My colleague R.B Probst linked via Facebook to a wondrous and magnificent blog entry about the concept of a “Mass Knife Fight to the Death” involving every President of the United States in American history. (This was based on a Reddit thread that I never bothered to read and I doubt I will). The general consensus is that the end of it, the final three Presidents would be Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln. Most who read this pick Jackson as the last one standing. The scenario is as follows:

  • 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

Now I have read the blog entry and aside from the last three standing I disagree necessarily about who will go down in what order, in part because FaceInTheBlue is unfamiliar with John F. Kennedy’s near-debilitating back injury and the fact that Abraham Lincoln was physically powerful and loved a good tussle.
Now I have skimmed the comments of the blog entry. I loved what Mr Probst had to say although I recall little in the way of discussion. I know Radley Balko posted it on his Faceboo and the exchange was less awesome than one would hope. Just before Mr Balko posted the link to his I arranged a Panel Disccusion!

The panelists include Brian Koss, Jonathan Farley, Darrin Moore, and Chuck Dixon.

  • Brian Koss, is a Republican political activist, philosopher, generally described as a happy warrior. His favorite American president is Andrew Jackson, a man that has bears very few similarities with the modern members of his Party. His kind of Democrat is the sort of political partisan that modern Democrats scorn and modern Republicans wish they were on their best day. I say all of that despite some occasional evil committed on his part.
  • Jonathan Farley is a Navy veteran, foreign policy maven and historical wunderkind. His favorite American President is Theodore Roosevelt and knows and understands far more about Teddy Roosevelt than Glenn Beck ever will, including why Teddy Roosevelt is to be praised and respected. 
  • Darrin Moore is co-founder out of the New Centurions, bent and determined to carry on the work and legacy of Russell Kirk. His ultimate intention is to better Americans’ understanding of Conservatism so that we do not take our own First Principles for granted. 
  • The final panelist is Chuck Dixon. Mr Dixon is an action writer. His usual chosen medium is comic books. He created Bane, the character that broke Batman’s back in the early nineties, as well as the antagonist of the film The Dark Knight Rises. His knowledge of war, warriors, tactics, and violent American Presidents is not to be underestimated. He was one of the key Batman writers in the last twenty years; he has written Airboy; he currently writes G.I. Joe for IDW.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln would be the final survivor. Typically people lean towards Roosevelt and Jackson because Teddy was the consummate warrior and Jackson is a deadly and somewhat murderous savage. It is important to recall that at the time of his Presidency Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest of the Presidents of the United States and thus closer to his physical prime than Andrew Jackson, who was in his seventies when he was in the office.
The Panelists’ interjections were short; busy weekend I suppose.

Brian Koss:

No question in my mind it comes down to Andrew Jackson and Teddy Roosevelt!

Darrin Moore:

Reagan would turn the knife-fight into a gunfight, start an arms race that would bankrupt the others, so that all he had to do to was bitchslap them and they’d commit suicide.

Jonathan Farley:

This is a tough call. Ok, so as much as it pains me to say, I think I have to give it to Jackson.

He killed more people (if memory serves) and he got drunk and burned a tavern down.

But it’s a close call.

Chuck Dixon came later, and I think I persuaded him:

I’d go with Lincoln. He was probably proficient with a knife and certainly (as a former Indian fighter) not afraid of a fight with blades. And reach is everything.

Mr Moore does not quite stick to the parameters of the conflict. That said his assessment of President Reagan’s character is accurate.

Ultimately I would say that Abraham Lincoln will win because he was a strong and powerful scrapper, but mostly because even in his Presidency he was not merely lanky but strong nad tall. He had reach. If we are talking a knife fight then the man with the longest arms would defeat Teddy Roosevelt and even the most savage Andrew Jackson, whose biggest handicap would be his age. I hope at a later time I can parse out with more detail. I believe that the Presidents Bush would go far, as well as President Washington, but this may be an analysis for later. To say Lincoln would win rests on the idea that reach is everything.