There is nothing new about making a list that ranks the U.S. presidents. There are plenty of historians and journalists who have already done it multiple times.
Usually, those rankings go a bit beyond just the political tactics of those presidents. But if you’re looking for an objective point of view, you came to the right place.
First things first… HONESTY! Presidents aren’t 100% responsible for everything that happens in America, so they shouldn’t be given credit or assigned blame for absolutely everything that goes right or wrong in our country.
Given all that, let’s discuss 5 presidents who are ranked as the best, and 5 presidents who, in our opinion, dragged us all down.
Let’s start with the winners.
If it wasn’t for Washington, we would have spent our 4th of July sipping tea and eating scones. But in all seriousness, America was always destined to be independent.
Even so, we wouldn’t have accomplished anything great in 1776 without George Washington. Also, he saved us once more in 1783, by crushing the Newburgh Conspiracy.
Not to mention that he wasn’t even a president at the time. Throughout Washington’s two terms, he kept his hand steady and firm, leading the nation to the light through many dangerous events.
If you want to know more about George Washington’s life, watch the documentary “Washington: a Life” by Ron Chernow (2010).
Let’s be honest, Lincoln had THE BEST RESUME. I mean, saving the Union will always be a strong addition to your resume! Abraham Lincoln succeeded in winning a war against a strong enemy army and master fractious politics back in Washington.
There were no rules in the battle, and everything was permitted: from backstabbing generals to rioting in the streets of New York. The 16th president of the United States is definitely one of the greatest heroes.
First, he saved the Union. Secondly, he managed to abolish slavery in the country. Having this man as the President of the United States was definitely a prosperous period America’s history.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
If by any chance, you have read Amity Shlaes’s “The Forgotten Man” (2007), then you probably now have a hard time being a fan of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Even so, Roosevelt was an unmatched war president. He helped save not only America but also the entire world from one of the greatest threats to humanity.
He was also the one who hired the first woman to hold a cabinet post in a U.S. presidential administration. Even more, Roosevelt currently holds the record for the longest-serving American president, being elected to his fourth term. In 1951, the 22nd Amendment was passed, which limited the maximum presidency to only two terms.
Even though he didn’t win any big wars, it can’t be denied that he set up winning the Cold War. In fact, one of the key events of his presidency was the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
In fact, Reagan invested in the relationship he had with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who instituted “glasnost” or the new spirit of openness.
He was also the President when the Iran-Contra scandal happened. Fun Fact: Even though he was one of the best presidents of the United States, his long and lasting dream was to win an Oscar, which he never did.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
During his presidency, Eisenhower dealt with the Cold War-era tensions between America and the Soviet Union. Back then, there were constant threats of nuclear weapons.
He ended the war in Korea in 1953 and authorized covered anti-communist operations by the CIA all over the world. Back home, where America was enjoying a prosperous period, Eisenhower strengthened Social Security and created the massive Interstate Highway System.
Even though his career as a president was rich in successful events, he had some down points as well, as he failed to protect the civil rights of African American students, and his period is remembered as a time of racial turmoil.
And now, the losers.
There are a few presidents who’ve succeeded in mustering foreign policy disasters as muddled as their own domestic messes. But Lyndon Johnson managed to do it in grand style.
When it comes to Johnson, it all comes down to the Vietnam War. Also, he declared “war on poverty”, as he had unrealistic goals of eliminating poverty before formulating any idea whatsoever on how this goal can be achieved.
In his mind, it could have been achieved only by thinking about it, so he declared a rhetorical war and left the job to his advisers to craft the needed policies that would actually win it.
Jimmy Carter’s best presidential decision was when he lost to Ronald Reagan. But just to give him some credit, he had to deal with a lot of mistrust from the nation and Congress, which makes it very difficult for any president.
Also, his stubbornness and independence put him in a very sticky position, which made him unfit for the presidency. He also had a…way of dealing with economic and domestic decisions, but none of his decisions actually did any good.
And his foreign affairs? Let’s just mention the Iran Hostage Crisis, Panama Canal, and the tensions between America and the Soviet Union, and I think I’ve said it all.
Basically, Wilson was the one that got us “over there” in World War I, but meanwhile, his policies basically triggered a global pandemic. If you want to read more about it, look for “The Great Influenza”, by John M. Barry.
He had a big flaw, and that was his self-righteous nature, which was more visible than any other president. He believed that he always knew best, as he thought he knew more than anyone else.
Plus, combine that with a powerful humanitarian sensibility, and you’ll get a president who wants to change the world and make it better. These leaders should be avoided.
There are many historians who consider James Buchanan as one of the worst presidents of the White House. That’s mainly because he took no action to try to unify a country that was sharply divided over slavery, and did nothing to stop the Southern states from seceding in the lead-up to the Civil War.
While his pre-presidency resume was quite impressive, he blew it during his presidential years. He allowed the residents of each territory, and not the U.S. government, to decide whether or not they should allow slavery. Every step and every action he did as a president made the country grow even more divided.
Warren G. Harding
Even though he looked presidential, Harding was one of the most corrupt, poker-playing womanizer presidents in the history of America. Luckily, he died before he could do any great damage.
While some believe that this lack of opportunity to really mess things up bigtime should disqualify him as the worst president, others see it as a stroke of sheer luck. After all, what were Republicans thinking?
If you want to read an amusing biography of Harding, we recommend you read 2004’s “Warren G. Harding: The American Presidents series”. The book is written by the Watergate conspirator John Dean, who knows something about disgraceful presidents.
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