A resource for consumers, locksmiths, and security professionals.
Posted On by Ralph Goodman
We all know that every single person doesn’t have what it takes to be a locksmith. No matter how great Martin Luther King Jr. was at giving speeches, rekeying locks would have been outside of his wheelhouse. Mahatma Gandhi, on the other hand, would have made for a great locksmith. (His dedication to not eating has a lot of overlap with ignition replacement.) There is no complicated chart/Venn diagram that I can point you to for the exact breakdown of these facts. Maybe all of this is just the ramblings of a historically minded and lock obsessed mad man. Perhaps there is so much fact behind all of these seemingly spurious correlations that an article containing it all would have broken the internet. There is no way of knowing which is true, and, therefore, no way to prove which one is not. All we can say for certain is, here is a list of the top 10 Presidents who could have been great locksmiths.
Many people may have counted James Monroe out of the race for having the potential for great locksmithing, because of his war injury. Well, that was a mistake. Monroe had a knack for finding great mentors. During the revolutionary war, he served under General George Washington (who later became President George Washington). He was also mentored by Thomas Jefferson (who later became President Thomas Jefferson). He was a student of great men, and by studying under their tutelage, he was able to achieve the same greatness they did. A student like that makes for the perfect locksmith. A locksmith must always be learning, and a penchant for finding good teachers is an invaluable skill for any student. Besides living in the shadow of his mentors, this President created a lasting effect on foreign policy with the Monroe Doctrine. Though this doctrine was declared dead in 2013 by Secretary of State John Kerry, his actions in spite of it represent Monroe’s intended purpose. Just like any good locksmith, his work is hard to argue with. And with the beginning of his term earning the title “The Era of Good Feelings” you know his customer service would have been spectacular.
Many people will tell you that Andrew Jackson once killed a man in a duel. What most forget to mention is that he was in anywhere from 5 to 100 duels during his life. The reason neither he nor the other parties involved ever died is because duels were not meant to end in bloodshed. Both gentlemen were supposed to miss on purpose, which would settle the disagreement. Before Jackson killed his dueling partner, Jackson was shot. He was shot so close to the heart that it is a miracle he survived. Then he raised his pistol and shot the scoundrel in the head. (Keep in mind he had just been shot almost directly in the heart at this point…then he got a headshot with what was a very unwieldy pistol.) This shows us several things. He was fair, as he was never shot and never killed anyone after or before this instance. His only transgression was after someone had tried to kill him. Perhaps the most impressive thing is his dexterity under duress. An almost fatal wound, a difficult shot, and an unreliable weapon. This man had finesse and coordination that would have definitely taken him places as a locksmith. He had the characteristics of an amazing locksmith. And with a name like “Old Hickory,” it would have been hard to predict that he would win the Popular vote 3 times. He was well loved by the people, and that has got to say something about the quality customer service would he provided as a locksmith.
He is known as the OK President. This name is purportedly what created the term “OK” as meaning fine, good, alright, etc. Though in its inception, the term was coined to mean Old Kinderhook. (Kinderhook being the city in New York where Van Buren was born). This lovely bit of marketing success shows that Van Buren could really raise brand awareness. His personal likeability waned and he did lose his bid for re-election, but we still say “OK”. In a stroke of amazing luck, he created something that would stand the test of time. Besides that lasting word, he also created the first mass political party. His dedication to the foundation that Andrew Jackson set forth gave him a sense of determination that earned him the title of the “First Professional Politician”. Starting a profession where there isn’t one, displays the entrepreneurship required to make it as a locksmith. His deft hand at marketing and building a brand would have made him a success. And with his rise from Lawyer’s apprentice to President of the United States of America, there is no doubt in my mind that he could have learned the most technical aspects of the trade.
If there is one president that was really hungry and determined, it was John Tyler. When he ran for office as William Henry Harrison’s Vice President, there was no precedent that stated a Vice President was next in line for the job. There had been eight presidents and none had died while in office, so succession was not really considered. Then Harrison (known affectionately as Tippecanoe) died about a month into his first term. Tyler made the declaration that he had the full power of the president, and the rest is security history. So why does this mean that he would be a great locksmith? This is unique problem-solving at its best. He saw a problem that no one had ever faced and made a decision that not only worked in the moment but worked so well that we use it to this very day. It is also important that we do not downplay the stress that this situation must have caused. The people that needed to be convinced to make this decision were most likely stressed and hysterical. The problem solving and moving parties that needed to make the decision toward the right decision (and a decision that history would declare as right) are all traits of a great locksmith.
This is the man that added 1.2 million square miles to the United States. Impressed? You should be. By embracing the motto “fifty-four forty or fight” in regards to the boundary dispute with Great Britain, undercutting the Whig party which was not focusing on the issue. Taking on the issue that the people of the US cared about at the time lead to his political success. He made a commitment to the people that trusted him and delivered on it. Polk also embraced the changes in technology, being the first president to have his portrait taken by a photographer. He even stole the nomination from Martin Van Buren, Mr. OK himself. He was all about upsetting the status quo, and giving people what they wanted. With a mindset that is always conscious of the future and paying attention to the people he was serving, Polk would have been quite the savvy business person. Beyond savviness, being in tune with the needs of the people who depend on you is a must for locksmiths.
There are very few presidents as competent with their hands as Millard Fillmore. He built a house for his wife Abigail and is the only President with the distinction of building the same house he lived in. But before he built a home, he built a life from crushing poverty. He began as an apprentice of a cloth dresser. Then he moved on to a textile mill. He taught himself and then became a school teacher. From there he took up law and began his own practice. Later he served as Zachary Taylor’s Vice President. He also rose to power through the untimely death of his President, but he handled his new position the best he could. He was a man of compromise and brokered what would be called the compromise of 1850. In this deal, he tried to prevent civil war by giving into the demands of a South on the brink of succession. He also lowered the price of the postage stamp. With such a diverse set of skills, there is no question in my mind that he could have become a locksmith. He understands the compromise and a fair price, and that would have served his business well.
Pierce had many demons. The most pervasive in his life was the demon in a bottle (he was an alcoholic). He lost two of his three children to disease, one of which was a few days old and the other at the age of 4. His wife was continuously ill and despised politics and often pestered him about changing his career. He received the backing of his party for the 1852 election after 49 different votes were held. He then won the election due to the incompetence of the other’s parties candidates. When he was named President-Elect it was time to hit the press junket with his family. During the tour, something happened that no travel security could have prevented. The axle of his train broke and his last living son (age 11) was decapitated. After this, his wife refused to take on any duties of a First Lady and became a shut-in and an alcoholic. Things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, but they did. He was leading a country on the brink of civil war. His wife began to write letters to her dead sons. He lost the vote for reelection. And he fell back into alcoholism, after quitting drinking altogether in 1840. Not only do I think that Pierce could have learned to be a great locksmith because of his determination and resilience, I believe had he gotten an introduction to locksmithing, it would have saved his marriage, his oldest son, and kept him sober.
Another president on the cusp of technological advancement was Rutherford B. Hayes. He was the first to install a telephone in the White House. He also commissioned the portraits of Jefferson, Adams, and Jackson which had, until that time, been the only gaps in the presidential portraits. He was an honest man, that was baffled by the pettiness and absurdity of White House Politics. Hayes was such a straight arrow it bordered on repression. There was to be no drinking, no card playing, and no dancing in the White House under his watch. The key to his leadership was decisiveness. Once a decision was made, he believed there was no reason to look back. Though the Civil War had ended, Hayes was still faced with the struggle of reconstruction. But Hayes ended this era by returning control of the rebel states to their local and state governments. He refused to run for a second term, due to his dislike of the political atmosphere, and in his retirement worked for education reform and to gain civil rights for Black Americans. Believing in fairness, honor, education and equality would have given him the perfect temperament for locksmithing. Maybe if he had gotten tired of politics a little earlier, he would have been a great locksmith.
Taking over after the death of President Warren G. Harding, Coolidge is credited with cleaning up the corruption Harding left behind. He is thought of as a man just as honest as he was quite. Honesty and few words were what defined Calvin Coolidge. The few times he chose to speak, all you were going to hear was the truth. The people loved Coolidge so much that he was re-elected after finishing out Harding’s term. After finishing the term he had won, he declined the request to run for office again, because he felt he had been president too long. Projections say that had he ran he would have won, but Coolidge was not interested in power. More cool Coolidge facts include that he was the first President to ever appear in a talkie (movie with sound). He also signed into law the Indian Citizenship Act, granting Native Americans the full legal rights of United States citizens. He believed in technology, honesty, and equal opportunity and treatment. With the resolve to use modern advancements, changes in security would not have shaken him. Equal treatment and honesty would have surely taken care of his reputation. Sounds like great locksmith material to me.
He was very idealistic and always strove to do the right thing. He updated the cabinet adding the positions for energy and education. Though his domestic policy was held back by his unwillingness to play the political game, he excelled in foreign policy. The thrust of his policy was human rights. His belief in human rights even extended to his enemies. Famously Carter fumbled the attempt to bring back the American Hostages being held in Iran. He admits that he could have destroyed Iran, but the loss of life would have been tremendous. The hostages were set free the moment that Carter was no longer President, leading many critics to believe that efforts to save them were intentionally stalled to destroy his image. But Jimmy Carter didn’t care about any of that. His focus was on the fact that these 52 American citizens were safe. And making sure you are safe from harm is a locksmith’s job. His addition to the physical White House was putting up Solar Panels on the roof (Ronald Reagan would have these removed, only to have them re-installed by Barack Obama). As great as all of the big picture stuff is, Jimmy Carter was also quite handy. In his retirement, he contributed personally to building houses for Habitat for Humanity. DIY skills, an attention to details, ethics, and strong morality all build to a president that would have been a great locksmith.
These are the guys that you wanted on the list, but they didn’t make the cut. They get too much attention as it is. They are getting honorable mentions without having to do anything. In fact, they are so necessary to talk about, that I need to defend my decision of excluding them from the list. So here they are:
Washington never really had much choice in what he did. There was a war he needed to fight, then there was another war after that which needed his leadership, and after that, he was reluctantly pulled into being the first President of the United States. His path was being decided for him. With such overwhelming expectations, and everyone else far too willing to take power, olde George was needed elsewhere.
We all watched that movie. We all know that Lincoln was an accomplished vampire slayer. And that does take commitment, but I feel that the staking of the undead would have simply taken up too much of his time. It is possible that he could have learned lock picking as part of his vampiric hunting repertoire, but could he have committed to the trade? No, unfortunately not.
Kennedy would have just slept with all the women. Not very professional behavior for a locksmith.
A divisive President viewed with either great esteem or an excess of animosity. Regardless of your views on the man’s politics, even Reagan’s own cabinet agrees he was not big on research, and enjoyed his sleep. These are deal breakers in the locksmith trade. If you are not always learning about your craft, then the changes in the field are sure to stump you in the field. Speaking of field work, in order for you to really earn your stripes as a locksmith, you need to work some long nights. Maybe not taking a 24-hour shift every night, but you need to be willing to stay up, and not just to see your favorite movie. Locksmithing is all about intricate small details, and because he was not big on details, or the finer points of large ideas, this would have held him back considerably.
This one is a little hard to tread lightly over. It is still pretty fresh in people’s minds. He is a symbol for something larger than his actions. But even here in California, it is hard to find someone that is willing to stick up for Obama’s accomplishments (however limited you may perceive them to be). Hate to kick a man when he is down, but he is just not locksmith material. A locksmith gets by on their reputation. You have to be able to deliver on promises. But he still has some time to turn it around. I will eat my words and crow all with egg on my face if he takes up the locksmithing profession in his retirement.
If this man did anything, he did it all out and he did it forever. He really stuck to his guns and kept working on his craft (the craft of Presidenting). Had he been exposed to the beauty of locks he surely would have been consumed by it. But because FDR did not play by the rules, and stacked the Congress, Supreme court, and House of Representatives so that he could rule for a time as King of America, he could not have been a great locksmith. He would have certainly exploited the many things people do not know about locksmiths to his own ambitious ends. Locksmithing requires abiding by the rules even if those rules are not laws. Even if you believe the law is unjust, it is a locksmith’s responsibility to uphold the law. Even if they are laws about lock picks.
When it comes to being a locksmith you need to be a great technician as well as honest and fair. Morals are needed just as much as the determination to get the job done. After all, what good is a job done right without that job being done fairly? Thank you to the concept of history for immortalizing these facts so that I could, in turn, relay them here. And special thanks to all presidents for doing a job that is thankless even when you are trying your hardest. To all the living presidents (all of which are most certainly reading this): congratulations to Jimmy Carter for making the list. And to George H. Bush, George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama, there is still time for you to win me over. I look forward to seeing what the Presidents of the future will offer in terms of potential locksmith prowess. If anyone does have a time machine I would like to enlist your service in validating the claims made in this article, and potentially creating some sort of terrible paradox. Please leave such 4th/5th-dimensional travel invitations, or any other feedback, in the comments section below. A special thank you to all of the Presidents for their participation and patience during the selection process. Be safe, and who knows, you might be on this list one day.