Thanks to the Checks and Balances of the US Government, We Can Even Manage Through Bad Presidents
Top (or Bottom) Ten Lists are by necessity very subjective. This one is no exception. But as a longtime presidential trivia buff, I feel qualified to judge the presidents on their contributions to society and the world.
Presidents: The Bad and the Ugly????
I'm a presidential trivia buff. So, one year, with President's Day coming up, I decided to put together my list of my (bottom) ten least favorite presidents.
Bottom Ten Presidents
Since my criteria for who are the ten worst presidents in totally subjective and might not have anything to do with what happened during the specific president's tenure as president, I have listed them in chronological order (according to "what number president" each was) -- I also have listed why I consider each one as part of this list:
- Andrew Jackson:
I put Jackson on this list mostly because of what he did to John Quincy Adams during his presidency (see my list of Top Ten Presidents and more about The Adamses here on this blog) and because he was crazy enough to fight duels. Jackson saw himself as a president of the people, but the only people he was president of was ruffians.
- Zachary Taylor:
A nice man, but not cut out to be president. Zachary Taylor was a General and had never voted in a presidential election until he ran for president. After about a year as president, he died, possibly from food poisoning. The most interesting thing I can say about him is that his daughter Sara's widower was Jefferson Davis, future president of the Confederate States of America.
- Franklin Pierce:
A very intelligent man who was a bust as president. A northerner with southern leanings in the years leading up to the Civil War, his presidency was hampered by family problems -- his youngest (and only surviving son) Benjy was the only casualty (his parents saw him die) in a train derailment on their way to Washington, DC, to take the reigns of government. An able statesman, but this family tragedy just "did him in" president-wise.
- James Buchanan:
Another Northerner with southern sympathies, also a tragic figure (he never married -- in his 20s, his
fianceedied under mysterious circumstances -- at her sister's home -- possible suicide??? -- after they had a fight).
- Ulysses Simpson Grant:
A good family man and a good general, he hit his peak during the Civil War as the General that Lee surrendered to. But he just wasn't cut out to be president. He knew two songs -- one was Yankee Doodle and one wasn't.
A family man who missed his family when they weren't with him, and though he wasn't a very good president (his presidential was marred by scandal, though he wasn't involved in the wrongdoing) he showed his greatest courage by dictating his memoirs to Mark Twain while dying of
throat cancer(so he wouldn't leave the family he loved penniless).
- Warren Gamaliel Harding:
A newspaper man from Marion, Ohio, he was far too conservative for his times and far too unintelligent to make an effective president. He trusted his friends too much and died before the s*** hit the fan (the Teapot Dome Scandal). Some think his wife poisoned him (because of his numerous affairs or, possibly, to save him the embarrassment of the scandal).
- Calvin Coolidge:
Austere Yankee from Vermont, a good balance for the garrulous Harding, Coolidge became president when Harding died. Though he was more intelligent and more serious, he didn't do much to prevent the Great Depression.
Also had his presidency marred by personal tragedy (his son Calvin Jr. died from blood poisoning caused by infection of a blister he got by playing tennis with his brother on the White House lawn).
- Herbert Hoover:
An engineer, his first job out of Stanford (and after his marriage to Lou Henry) was in China. The Hoovers were in China during the Boxer Rebellion and helped coordinate relief efforts. Hoover was a millionaire before he entered politics (he was Harding's Secretary of Commerce). Lived long enough (he died at the age of 90) to outlive his reputation as the man who caused the Great Depression (he didn't really cause it but he did nothing to prevent it).
- Dwight David Eisenhower:
Another general who wasn't cut out to be president. Allowed Joseph McCarthy and the House Unamerican Activities Committee to run rampant. The only good thing he did was an accident -- he appointed Earl Warren Chief Justice of the US. Lucky for us, because Warren was one of the best Chief Justices who ever served.
- James Earl ("Jimmy") Carter:
What can you say about a man who "lusted in his heart", was attacked by a "killer rabbit" while rowing and allowed the hostages to be held by Iran's new revolutionary Islamist government. He set the stage for the crisis we are now experiencing. His recent book is a collection of lies, but he doesn't let the truth stand in the way of his ego.