected, but I fear viciousness and cunning would only take him so far.

  21. Matt says:

    Reagan would have sold his knife to the Iranians and had a contra fight for him.

  22. doug_the_head says:

    we should all know the real answer is, since there is no punishment for inaction, all presidents sit down and disperse knowing nods of approval for besting the system one last time.

    • Cheshirecat says:

      In that case, since none of them can leave the stadium until one is still alive, they all start dying from thirst and hunger within a week, the “winner” being the last one to cease breathing. Given Big Bill Taft’s girth, he would probably survive the longest, perhaps cannibalizing those who die before him.

      • Timmy says:

        Your scenario raises the question: Who can go without *sleep* the longest? That’s the dude who can make a whole lotta dead presidents in this little mixup.

  23. fenriss says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with those who point out that Carter was a badass in his prime. I would think he’d come out in the top ten. If I recall correctly he was once washed off the deck of a submarine, and had to survive for some time in the open water.

    • With an E says:

      Farm boy too–similar to my dad. Butchering hogs, cows, castrating bulls, heaving equipment and loading heavy things–points in favor–makes you strong as an ox. JC also worked for E. Rickenbacker for a time (I think). I also prefer the Hunger Games scenario.

      • Cheshirecat says:

        I agree, Obama is more likely to go down sooner than Carter. At least Jimmy had military training, Obama smoked weed and played basketball…that might give you an advantage in Compton, but not in a gladiator stadium.

  24. dthornton9 says:

    Don’t count Garfield out. He was both a significant Civil War Officer, and ….. a keen strategist. He also was tough as nails as evidenced by his long survival after being shot. Overlooked far too often! On the other hand, he was seriously troubled by the senslessness of war deaths, and didn’t want to be President – so maybe he would decline his knife in the first place!

    And I think you underestimate the impact of the grit/strategy/loyalty of both Bush’s…….

  25. [...] Presidential Knife Fight. I stumbled across this post yesterday from the Face In the Blue blog wherein he hypothesizes which president would win if there [...]

  26. Tarquin the Meek says:

    William Henry Harrison? The victorious general at Tippecanoe and the Thames? The guy who ran on the Log Cabin and Hard Cider platform? The fact that he died of pneumonia after a long military and political career hardly makes him a weakling.

    • History Teacher X says:

      William Henry Harrison was sworn in in March, 1841 at the age of 68. Tippecanoe and the Thames had happened 30 years before, 1811 and 1813, respectively. 68 years old in 1841 is what in modern years? About 315?
      In his prime, perhaps he could have been a contender, but his prime, like George H.W. Bush’s prime, was half a lifetime before he became president.

      • heyitspaula27 says:

        I’m a bit late to this, but it also says ‘prime during their presidency’. I think in a world where Harrison didn’t get terminally sick his first day in office, he probably would have been a definite contender. But we’d have a sick 68 year old man in this fight, and I think he’d go down early – maybe even just dying of exhaustion.

  27. Jim S says:

    W is a wimp and coward and would go in the first 30 seconds, trying to run away and hide.

    • henry says:

      Obviously you know nothing about him.

      • Reed says:

        What is there to know from what Jim said? He was the son of a Congressman/CIA head/VP/President who went to elite prep schools (so no knife fighting in the hallways). Went to Yale for undergrad where he was a cheerleader (again, no knife fighting, no wrestling, no boxing, no TKD or Karate). Did the minimum of military service – even his bootcamp time was minimum. Was a self-proclaimed drunken party-boy until 40.

        Sorry, you may find the word “coward” to be harsh, but he pretty much always did shrink from any kind of personal altercation.

        So toughen up henry, your boy’s a bit of a bitch.

        Realistically, pretty much all the Presidents after Ike are going to be weak on this one – with the possible exceptions of Ford, Carter and JFK for reasons already mentioned in the article. But LBJ, Nixon, Reagan (HUGE candy-ass), HW, Clinton (also gonna be candy), W, and Obama just don’t have any real familiarity with knife fight warfare.

      • Cheshirecat says:

        Indeed.

      • JWD says:

        Agreed–he flew jets and is much tougher than the current occupant, who wears mom jeans and can’t throw a baseball to home plate.

      • Rick Martin says:

        Obviously he knows the part about the draft-dodging and going AWOL from the National Guard, dipshit.

      • Bette Souza says:

        I don’t think GW would be in long but you can’t discount agility. He was a cheerleader in college. He kept in pretty good shape in the White House riding bikes. He would never be able to psych out the opponent though, not that bright. Of the Bush’s I think Barbara is the toughest.

    • Odysseus says:

      Ah me, a case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Dan Rather and his forged documents were discredited long ago. W’s actual service record shows that he volunteered for Vietnam but was turned down because the planes he had been trained in were being phased out of the theater.

    • Schnitzie says:

      Without Cheney, Dubbya is just an ineffectual prep school wuss with BS service swabbing the decks for the Coast Guard, and GHWB pretends he doesn’t know his mortifyingly stupid spawn. Thinking it’s an easy win to go after the fat boy, Dubbya tries to pick off John Adams, only to take a shiv to the kidney from Quincy.

  28. Jonathan Chin says:

    Good article but WRONG KNIFE. The knife presented to Q Course graduates for the Special Forces is a Chris Reeves Yarborough designed by William Halsey, who also made the LHR for Gerber.

  29. UmbraFractus says:

    I think one thing we can all agree on, is that a Romney victory in November will not change the outcome of this melee one bit.

  30. History Teacher X says:

    Couple of historical facts to toss out for consideration:

    14: Pierce was a wildly depressive alcoholic with an impressive military career. Total wild-card. May win it all, may kill himself.

    18: Grant was actually very squeamish at the sight of blood to the point of passing out.

    35: Kennedy was at death’s door so many times he’d polished the knocker. He was given Last Rites for a series of maladies beginning in the 1950s right up until his head exploded in Dealey Plaza. Out early. Maybe without assistance.

    36: Lyndon Johnson had a heart attack in 1955 that almost killed him and he lived in constant fear of coronary death while maintaining a 3 pack-a-day jones. The heart attack came 8 years before he became president and has to be considered.

    38: Ford was a 4 sport athlete at the University of Michigan, a big guy, and he kept in shape. May make top ten, but doesn’t have the killer bloodlust to go all the way.

    40: Reagan never served in the military, ever. He was also inaugurated for the first time at the age of 69 in 1981. Reagan’s Purina-on-Arrival unless Bush 41 and Bush 43 spend all their time defending him to push him on to the later rounds. As Bush 41 and 43 don’t even like with other very much, fat chance. And even if they do, the second Dutch’s security detail bites the dust, he’s Alpo again.

    41: Bush the Elder was bad as hell in his prime. Unfortunately, his prime, 1942, was 50 years before he was president.

    In the end, I agree, Lincoln/Jackson/T.R.

    I also take Jackson for the win, T.R. second, Lincoln third. Lincoln has the height and the reach, but lacks the personality or physique of T.R. or the complete, almost supernatural raw crazy hate of Jackson. See Jackson’s duel with Charles Dickenson as to why, in the end, Jackson wins.

    • Eric Coger says:

      Reagan did server in the military. He was a Captain and made documentaries and films for the military training program. He was too young for WWI and too old (by their standards) for WWII. But he did serve, just not in combat.

      • History Teacher X says:

        True. But it’s a bit of a stretch between “he was in the military” and “he had any kind of military training or experience.”

    • Odysseus says:

      Reagan was a captain in the army during WWII. Kept out of combat by his poor eyesight, (also a factor here) they put him where he could do the most good, in Hollywood making training and propaganda films. Perfectly honorable service.

      • History Teacher X says:

        My suggestion is not that Reagan dodged the draft or anything, merely that his military experience will have no bearing on the outcome of this fight.

    • Bette Souza says:

      I don’t know that much about Hoover. He was orphaned at the age of 9. He went to Stanford University although he never attended high school. He was a mining engineer and worked in several mines in Australia which he described as “black flies, red dust, and white heat”. Later worked as an engineer in China and learned Mandarin Chinese. Survived the Boxer Rebellion trapped in China. He looked pretty fit. But drawback was he was raised Quaker.

      • Jim Keller says:

        As a Quaker myself, I feel obligated to point out that Smedley Butler was a Quaker and he was certainly no pansy. Hoover used to play Hooverball, which was volleyball played with a medicine ball.

  31. stevefrisch says:

    Come on, its TR all the way. Not only does he have the stamina, he is ruthless when he needs to be. It is a battered TR an GW at the end and the Bull Moose beats the Father.

    • Odysseus says:

      Imagine TR and FDR teaming up. Teddy riding on the back of the wheel chair, the two of them slashing about with their knives, and Teddy letting out blood curdling warhoops as they ride into battle. It would be glorious!

  32. inthebuff says:

    I think you need to set up a bracket like the NCAA’s March Madness. You could seed each of the presidents in a 32 person tournament with the 11 lowest rated presidents (J. Adams, W.H.Harrison, Garfield, etc.) doing a play-in knife fight.

  33. MK says:

    Ford: no one has mentioned his clumsiness. All those bodies lying around present him with a real challenge. He’d stumble time and again, ultimately landing on a (probably a dead man’s) blade.

    An even more interesting scenario would be to assume Hilary was President rather than Obama. She’d be a force to reckon with. The Bushes would stumble over each other trying to get her, giving her or Bill the upper hand. Most early Presidents would be too chivalrous or dismissive to try to kill her. she’s bright enough to use that to her advantage — recall the tears when Obama was ahead in the primaries. If Bill were still alive, she’d have few qualms about stabbing him in the end.

    • Eric Coger says:

      Ford was not clumsy. He was a great athlete. Not a good golfer and slipped on a wet aircraft ladder once that was replayed over and over again.

    • Bettina1023 says:

      Thank you for mentioning that Ford was clumsy, I was going to say the same thing. Since we are taking into consideration the Presidents’ well-known attributes, we cannot overlook the fact that Ford had lost his footing a time or two in his day.

      As for the other reply, that Ford merely slipped on a wet aircraft ladder….the surrounding bloodshed of this fight lends itself to slippery conditions, which will lead to Ford becoming an early (and easy) target.

  34. [...] blog site “Face in the Blue” has done a post on which president would win a knife fight. Just for [...]

  35. [...] interesting than any mere ordinary presidential campaign is Geoff Micks’s theoretical [...]

  36. History Teacher X says:

    Actually, Ford made a stumble getting off a plane in 1975 and Saturday Night Live turned it into a recurring gag. Ford was a very athletic and graceful man.

  37. Lincoln Kennedy says:

    I love the idea, but I think you often come to the wrong conclusions, especially regarding the military men. Lower ranked officers like Major McKinley or Captain Truman are going to be much scrappier than Generals like Grant and certainly Ike, who never saw combat. Your scrappiest Generals are going to be Jackson, Washington & Hayes, in that order.
    Finally, you’ve drunk the TR Kool-Aid like everyone else. A close examination of his career shows his strong & repeated tendency to quit & take his toys with him when the going gets tough. NYC Police Commissioner, GovNY, 1912 Republican Convention, and most especially his Rio Roosevelt expedition betray his tendency toward cake-eating.

    • Todd says:

      I think you are right about these guys, and we’ve perhaps underestimated the smarter ones – who is going to lie down in a pool of another’s blood and pretend to be dead until there’s only one unsuspecting “victor” left standing?

    • David Avallone says:

      You’re right about Ike, wrong about Grant. Grant wasn’t a political appointee who woke up one morning with shoulder straps: he was a veteran of the Mexican war and a hero of the Battle of San Cosme gate. He had actual combat experience.

      That said, he did hate the sight of blood.

  38. Brandon Valeriano says:

    Loved the article, my only complaint is the link to Wikipedia for each President. I am sure there is a better source you could have consulted.

  39. Peter says:

    I think it would be more interesting to see what would happen if all of them knew who each other was adn what they did durring their presidencies. I think that would make for some interesting alliances. For example, how long do you think that FDR would last against the furry of Washington and the rest of the founding fathers? I suspect Wilson, Carter and Obama would be quickly hunted down by this group.

  40. Richard says:

    An interesting scenario to ponder and I, too, think the Old Hickory, Honest Abe, Teddy scenario is a plausible outcome.

    One point regarding your original conditions – SFQC grads aren’t issued a Gerber knife, they’ve given a specialty manufactured and serial numbered Yarborough knife designed by Oregon kinfemaker Bill Harsey and named in honor of LTG Yarborough, the first commander of the 1st Special Forces Regiment.

  41. jfxgillis says:

    Ridiculous.

    Obama is the most athletic of Presidents in office (TR’s athleticism was all PR). He’d make the Top 10 easy, probably the Top 5 and have a respectable chance to win.

    MOREOVER, he’s Roadrunner cunning, “meep meep,”

    Plus he’d team up with Lincoln, what with being the only colored fella in the mix.

    • Lew Bryson says:

      This is when it starts getting silly. Obama? Athletic? Maybe, but “athletic” is a long way from “combat ready.” Obama has zero combat experience, and no evidence of the fire in the eye.

      Moreover, Lincoln didn’t really think “negroes” were the equals of whites. Read the history; he made the Emancipation Proclamation as a political/strategic statement, not a personal statement. This is not my own personal statement, but an historic evaluation.

      That said, I completely agree on the dissing of TR. He was pretty much all show and no go. Endurance yes, bloody-mindedness, no.

      • Jesse Lava says:

        Obama is a mean basketball player with a reputation for being a scrappy, physical player. He lifts weights and has a strong physique. Obama is a compromiser when it comes to politics but absolutely fierce when it comes to protecting himself. You guys are all wrong about Obama; he’s top 10.

      • bubba says:

        Obama is half white half nilotic, not negro

      • gonzo says:

        Obama wears MOM jeans. Out early, maybe before Carter.

      • Schnitzie says:

        And he took out Bin Laden and Khaddafy. Remember that cool-as-cucumber facade at the Correspondents Dinner? 20 presidents will fall, and no one will know who took ‘em out, until they discover the drone-operated knives following a FOIA request, 25 years from now.

      • Bette Souza says:

        Obama gets my vote too for staying in for awhile. He volunteered to work in South Chicago.

  42. [...] when the dead-serious Monkey Cage blog linked to this (original here), I simply had to share it with those of you who do not follow me on Twitter or [...]

  43. John says:

    Someone might have told you this already, but the graduates of the Special Forces Q course are not given a Gerber Larsen/Harsey/Reeves knife. They are given a Harsey/Reeves Yarborough. If you follow your own Wiki link you will see this to be true. Contact Mr Harsey or any SF grad and they will verify this for you.

  44. nancy says:

    You forget TR’s voice was unexpectedly high. The surprising girly voice coming out of his mouth would surprise any opponents enough for him get the advantage.

    • Jesse Lava says:

      same with lincoln, interestingly enough.

    • Bette Souza says:

      Polk got Oregon and won the Mexican War so he was a good at strategy. He also had a kidney stone operation with no anesthetic and survived so he could take a cut and not stop going. He was young but in his last year in office his health was failing. He retired and died at only 53. Points for brains, age and toughness but bad health like TR would hamper.

  45. Moshe Yudkowsky says:

    President Ford was a war hero — look up his service aboard USS Monetery during the terrible typhoon that sank so many ships near the wend of WWII.

  46. shyaporn says:

    Please. Washington destroys all. Guy was shot four times and had two horses shot out from under him during the French-Indian war and never had a scratch, and by age 30 had survived smallpox, malaria, dysentery, and other diseases. Bullet AND plague-proof, and you think a knife is going to do him in? A KNIFE?

    George Washington ain’t got time to bleed…

    • Mike says:

      Nice. Haha.

    • Agreed about Washington. People said he looked like violence barely restrained. (Restrained except for the time when he was young and started a World War.) There was also the time on Manhattan when his soldiers ran away and he wanted to take on the whole British army by himself. Yes, he was older and slower by the time he was Prez, but so was Andrew Jackson.

      As for William Henry Harrison, he was a fine physical specimen when young, and also enjoyed starting a fight. He was a dirty negotiator but also clumsy at it. Treaties of 1804 and 1809 led to wars later. As long as he stays alive, he’ll be provoking fights among any of the others who might tend to slack off toward the sidelines.

    • Bette Souza says:

      And don’t forget Valley Forge. Freezing and starving. Crossing the Delaware which is a really wide river. However, as far as strategy although he was a great general he never won a battle. I saw battle fields like Chadds Ford where he lost a battle. I don’t know if he ever won one. Toughness yes, strategy no.

    • Bette Souza says:

      He never won a battle.

      • tankdemon says:

        Look up the Battle of Trenton. (You know, the reason he crossed the Delaware.) Then look up the Battle of Yorktown.

  47. Al says:

    It’s not about combat experience, reach or athleticism. It’s about A) the ability to fight with a knife or B) the ability to broker a truce with a person in order to achieve a mutual goal. In regards to A)….there’s probably only a few on the list the ability and “testicular fortitude” to knife fight. I think Andrew Jackson is, bar none, the top dog on that list. In regards to B) most of the Presidents (particularly the early ones as they won’t have the historical biographies of the later ones) will flock with the men who they are familiar with and worked with…So it would probably turn into a 3 or 4 sided melee…..with historical eras squaring off. Something like that would probably hinder Jackson as he really can only rely on Van Buren. The team with the distinct advantage in the melee would be the Post Civil War Ohio Block…….with them courting Abe Lincoln to their side.

  48. HenryMillerISH says:

    Forget graphic artists, you need to hook up with a video game company, and quickly.

  49. Dan Abrams says:

    A few disagreements:
    1) Lincoln was tall, but he was also clumsy. He couldn’t survive the chaos of battle.
    2) don’t count John Adams out too soon. He was a master of forging alliances and getting strong men to protect him.
    3) Calvin Coolidge lived a quiet brutal life in Vermont. People who lived in Vermont in the 1800s could survive brutality. Coolidge would be a strong contender in a Hunger Games style event and would do okay in an event like this.
    4) Teddy Roosevelt was a bull of a man, but he was also fearless. He charged up San Juan hill with no concern for his own safety. One of the sneaker presidents, perhaps Nixon, would stab him in the back.
    5) George Bush senior wouldn’t hesitate to use his son then abandon him. And he’s the only one on the list who was CIA.

  50. Teffinina says:

    Just gonna say one thing about Polk… He wouldn’t be top 10, but the man started the Mexican American War because he was a full-on Manifest Destiny fanatic, wanted to conquer Mexico, and was pissed off when a peace was negotiated. I mean, there is definitely ambition there.

    As for Lincoln… maybe Top Five. I’d put Zachary Taylor and Andrew Jackson up there though. If nothing else, everyone forgets about Taylor while everyone would be gunning for Jackson.

  51. editorm says:

    I love this! Thank you.

    • Bette Souza says:

      My vote Dolly Madison. When Washington D.C. was attacked President Madison took off but she refused to leave until she had the portrait of George Washington to take with her.

  52. Grantham says:

    While I have not read the previous comments, I think your thesis lacks support on Lincoln… I completely agree on the Jackson and Teddy in the top three!!! My third would be Washington!

  53. Daniel says:

    I feel Ford’s football years would give him an edge. His temper would show up at an injustice so those two points could get him to at least the 2nd half.

  54. john lurie says:

    This is a painting I did of Andrew Jackson http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=463453227022607&set=a.182184005149532.41977.100000738004610&type=1&theater
    It is entitled – The Last Thoughts of Whats His Name.
    I did not realize when I made the painting that not pictured is Richard Nixon, who most certainly would have played dead until the battle was seemingly over. And then get up to his knees to stab Andrew Jackson in the back. He would then proceed to throw the peace sign over his head like Sly Stone told him to do.

    • After Lincoln misdirects Andy Jackson with his right hand and puts it into his ribs with a hidden left jab, Nixon sneaks out from the engine box of FDR’s wheelchair and slices Honest Abe’s jugular. Just as he raises his arms over his head in that hunch-shoulder peace-sign thing, Bill Clinton, wearing the corpse of LBJ like a tauntaun, lunges up from the ground and sticks Tricky Dick in the nuts. Nixon keels over, swearing, and Clinton stabs him through the eye.

  55. tk421 says:

    President Camacho. ’nuff said.

  56. Toby says:

    I hate to say it, but I think Obama would be one of the first to die, purely because so many of the early presidents would be horrified (Jackson in particular) to see he was elected president.

    • Bettina1023 says:

      I was waiting to see if someone would be ballsy enough to say this. It’s a sad truth, but a truth nonetheless that the Founding Fathers felt it necessary to consider those of African descent to be less than a whole person. This cannot be overlooked when determining who would be the early targets.

      I think Lincoln would provide some kind of protection to Obama early on, though. Any president who can see the direct benefit of their legacy would likely fight hard to protect that.

      • scc1001 says:

        I think Obama’s success would depend on (1) whether or not the rules prevent the crowd from getting involved and (2) whether all those dead presidents have access to any modern information. My guess is their views would lead them to underestimate him, not kill him straight away.

      • ss396 says:

        The south wanted the negro counted as a whole person, because that would have given a greater representation in Congress. The north argued that the south considered the negro as property, and property could not vote. The 3/5 rule was the compromise against an “all or nothing” formulation of the negro, for the sake of forming a nation. It was not a matter of considering the negro as less than a whole person when, clearly, both sides wanted the whole person in a manner that best suited their political expediency.

      • I hate to be that guy, but the Founders considering slaves as 3/5ths of a person was a GOOD THING. If you don’t understand why, read a history book.

      • Natester says:

        Actually, Obama would be the first to fall and Clinton would be the one holding the knife. He would probably go after Kennedy and FDR. I can see him triangulating and backstabbing his way into the top 10 easily, before being taken out by a founding father/civil war vet.

    • Schnitzie says:

      Obama would turn the founding fathers’ racism into a strategic advantage, offering to hand them a towel when they assume he’s “one of the help” and slipping a shiv into their guts when they least expect it.

      • tankdemon says:

        First of all, not all the founders were as racist as you people seem to have been taught. None of them were as rascist as Woody. Next, about that 3/5 thing, it didn’t apply to all blacks. It applied to slaves, not to those who were free.

  57. Brag says:

    Lincoln in the top 3? He may have reach, but he ain’t got much else. He’s frail, didn’t like to touch or be touched by people( though campaigning forced him to) and basically wanted to be made a king so as to not have to interact with his “subjects”. Replace him with FDR. Don’t let that chair, motorized or not fool you. Smart, stubborn and Teddy as a back up. Andrew Jackson out, Lyndon Johnson in. While Jackson may have been a scrapper, Johnson does him one better. He’s a scrapper too, but has the more deadly ability to make you think he’s docile; and he was anything but. Plus he’s a Texan. One that famously threw parties and invited all of his perceived enemies, then threatened destroy them while never blinking, and made good on the threat who dared to challenge him.
    Top 3 The Roosevelts and Johnson. That I would pay to see! The eventual winner would be Teddy. He’d either take out Johnson through stamina or just plain dogged determination. Then look at FDR apologize and shank him. Or he would take out FDR, keeping his head as a trophy and show Johnson a ” you want some of this” posture and have his head on a platter before Johnson could answer. To insure his place in history and mythology, he would then take one of Johnson’s cigars and smoke it while standing in FDR’S wheelchair, casually enjoying the scene.

    • History Teacher X says:

      Lyndon Johnson had a heart attack in 1955 that damn near killed him and he lived in fear of it the whole time he was president. Had he run for re-election in 1968, he would have died before his term was out, and he did in fact die before Nixon was re-inaugurated. Forget it. Someone shows some decent footwork, LBJ clutches his left tit and turns purple and he’s dead.

      • Some Guy says:

        I agree wholeheartedly about your thoughts on Johnson, X. The man was a rabid smoker and suffered two or three heart attacks in his later years. Personally, I think he collapses the moment someone rings the loud bell signaling the start of the festivities.

  58. Puma says:

    Just a note here. Ronald Reagan was in the military all right- but remained in the US making films and never served in combat.

    Jimmy Carter however- is a brilliant man and was far from a wimp as you depict. He was a 1946 Naval Academy graduate who qualified to be a submarine commander and was working on propulsion systems for use in nuclear submarines. In 1952 he had the guts to go into an experimental nuclear reactor to help take it apart after a partial meltdown. That alone proves his ability to take it.
    Quoting Wikipedia:
    “On December 12, 1952, an accident with the experimental NRX reactor at Atomic Energy of Canada’s Chalk River Laboratories caused a partial meltdown. The resulting explosion caused millions of liters of radioactive water to flood the reactor building’s basement, and the reactor’s core was no longer usable.[16] Carter was now ordered to Chalk River, joining other American and Canadian service personnel. He was the officer in charge of the U.S. team assisting in the shutdown of the Chalk River Nuclear Reactor.[17]
    Once they arrived, Carter’s team used a model of the reactor to practice the steps necessary to disassemble the reactor and seal it off. During execution of the actual disassembly each team member, including Carter, donned protective gear, was lowered individually into the reactor, stayed for only a few seconds at a time to minimize exposure to radiation, and used hand tools to loosen bolts, remove nuts and take the other steps necessary to complete the disassembly process.
    During and after his presidency Carter indicated that his experience at Chalk River shaped his views on nuclear power and nuclear weapons, including his decision not to pursue completion of the neutron bomb.[18]
    Upon the death of his father James Earl Carter, Sr., in July 1953, he was urgently needed to run the family business. Lieutenant Carter resigned his commission, and he was discharged from the Navy on October 9, 1953.

  59. Bess says:

    Said “T.R!” when I read the title, enjoyed the heck out of this. Thanks!

  60. James Moore says:

    I tend to think Roosevelt would come out on top, but recent historians suggest much of his military career was, ahem, “exaggerated.” Jackson is an immediate force to be reckoned with, but my dark horse is James Garfield. My reasons: 1) Hard nosed guy who was born into poverty and was a janitor and a carpenter before he was President. 2)Fought for the Union Army and rose through the rank of general, with no pedigree other than effort. Dude survived Shiloh. Not many survived Shiloh. 3) Yeah, was assassinated by a crazy dude, but survived with the bullet in him for 2 AND A HALF MONTHS! Dubya goes to sleep for a colon procedure, but this guy lived with a fucking bullet in his liver from July to Mid september. Also, he probably didn’t even die from the gunshot, but from 19th century “doctors” probing him repeatedly with 19th century “sterile” instruments. that is One Tough Hombre.

  61. Jeff says:

    I hate to poobah your choice for first, but of the Holy Trinity, Jackson would wreck. This was a man who slaughtered indians by the droves, and didn’t give a crap about what anyone tried to do to him. He was also smart enough to pull off some presidential-boosting moves that were landmark in American history. This man is a man who would stay in the shadows at first, and pick off the weak. Obama and the lovers would be his first taste of blood. Then (after scalping them for his jacket, of course), he would start hitting the median players who are possible wild cards. His aim is to destroy the middles from teaming and taking him out. He’d probably take Washington for the sheer balls of it, then eat Washington’s heart on the field to internalize his strength. From there, havoc would break out. Presidential innards would be strewn around the field like they were confetti. And while some people try to downgrade TR, you’re right to have him in the top three. The man only retreated when he needed to find a better tactical position, both in politics and in war. But his planning can’t take Juggernaut Jackson. Not after Jackson had just washed his chest in Lincoln’s blood. Lincoln might wound Jackson in a death-bed strike, but Jackson took so many bullets a knife wound would be like a paper cut. It would be an epic fight, but Ted’s Big Stick would get turned on him and would gut him. However, Jackson, being the dueler he always was and a gentleman of sorts, wouldn’t let TR bleed out. He’d end him with a quick severing of the spinal cord. But, bloody and full of righteous 19th century rage, Jackson would emerge from the arena like a fox comes out of a chicken coop: covered in blood, certain in his victory, and ready to do it all over again at the drop of a hat.

  62. Todd says:

    Now do the Vice-Presidents! Probably T.R. again, but those guys are all wild cards. Plus you’ve got sneaky & ruthless with Cheney & Burr in the mix.

  63. Jimmy Carter signed up for the US Naval Academy in the middle of Workd War II (though the war was over by the time he graduated). Reagan stayed home and played dress-up soldier. During his naval career, Carter was on a team who were called in an emergency to disassemble a failing experimental nuclear reactor using only hand tools and protective suits. He outlasts Reagan by far, but fails to make the top ten when he tries to broker peace and they all turn on him.

  64. neil says:

    Just finished a biography on Washington. The fortitude he showed through life, beyond even his military experience, would get him to the top three easily. I see this as down to Washington and TR.

  65. This should be submitted to The History Channel, when they take 2 characters from history, or groups of people, and pit them together. They use real data and information, such as was compiled here, and run a simulation 1000x via a computer program designed for such a thing, and based on the percentages, declare a “Deadliest Warrior.” This made me LOL in my classroom ALONE. I look like a crazy person. I plan to send this to ALL my history buff friends and see how hard they crack up. INCREDIBLE!!! (Go Andrew Jackson, BTW: “What do you mean we have already won the war 6 weeks ago? Well … guess I didn’t get the memo and gave what for just one more time.”) My kind of testy guy!

  66. [...] Review the following blog post about the question which President would win a knife fight to the death. [...]

  67. The comments seem to be pretty down on Lincoln, so I should note that if you read his biography, as a younger man he was famous for breaking up street fights and being able to hold heavy objects at arms length without shaking.

    Which leads to something you should really add to the individual descriptions: how old was each man when he assumed the presidency? (Which presumably would be the best shape he was in.) Reagan, for example, whatever his early history, was 70 when he was sworn in — I’m pretty sure he’s not going to do well against the younger guys.

  68. Dan Krutka says:

    I’m going against the grain here. I think everyone is judging Teddy Roosevelt the myth, not the man. I think he had a little but of little man’s syndrome and tried to overcome it by acting tough and going on safaries and stuff. I think Ulysses S. Grant, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon Johnson would all be contenders. And who knows, maybe James Madison would be really good at hiding at 5’4 100 lbs. Washington, Lincoln, and Jackson would definitely be forces, but I’m calling LBJ in the huge upset.

    a few seconds ago · Like.

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    14 people saw this post.
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    • While there’s certainly a bit of “myth” in regards to Teddy’s legacy, I’d disagree that he was “acting tough”. He was a genuine tough guy. Read the Morris biographies on him. Put aside the safari trips and all the hunting, the guy was fearless, maybe to a fault in regards to San Juan Hill. In his younger days, I think in Wyoming, he tracked a fugitive for days on horseback!

      By most accounts LBJ was a bit cowardly when it came to fisticuffs. Several people in the Caro biographies of him attest to this when they describe his habit of falling onto his back and flailing his legs about, threatening to kick someone, when threatened with physical violence. I wouldn’t put my money on him. ;)

    • David says:

      Little man’s syndrome? He was 5’10 and everage height back then was like 5’7 or 5’8.

  69. M. says:

    A timelier anachronistic query might be: which of the presidents would win “Survivor”? Put to this test, the presidential listing might take a very different form– resulting, perhaps, in Jefferson, Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Obama surviving all others to negotiate themselves into quadrilateral detente.

    • Smart Grunt says:

      If it was a Survivor style format, Obama would probably be the first to go. He might have an ally if he can convince Jefferson that he is one of his descendents.

  70. shootist says:

    While it was mentioned that TR’s military career might have been exaggerated, I still think he wins. The reason?….This is what he has been waiting for! He lived his life for this challenge.

  71. Shawn says:

    Teddy Roosevelt wouldn’t get tired….Remember the peak of their physical fitness. You’re talking about a man that in his 50’s rode a horse from sunrise to sunset 25 miles to rescind a calveryman’s right to complain about the toughness of riding so much during training.

  72. Keith B. says:

    I think that you just remade “The Highlander” using presidents. Brilliant!

  73. Derek says:

    Consider the following Washington facts (slightly nsfw):

  74. Gareth says:

    My bet is that the presidents will rapidly realise that they’re all Americans, fighting in a Roman fucking coliseum, and start working together to escape from the pit, before banding together and turning on the crowd, who would (presumably), be watching this for entertainment.

  75. shane says:

    clinton’s a pimp. he’s probably surgical with a knife.

  76. Howard Brazee says:

    Bush Sr. was a very good baseball player, but we had a MVP football player (although not in the year of its national championship), in Ford. Athleticism helps. Washington could break walnuts between his thumb and fingers.

  77. J F Benedetto says:

    I was going to protest your evaluation of Herbert Hoover (after all, he did pretty much keep a whole town-full of people at Tientsin China alive during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900) but then I realized that was his weak point: he’ll go defensive and not take the initiative, and someone will get in close and take him out. So I am forced to agree with you–GREAT POST, btw! ! Thanks for posting it!

  78. Todd says:

    Jackson wins, but Johnson 17 isn’t dead. He’s been lying in a pool of blood next to John Tyler. When Jackson comes back to scalp Tyler, Johnson 17 reaches over and stabs him through the throat, then runs like hell. Jackson stumbles across the arena, but trips on Ford. Johnson 17 slits Nixon’s throat, just to be sure, because he thought he saw him breathe. Sure enough, the supposedly dead Nixon bleeds.

  79. jjvors says:

    Great entertainment; this is what makes the internet worth reading! I’ll vote for Andrew Jackson and add an anecdote about him: he was leading the US army through the South, fighting Indians. Their 90 day volunteer time ran out and all of them wanted to go home. Even though he was wounded from a recent duel (he may have fought 13), he put a gun over his lieutenant’s should and threatened to shoot the first one who deserted. When someone did try to desert, he shot him. He was 6′ 1″ and 175 pounds.

  80. Temmseee says:

    Abe LIncoln, dude had the reach! GW Bush is a wuss he would have been the first one taken out.

    Anony-Way.tk

  81. Pharaoh says:

    If one adds Sam Houston, the President of Texas, the game would change dramatically.

  82. Prof Krueger says:

    I find it funny that you REAGAN’s military service. All he did was make films and never left the states. He was near sighted and I think a bit of a dandy and lazy. Reagan would go around the middle of the pack.
    AND why is the thought of Carter in a knife fight humourous? CARTER served actively in the military, was an avid hunter, and has the guts to pursue what he thinks is right against all odds. Unfortunately, he was a bit of a micro manager and didn’t play well with others. He wouldn’t be the first to go, but wouldn’t be the last one left either.
    WASHINGTON in his prime I would put in the top 5, he could crack walnuts in his bare hands fgs!
    AND I’m not so sure that the complete and obvious insanity of JACKSON wouldn’t have at least a dozen others team up against him in the first go round just to get him out of the way.
    And those who dis LINCOLN forget that he did have military experience and did know how to fight.

    My best guess is after JACKSON gets piled on by all his contemporaries and those who came after him who know his character that there would be the possibility for a “let’s sit down and not let THEM (who ever has put these guys in the arena) win. We’re Americans for goodness sake”

  83. James K. Polk? The guy was TINY! They started playing “Hail to the Chief” when he was president because his wife was upset when no one saw him walk into the room. Guy would have NO reach whatsoever. I’ve seen 5’8″ but I don’t believe it.

  84. Jacob Hein says:

    I no doubt think Ulysses S. Grant would win the fight. Even though he had a weakness with the sight of blood, I think the adrenaline within anyone could overcome that. Grant was in both the Mexican war, attending every battle but one, and the civil war. A true leader, with nerves of steel. Writing battle strategies during the middle of a fire fight without a flinch. Grant would probably just sit back in the corner, let everyone destroy themselves, then come in for the final killing blow. His strategies in the times of war were phenomenal.

    Sorry to say professor but height has no play in a knife battle, I really hope you were joking.

  85. JK says:

    Jackson would definitely be top three; he was called Old Hickory because his men said he was tough as an old hickory tree, he essentially walked from New Orleans to so one of his sick men could ride his horse.

  86. Casey Byrne says:

    This is brilliant! As you are Canadian, I am even more impressed with your knowledge of American presidents. Our universities need you :)

    • Thanks! Your history is sexier than our history. It makes for interesting reading!

      • Casey Byrne says:

        Sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, the mantra of the best of us…which is why a presidential knife fight is plausible…but I imagine it would be more West Side Storyesque, especially with the recent, less manly leaders. This would also be a great scene to create using marionettes albeit extraordinarily creepy!

  87. im haven’t had time to go thru all the post, so if someone beat me to this my apologies…maybe someone should take on open-source fight project from Sourceforge, we could run a virtual contest and let the simulation decide who the best man is!

  88. CH says:

    Obama with the shank. (love Obama but couldn’t help it)

  89. sethcoder says:

    Washington hands down… Just watch this video for proof.

  90. Teresa Gregori 2559495 says:

    It would come down to Roosevelt and Bush senior in which Roosevelt would win from being able to handle more injuries, he would be the last man standing until John Tyler, who everyone forogt about and was just playing dead with no injuries, would come out of nowhere and take down the unsuspecting Roosevelt.

  91. Bashiru Olawoye says:

    This is a great revelation! I was reading one review @ http://topclickbankproduct.com/ when I was directed to digg.com and saw this great and loaded piece. I would like to share it with my friends

  92. Grant and Ike are clearly underrated. See them pairing up early and cleaning house…….

  93. Benji says:

    No no no ! Vice-President fighting is where it’s at! Imagine Dick Cheney (shot a guy in the face) versus Aaron Burr (Killer of Alexander Hamilton). :D

  94. acilius says:

    Good points above about Monroe and Taylor, but the only way Jackson loses is if all the others gang up on him. Which, as a group of extremely successful politicians, they would almost certainly do. So sneakiness would probably be the key thing, and the people who’ve said that Madison’s shortness might be an advantage are probably right.

  95. ryan says:

    Not only did Lyndon Johnson have heart trouble, he was a huge pussy. Read Robert Caro’s books on him– as a kid and in college, whenever LBJ’s big mouth got him into trouble and someone wanted to throw down, the big oaf would drop onto his back and kick wildly in the air at his foe. He also weasled his way out of WWII combat; tagged along on a single short flight in the Pacific arena, but otherwise did administrative work in California. He wasn’t a fan of JFK, but I don’t think it would take long for someone to get a knife past those flailing gangly legs.

    • I see you beat me to that stuff on Johnson…good call! I think Johnson’s only hope might be to turn some of the other Presidents against each other….now that would have been something he’d have been good at….a “knife fight Iago”.

  96. Diogo R. says:

    Great post. Gonna start working on a Brazilian version, including all presidents, military dictators and emperors!

  97. rmf says:

    I have not read through all the comments but this is yeomans work. I think the real problem with TR is his vision. He always had vision problems, so I assume that this would not be corrected for him. I also would assume that he had his full hearing which was really damaged during a boxing accident in the White House

  98. haz says:

    I don’t think TR would have much trouble with the field. While Jackson was certainly a cold-blooded bad ass with an iron constitution, experience in battle, and incredible will, he was almost 62 when he assumed the presidency and was nearly invalid as a result of two lead bullets long lodged in his body. TR, on the other hand, was and remains the youngest man ever to have taken the country’s highest office, and was in magnificent physical condition at the time of his inauguration. A celebrated boxer in college, a highly experienced hunter handy with a knife, a man of unmatched energy and ambition, fearless in combat — I think he’d get through this without breaking a sweat.

  99. redSonja says:

    What an amazing site/blog! I hope you don’t mind but I sent your link to Spike TV’s “Deadliest Warrior” http://www.spike.com/shows/deadliest-warrior
    in the hopes that they’ll produce “Deadliest President”…
    redSonja

  100. Acilius says:

    One more thing. Thomas Jefferson may rate low on BQ (Badass Quotient) and expertise in hand-to-hand combat, but he had a personality that dominated Madison, Monroe, and the Adamses. Jefferson, Monroe, and the younger Adams were among the most physically fit of the presidents, and Monroe was an expert in hand-to-hand combat who had one of the highest BQs of all presidents, as History Teacher X pointed out above. So together, they would form a very formidable coalition in the early stages of the fighting. Madison was in good shape too, and his small stature would enable him to make good use of the cover provided by the corpses of other dead presidents in later stages, so he would be a deadly ally despite his very low BQ. So I’m thinking Jefferson should rank higher.

  101. Joe R says:

    Don’t neglect that Pierce is related to 41 and 43 as well thru 43’s beloved Mother, Barbara.

  102. Sarcastic Mike says:

    You ever play pickup basketball on the South Side of Chicago? It isn’t a knife fight (usually), but it’s close.

    Obama is unlikely to make the top ten, but his basketball skills mark him as someone who is long, quick and agile. I also assume he’d fall into an alliance with his holy trinity hero.

  103. Bruce says:

    Don’t underestimate the fighting ability of either Teddy Roosevelt and Obama. “US President Teddy Roosevelt … had been involved in both boxing and wrestling. After witnessing a demonstration of judo by Yoshiaka Yamashita against a wrestler at the White House, Roosevelt began studying the art under this teacher, eventually becoming the first American to achieve the rank of [3rd degree] brown belt.” (http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=167 and http://themartialartsreporter.com/first-us-american-judo-brown-belt-and-26th-us-president/) and “Obama is known to have studied [tae kwon do] for four years from 2001, when he was a junior senator in Illinois.”(http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1229312/O-bam-U-S-President-shows-martial-arts-skills-visit-South-Korea.html).

  104. [...] found this post at Face In The Blue, going through each of the 44 presidents and asking which would win in a 44-President knifefight [...]

  105. marcus says:

    George W. Bush ain’t no war veteran. Guy couldn’t handle a pea shoot, never mind a knife fight.

    Your Republican bias is pretty obvious in your choice for the last several presidents.

  106. David says:

    Obama could not be a contender, lest he risk giving up his Nobel Peace Prize (not that he did anything to earn it). Barack would probably get whipped anyway and find a way to blame it on Bush. He would then send in Seal Team 6 and take personal credit for the victory. I think Lincoln (the first Republican president) or Andrew Jackson (the first democratic president) would be strong contenders, particularly in their youth. However, I think it would come down to a tie-breaker between T. Roosevelt and Jackson (if they could both be pitted in their prime). A caveat would be that Roosevelt would have to leave behind his custom-made Springfield 30.06 and Jackson would have to leave his dueling pistols behind. These two guys truly loved to fight.

    • Michael says:

      T.R. won the Nobel Peace Prize, too (and arguably did even less to earn it.) Carter’s got one as well. What’s your point, other than Obama-bashing?

      • David says:

        Michael. Excellent point, and, in truth, I was unfair with Obama. I was never clear on the rationale for Obama being selected for this honor(“for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” – really?), but there have been many dubious recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, including the beloved Mother Teresa. She was a goddess of self-sacrificing service, but she did little to fulfill the chartered requirements for the NPP (but, true to her character, she refused the ceremony and donated the money to the poor).The NPP is ostensibly rewarded to a person who “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” TR did help broker a peace agreement between the Russians and Japanese.

        I am not against roasting any president (bashing is a bit too trendy for me), but I picked Obama as a president with some fairly fresh material from which to draw. If it were, perhaps, 1970, I would be happy to cast a few barbs at RMN. Perhaps I should stay more on topic, but I thought a hypothetical knife fight between past POTUSs sounded like a topic that might allow some creative fun.

        If we included VPs and unsuccessful POTUS candidates, I think Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy could have been contenders. Both are aggressive guys with a strong history of college athletics.

  107. Mac says:

    This is genius. This is now the single most important aspect of presidential candidates for me. I don’t believe in campaign promises anyway…so I’m now voting based solely on assumed scrapper abilities.

    Thank you for making an actual difference in our political landscape. It’s about time.

    • redSonja says:

      So on an one-on-one fight between Obama & Romney–which one would win?

      • Mac says:

        I’m going to go with Romney on this one. Mostly because his hair (and personality) just seem greasier, and I think he’d be able to continually slip away from Obama.

        Both contenders are so weak however, I’m thinking of writing in Chuck Norris’ beard.

      • Bette Souza says:

        Depends on if Romney could get a crew together to hold Obama down. Seriously Romney moves very cautiously like an old man and his wife drives the waterskidoo. He is quite a bit older than Obama and not nearly as quick on his feet. Plus a point for Obama for working in South Chicago. Romney loses a point for riding a bike in France.

  108. Lothar says:

    Don’t underestimate Grover Cleveland. He had half of his upper jaw removed under late 19th century surgical techniques while telling everyone that he only had a tooth taken out. He can take a lot of punishment without showing it.

  109. Reblogged this on The Dana Jamboree and commented:
    Sometimes, it’s analyses like these that I want to discuss over cognac and cigars. Enjoy.

  110. Thomas Parker says:

    That’s entertainment, for sure. But I’d like to see a seeded tournament rather than a free-for-all where luck (especially the bad kind) would be overemphasized.

  111. Kalbir says:

    Unfortunately Johnson was a wimp. He was afraid of fighting and would run and tell tales as a kid when other kids tried to get him involved. At teaching college he wildly flailed his arms when challenged to a fight and looked so ridiculous that the oppressors ran off laughing.

    What he was amazing at was persuading people to do stuff for him. He would definitely have had convinced a group of weaker presidents to stick together, rally round him and work to pick off the dangerous guys. Then he probably would have stabbed them in the back. That’s a potentially winning strategy.

  112. David Diano says:

    SO… The only black guy does the worst in a knife fight?

    I don’t think the GOP could handle that concept, unless they thought all the white guys would team up first to kill him.

    • bubba says:

      biracial , but raised white

    • Dallas says:

      Yes. He never really had the rough childhood OR military experience (theoretical and otherwise) that others had. While wily, I do think he would go down early due to overconfidence or ignorance of strategy.

      Sometimes it’s just not about race.

    • Bette Souza says:

      No because Obama is one of the youngest, he is quick on his feet, and can psych people out…like telling jokes at the press club while knowing his career was hanging in the balance of getting Bin Laden that same day. He’s cool headed and analytical. He volunteered to work in South Side of Chicago. He ate dog in Indonesia. First out would be Andrew Johnson who was a tailor and sewed up a quilt for his girlfriend and also got impeached.

  113. [...] Face in the Blue has the answer to this essential question, rating each president from George Washington on.  (But wasn’t it President Obama who said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun“?) 1) George Washington – Commanding presence, strong physique, military training, viewed as a hero by everyone asked to shank him: He makes Top 10 without question. Of the guaranteed top three (I’m going to call them the Holy Trinity for the purposes of this rambling rundown), my money is on Jackson being the one who murders him; he wouldn’t blink, either. They were closer in age, and the hero myth wouldn’t be quite as firmly set. Besides, I’m pretty sure Jackson didn’t blink when he sneezed… [...]

  114. Crissa says:

    I dunno, I think half of the Presidents would underestimate Obama and him being the kid amongst them would avoid any real targeting. He would prolly go down trying to protect one of our later, more peaceful presidents. Or end up backing up Lincoln or FDR and taking one for him.

  115. Joe says:

    LBJ has to be accounted for — his ability to flatter and threaten his way to leadership in the senate would serve him well in such an arena, as would his ruthless ambition. He’s a good bet for the top five, though his pattern of hesitation and indecisiveness when in sight of the prize could be his fatal flaw. He would definitely serve as FDR’s capo before consolidating his own power base. My top ten sleeper pick is Truman, (who served as a loyal soldier under fire during WWI) who could fly under the radar as a second in command until the final moments of the conflict, only to emerge with a stockpile of weapons as his fellow combatants stand bloody and wearied…

  116. There was a Star Trek episode a little like this, but Lincoln tried negotiating and was killed early on… I have to give the nod to Jackson becasue he would have fought hand to hand in the Indian wars… when all you had was a smoothbore flintlock you fought hand to hand more.

  117. Randal Grant says:

    Lincoln probably had Marfan’s Syndrome, which would have rendered him less capable than you state.

  118. M 17 says:

    Nixon wins. His survival instincts and win at all costs mentality will be the difference as he inserts G Gordon Liddy and crew into the melee and they make short work of the field. Cheating yes, but who’s going to stop it? Jackson hangs on until the end, but succumbs to a poison dart from the Nixon camp.

  119. Benjamin Harrison took a bullet in the Civil War, so grant him toughness.

  120. [...] Ladies and gentlemen, Geoff Micks wins the Internet! Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:58 pm Tags: Geoff Micks In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? [...]

  121. valarissa says:

    Eisenhower was an Olympian in his prime. He did decently in the Pentathalon and took out the lead fencer in their duel. He’s one hell of a scrapper and I think I’d put him slightly ahead of Jackson, particularly if he used some of that diplomacy to team up with others for the long run.

  122. haddayr says:

    I loved everything about this, especially the tone which infers that this fight will be happening any day, now. But I am puzzled by the inclusion, with no explanation, of Lincoln in the Holy Trinity. Was it just his reach? He was only a bit over 6 foot 3 and from what I hear all his height came from his legs. Plus he was depressed, which doesn’t exactly make you quick on your feet. Possible Marfan Syndrome, certainly overly loose joints. He also didn’t appear particularly personally ruthless, but perhaps you are crediting his willingness to go to war instead of letting the South go as personal stick-to-it-iveness that would have served him well?

    • acilius says:

      I’m with you. Also, I doubt the importance of reach in general. Sure, reach would be vital if you were fighting mano a mano, but in a mass knife fight long arms are much less of an advantage than long legs are a disadvantage. If you’re tall, you’re visually conspicuous, and if you’re visually conspicuous, you’re a prime target.

      • Andronicus says:

        Lincoln: “the Rail Splitter” — brutal with an axe. I do think Zachary Taylor is just as lethal though, no question.

  123. Bennett says:

    Military veterans know that size, strength, and reach play no part in the ability to kill a fellow human being. The human species, like all species, has a natural aversion to killing members of the same species. The main goal of boot camp is to eliminate this aversion. That narrows the list of possible winners to Presidents who have served in the military. But, even after boot camp, some soldiers are still incapable of killing a man with a rifle, much less so, up close with a knife! That narrows the list down to Presidents who have actually killed a man. Of those, you have to give the edge, literally, to Andrew Jackson.

  124. Woody Taft says:

    Taft was an all-city wrestler in Cincinnati, spent time in the Phillipines (where they still honor him) and managed the Panama Canal project for a year or so. Only fifty-two when he was elected, he would put up a better fight than you give him credit for. A big target for sure, but a lot of fat to protect vital organs. Stood up to Roosevelt when Teddy wanted to come back to office, so he’s mentally tough too. He’d go pretty far.

  125. Patrick McMenamin says:

    I think you’re going about this all wrong. The answer to this question is whichever President is more likely to fight like Butch Cassidy (go 1:20 in): http://www.yourememberthat.com/media/6852/Butch_Cassidy_Knife_Fight_Scene/#.UEoJ-Gie65M

    Then the answer is obvious: Grover Cleveland.

  126. egatseos says:

    Reblogged this on evangelos gatseos and commented:
    hilarious…

  127. I think you’re underselling Hayes a bit; part of a free-for-all knife fight is going to be the ability to keep going, through injury– and Hayes was wounded 5 times in the space of 35 months during an era when medicine was essentially ‘Drink whiskey while we flip a coin to see if we cut it off’.

    Toughness matters, and RBH should be a Top 5 candidate.

  128. Snap Wilson says:

    Loved this article and agree with Teddy as the winner. Lincoln wouldn’t make the final three. He never saw combat and, more importantly, never actually killed anyone. In a bare-knuckle brawl, I’d make him the favorite, but a knife fight requires a special brand of crazy, and (to his credit) I don’t think Lincoln had it. Andrew Jackson racks up the highest body count, but I think inevitably people would gang up on him out of sheer terror. Teddy’s only weakness might be trying to protect FDR, but let’s be real. Are you going to lose a knife fight over your fifth cousin? Of course not. Plus, FDR was a pragmatist. He’d intentionally go out early so that Teddy wouldn’t have to worry about him.

    The final two would be Roosevelt and Nixon (who, of course, only lasted this long by playing dead). Nixon tries to sneak up on him, but Teddy’s no fool. He waits right before Nixon strikes, disarms him, punches him in the face repeatedly before finishing him off.

    (Okay, I just love the idea of Teddy Roosevelt repeatedly punching Nixon in the face.)

  129. Rick Hooker says:

    One of my favorite presidential triva questions is : Which presidents ever killed someone? I don’t have the complete answer. I do know that Andrew Jackson killed at least one, and he’s the only one I’m sure about. The presidents with military service are the best bets to be included, but probably only those with combat experience; Ike, as far as I know would be one who never wielded a weapon in the field. Grant could have, in Mexico, T.R. In Cuba, or on the fronteer. Washington saw a lot of action in the French and Indian war where he was in close-quarters combat, although an officer. I hope you may have a full answer. There are some who could have caused deaths directly from their own actions, such as George H.W. Bush in his torpedo plane in WWII; if he hit a ship he would know he’s killed people, but I have never heard one way or another about that, Harry Truman commanded an artillery battery in WWI, but he would not always know if the fire of his unit had hit the enemy for ceratin, and he was not firing the guns himself. I liked very much how you broke down the presidents’ chances in the fight and why you thought they would stick around or go to the end. I fully agree with your top three, would like an ending where Abe takes out Old Hickory, then looks at TR and says, “Teddy’, thats’ enough, where’s my hat?

  130. [...] In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why?. [...]

  131. Julie Waddle says:

    I think you’re wrong about Kennedy. My bet is the early presidents would look at him and go, ‘wimp!’ and target him to go out quick.

    I also think you’re giving Polk short shrift – he knew what he wanted, and he got it. If he wants to live, and we’re assuming he would, I think he’s top 10 material.

    Lincoln’s height would actually make him more of a target, so, despite my first instinct of ‘Lincoln, of course!’, I’m going with Andrew Jackson. T Roosevelt’s tougher, but Jackson’s meaner.

  132. [...] in the Oval Office, with a Hickory Stick This is one of the best things I have seen in FOREVER! Earlier today someone asked the question, In a [...]

  133. Ted says:

    Love it, My only quibble is with the Adams’. John was a farmer as well as a lawyer and used to hard horseback rides between PA and Mass in the winter. He’s more likely to get it while protecting his son. Similar to your scenario with the Bush’s.

    I agree about Jackson’s body count, but I think Lincoln was much too strong for Teddy and is just as stubborn. Especially if someone told him the only way to save the Union was to be the last president standing. (this should be the blog title)

  134. Big Scooter says:

    Old Hickory wins hands down…simply refer to his quote here:
    “I have only two regrets: I didn’t shoot Henry Clay and I didn’t hang John C. Calhoun.”

  135. Geri Monsen says:

    Abraham Lincoln over Andrew Jackson? No way! Andrew Jackson personally blungeoned a guy trying to assassinate him, while Lincoln got a bullet in his brain without even noticing what was happening. Lincoln was a strong guy, but Andrew Jac
    kson not only had military experience in the War of 1812 and in previous battles against Native American tribes but also participated in two duels. Lincoln wouldn’t have a chance. Andrew Jackson and Teddy Rosevelt would be an even match at the finish.

    • David says:

      Maybe not totally fair. AJ’s would-be assassin came at him head on and he had two miss-fires with his pistols. AJ was actually pretty infirm at the time, but showed spunk in going after the guy with his cane. Still, AJ was very lucky. JWB snuck up behind Abe during a play.

      • Geri Monsen says:

        Yeah, I was trying to be a bit funny with that part. But still, Andrew Jackson had significant military experience, including in the use of hand-to-hand weapons like bayonets and clubs. Plus, the two gun duels he was in shows that he wouldn’t be one to back down. Abraham Lincoln had no personal military experience at all. Lincoln was tall and strong, so he’d beat a lot of the more “dandy” presidents, but his lack of personal combat experience should drop him down several pegs.

  136. Gary Murray says:

    I would venture to say Garfield was a very tough cHaracter and Lincoln an excellent wrestler but Jackson would be ruthless and eventually put down Garfield although he may die of infections months later

  137. Gary Murray says:

    gerald ford cannot be forgotten All American offensive lineman at Michigan

  138. [...] 7th, 2012 If you want to know what people do when they have too much time on their hands, now you know Earlier today someone asked the question, In a mass knife fight to the death between every American [...]

  139. If you bring in the first ladies, you have to give it to the Obamas. But then again, I think the only first lady to kill a man was the wife of 43…

  140. brian says:

    the 5 living ex presidents under lincoln would gang up on him and kill him early. they were pretty pissed about his arrest and repression of political enemies especially president tyler who join the confeserate congress.

  141. Zac says:

    Jackson. Period.

    Teddy would be an early favorite, but go down sooner than expected, Lincoln is a dark horse that almost makes it but dies with a pretty speech on his lips.

    Jackson is the crazy, mean, son of a bitch who actually has experience murdering other human beings outside of war-time. And he loved it.

  142. bregister says:

    Reagan was never in the military.

  143. Matthew says:

    Truman is heavily underestimated, he had a grip of steel, was an actual farmer(tough), and served in WW1-trench warfare. He was tough, and appears very quick. Reach is cool but quickness counts. Reagan was 4F and a wimp actor. Teddy was tough for a pampered dandy, but had 2000 servants for his safaris, and lost his vision boxing another pampered dandy- not in a bar fight. Washington was a warrior when guns were used more effectively for bludgeoning than shooting and would kill Teddy and Jackson(who was a bully and only picked on smaller/older/defenceless people). Unless you are a Navy SEAL or were in the Pacific Theater as Infantry or Marines, only the actual war veterans and brawlers from WW1 and earlier stand a chance. Your list is way off.

  144. Some Guy says:

    Endurance and foot speed play more into this than just sheer strength. The guy who can run the fastest and the farthest has a definite advantage. G.W. was a health nut while in office. He frequently ran and biked and he’d routinely out pace his secret service guards.

    For a more humorous take, let’s not forget that both G.W. and Obama are/were coke heads. And there’s no easy way to put down a coke head. Combine that with W’s penchant for long and strenuous bike rides and you’ve got yourself a tweaker with the reflexes of Spider Man and the endurance of a horse. Obama, unfortunately, is a smoker and casual b-ball player. That’s not going to be enough.

  145. ArmchairStabber says:

    The outcome of the fight would differ if they were all given the 44 Wikipedia links and a few hours to read up, after being transported in time and plopped in the arena. That would level the playing field quite a bit. Perhaps they could be given an edited version, leaving out their own presidencies, so they wouldn’t get too distracted thinking about their historical legacies or manner of their own deaths (aside from the knife fight).

    If they were plopped down and given just 60 seconds in their circles to evaluate the situation before being released, like in the Hunger Games, it would be different. The later presidents would know all about the earlier ones, but the ones who died in the early 1800s would have to do a lot of guessing on who was crafty, who had military experience, who had hidden health problems, whether the black guy is supposed to be here, etc. Without prep time, generally the strategic advantages goes to the later presidents.

    Either way, I say you’ve overestimated Lincoln. Yeah, he was tall and gangly, and strong as a youth. But by the time of his presidency, he smoked and drank too much, he was dignified in public, and he was very averse to unnecessary bloodshed (and as he believed, its eternal consequences for the soul). Someone shorter and tougher would bury a knife in his ribs while he was still straightening his jacket.

    I also think you’ve underestimated Bush 43. Do you remember the look in his eye when that Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at him? Pure vengeful bloodlust. He would take a lot of people out. I disliked him intensely as a President, but as a knife-fighter, I like his odds.

  146. Josh says:

    I think you undersold LBJ. He got things done by scaring the bejesus out of his opponents (see the “Johnson treatment”). He was a huge rough and tumble Texan. I’d say top 5 at least.

  147. thatbob says:

    Nobody seems to remember that you will have to kill Grover Cleveland twice. Not that he’ll be able to make much of this advantage – the man was hardly built for stealth.

  148. scc1001 says:

    I think Grant is being seriously underrated here. After winning Fort Donelson in 1862 he is reported to have told the Confederate commander, “No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted” and then he fought for three more years, despite the oft-noted fact that he “didn’t like blood”. He’s the guy who sent Sherman off on the march through Georgia. For a guy who supposedly didn’t have an appetite for violence, he sure managed to commit plenty of it. He was also an obvious advocate of total war and a proven strategist (unlike Washington, who lost most battles he fought). Winning a free-for-all like the one suggested here would involve a lot of strategy – getting other presidents to kill one another. Grant wouldn’t hesitate to use other people’s weaknesses, alliances and family connections against them. I feel fairly certain John Quincy would end up brutally murdered in front of John Adams just to crush him and make him give up the fight.

    I also think it’s worth taking the anti-blood comment in context. I, personally “don’t like blood” and I’ve maybe seen one serious cut in my whole life. Grant “didn’t like blood” but he would have routinely been in places with piles of amputated human limbs gathering flies all day long. For years on end.

    TR’s little run up Kettle Hill makes him pretty much a dilettante by comparison.

  149. Sophist says:

    One on one, you gotta go with Teddy – he’d stomp a mudhole in your ass and then declare it a national park. In a general melee, though, anything is possible.

  150. palaeosam says:

    Point of clarification: do the presidents only know the presidents in their past and present, as they do/did in real life? Or do they all know one-another’s history? The fight outcome could vary a lot depending on which. If the former, then: later presidents would have a tactical advantage over earlier ones; earlier presidents would be instinctively mistrustful of later ones that they would have otherwise sided with; later presidents would have a strategic advantage gunning for earlier ones they oppose without the earlier ones having any idea.

    Fascinating scenario, I must say – I learnt a lot about the presidents reading this (it doesn’t come up in great detail in the UK curriculum). I’d be inclined to see this topic presented in the US classroom: talk about making history engaging and making people want to learn!

  151. [...] If there was a huge knife fight involving every American president, who would win? [...]

  152. [...] In a Mass Knife-Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? [...]

  153. wilcarletti says:

    Not sure if someone posted this before me, as I didn’t read all 239 comments, however, Abraham Lincoln suffered from depressed and was scared to carry a knife (being that he might end his own life), which would certainly throw a wrench in the holy trinity theory. Very entertaining piece, just thought I’d share that info.

  154. [...] professors I respect, have contributed to this debate or have retweeted links to it. See here, here, and [...]

  155. Mark says:

    W was possibly the most physically fit President ever, at least from a cardiovascular standpoint. That would seem to help. Also, GHWB and Clinton have become friends post-presidency — perhaps Slick would join the Bushes in an alliance.

  156. John Goetz says:

    Andrew Jackson my choice history says he was a mean son of bitch stood up front with his troops at the battle of new Orleans. He has the experience the will and the knowledge of knife fighting. Back then Once you ran out of shot your back up was your knife. I would like to see jimmy carter bill Clinton and obama in a knife fight that would be hilarious. They would hurt them selfs pretty bad.

  157. Wil says:

    Very entertaining! Being that I didn’t read all 239 comments, I’m not sure if someone has already acknowledged the fact that Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression, and was actually scared to carry a knife (being that he may end his own life). Thought this was equally entertaining and would certainly hamper his chances in a “knife fight”

  158. [...] Micks risks a visit from the feds to answer the vital historical question, "In a mass knife fight to the death between every American president, who would win and why?" The short answer is Theodore Roosevelt. The long answer includes a quick summary of how each [...]

  159. Justasheep says:

    This would be a great idea for Disney – tear down the the “Hall of Presidents” and rebuild “The Presidents, Thunderdome Style”.

  160. [...] Roosevelts, and Bushes, with a footnote for the Harrisons); they gave the win to George H. W. Bush. Face in the Blue took a more person-by-person approach and called it for Teddy [...]

  161. jman says:

    Didn’t William Henry Harrison slaughter all the Indians in the Northwest Territory back in 1800? Might be tougher than you think!

  162. [...] Just for fun var axel = Math.random() + ""; var ord = axel * 1000000000000000000; document.write(''); Presidential knife fight. http://faceintheblue.wordpress.com/2…d-win-and-why/ [...]

  163. [...] In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Depthdynamics. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  164. Cameron says:

    Garfield was ambidextrous and used to work out on the White House lawn juggling clubs (like bowling pins for weight and size). Surely that has to count for something.

  165. Pacopond says:

    Awesome. The Hunger for Power Games. Don’t sell Obama short. Along with Geo W Bush, one of the most fit presidents in history. He’s got length, speed, and a quick coolness in execution. He would probably migrate to the side of the Great Emancipator and end up taking out a backstabbing Tricky Dick, but end mortally wounded in the process.

  166. andrew jackson hands down, best melee combatant of the mix and he had unmatched guile and tenacity

  167. chas says:

    you got washington way over-rated. he was as much a dandy as jefferson. but the winner by far is Jackson. not only did he bludgeon a guy who tried to kill but he in a duel he fought before elected life he willingly took a bullet (in the chest) and then stood his ground and fired a fatal shot. a guy like that can take a lot stabbing before he’ll go down.

  168. Reblogged this on Jamiethebikers stories, facts, & outright lies and commented:
    Pretty sure Teddy would best all comers.

  169. Chester White says:

    Lincoln. No question. He was an incredible specimen. Immense strength.

  170. Scott says:

    My vote is for Jackson or Washington, depending on exactly what kind of knife fight we’re talking about.

    Any man who can take a very large caliber lead bullet to the chest and not even flinch, then take careful aim at his opponent and shoot to kill is not a man to be trifled with. I seriously doubt more than a handful of the other presidents had that kind of fortitude combined with an absolute killer instinct, so Jackson has to be the favorite in a scenario that has a true free-for-all melee flavor to it. When that man decided to kill someone, no power on earth would stop him.

    If it is every man for himself – Jackson has to be a favorite.

    If you allow for the use of tactics and the formation of alliances, then Washington gets the nod.

    Experienced Indian fighter, fought the French, fought his own king, had the good judgement to know when to build a concensus, knew how to build alliances, knew when to hang a few men by way of example to instill discipline, and knew when to pick his battles and go toe-to-toe with the opposition.

    Personally brave AND physically fit in addition to extensive martial experience in everything from hand to hand combat to leading entire armies….gotta be Washington.

    Heck, even the British consider him to be the greatest foe they ever faced in their centuries of empire!

    TR, Lincoln….doubt they would even make it into the top 5. 2nd placed doesn’t count as they are still dead, so you are left with Jackson and Washington squaring off in the end.

  171. BeeJay says:

    Just a note to let you know you are wrong about Jackson being “reckless enough to go down first.” Jackson showed up at what he knew would be a duel to the death wearing a coat that disguised just how slender his body was. Then he let his opponent shoot first knowing his opponent was the better shot, and he could not possibly beat the man if he shot hurriedly. His opponent aimed for Jackson’s heart and missed Jackson’s heart-by about 1 inch–the coat fooled him. Jackson didn’t flinch; his opponent stood in amazement thinking he had missed Jackson entirely. Jackson then shot his opponent in the stomach knowing that would kill him. It may look like a reckless tactic, but it was cool and deliberate.
    Jackson lived with that bullet in his chest and another in his arm(from another duel) for the rest of his life.
    Jackson would be the winner, hands down.

  172. Radiophoria says:

    1) This seriously just about the sickest “what if” I have ever come across (heh heh) For shame, sirs. For shame!

    That said,

    2) You underestimate Gerald Ford at your peril. He was a sailor in the Pacific and did battle with the full force of Typhoon Cobra. Reading his account of what he had to do to help save his ship literally raised the hair on the back of my neck. Even if he was the type to fight for others rather than himself, he would probably be ferocious all the same.

    3) It was so oddly touching how you portrayed the Bushes. Gotta back you on that one. Word.

  173. [...] “In a mass knife fight to the death between every American President, who would win and why?&#… [...]

  174. Nick says:

    I don’t think I read one comment of support for Bill Clinton. I predict he finish’s in second behind Andrew Jackson. I see Taft going down first as the most obvious target. Then I see the clever, but cowardly Clinton diving underneath the big fellow. Clinton lasts until they start removing the dead bodies. The grin on Old Hickory’s face and the look on Bill’s would make the entire seen worth watching.

  175. BB Kers says:

    I would like to see a computerized sequel to thefirstround competition. The Presedential Winner gets to go to combat with these 16 historical Native American chiefs (in their prime) in a last man standing knife competition over crowning the real badass of North American statesman. Now we are talking!

    Chief Osceola (Seminole Nation)
    Chief Tecumseh (Shawnee Nation)
    Chief Sassacus (Pequot Nation)
    Chief Logan (Iroquios Nation)
    Chief Cochise (Chiricahua Apache Nation)
    Chief Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache Nation)
    Chief Satanta (Kiowa Nation)
    Chief Black Hawk (Saux Nation)
    Chief Pontiac (Ottawa Nation)
    Chief Petalesharo (Pawnee Nation)
    Chief Crazy Horse (Oglala Lakota Nation)
    Chief Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Lakota Nation)
    Chief Roman Nose (Cheyenne Nation)
    Chief Quannah Parker (Comanche Nation)
    Chief Josef (Nez Perce Nation)
    Chief Crowfoot (Blackfoot Nation)

    Now it gets interesting…Who do you bet on and why?

  176. kate says:

    I think you are a little off – let us say that each also knows the history of what each has done as president.. The Founding Presidents would make a pact and stick together they did it in the beginning and they will do it to the end – Washington would end up the last standing do to that alone. First to go Obama, Clinton, FDR, Woodrow Wilson, the Bushes, and all of the progressives .. Sorry you think Teddy was a hunter well they all were hunters in the 1700s he is a progressive and has a target on his back. All the Presidents after 1900 are first targets – Lincoln would go early too no military experience whatsoever – Jackson will take him out quickly. Jefferson was an avid fencer in his school days so I don’t think he would go down as easy as you think and he was also tall. When it gets down to just the Founders – Adams will take out Madison for taking out his son and Jefferson and Adams will take each other out leaving Washington in his chair with the sunrise on it.

  177. struan robertson says:

    Don’t know about JFK. He managed to manuver a 36 knot PT boat into position to be T-boned by a 16 knot Japanese cruiser. Says many things about ability & judgement.

  178. Stephanie says:

    I suspect that Washington would last a long time, not only because of his size, strength an ferocity, but because none of the other guys would want to go down in history as the Man Who Murdered the Father of Our Country.

  179. Patrick Ley says:

    A knife fight where early wounds can take their toll much later, and small errors can be catastrophic, among people who, even those used to battle are unused to this sort of fight, with opponents, most of whom are unknown to you seems like the exact scenario where unpredictability of the contest is at maximum. In a betting scenario I’d hope to bet on what horse racing calls “The Field” the set of Presidents least likely to win (assuming that their collective odds are undervalued)

    If I must pick a single most likely combatant, I’m fond of Clinton actually. Early on alliances will be necessary, and Clinton is a coalition builder. Later on Clinton’s “Aw shucks” demeanor belies both his intelligence, and his willingness to be ruthless. It’s true that he has never been as fit as some presidents, or as used to combat, but none of them come from this style, and from my very limited knowledge of knife fighting I suspect that physical fitness matters less than you mught expect compared to ruthlessness and will.

  180. If we pontificated a similar scenario, but with the First Ladies instead of the presidents…Eleanor Roosevelt would destroy them all like Bane broke Batman’s back.

  181. IgnatiusHood says:

    This whole thing demands quantification! I think every president needs to be mapped on a 10 point scale for the following attributes

    ~Health
    ~Training
    ~Personality
    ~Determination
    ~Legacy (I think we need to assume that all of them would have had a chance to understand what the others did as President)

    These could always be expanded and they would likely need to be weighted but in my opinion these 5 attributes (still subjective sure) would be the most important. For example I’ll place George Washington.

    ~Health 5 (Decent sized guy and I would say average health)
    ~Training 7 (Military man not afraid of a fight)
    ~Personality 4 (all accounts have him as kind of a dick)
    ~Determination 9 (no question he had some grit)
    ~Legacy 9 (one of the founding fathers, he would be a beacon of awesome in the pit)

  182. matt matt says:

    The author seems to assume that each president would fight individually. I think that’s completely wrong. I think you’d have each of three historical eras (roughly Washington-Buchanan; Lincoln-Taft; Wilson-present) coalesce into three teams led by their chief wartime president (Washington, Lincoln, FDR) and chief wartime general (Washington again, Grant, Ike). Teddy Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson would opt out, each taking a “lone wolf” approach. Team FDR-Ike simply lacks the survivalist instics of earlier eras or experience with knife-fighting, and would be largely destroyed in a bloodbath early, with Grant personally gutting Ike. Teddy would come to the aid of FDR and make a herioc effort, but the numbers would simply overwhelm them since it wouldn’t take long for the two earlier eras to be overcome with disgust for the modern era and team up against it. Jackson would stab both Lincoln and Washington in the back as the two remaining teams turned against each other. Left leaderless, Team Washington would quickly succomb to Team Grant, but in the process some disaffected members would defect to a new team led by Jackson, who would use them for a while but ultimately stab them in the back too. When it all shook out, we’d be left with Grant and Hayes against Jackson. Hayes would refuse to turn on Grant, attacking Jackson knowing full well he’d never survive but scoring a wound to Jackson in the process. Ultimately, years of honing from the brutality of the Civil War would give a decisive advantage to Grant, who would take down Jackson in a 10 minute epic fight.

  183. Lsquad says:

    I think the intial melee would be pretty significant. Lots of presidents would be down in the first minutes. In this chaos, overaggresiveness could be a liability. I think Jackson bites off more than he can chew, and becomes a suprising early casualty. Starting position will also be critical. Say if the presidents start in arranged in a circle by presidency, you could expect Clinton to go down imedately to a tag team of Bush, and I think a potential team of McKinley, Roosevelt, and wheelchair equiped Roosevelt could tear through the early 20th century presidents before contending for the overall titles.

  184. Frog Jones says:

    There’s a lot of good points here, but I think I have to say this:

    In a massive, all-out knife fight, the winner is going to be George Washington. I have no doubt on this score. First off, the man is respected like hell by everyone – EVERYONE – that came after him, so they’re probably not going for George first. Secondly, George is tall. Like…TALL. #7 of all presidents.

    But the main thing is this: George Washington was a sneaky, treacherous son of a bitch. None of this “frontal assault=glory” bullshit that Roosevelt and Jackson subscribe to. No, Washington’s the kind of guy to cross a river in order to jack up a bunch of drunk Germans on Christmas morning. He knows how to fight a superior force, and he knows how to stay alive to fight to the end. He’s also been in the front of those fights, and I’m pretty sure that he’s actually stabbed some fuckers to death in the French/Indian wars. George is going to pull some treacherous shit off, maybe even play dead for a while, let everyone kill each other, conserve his strength, and then slice the throat of the guy who’s celebrating his alleged victory. The end.

  185. Honda says:

    I don’t know who would be last, but I’m pretty sure that Obama would among the first to go.

    Someone (Nixon?) would most likely get him in the kidneys while he was hanging curtains.

  186. Corey says:

    Carter is the only president to graduate from the US Naval Academy, he may have gotten some hand-to-hand combat training from a Marine drill instructor or two. And, Garfield was ambidextrous. That could be an advantage in a knife fight.

  187. jen says:

    US presidents hunger games?? haha would love to see your take on that…

  188. Festus McGonigle says:

    Love the idea. More! (Presidential kite-flying contest, cake-baking contest, scripture-quoting contest…)

    Now, about the obvious. Obama is black. Most of the presidents prior to 1860 either owned or hated black people or both. Most of those guys would go for him first.

    Only presidents since WWII might be inclined to feel sympathy for a black president. And of those, only Carter, possibly Clinton might actually fight for him. So I see Obama as the first dead, for historical reasons, and not for athletic reasons.

    Also: Jackson won many knife fights. Skill, not size, wins this war. He easily defeats Teddy who while a great boxer, gets shredded by any of brawlers on the list.

  189. Don’t Sell Washington short the man was a trained fencer (his own teacher declined to duel him) and spent his youth on the frontier. Formal Martial arts training and practical experience in the school of hard knocks is a potent combination

  190. S. says:

    Ronald Reagan was raised by a poor alcoholic father who was always broke in an era before CPS. And Washington, when he accompanied Braddock in the Seven Years’ War had his clothing torn several times by bullets, but his skin was never broken. He also rode in front of his troops in the middle of the Battle of Monmouth. If you add in the protection of Divine Providence, Washington wins going away.

  191. CJ says:

    A fun read. Thanks.

  192. [...] There can only be one: I’d bet on Andrew Jackson, too. [...]

  193. Gabriel says:

    I think due to the fact that Obama is a tad darker than most of his predecessors would lead to him being singled out by Taylor and the other more racist followers. He’s first 3 dead tops.

  194. Consider that Washington seemed to benefit from Divine Protection in combat. Huge man on horse. Always exposing himself. Two major wars. Kept getting horses shot out from under him and holes in hat and clothing but never wounded. Tough for mere mortals to overcome.

  195. [...] In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? Face in … __________________ "The only two things in life that make it worth livin' Is guitars that tune good and firm feelin' women" [...]

  196. thefatefullightning says:

    Great column.

    LBJ, hands down winner. All these men have commitment, dedication and focus at extremely high levels. All have taken life, some in direct combat, but LBJ was the most weasel-like in his ability to turn on anyone who he viewed as an enemy. He would find a way to stash, somewhere in that cloiseum, an Ithaca Featherweight Model 37 in 12-guage with a bandolier or two of 00-buck.

  197. tabby1249 says:

    This was a hoot and a half; a wonderful commentary that provided a much needed laugh on a dreary day. Thanks so much!

  198. No matter what happens in the arena, in a controversial 5/4 decision the Supreme Court declares George W. Bush the victor.

  199. Shawn says:

    I would dare to say Roosevelt or Jackson one or the other would not be in the final free. Roosevelt harbored an immense dislike for Jackson and would probably result in the death of one if not both of them.

  200. [...] in the Blue has a most excellent question of great historical and political import: In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? Which brought to my mind the bit of campaign fluff about whether Barak Obama is the kind of guy [...]

  201. [...] outcome? Hilarious….as are the comments here and over at the original reddit [...]

  202. noddles says:

    being a ranking officer may help in military strategy but no necessarily in a multi-fighter knife melee.
    actual hand to hand experience will give the edge

  203. [...] to enter a no holds barred mass knife fight to the death, who would win? We may never know, but I find this young man’s analysis as plausible as any. I disagree with his final conclusion, though. The obvious last man standing would be Chuck [...]

  204. Joe says:

    Truman wins. All these bigs names would get murdered because so many failed presidents would be upset about having to be compared to them. It literally takes just two people to go after Teddy and it’s over. It’s a knife fight. Truman is the president that has given the order till kill more human beings than anyone. That takes balls. And balls win knife fights

  205. TitaniumOrb13 says:

    A question: Are the presidents wearing the clothes of there era? If so, i would think the past presidents would be at a slight disadvantage as their clothes weren’t really made for maneuverability in this type of scenario. However if they are all outfitted with current military attire, again the presidents of the past might stop and marvel about the quality of the materiel and how they can move about more easily, leaving themselves open to an early attack.

  206. nelle says:

    On Carter, he was a Navy Commander and grew up on a farm. I doubt Jimmy was one to mess with in his younger days.

    • struan robertson says:

      Carter? This Carter? “President Attacked by Rabbit” (August 28, 1979). Carter would get squashed like a bug in the first 30 seconds.

      • Corey says:

        I agree with nelle. Carter is the only president to graduate from the Naval Academy, which means that he received some hand to hand combat training from Marine Corps Drill instructors. He may not win, but he has some training that others forget about. And, he won the fight with the rabbit.

      • Bette Souza says:

        You forget that he fought the rabbit off with an oar. He’s not afraid to kill.

    • You know who else grew up on a farm? Clark Kent.
      I’m not saying anything, I’m just saying.

  207. Kid Carboy Jr. says:

    I laughed my ass off at this today. Thanks for posting. Hilarious.

  208. the Cardinal says:

    I am going with Honest Abe he was a big dude that used to knock some heads in his prime. Had Abe seen John Wilkes-Booth that would be assassin would have been air mailed into the orchestra pit. Obama no way makes the top 20 he would distracted by cigarette break and a 3 on 3 hoops game that he though was going on.

  209. Brent Friendshuh says:

    Kate Brent, and Silence Dogood

    Before we can answer the question as to who would win this knife fight, we have a few questions that need to be asked, and pondered.

    1. Does Cleveland get two lives?

    2. Could a six inch blade actually reach one of Tafts organs?

    3. Since the fight would qualify as a time of crisis, could Hoover just pretend it wasn’t happening and become invisible?

    4. Could LBJ arrange to have the fight in Texas, perhaps surrounded by grassy knolls?

    5. Could Wilson declare himself a neutral entity and avoid any combat until the last possible moment?

    6. Would Jefferson be able to pretend he was sick or incompetent, and have his Vice President Aaron Burr fight in his place?

    7. If Washington was crowned the victor, would he be required to step down, retire and give up his crown?

    In the final analysis regardless of the answers to the above stated questions, we conclude that if Lincoln is given the opportunity to address the assembled combatants, he will convince them all to fall on their own knives in order to save the union. Then some disgruntled fan; ( perhaps an actor ) will shoot him from his private Booth; exclaiming Sic Semper Tyrannis. Fight over, all Presidents dead, no clear winner.

  210. 2011 Rolls-Royce 102EX Electric Concept Eksterior says:

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  211. Richie189 says:

    I reckon Madison might just be in with a chance. Short and devious he darts through the melee, unnoticed by his taller adversaries, hamstringing them with his knife in order to make them easy prey. Even LBJ wouldn’t then be able to wildly flail his legs around.
    Two dangers, though: It wouldn’t work on FDR, for obvious reasons and, secondly, there is always the danger of Madison being crushed if he misjudges a cut and Taft falls backwards…

  212. Sadly I think Lincoln was past his prime before he reached the presidency, and would be lucky to make it to the top 10.

    I think both Obama and W are underrated. The combination of their relatively young ages and benefits of modern medicine definitely place both of them in the top 20. Obama would certainly make it into the top ten. Others have mentioned how tough he is on the basketball court (he’s knocked out other player’s teeth, and lost a few of his own), and how long his reach is. Another thing to remember is how incredibly fast he is – remember the interview where he grabbed the fly out of the air? That’s seriously bad-ass quick.

  213. Drew S. says:

    Just for clarification, Special Forces Qualification Course grads are awarded a Yarborough Knife designed by Chris Reeves, not a Gerber. It would make Teddy unstoppable.

  214. SRees says:

    If they could know the future, the founding fathers would team up with Jackson. Their first mark would be Lincoln, who set precedence for taking away the states’ rights that they had so carefully guarded. Next would be FDR, LBJ, and W (homeland security), and Obama. They would then, for the same reason, methodically take out all of the modern presidents, except possibly Reagan, who because of his age would already be down. Washington and Jackson would be the last two left standing. In the end, it’s a toss-up. Jackson wasn’t as fool-hardy as people think. He could think things through under pressure, calculate his chances, and then, calmly take a bullet, if need be. Washington was very like him, just disguised his feelings a little better. So, it comes down to a slip, a flinch. I go with Jackson, but it could just as easily be Washington.

  215. JM Callahan says:

    Clinton and Obama would probably team up, wouldn’t get them through to the end but it might buy them some more time.

  216. [...] Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington on the diamond? With apologies to the presidential knife fight, here's a look at the leading candidates, and some reasonable rules for choosing [...]

  217. Allan Lanman says:

    What a bizarre concept. But with the givens I think that I would go with the “old Railsplitter” Abe Lincoln. And if he had any doubts about how to approach the melee, all he would have to do is read the book by Cassius Marcellus Clay on Bowie knife fighting. Clay was an ardent abolitionist in the slave state of Kentucky, campaigned heavily for Lincoln, and was Lincoln’s ambassador to Russia. (and yes it was ironic that Ali was convinced to give up his “slave name”, when it was a name of great honor in the fight for black freedom in the US.)
    And don’t confuse the picture we have of Lincoln after the strain of the Civil War years, with his his health when he entered the office.
    To bad Tippecanoe was sold old when he entered office, as a veteran of three wars he would have been a threat in this battle. Also too bad he wasn’t smart enough to protect himself from the Spring rain at his inauguration, giving the longest inauguration speech (over two hours) and riding in the parade without benefit of an overcoat.
    My top five would be Jackson, Teddy R,, Lincoln, LBJ, and George Washington. Washington had a brutal past during the French and Indian war, not a man to be trifled with. And as a long shot I might go with Col. Truman, people tend to forget his war record in WWI.

  218. [...] this post was inspired by author Geoff Micks and his commentary on an imaginary knife fight between all United States [...]

  219. Teddy the U.S. Marshall from the Wild West Wins! says:

    I don’t think there is any way Lincoln would make final three, probably not even final 10. He was not fit anymore by the time of his presidency, and in fact was often very downtrodden due to the war.

    Most importantly though; he’s easy to sneak up on from behind.

    I’m with the Face in the Blue though for the top one: Teddy Roosevelt. Ol’ Rough and Ready is… Rough and Ready. He went on just about every possible manly rugged adventure one could in his era, and those were the most manly and rugged in recent history. And everyone seems to forget that he was, in addition to all of the other wilderness and military awesomeness, a tough deputy sheriff in the heydey of the lawless wild west in the Dakota territories where he was in Deadwood and hunted outlaws in the area, one time capturing a group of thieves and deciding not to execute them on site, took them back to for trial, staying awake for forty hours straight to guard them and ensure they did not escape.

    No other president has a chance.

  220. Kennedy’s prime was as commander of PT-109; which sank. At which point he fought off shaks with a knife to get his men to shore.

    I would not mess with such a man.

  221. [...] * T.R. wasn't a loser.  He started the Rough Riders. He took a bullet and still gave a 90-minute speech. He is one of three U.S. presidents most likely to win a presidential knife fight. [...]

  222. NC Lawyer says:

    Harry Truman – World War I combat veteran. Forward artillery. Right in the thick of the worst fighting the US Army saw in that war. Not to be underestimated.

  223. Lyle Kittle says:

    Quite a number of them would be handicapped by the fact they were left-handed. being left-handed a bladed fight means your heart is much closer to your opponent and that’s a real weakness. Biggest reason that swordsmen were trained to hold their blade in their right hand. Obama, Clinton, and others would have their chances dramatically reduced.

  224. I gave my husband the parameters of this knife fight last night. He immediately said that TR would win, followed by George Washington. How did he do that?

  225. You made some decent points there. I checked on the net to find out
    more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on
    this site.

  226. Nicole says:

    Here’s the thing about mass-knife-fights-to-the-death.

    Motive.

    Assuming that only one emerges victorious, does the victor get any sort of prize? Or just, hey, you’re not dead? What happens as a result of the fight?

    Per the above, we are assuming the prime of health IN PRESIDENCY. So whatever time they were physically in-office.

    The result of the fight might very well impact the results, those assassinated or died by treatable illness might very well have more motive that would positively impact their performance.

    One person brought up another good point – do the earlier presidents get any sort of knowledge about successors outside of their lifetimes?

    Do they come in with the future knowledge? (ie, while fighting in prime, do they know how they live out the rest of their lives, whether assassinated, dying of illness, becoming an ambassador, or building a shit-ton of homes for humanity? Do those things go away?

    Or is this a hypothetical showdown for honor and glory only, with no outside ramifications? (if this is the case, then ego is just as much of a factor as physical prowess)

    Jackson maintains a level of kickassery in every scenario and no matter how i view it, I cant see him not making top 5.

  227. Roda says:

    M’kay, I think you are all underestimating the staying power of George Washington. I feel he would be one of the last men standing–if not the last.

    Not only was he an amazing fighter in his own right, he was determined, smart, and he had a habit of riding through bullets without being hit. So if anyone was flinging a knife at him, thinking to hit him, I’m certain they would miss. He was a larger man, and when not in battle, he farmed, rode horses, etc. I’m certain he would make an excellent showing.

  228. [...] On the eve of what turned out to be a pretty lively second presidential debate, the Bottom Line boys express their annoyance with election season and then examine an article that theorizes what would happen if all the former presidents of the good ole US of A were pitted against one another in a knife fight to the death. [...]

  229. Brian says:

    Don’t get hung up on all those medals; bronze star and up are mostly awarded for political reasons.

    And aside from the obvious ridiculousness of saying Obama would win with a drone strike, I add that a LOT of others would beat Obama in the category of decisiveness.

  230. Brian says:

    Lincoln or Teddy, period.I won’t waste time speculating on the whole lineup, but do have specific opinions on several. It’s a read, but I think my conclusions are fairly sound.

    Carter would probably be so frantic and scared that he accidentally gripped the blade by the edge, thus losing the use of his dominant hand (and I don’t think he possibly could do anything with his non-dominant hand). I cannot see him lasting past the first thirty percent even if he alone had a .45 with one full magazine. Since it’s a free-for-all, he can’t negotiate his way through and wouldn’t have much to offer temporary allies anyway.

    Obama would not do much better. While he cannot fight, I also don’t think he would even have the resolve or clarity to last long at all without having others to lean on or an image to use as a shield- he has always relied on others to the point where he cannot be effective in almost any area when he alone. Again, like Carter, a free-for-all would totally neuter his charm and political alliances.

    Taft would simply be one huge, slow target. Barney may as well be a contender (actually, Barney would be more resilient). Even though he might LIVE longer than some (substantial fat protecting vital organs), he would still be out of the fight almost instantly.

    Truman would be sneaky and opportunistic as Hell, staying off everyone’s radar and doing backstabs, but in the end he’s just too small to make it to the finish line.

    Lyndon B. Johnson was a big dude and had experienced plenty of brawls (I had an instructor whose father was very influential back in the day; he actually got in a FISTFIGHT with Johnson on a Texas campus, because he didn’t respect Johnson and essentially refused to hand over the Texas vote, instead supporting JFK). I think he would last a while, but I still can’t envision him as making it to the end.

    Andrew Jackson could be a mean bastard, one I never would want to face. I think he would dish out as much damage as anyone else (perhaps the most), and would soak up a great deal of punishment, but would eventually fall by the halfway mark or so due to his own emphasis on raw power and toughness while largely ignoring defense and timing. I also think he would make himself an obvious target and thus draw too many attacks to him early in the fight.

    FDR’s wheelchair may be fast and offer decent protection, but he still would be awfully vulnerable to flanking or rear strikes- he just couldn’t maneuver that fast, and an adversary holding onto the back of the chair would almost certainly prevent FDR from being to do anything. In addition, he would be very low to the ground. While this would make it a little tougher to strike him, he would have lost most opportunities to strike primary organs. At his best, I could see him making disabling attacks of varying effectiveness.

    I know this one will be unpopular, but hear me out. George Washington would be one of the first twenty five percent to fall, period. Yes, he was very physically fit. Yes, he was extremely tenacious and willful. Yes, he had a great deal of military experience, including his share of direct combat (probably more of the latter than anyone else on this list, except perhaps Teddy Roosevelt). Yes, he was an excellent tactician. Yes, he was incredible at stretching very meager resources and options to five times what they should have permitted. But this isn’t the American Revolution, nor is it the eighteenth century. This is a battle royale with fairly small combat knives. And combat with short blades is ALL about speed and precision at extremely close range. If we were talking long blades, I’d give my top vote to Washington and his cavalry saber, which rely on power and range. But I think Washington is very poorly suited to short blade work. First, even the knives or bayonets he may have used in hand as a last resort (make no mistake, he would view it as such) would have a blade about three times as long as the one specified in this scenario. And in most scenarios, the shortest blade he would probably use would still be a bayonet attached to a musket, thus used as a spear/club with a four or five foot reach, NOT seven inches. Second, he would be wearing the attire of his day. And regardless of it being his military or his civilian attire, and of whether it being formal or field/casual, it will be long and heavy. True, this provides some protection from slashes, and I admit it even armors the forearms from attacks of opportunity (only slashes). However, he will be unable to use speed or agility to any useful extent. Imagine this: You are fully outfitted in pajamas, undergarments, trousers, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, knee high boots, and a heavy wool coat from neck to toe; then imagine the weight your clothes would have added after a couple gallons of water poured all over you. Then imagine trying to win what is basically a points-only boxing match against someone in a dress shirt and a two piece business suit, and where even the lightest strikes can cripple or kill. How do you think you would fare?

    Lincoln would last a very long time, I think. He was a tall, skinny guy, which is very advantageous in a edged weapon fight. His reach and speed would let him make hit-and-run strikes while the fray is thickest, while still dodging incoming strikes. One on one, I would expect him to routinely win against almost any foe. The knives don’t have very long blades (<7 inches) for pure combat knives, especially when thinking of the blade lengths that most "contestants" would have seen in their days. Thus, his reach would be even more important. He also must have had a pretty solid strength and constitution, considering how renowned he was as an ax-savvy country lawyer. The ax proficiency he is famous for tells me he knew how to land a blow as hard or soft as is appropriate, to make that blow land precisely where he wants, and to use continually smooth follow-through, momentum, and rhythm- all these transfer into retaining as much energy as is possible, keeping him fresh from start to finish. Granted, that's not the same as a skilled knife fighter, but I think that experience will translate very well, better than almost anyone else who doesn't actually have blade experience.

    On top of all these physical attributes, Lincoln has some very strong relevant mental capabilities. His resolve and determination are epic, and he isn't one to be shocked or petrified in the face of near-hopeless adversity. Regardless of how long he lasts, I don't see him ever retreating. As important as everything though, I think he is the one strong fighter of the whole group that is also calm and collected, yet still decisive- he won't get overly reckless, but he will seize the moment when it is wise to do so. He'll hold back as much or as little as the situation merits, and he'll press as firmly or softly as is appropriate at the moment. I think all these lead to him coming in at number one or two.

    Teddy is a natural fighter and generally considered to possess the physical attributes of a professional athlete. He was well known for his tremendous vigor, endurance, resiliency, and courage. He was a famous adventurer, and probably one of the most famous commanders in American military history for someone of relatively low rank (when it comes to subsequently pursuing a top-office political career, at least). He was a Rough Rider, a great hunter of big game around the world, a master sportsman, a superb leader in an explorer, a fighter, a diplomat, a police commissioner, an author, a biologiest, an experienced combatant, a leader of Soldiers, a cowboy (not just in terms of being a rancher, but also learning to be a competent Western-style rider, roper, and hunter), a deputy sheriff (even hunted down three outlaws that stole his riverboat), and practically ran the whole Department of the Navy. He was held political office at just about every level from city to White House. He became President because McKinley was assassinated while Teddy was VP, becoming the youngest President in our history (42). This normally goes fairly poorly, yet he stepped up and became one of the most effective Presidents in US history. His foreign policies (including but not limited to the legendary "speak softly and carry a big stick") directly led to the US becoming a dominant world power. He even received the Nobel Peace Prize while in office. Seriously, the dude's background looks straight out of a way over-the-top action-comedy or a casual novel. That was only a very brief and uneven summary of his life. He was extremely decisive, but had a strong tactical mind. His tremendous physical capabilities, dauntless attitude, devotion to a strong America, strategic thinking, and almost superhuman ability to adapt to ANYTHING, put him all the way at the very top ranks.

    In the end, it comes down to Lincoln and Teddy. And that one is, to my mind, impossible to decide like this. A thousand matches between the two could come to an average of 51/49 Lincoln, or 51/49 Teddy. I think it really would come down to luck there. In all honesty, I can see Lincoln wounding Teddy three times with swift light thrusts, and on the third strike, Teddy grabbing the blade and pulling it deeper into his own torso, just so he could seize the initiative and get Lincoln close enough to disembowel (somewhat like the famous Natchez "Sandbar Fight" between Jim Bowie and Major Norris Wright AFTER their duel, where eventually the blade of Wright's sword-cane essentially broke in half while stuck INSIDE Bowie's chest; Bowie grabbed Wright and yanked him close enough to stab to death with the former's famous eponymous blade; I think this was his original, but I may be mistaken). Then again, the lanky Lincoln could have instantly disabled Teddy with swift, distant strikes targeting the major muscle groups and primary organs, before Teddy could even reach him. Still, just a few wounds could remove all physical advantages from the lanky Lincoln, while I think the beefy Teddy could drive on through the same injuries. Again, it's a coin toss.

  231. Brian says:

    IGNORE LAST POST:
    Lincoln or Teddy, period. I won’t waste time speculating on the whole lineup, but do have specific opinions on several. It’s a read, but I think my conclusions are fairly sound.
    Carter would probably be so frantic and scared that he accidentally gripped the blade by the edge, thus losing the use of his dominant hand (and I don’t think he possibly could do anything with his non-dominant hand). I cannot see him lasting past the first thirty percent even if he alone had a .45 with one full magazine. Since it’s a free-for-all, he can’t negotiate his way through and wouldn’t have much to offer temporary allies anyway.
    Obama would not do much better. While he cannot fight, I also don’t think he would even have the resolve or clarity to last long at all without having others to lean on or an image to use as a shield- he has always relied on others to the point where he cannot be effective in almost any area when he alone. Again, like Carter, a free-for-all would totally neuter his charm and political alliances.
    Taft would simply be one huge, slow target. Barney may as well be a contender (actually, Barney would be more resilient). Even though he might LIVE longer than some (substantial fat protecting vital organs), he would still be out of the fight almost instantly.
    Truman would be sneaky and opportunistic as Hell, staying off everyone’s radar and doing backstabs, but in the end he’s just too small to make it to the finish line.
    Lyndon B. Johnson was a big dude and had experienced plenty of brawls (I had an instructor whose father was very influential back in the day; he actually got in a FISTFIGHT with Johnson on a Texas campus, because he didn’t respect Johnson and essentially refused to hand over the Texas vote, instead supporting JFK). I think he would last a while, but I still can’t envision him as making it to the end.
    Andrew Jackson could be a mean bastard, one I never would want to face. I think he would dish out as much damage as anyone else (perhaps the most), and would soak up a great deal of punishment, but would eventually fall by the halfway mark or so due to his own emphasis on raw power and toughness while largely ignoring defense and timing. I also think he would make himself an obvious target and thus draw too many attacks to him early in the fight.
    FDR’s wheelchair may be fast and offer decent protection, but he still would be awfully vulnerable to flanking or rear strikes- he just couldn’t maneuver that fast, and an adversary holding onto the back of the chair would almost certainly prevent FDR from being to do anything. In addition, he would be very low to the ground. While this would make it a little tougher to strike him, he would have lost most opportunities to strike primary organs. At his best, I could see him making disabling attacks of varying effectiveness.
    I know this one will be unpopular, but hear me out. George Washington would be one of the first twenty five percent to fall, period. Yes, he was very physically fit. Yes, he was extremely tenacious and willful. Yes, he had a great deal of military experience, including his share of direct combat (probably more of the latter than anyone else on this list, except perhaps Teddy Roosevelt). Yes, he was an excellent tactician. Yes, he was incredible at stretching very meager resources and options to five times what they should have permitted. But this isn’t the American Revolution, nor is it the eighteenth century. This is a battle royale with fairly small combat knives. And combat with short blades is ALL about speed and precision at extremely close range. If we were talking long blades, I’d give my top vote to Washington and his cavalry saber, which rely on power and range. But I think Washington is very poorly suited to short blade work. First, even the knives or bayonets he may have used in hand as a last resort (make no mistake, he would view it as such) would have a blade about three times as long as the one specified in this scenario. And in most scenarios, the shortest blade he would probably use would still be a bayonet attached to a musket, thus used as a spear/club with a four or five foot reach, NOT seven inches. Second, he would be wearing the attire of his day. And regardless of it being his military or his civilian attire, and of whether it being formal or field/casual, it will be long and heavy. True, this provides some protection from slashes, and I admit it even armors the forearms from attacks of opportunity (only slashes). However, he will be unable to use speed or agility to any useful extent. Imagine this: You are fully outfitted in pajamas, undergarments, trousers, long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, knee high boots, and a heavy wool coat from neck to toe; then imagine the weight your clothes would have added after a couple gallons of water poured all over you. Then imagine trying to win what is basically a points-only boxing match against someone in a dress shirt and a two piece business suit, and where even the lightest strikes can cripple or kill. How do you think you would fare? Third and finally, by the time Washington was president, the long hard years of war and terrible winters must have made his body as ravaged as that of Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises.
    Lincoln would last a very long time, I think. He was a tall, skinny guy, which is very advantageous in a edged weapon fight. His reach and speed would let him make hit-and-run strikes while the fray is thickest, while still dodging incoming strikes. One on one, I would expect him to routinely win against almost any foe. The knives don’t have very long blades (<7 inches) for pure combat knives, especially when thinking of the blade lengths that most "contestants" would have seen in their days. Thus, his reach would be even more important. He also must have had a pretty solid strength and constitution, considering how renowned he was as an ax-savvy country lawyer. The ax proficiency he is famous for tells me he knew how to land a blow as hard or soft as is appropriate, to make that blow land precisely where he wants, and to use continually smooth follow-through, momentum, and rhythm- all these transfer into retaining as much energy as is possible, keeping him fresh from start to finish. Granted, that's not the same as a skilled knife fighter, but I think that experience will translate very well, better than almost anyone else who doesn't actually have blade experience.
    On top of all these physical attributes, Lincoln has some very strong relevant mental capabilities. His resolve and determination are epic, and he isn't one to be shocked or petrified in the face of near-hopeless adversity. Regardless of how long he lasts, I don't see him ever retreating. As important as everything though, I think he is the one strong fighter of the whole group that is also calm and collected, yet still decisive- he won't get overly reckless, but he will seize the moment when it is wise to do so. He'll hold back as much or as little as the situation merits, and he'll press as firmly or softly as is appropriate at the moment. I think all these lead to him coming in at number one or two.
    Teddy is a natural fighter and generally considered to possess the physical attributes of a professional athlete. He was well known for his tremendous vigor, endurance, resiliency, and courage. He was a famous adventurer, and probably one of the most famous commanders in American military history for someone of relatively low rank (when it comes to subsequently pursuing a top-office political career, at least). He was a Rough Rider, a great hunter of big game around the world, a master sportsman, a superb leader in an explorer, a fighter, a diplomat, a police commissioner, an author, a biologiest, an experienced combatant, a leader of Soldiers, a cowboy (not just in terms of being a rancher, but also learning to be a competent Western-style rider, roper, and hunter), a deputy sheriff (even hunted down three outlaws that stole his riverboat), and practically ran the whole Department of the Navy. He was held political office at just about every level from city to White House. He became President because McKinley was assassinated while Teddy was VP, becoming the youngest President in our history (42). This normally goes fairly poorly, yet he stepped up and became one of the most effective Presidents in US history. His foreign policies (including but not limited to the legendary "speak softly and carry a big stick") directly led to the US becoming a dominant world power. He even received the Nobel Peace Prize while in office. Seriously, the dude's background looks straight out of a way over-the-top action-comedy or a casual novel. That was only a very brief and uneven summary of his life. He was extremely decisive, but had a strong tactical mind. His tremendous physical capabilities, dauntless attitude, devotion to a strong America, strategic thinking, and almost superhuman ability to adapt to ANYTHING, put him all the way at the very top ranks.
    In the end, it comes down to Lincoln and Teddy. And that one is, to my mind, impossible to decide like this. A thousand matches between the two could come to an average of 51/49 Lincoln, or 51/49 Teddy. I think it really would come down to luck there. In all honesty, I can see Lincoln wounding Teddy three times with swift light thrusts, and on the third strike, Teddy grabbing the blade and pulling it deeper into his own torso, just so he could seize the initiative and get Lincoln close enough to disembowel (somewhat like the famous Natchez "Sandbar Fight" between Jim Bowie and Major Norris Wright AFTER their duel, where eventually the blade of Wright's sword-cane essentially broke in half while stuck INSIDE Bowie's chest; Bowie grabbed Wright and yanked him close enough to stab to death with the former's famous eponymous blade; I think this was his original, but I may be mistaken). Then again, the lanky Lincoln could have instantly disabled Teddy with swift, distant strikes targeting the major muscle groups and primary organs, before Teddy could even reach him. Still, just a few wounds could remove all physical advantages from the lanky Lincoln, while I think the beefy Teddy could drive on through the same injuries. Again, it's a coin toss.

  232. Wow! I doubt chuck norris would win

  233. Anonymous says:

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  234. Mike says:

    McKinley is apparently just the “front porch candidate” guy, despite serving the entirety of the Civil War (going from Private to Major and serving in nasty battles like Antietam), while Pierce (who was a political appointee with no real military training and who, as an equestrian officer, saw little to no hand-to-hand combat) is a “soldier”. If any of these guys knows what it’s like to have blood on their hands, it’s McKinley (well, and Jackson, but mostly because of his being a psycho than from his military career. I mean, did Jackson personally kill ANYONE during his battles?).

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  236. Ian Garcia says:

    I’d love to see Taylor vs Jackson, it would be a battle for the century!

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  239. [...] posts; they’re always worth it! Michael Myers tweeted his adventures on Halloween night. Who would win a mass knife-fight among all 44 Presidents? I mostly agree with the conclusions, although I really have to call them on Lincoln. There is a [...]

  240. b4awl says:

    Jackson, as a young man, would win. He owned a nice knife, carried a grudge and did not suffer fools and I think he would act spontaneously.

  241. [...] The question of our time: In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American President, Who Would Win and Why? [...]

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  245. [...] has not one, not two, not three, not four, but five articles devoted to him. If all the President’s were put in a ring and told to gladiator it out, TR is the projected winner. But this quote takes his insanity to a whole new level. Not because it [...]

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  250. [...] All forty three men to ever hold the title President of the United States in a knife battle to the death: WHO YOU TAKING? [...]

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  253. [...] the Presidents in their prime got into a huge knife fight? Who would [...]

  254. SteveA says:

    Do they only have the knowledge that they had at the time of their Presidency? For example, any of the last dozen Presls would know what a abdass TR is, and to avoid him at all costs, but to an early 1oth century Pres, he would appear to just be some unknown dandy with a monocle.

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  255. [...] by who would win in a knife fight between all the American Presidents, I decided to launch my own thought experiment of a similar nature, namely: who would win in a [...]

  256. James says:

    Jackson would win. While giving credit to wrestling or boxing experience, the fact of the matter is to kill a man in cold blood takes something more than agility or “sports” quality. True combat experience (not leading an army or sitting in a submarine) would separate the presidents early on.

  257. Honestly, I care more about your atrocious grammar than I do on who would come out on top. It’s “between” two, and “among” three or more.

    • opusthepenguin says:

      Is there a name for the rule that grammar flames will contain grammar mistakes (and spelling flames spelling mistakes, etc.)? “I care more … on who would come out on top.” Ouch.

      Beyond that, I’m afraid your English teacher steered you wrong about “between” vs. “among.” Any English dictionary that mentions the distinction will tell you that “between” has always been correctly used to refer to more than two. When the group elements are considered individually (as the presidents in this post were), “between” is not only permissible but preferable.

      Random House: Between also continues to be used, as it has been throughout its entire history, to express a relationship of persons or things considered individually, no matter how many: Tossing up coins between three people always takes a little working out.

      American Heritage: According to a widely repeated but unjustified tradition, “between is used for two, and among for more than two”…. When more than two entities are involved, however, or when the number of entities is unspecified, the choice of one or the other word depends on the intended sense. Between is used when the entities are considered as distinct individuals; among, when they are considered as a mass or collectivity. Thus … we may speak of a series of wars between the Greek cities, which suggests that each city was an independent belligerent, or of a series of wars among the Greek cities, which allows as well the possibility that the belligerents were shifting alliances of cities.

      Merriam Webster: There is a persistent but unfounded notion that between can be used only of two items and that among must be used for more than two. Between has been used of more than two since Old English; it is especially appropriate to denote a one-to-one relationship, regardless of the number of items. It can be used when the number is unspecified , [et al].

      OED: [Between] is still the ONLY word available to express the relation of a thing to many surrounding things severally and individually, among expressing a relation to them collectively and vaguely: we should not say ‘the space lying among the three points,’ or ‘a treaty among three powers’…. [emphasis added]

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  287. opusthepenguin says:

    Great analysis of presidents as (mostly) individuals. I suspect alliances would figure into things much more heavily. Military leaders like Jackson, W. Harrison, Taylor, Grant, TR, and Eisenhower would compete to marshal the other presidents. Ike and Grant would form an alliance as the two who most value large-scale strategy and deprecate useless bravado. They would attract the more peaceable (wimpier, if you prefer) presidents like Carter and Hayes as well as the brainier sorts like Jefferson, both Adamses, Lincoln, Garfield, Wilson, and Hoover.

    That leaves Jackson, W. Harrison, Taylor, and TR to ally themselves, with Jackson taking charge. Teddy wouldn’t like this but would accept the situation after negotiating for a fair amount of autonomy as the leader of a squad of 8 presidents. TR’s presidential rough riders would include Taft and FDR, both for reasons of loyalty, and both of whom are only there because they couldn’t persuade Teddy to join the Eisenhower-Grant army. Jackson would also stick Teddy with Andrew Johnson as a condition of the arrangement. Johnson would die early in the fighting when Teddy used him as a decoy.

    I like your idea that several presidents would want bragging rights as the guy who killed Buchanan. I see Ten-Cent Jimmy falling victim to a battlefield accident when Pierce bumps into him and he stumbles backwards over Van Buren, who happens to be crouched behind, and lands on a busily knife-cleaning John Tyler .

    Oh, and Benjamin Harrison eventually carves a vicious slice out of Grover Cleveland’s midsection. Cleveland fights back and eventually plunges his blade into Harrison’s heart, nicking the aorta. Harrison falls to the ground and tries to crawl away. Cleveland, woozy from blood loss, sits down heavily on Harrison’s body, popping the nick in Harrison’s aorta wide open. Both men pass out and never regain consciousness. A dispute will later arise about whether to record Cleveland’s death as coming before or after Harrison’s.

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  291. Blake Borden says:

    I don’t agree with Lincoln, as you said about Jefferson “dandy” I would say that word would be most accurately used to describe Lincoln.
    I recently saw a program about Lincoln’s male lovers, it blew my mind!
    So I don’t think he is a factor.
    I would say teddy takes it simply on the x-factor of being the only Congressional Medal of Honor recipient to become president, even though Washington would be 2nd for the x-factor of holding the highest rank in the world technically.
    His official rank is
    General of the Armies Washington
    Only two people have ever held this rank, John Pershing being the other. The controversy about the rank was that there was no foreign equivalent so an implied supremacy was given to the rank over all other military ranks foreign countries included. Interestingly George Washington attained the rank theough a posthumus promotion in 1976 to commemorate our bicentennial. President Jimmy Carter wanted our first general to have implied international supremacy, and to be superior to any generals to come. General of the Armies is often confused with the previous rank
    General of the Army

    I give it to teddy because he made Colonel on his own, and got the Medal of Honor

    3rd is obviously Jackson.

  292. Hallo says:

    I usually do not create a ton of responses, however
    i did a feww searching and wound up here In a Mass Knife Fight to the Death Between Every American
    President, Who Would Win and Why? | Face in the Blue.
    And I do have a couple of questions for you if you tend not to mind.
    Could it be simply me or does it lolok as if luke some of these remarks look like left by brain dead
    visitors? :-P And, if you are posting at additional online sites,
    I’d like to follow everything new you have to post.
    Would you list of every one of all your public sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook
    page or twitter feed?

  293. Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality used to
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  294. Jacob says:

    Someone make this into an actual movie
    Maybe 30mins-1hour about
    I would pay money to see this, either animated or live action

  295. Eric Awful says:

    I think you leave our generals highly underestimated especially US Grant. I always take brains over braun and more importantly than that, emotional stability. In combat this guy could calmly sip his coffee in the face of artillery shells landing close by. He could think his way through anything. You team him up with Eisenhower and Washington and you have all the brains and braun necessary to bring your Holly Trinity to it’s knees. Besides, no one in there right mind would ever trust Jackson anyway. Not a good teem player in a winner takes all.

  296. Jack Daniel says:

    Well, great. Now I need stat up all the presidents, bust out some miniatures and d20’s, and find 41 willing role-players and war-gamers to play this scenario out.

    Hm. Assuming we give all of the prezzes the same XP total (I think 10,000 XP sounds about right), that would be just enough to make sure any Thief-class characters are 5th level, regardless of any experience point adjustments from high or low Prime Requisite ability scores; and any Fighter-class characters are solidly 4th level.

    That way, the melee will consist mainly of Fighters with, on average, 18 hit points (before any Constitution modifiers are added to each hit die) and Thieves with an average of 13 HP, again before any Con mods are figured into the total. No Clerics (they’re not proficient in edged weapons like knives), no Magic-Users (I don’t know of any Presidents sufficiently interested in the occult), and no Monks (again, I don’t think any presidents were ever ascetic martial-artists).

    Both Fighters and Thieves at these levels would enjoy the same chance to hit in combat (THAC0 17 minus an unarmored opponent’s average Armor Class of 9 means a roll of 8 or better on 1d20 will hit with a melee weapon, again ignoring ability modifiers to hit and AC), i.e. typically about 65% of the time.

    Yeah, this is totally doable… hm…

  297. I love it. Arthur was kind of a dandy, and if we’re going with the 1980 Reagan, he was already rather old.

  298. Presidential Death Battle!!!!
    Sadly, I think Obama would be the first to go. 43 white guys vs 1 black guy. In a Death battle where you must kill someone and have no idea who most of them are the rules of the playground assert themselves: Go after the one who is most different.

    In that scrum, some of the Southern presidents are going to hang together. Maybe not in an acknowledge alliance, but if the choice is between Clinton or Taft, a southern drawl might save a few.

    Folks keep mistaking the appearance of ‘toughness’ for actual toughness. Many of these conservative presidents would be dead in the water. They are used to other people doing for them not doing for themselves. Like if Carter and Bush Sr. were facing off. Carter, a farmer and carpenter, might KNOW how to use a knife over Bush who can TALK tough about how willing he is to use it. A knife fight often goes to whose the scrappiest and that more often are the presidents who built themselves up or served on the front lines not the ones who campaigned well or come from rich families.

    Final two: TR and Eisenhower.

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