How Many Good U.S. Presidents
This is an objective look
at the presidents of the United
States and how good of a president each one was.
Below is a ranking of the presidents from
best to worst. Considerations
effectiveness, leadership, and the challenges that each one faced (with
regard to their ideology or political party).
In many cases, their challenges weighed
heavily in this ranking and some
were just victims of the times and events.
It could be possible that one man was a better
leader than another, but
he ranks lower because his administration just didn't happen to include
challenges and obstacles that he was able to overcome.
However, it is also true that one man with
few challenges could rank higher than one who was unable to overcome
obstacles. Also, a
to be re-elected serves as a direct show of confidence by the people
man's proven leadership. (Twelve
presidents served eight years or more.)
also shows a president's effectiveness by what kind of impact he made
country and the presidency. Finally,
each man's moral character was considered, including his honesty, his
integrity, and the moral code by which he lived and led.
The presidents are
grouped into four categories: best;
great; good; and, poor. Of
these 43 presidents, only two are included
as our best presidents; five were great presidents; and, two were good
presidents. As a
we have had only nine presidents (about 20%) which ranked as good or
and 34 presidents (about 80%) are included in the poor category.
Two presidents stand
above the rest as being our best
Lincoln and James K.
Polk. Both men were
called upon to use their office of Commander-In-Chief, and both served
admirably in this role. Both
high moral standards of honesty and integrity.
In addition to the positive aspects of their
presidencies, neither man
had a negative aspect that was so severe as to overshadow his
Abraham Lincoln became
the 16th president in 1861 as a
member of the new Republican party.
was a humble man, and he was often able to disarm people with
humor. No president
challenges than Lincoln. After
election of 1860, but before Lincoln took office, South Carolina and
states seceded from the Union, and the ensuing Civil
War consumed his entire presidency.
His leadership and decision making during the
most difficult time in our
history made him the best president in history.
He achieved his goal to preserve the Union in
spite of the atrocities of the Civil War.
More than 600,000 people died during the Civil
War, when the population
of the U.S. was only 31 million. He
strong convictions against slavery, and he felt that it was absolutely
that the Union be saved, restored, and preserved.
Although he had no military background,
during his first year in office he studied and taught himself the
war. As president,
he worked 18-hour
his presidency, his 11-year-old son
Willie died of Typhoid
Fever. In 1863, he abolished slavery with
was re-elected in
1864, and in his second inaugural
address in 1865, he promised "malice toward none and charity for
all." He wanted to
south and allow the blacks to vote.
was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth shortly after his second term
2) James Polk
James Polk became the
11th president in 1845 as a
Democrat. It could
easily be argued that
he was the best president in history.
Like Lincoln, he was a war-time president, but
his leadership during the
war with Mexican pales when compared to the challenges that Lincoln
faced. Polk said
that he would serve
only one term, and he kept good on this promise,
not running for re-election in 1848.
He was the most accessible president,
meeting with ordinary citizens who would come to the White House and
willing to wait in line to talk with him.
He was the hardest working president,
even having gas lights installed in the White House so that he could
through the night. He
was careful to
understand the details of the budgets that he presented to Congress. He was responsible for the
Destiny, the great westward expansion of
the U.S. Upon
taking office, he had four
major goals: 1)
The annexation of Oregon, from Great Britain; 2) The annexation of
3) Fixing the credit mess; and, 4) Lowering federal tariffs. He
successfully achieved all four of
these goals in addition to the annexation of additional Southwest
through the war with Mexico. He
war and fixed the credit mess by setting
up an independent Treasury. It
because of President Polk that we sing of the United States as a
nation "from sea to shining sea," words penned for the song America
the Beautiful in 1895.
Our great presidents
include five men who had a positive
impact upon the country and the presidency.
They made things better for the American
people while also strengthening
the position of our country on the global scene.
They set precedents that were felt far beyond
their own administrations. As
happens, all of the great presidents and good presidents served for
George Washington became
the first president in 1789 as a
Federalist (liberal). He
serve only two terms, setting a
his office. He
avoided getting involved
in the war between France and England.
He put down the Whiskey Rebellion in
Pennsylvania, insisting that taxes
must be paid and that this was different from the taxes that had
been imposed by England. He
re-elected in 1792.
assumed the presidency upon the
assassination of President McKinley when he became the 26th president
as a Republican. However,
some would say
that he was actually a Democrat. He
a high-energy and charismatic personality; he was an electrifying
and, he worked hard and was always busy.
He believed that corporate America had become
too powerful. He
halted industrialist J. P. Morgan's monopoly
of the railroads. Through
Deal, he enacted social
reform against unsafe
conditions in sanitation, child labor, and unsafe conditions for coal
(he favored labor in the coal strikes).
Regarding foreign policy, he believed that the
U.S. needed to
civilize the rest of the world (similar to
McKinley and Bush 41). He
local rebels in a revolution in Latin America, clearing the way for the
building of the
Panama Canal. He
invoked the Monroe Doctrine, putting the
U.S. in charge of the Western Hemisphere.
In 1904, he won re-election with
biggest majority of the popular vote in any presidential election, but
he promised not
to seek another term after that
one. He continued
increasing business regulations
on unsafe and unfair
labor conditions. The
Meat Inspection Act addressed the
unsanitary conditions in the meat packing industry, and the Pure Food
Act addressed unsafe conditions in the processing of food and drugs. He greatly expanded conservationism through
the Antiquities Act. In
1908, he honored
his pledge not to seek another
term, although he did run again in 1912.
Ronald R. Reagan became
the 40th president in 1981 as a
Republican. He was
known for being a
great patriot, and he reduced the size of government through cutbacks in
many federal programs. He
taxes through major income tax reform,
and he saved Social
Security from insolvency.
He built up the military and introduced the
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and this resulted in the end of the
War and the end of Communism in the U.S.S.R.
He supported anti-communist governments
and forces around the world. He
effective in getting legislation through Congress by reaching
across party lines, as the Democrat party held a majority
in the House
throughout his whole presidency, and the Democrats also held Senate during part of his
second term. In his
re-election victory in 1984, he won
the electoral vote for every state except for one.
The low point of his presidency was his
involvement in the Iran Contra
Affair, where his
administration secretly violated the Boland Amendment by facilitating
of arms to Iran in order to secure the release of hostages and allow
intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.
Harry S. Truman assumed
the presidency up the death of
Franklin Roosevelt. He
became the 33rd
president in 1945 as a Democrat. He
the only president to have used a nuclear bomb when he effectively
about the end of
World War II by dropping
two atomic bombs on Japan. He
Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of
Europe. He ended
segregation in the armed services and the civil service. When war broke out in
Korea, and China
supported North Korea, he sent troops to South
although this war ended in a stalemate.
He was the first president to become involved
in the struggle in Vietnam. He was re-elected by
a narrow margin in 1948.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
became the 32nd president in 1933
as a Democrat. He
came from a wealthy
family, and his personality included both charm and arrogance. He contracted polio at the
age of 39, which
rendered his legs almost useless, even with the aid of ten-pound leg
braces. He was very
charismatic and he
exuded public confidence. He
huge amount of legislation into law, but this was facilitated by a
majority in both houses of Congress throughout his entire
his New Deal, he signed legislation to fight the depression,
including bills on
banking, investments, home building, and employment.
He signed the Social
Security Act to provide for a safety net for the elderly
disabled. In an
attempt to prevent any
of his legislation from being overturned by Republicans, he tried to have additional members
added to the Supreme
this power grab
failed, he did break with the precedent set by George Washington in
first man to run for a third
World War II had not yet
touched the U.S. directly by 1940.
However, just as Americans are reluctant to
change presidents during war, they also proved to be reluctant to
presidents during a depression. They
FDR to an unprecedented third term in
FDR won a fourth term
in 1944, although he probably
should not have run again
because his health was so bad.
This gave rise to the Twenty-Second Amendment
which says that no person
shall be elected to the office of President more than twice. Although FDR had promised
the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he asked Congress for a declaration
against Japan and Germany. Perhaps
low point of his presidency was his internment
FDR knew about the Jews in German
concentration camps as
early as 1942 although he made no concerted effort to help the Jewish
prisoners. FDR and
his generals planned and executed D-Day in 1944
which eventually led to the end of
the war in Europe, although he
died before the war
ended, just three months into his fourth term. FDR's planning with the
Allies resulted in
the formation of the United Nations after the war.
There are three other
presidents who rank as good
weak aspects of their
presidencies were far outweighed by their strengths.
William McKinley became
the 25th president in 1897 as a
opponent was William
Jennings Bryan, a Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for president three
presidency had many similarities
to that of George W. Bush over 100 years
was a spiritual man
with high standards of morality.
At a time when corporate America ruled
political America, he believed that America should take a stronger leadership role
in the world, including American
colonization, military power, and use of the world's resources. He believed that an
expansion of U.S. power
would be good for the U.S. as well as for the rest of the world (much
believed in promoting democracy in other countries).
Cuba was a Spanish colony
at this time, and the people there
were being subjected to much human suffering (much like the
argument for invading Iraq in 2003).
McKinley was greatly influenced by Theodore
Roosevelt, his Assistant
Secretary of the Navy. In
U.S.S. Maine was sent to patrol the waters near Cuba, but it
exploded, and it was assumed that this was the result of hitting a
mine. (Later it was
confirmed that there
had been a malfunction in the engine room.)
The U.S. declared war on Spain, and the Spanish-American
war ensued. The
U.S. quickly won
the war and became an imperial power by taking control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the
Philippines, and Guam.
McKinley won re-election in 1900, with
Roosevelt as his vice president, but McKinley was assassinated in
York by Leon Czolgosz on September 6th, 1901.
another parallel to the Bush
administration, it was almost exactly 100 years later when the
attacks of September 11th, 2001 occurred.)
McKinley became the third president to be
assassinated in 36 years.
Calvin Coolidge became
the 30th president in 1923 as a
believed in a small
federal government. He
many spending bills, he lowered taxes, and the
U.S. enjoyed a prosperous and growing economy. However, he failed to
anticipate the coming depression.
He was re-elected in 1924.
chose not to run again in 1928 simply because he
felt that no man should hold the office for ten years.
most of our presidents have been poor presidents. Although
some of them had
accomplishments, each one had net negative impact as
Of these 34 poor
- One was
were never elected
by the people as president.
never registered to
- One was
kicked out of
his own party.
- One was
treason by his critics.
least) six were
- One was
- One had
- One was
married to a
woman who was not yet divorced from
her previous husband.
- 17 were
unable to be
elected to an additional term.
were not even
re-nominated by their own party.
served less than a
full 4-year term in office.
died in office.
This is a
on our presidents because the bar
for being a good president is really quite low.
As it turns out, to keep from being on the
list of poor presidents, each
one had only to:
at least a full
four years as president, and show an
eagerness to be president and a patriot.
re-elected (as long
as he was still eligible to run),
or honor his promise not to run for re-election.
resign; and, not be: impeached; accused of
treason; a racist; or,
Commander-In-Chief; minimize fraud in
his administration; and, do more good than harm.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
became the 34th president in 1953 as a
didn't seek the
presidency, but he was recruited by both major parties.
He was reluctant
he thought he could bring about some positive
changes, and he
was so popular as a World War II hero that he won easily. He
was a much better
general than a
president he seemed
determined to make peace, and his presidency was a relatively leisurely
allowing him to play a lot of golf.
greatest achievement as president was probably the Federal
Highway Act, enabling the construction of the interstate
system. He was not
proactive in civil rights, and he showed no real
support for de-segregation.
suffered a heart attack in 1955, but his administration oversaw a time
and prosperity, especially during his first term.
He ended the Korean
an armistice instead of a victory, and he
increased U.S. involvement
in the Vietnam
siding with South
Vietnam, sending "advisors," and setting the stage for U.S.
escalation in the Vietnam War for the next twenty years (which also
without victory). During
term, the Cold War
the U.S.S.R. gained a
lead in the space race, and Castro took over in Cuba. His interactions
U.S.S.R., and Cuba made for a relatively weak administration in foreign
affairs, especially for a five-star general.
Walker Bush became
the 43rd president in 2001 as a
Republican. He was
the son of the 41st
president--the only father and son to serve as president other than
and John Quincy Adams. In
the popular vote (the third
president to do so) to
Vice President Al Gore, and there
controversy over the vote count in Florida, where that state's
would decide the election. Vote
repeatedly showed that the race there was within just a few hundred
votes. Finally, in
December, 2000, the Supreme Court
gave the election to Bush.
When Osama Bin Laden
killed nearly 3,000 Americans in the
9/11 attacks in 2001, Bush launched the War in
2003, he also invaded
his father’s prior struggle with Sadaam Hussein)
based upon questionable
evidence, including: Iraq's
terrorist activities (not well documented); Iraq's violation of UN
and, the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq (which
to be incorrect). The
War in Afghanistan defeated
the Taliban, and the Iraqi War
brought down Sadaam Hussein. However,
Qaeda remained as a terrorist entity.
Bush believed in expanding
the world. His
spending as well as the
centralized federal government, including the creation of
the Department of
was easily re-elected in 2004.
the 35th president in 1961 as a
Democrat. He had
been a hero in the
South Pacific during World War II, and he was the first Roman Catholic
he was the youngest president
ever elected, he suffered from multiple chronic health problems,
pain and Addison's Disease. Although
press did not report on his many
he was in office, history
has since shown that his standards for character and morality were
low. He supported the
Bay of Pigs, which was
an effort to have Cuban
exiles overthrow Castro, but it failed miserably.
He created the Peace Corps, escalated our
space program, and cut taxes. During
Cuban Missile Crisis, when the U.S.S.R. was
establishing bases for nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba, he stood up to
Soviet Union by blockading the region and preparing for an
Cuba. This was the
closest the world has
ever been to a nuclear war, but the crisis was settled diplomatically.
He was weak
on civil rights until
1963 when television news
showed the nation the awful white-on-black violence in the South.
involvement in the Vietnam
approving the assassination of the
President of South Vietnam. Oddly
enough, only one week later he was assassinated himself--in Dallas, by
Harvey Oswald. He
was the fourth
president to be assassinated, and he had served only about 1,000 days
office. Oswald was
killed by Jack Ruby
only two days after Kennedy's assassination.
Much controversy remains about the motive for
including the following theories:
suffering from various personality
assassinated on orders from the Mafia because
of Attorney General Robert Kennedy's crackdown on organized crime, and
president's rebuff of Mafia-related personalities such as Frank
- He was
killed by Castro
or by communist sympathizers who
opposed his actions against Cuba.
- He was
anti-communist sympathizers who thought
he should have invaded Cuba.
resulted from his desire to pull out of
Vietnam, as he didn’t think we could win the war.
Such theories include
corruption among high
level officials in the FBI, the CIA, the military, and other government
entities, along with defense contractors, in a vast conspiracy to
war for political and economic gain.
- JFK was
of where he stood on the civil
rights issue (again, as with the communist conspiracies, either because
too strong or too weak on civil rights).
considered to be a good president,
largely due to both his shortened presidency and his low standards for
Rutherford B. Hayes
became the 19th president in 1877 as a
Republican. In the
election of 1876, he
lost the popular vote, and it took four months to settle disputes and
the votes in
several states (much like the
election of 2000). A
was appointed to decide the outcome of the election, and the House of
Representatives had to confirm the decision.
During his administration, reconstruction
South was ended.
himself was not a racist, blacks were treated as second-class citizens,
the precedent for the next 85 years.
Civil Service was started under his administration.
During his campaign, he had promised not to seek
re-election after one term, and he
honored that promise.
after his presidency, he continued to
fight for civil rights
14) James Monroe
James Monroe became the
5th president in 1817 as a
had previously served as Secretary of State.
The issue of slavery
became a factor when
Missouri became a state, and it had to be determined whether it would
be a free
state or a slave state. With the Missouri
Compromise of 1820,
Missouri was admitted to the Union as a
and Maine was admitted as a free state.
Monroe favored returning slaves to Africa. Monroe's administration is
best known by the Monroe
Doctrine, ensuring that none of the U.S.
would be subjected to colonization by other countries.
He was re-elected in
James Madison became the
4th president in 1809 as a
served as Secretary of State. He
dressed in black. During
the War of
1812, the British burned the president's mansion and forced Madison to
from Washington. Although
essentially lost that war,
it was ended with the
Treaty of Gent in 1814. Before
of the treaty reached New Orleans, Andrew Jackson won one last battle
Battle of New Orleans. He
Benjamin Harrison became
the 23rd president in 1889 as a
President Cleveland won the popular vote, Harrison won the electoral
(like the year 2000).
was the grandson of former president William Henry Harrison, and the
who was the grandson of another president.
bankrupted the Treasury.
He secured pensions for Civil War veterans,
but there was widespread abuse when
pensions were implemented. He
also raised tariffs by
signing the McKinley Tariff Act,
resulting in fewer imported goods, monopolies by U.S. companies, and
inflation. He was unable to be re-elected in
Ulysses S. Grant became
the 18th president in 1869 as a
election of 1868 was the
first election where blacks were allowed to vote, and most blacks voted
Grant. In fact, he
wouldn't have won
without their vote because he did not receive the majority of the white
vote. He was a
loyal and humble man, and he
essentially crushed the KKK.
However, his administration was filled with
scandals, corruption, and abuse of power.
appointed his cronies to most positions,
and he was responsible for the Whiskey Ring fraud (concerning
tax revenues), the Credit Ring fraud,
and the many frauds associated
with the Department of Indian
Last Stand occurred
during his administration.) In
dealt with the economic depression in the North while tolerating
violence in the South. He
was re-elected in
1872, but history has viewed his as
a failed administration.
Thomas Jefferson became
the 3rd president in 1801 as a
served as Secretary of State. He
into office believing that a small federal government was best, but he
substantially increasing the
reach of the federal
brought about the Louisiana
only $15 million, essentially doubling the size of the U.S. However, he was criticized
for this, and
questions arose concerning the constitutionality
this purchase. He
refused to become
involved with the war between France and England, essentially taking an
isolationist stand. He
also signed the
Embargo Act, stopping all foreign trade.
had an affair with
a slave woman, but he dealt with the bad
publicity by just ignoring it. He
was re-elected in
1804, but he hated the
presidency so much that he omitted it from his
John Adams became the 2nd
president in 1797 as a
dealt with the XYZ Affair
when the French interfered with U.S. trade ships and attempted bribery
their war with England, and Adams eventually made a treaty with France. He signed the Alien
and Sedition Acts, making it a crime to speak out against
government--possibly the low point of his presidency.
Although he did establish a strong U.S. Navy,
his presidency was probably
the low point of his distinguished political career.
He was unable
re-elected to a second term, and this was so upsetting to
him that he snubbed the
incoming president, Thomas Jefferson, and
he probably hated the
Grover Cleveland became
the 22nd president in 1885 as a Democrat.
He was unable
to be re-elected
in 1888, but he was re-elected in 1892,
making him the only man to serve two non-consecutive terms
the campaign of 1884,
his morality was questioned when it was discovered that he had had an illegitimate child,
and he confessed to
this. He was the
only president ever to
be married in the White House. As
president, he had the most vetoes (414) of any president so far. He supported the gold
standard, but the
economy became even worse in the Panic of 1893.
He was not
re-nominated by his own
Bill Clinton became the
42nd president in 1993 as a
Democrat. He balanced
the budget for the first time since the Jackson
he failed to
take action against terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden,
the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. Furthermore,
his administration included many
scandals such as White
Water, and numerous sexual harassments suits against the president. He did reach across party
lines when he had
no other choice. He
was re-elected in
1996, but in the Paula Jones case,
Monica Lewinsky was called as a witness, and this uncovered more
the president's extra
marital affairs. When
he lied under oath, he was accused of perjury
of power. He
became only the second president to be impeached,
but he was acquitted by the Senate.
Barack Hussein Obama
became the 44th president in 2009 as a
Democrat and the first African (-American) president.
Since he is our current president, his true
place in history, and his final ranking is still to be determined. He came out of nowhere to
win the election in
2008 after being a national figure for only three years as a U.S.
senator. His far
left views implied that he supported socialism
He won the Nobel peace prize in 2009 despite
having no foreign policy experience.
was an arrogant man, and he seemed to despise America's history of
colonization. He apologized to
the nations of Europe for American actions of the past.
He implied that American
exceptionalism was no more special than that of other
countries such as
Greece (a country that went bankrupt during his administration). He declared that the U.S.
was no longer a Christian nation.
Obama bailed out large
banks and auto manufacturers. During
his presidency, the credit rating
of the U.S. government was downgraded for the
first time in history, although he blamed most problems on the previous
ran up historic deficits. His
2012 budget was voted down in the House by a vote of 414 to zero, and
Senate by a vote of 99 to zero. He
$800 billion on a failed stimulus package, later laughing about his
"shovel-ready" projects not being so shovel-ready after all. He said that unemployment
would top out below
8%, yet his administration was the only one in history to see
or above 8% for four years. He
that his administration would be the most transparent in history, but
probably the least transparent--basically
bringing the dirty politics of Chicago to Washington.
He passed Obama-care (national healthcare)
through a series of back room
he promised not to raise taxes on
the middle class (anyone making less than $250K), Obama-care did just
the Supreme Court ruled that the mandate for everyone to purchase
insurance was indeed a tax. He
was unable to effectively reach
across party lines when
there was a Republican majority in the House.
did get Osama Bin Laden, and he was re-elected in
James Earl Carter became
the 39th president in 1977 as a
negotiated peace between
Israel and Egypt in his Camp David
Peace Accords. He
expanded the federal
government by adding the departments of Energy and Education. During his administration,
the economy was
awful, with double-digit inflation,
unemployment, and interest rates.
52 Americans were taken hostage
from the U.S.
embassy in Iran, he appeared to be a weak
when he was unable to negotiate their safe return.
After more than a year of imprisonment, the
hostages were finally released on his last day in office, and many
that this was because Iran was fearful of the new president (Reagan). He was unable to be
Woodrow Wilson became the
28th president in 1913 as a
Democrat. His wife
died in 1914, he
remarried in 1915, and he was re-elected
1916. He created
the Federal Reserve to
control monetary policy and stabilize U.S. currency.
Wilson signed the Sedition
and Espionage Act, making it a crime to criticize the
War broke out in Europe, he pledged to
remain neutral, even when Americans were killed aboard British ships
attacked by Germany. However,
when Germany began attacking American ships, he had to renege on his
U.S. declared war on
Germany, but Wilson insisted that the U.S. maintain a separate Army
just being a part of an allied effort with Great Britain). Wilson desperately sought
to form the League
of Nations, believing that it would put an end to war forever, and he
successfully negotiated the origin of the League of Nations at the
when he backed
legislation for the U.S. to become a part of the League of Nations, it
defeated in the U.S. Senate, so the U.S never joined it. Wilson's legacy was an
was unable to compromise (with
leaders such as Henry Cabot Lodge).
the onset of World War II, the League of Nations lost credibility since
been proven to be unsuccessful in ending war forever, but it was
replaced by the United Nations after the war.
Wilson suffered a stroke
in 1919 and he
was unable to govern effectively during his last 18 months in office.
William Howard Taft
became the 27th president in 1909 as a
Republican. He had no real desire to be president,
but he was pressured
into running for president by President Roosevelt, as well as his own
desperately wanted to live in the White House.
Shortly after taking office, his wife suffered
a stroke and was unable
to enjoy her role as first lady. President
Taft hated the
the stress of the job caused him to over-eat until he weighed 355
heaviest president. He
was quick to
delegate responsibility as he was a
weak leader and a
poor decision maker.
election of 1912, President Roosevelt ran for the Republican nomination
President Taft, but Taft won. As
result, Roosevelt ran in the general election as a member of the
Bull Moose Party. This split the Republican
vote (much like Ross Perot's
third-party runs in 1992 and 1996), paving the way for a victory for
was unable to be
Taft later became the Chief Justice
of the U.S. Supreme Court.
John Quincy Adams became
the 6th president in 1825 as a
served as Secretary of State, and he was the son of John Adams, the
election of 1824 was the
first presidential election to test the constitutional direction of
controversial elections. This
first election where the popular vote was counted.
Andrew Jackson had the most electoral votes,
but he didn't have a majority. The
election then went to the House of Representatives where Henry Clay was
Speaker of the House (and he had ended up in fourth place in the
Quincy Adams was the
winner of the vote in the House, and he chose Henry Clay as his
State. This brought
accusations of scandal and
corruption, as some thought that Clay had
guided the election in the House in order to bargain with Adams. As a result, during Adams'
term in office,
the Jacksonians in Congress blocked all of his legislation, making for a miserable administration for
Adams, and he hated the
also thought that the election had
The presidential election
of 1828 was a repeat of the 1824
election between President John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, so it
very dirty election. The
dug up dirt on Jackson by noting that Jacksons wife
Rachel had not been legally divorced from her first husband when she
Jackson in 1791, 37 years earlier.
Still, Adams was unable
to be re-elected,
and Jackson won in a landslide. However,
his wife Rachel had endured much stress during the campaign. After the election, and
after she had picked
out her dress for the inauguration, she died of a heart attack in
1828, before ever seeing her husband as president.
John Quincy Adams was so aggravated by
Jackson and the election that he
refused to attend
Adams went on to become a member of the House of Representatives, the
president ever to serve in the House after his presidency. Also, Adams was the first
president to ever
be photographed, in 1843.
George Herbert Walker
Bush became the 41st president in 1989
as a Republican. He
was a World War II
presidency oversaw the end of
the Cold War. When
invaded Kuwait, President Bush led a UN coalition to oust Hussein from
in the Gulf War. He
promised not to
raise taxes, but large deficits forced him to renege on
this promise. Largely
because of this,
as well as third-party
candidate Ross Perot’s
splitting of the Republican vote, he was unable
to be re-elected.
the 8th president in 1937 as a
Democrat. The Panic
of 1837 was the
first economic depression that the U.S. suffered, resulting in high
unemployment and many bankruptcies.
Panic of 1839 was even worse, due to a glut of cotton on the market,
product and export. Van
Buren was incapable
making tough decisions. He
spoke out against the annexation of Texas,
basically because this allowed him a way of ducking the slavery
issue. He was unable
to be re-elected in
assumed the presidency when JFK was
became the 36th
president in 1963 as a Democrat. In
Great Society, he signed a flood of legislation, second only to FDR,
the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicaid, Food stamps, EPA
National Public Radio, and the Public Broadcasting System.
Like FDR, his legislative
victories were made
possible by a Democrat majority in both houses of Congress throughout
entire administration. Although
legacy may be the Civil Rights Act, politics may have overruled his
and sincerity, as he sometimes referred to it as the "N...
the Vietnam War, in a losing cause.
He was so unpopular for this that he decided not
to run for re-election in 1968.
He would have been unable to be re-elected,
as he had no chance of winning.
Hoover became the
31st president in 1929 as a
World War I veterans
marched on Washington, demanding bonuses, he ordered General MacArthur
the march, and this ended
violence against the
was a business
man and a hard worker, but he had no charisma and he was unable to do
to pull the U.S. out of depression. He hated
(detested) the presidency, and he was unable to be re-elected
Jackson became the
7th president in 1829 as a
Democrat (a Jeffersonian). His
nicknamed him Jackass, and this image stuck as the mascot of the
he was a
was a good general, he was actually a poor president.
He blamed the politics of the opposing party
(and perhaps politics in general) for his wife's death.
fired his whole
Cabinet, and he went through four Secretaries of State. He
signed the Indian
Removal Act of 1830, leading to the infamous
Trail of Tears where many peaceful Indians lost their lives during
in 1832. During
Jackson's presidency, the
of South Carolina nearly seceded from the Union
over the Nullification Crisis (an issue of taxation). During
War," Jackson closed the Bank of the United States,
causing him to
be censured by
became the 37th president in 1969 as a
established diplomatic relations with China, and he agreed to weapons
limitations with the U.S.S.R. However,
administration goes down in
history as one that abused the
power of the presidency
on many fronts. He
escalated the Vietnam War and used it
in 1972. He
at leisure, including those of politicians and reporters, and he
apparently considered himself
to be above the law.
proved to be his downfall. With
looming, he resigned
in 1974, becoming
the only president to resign from office.
Although he was a master politician and he
reached across party lines, he ranks near the bottom of
the list due to
his abuse of power
33) Gerald R.
Gerald R. Ford assumed
the presidency upon the resignation
of President Nixon. He
became the 38th
president in 1974 as a Republican.
granted a full pardon to President Nixon.
escalate the war in Vietnam, Congress would not oblige,
and he was in
power when Saigon fell to the Communists.
Since he was unable
to be re-elected in
1976, he was never elected by
the people as
served less than two-and-a-half years in office.
Chester A. Arthur assumed
the presidency upon the
assassination of President Garfield.
became the 21st president in 1881 as a Republican.
He was the third president to serve in
1881. He was
competent, but he liked to
party, and he was
not a hard
signed the Pendleton Act which reformed
the Civil Service, and he upgraded the Navy. He was not
re-nominated by his party in 1884, so he was unable
to be re-elected, and he was never
the people as president, and he served
three-and-a-half years in office.
Andrew Johnson assumed
the presidency upon Lincoln's
became the 17th
president in 1865 as a member of the Democrat-Union (liberal) party. He had no formal schooling
at all. He was
probably the most racist of
all presidents and he hindered the reconstruction
of the South.
amnesty for veterans, but he
sought no rights
for blacks. He
executed his veto
power 29 times, more than any other president to that time, indicating an inability to reach across party lines. Congress charged that he violated the Tenure of Congress Act,
Congressional approval for appointed officials, by firing Secretary of
Stanton and replacing him with Ulysses S. Grant. As
a result, he was the first president to be impeached. He
avoided conviction and removal from office by only one vote. His tenure as president
weakened the office
of the presidency considerably. He
was unable to be re-elected,
so he was never elected by
the people as president, and he served
less than four years in office.
After his presidency, he became the first
former president to become a U.S. Senator.
James Buchanan became the
15th president in 1857 as a
Democrat. He never
married and it's
quite possible that he was gay. He
one of the worst presidents, and some of his critics even thought that
guilty of treason. During his oath of office,
he omitted the
pledge to "preserve, defend, and protect the Union."
He was pro-slavery. He was not
re-nominated, so he was not
able to be
re-elected, but hated
the presidency and was happy
to leave it.
the 29th president in 1921 as a
Republican. He was
a poor leader. He
signed the Budget and Accounting Act which
gave the executive branch greater control over spending, and required
president to submit an annual budget.
supported the first arms limitations by
promoting world naval disarmament.
limitations by promoting world naval disarmament.
Harding died in 1923, presumably
natural causes, after serving
only two years and five
months in office. After
death, many scandals of
his administration came
to light, including the Teapot Dome scandal where members of his
were involved in the illegal leasing of oil reserves.
the presidency upon the death of
President Taylor. He
became the 13th
president in 1850 as a member of the Whig party.
He was a poor president.
He signed the Compromise of 1850 as a
supporter of slavery. He was not even
re-nominated by his own party for the next election, so
he was unable to be re-elected,
he was never elected by
the people as president, and he served
only two years and eight months in office.
the 14th president in 1853 as a
Democrat. He was a
poor president, and
an alcoholic; and, he was mentally
after he was elected, his 11-year-old
son was killed in a train accident.
had previously lost two other children, and this was his last surviving
child. During his
presidency, his vice president
also died. He
was pro-slavery, and he was not
his party, so he was unable to
be re-elected. After
leaving office, he lived out the rest
of his life as a recluse.
presidency upon the death of
President William Henry Harrison.
became the 10th president in 1841 as a member of the Whig
party. He was a poor president,
and he was kicked out of his
own party. During
his administration, the modern day
border with Canada was established, and the state of Texas was
annexed. He was not
re-nominated in 1844, so he was unable to be
re-elected, and was never
elected by the
people as president, and he served
less than four years
Taylor became the
12th president in 1849 as a member
of the Whig (conservative) party.
not a politician. He
was a Mexican War
hero, and his nickname was Old Rough 'n Ready. He
registered to vote, and he
didn't even vote in his own election.
died in 1850, probably of
cholera, after serving only 16
months in office.
42) James A.
James A. Garfield became
the 20th president in 1881 as a
Republican. He had
Ulysses S. Grant in the Republican convention.
He was the only preacher to ever become
president. He was
perhaps the most detail-oriented of
all presidents. In
July, 1881, he was
shot by an assassin, Charles G. Guiteau, although he lingered for two
before he died, after serving
only six months in office. He was the second
president to be assassinated
in 16 years.
William Henry Harrison
became the 9th president in 1841 as a
member of the Whig party. His
slogan had been "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," commemorating the heroics
of Harrison and his Vice President in the Indian Wars.
Harrison was 68 years old when he became
president. At his
inauguration, he gave
a two-hour speech, in the outdoors, on a very cold day.
As a result, he contracted pneumonia, and he died after serving only one month in
in Chronological Order:
Washington, 1789 – 1797, Federalist
Adams, 1797 – 1801, Federalist
Jefferson, 1801 – 1809, Democrat-Republican
Madison, 1809 – 1817, Democrat-Republican – The War
Monroe, 1817 – 1825, Democrat-Republican
Quincy Adams, 1825 – 1829, Democrat-Republican
Jackson, 1829 – 1837, Democrat
8) Martin Van
Buren, 1837 – 1841, Democrat
Henry Harrison, 1841 – 1841, Whig
Tyler, 1841 – 1845, Whig
11) James K.
Polk, 1845 – 1849, Democrat – Mexican-American War
Taylor, 1849 – 1850, Whig
Fillmore, 1850 – 1853, Whig
Pierce, 1853 – 1857, Democrat
Buchanan, 1857 – 1861, Democrat
Lincoln, 1861 – 1865, Republican – The Civil War
Johnson, 1865 – 1869, Democrat-Union
S. Grant, 1869 – 1877, Republican
B. Hayes, 1877 – 1881, Republican
20) James A.
Garfield, 1881 – 1881, Republican
A. Arthur, 1881 – 1885, Republican
Cleveland, 1885 – 1889, Democrat
Harrison, 1889 – 1893, Republican
Cleveland, 1893 – 1897, Democrat
McKinley, 1897 – 1901, Republican –
Roosevelt, 1901 – 1909, Republican
Taft, 1909 – 1913, Republican
Wilson, 1913 – 1921, Democrat, World War I
29) Warren G.
Harding, 1921 – 1923, Republican
Coolidge, 1923 – 1929, Republican
Hoover, 1929 – 1933, Republican
D. Roosevelt, 1933 – 1945, Democrat – World War II
33) Harry S.
Truman, 1945 – 1953, Democrat – World War II,
34) Dwight D.
Eisenhower, 1953 – 1961, Republican – Korean War
35) John F.
Kennedy, 1961 – 1963, Democrat – The Vietnam War
36) Lyndon B.
Johnson, 1963 – 1969, Democrat – The Vietnam War
M. Nixon, 1969 – 1974, Republican – The Vietnam War
38) Gerald R.
Ford, 1974 – 1977, Republican – The Vietnam War
39) Jimmy Carter,
1977 – 1981, Democrat
Reagan, 1981 – 1989, Republican
Herbert Walker Bush, 1989 – 1993, Republican – Gulf
Clinton, 1993 – 2001, Democrat
43) George W.
Bush, 2001 – 2009, Republican – Afghan War, Iraq
Hussein Obama, 2009 – , Democrat – Afghan War, Iraq
Green = Positive
Blue = Historical