Top 5 Worst Presidents in U.S. History

1. Jimmy Carter– He is hands-down, the greatest embarrassment to the office in the history of the Presidency.  He was an abysmal failure while in office, who could not even pass legislation with a sympathetic Congress.  His economic policies led the U.S. into one of the greatest recessions in its history, and his foreign policies led to events such as the storming of the U.S. embassy in Teheran.  At least, he did his constituency the service of hiding out in the rose garden during most of his presidency and refusing to be the leader that he was elected to be.

Today, he spends much of his time violating two centuries of Presidential decorum by decrying the work of the men who have succeeded him, and sticking his nose into affairs in which it does not belong, such as working with terrorist organizations like Hamas.  Giving him the Nobel Peace Prize cheapened it, and it has become the sad political tool that it is today.  No amount of house building can make up for the awful way he has dragged the most prestigious office on Earth through the mud.

2. Warren Harding– I tried not to hold the fact that a president died in office against him.  Presidents like William Henry Harrison or James Garfield get an incomplete from me.  They are obviously near the bottom, but as a result of their untimely deaths, did not have the opportunity to do anything truly bad to the office.  However, the Harding administration, though only two years in length was simply packed with Presidential embarrassments.  His administration is generally viewed as the single most corrupt in the history of the U.S., and that includes the Grant administration.  Harding was barely by his own party.  He did poorly in the primaries, was part of a split vote at the RNC, and after a deal was struck for his candidacy in the predawn of a hotel room, it still took ten ballots for him to receive the nomination. 

He won the general election by a landslide, and then had to pay back those to whom promises were made.  This led to the appointment of several corrupt individuals to his administration.  Many of his appointees were personal friends who were completely unqualified for the posts to which they were named.  His nominee to head the Veteran’s Bureau robbed its coffers of $200,000,000 and fled the country.  The Justice Department was accused of taking bribes.  The Attorney General was proven to have illegally profited from allowing alcohol to be taken from government supplies during the middle of prohibition, and corruption was discovered in the office of the Alien Property Custodian.

The most egregious example of corruption in his administration was the Teapot Dome Scandal in which the Secretary of the Interior received $400,000 in bribe from oil companies after leasing oil-rich land to them without any competitive bidding.

This was all bad enough, but Harding’s personal problems were also prominent.  He was married, but he carried on several affairs while he was president.  These eventually came to light adding to the cloud that surrounded his presidency.  Today, there are some theories that he was actually poisoned by his own wife.  In any case, he was dead after serving only two years.

3. Andrew Johnson– He was impeached but not convicted on two occasions.  Most historians agree that he did not deserve to be convicted, but his track record in office showed that he did not agree with his party or Lincoln in regards to the position of former slaves in post-Civil War America.  He repeatedly vetoed legislation that was meant to protect the former slaves and allow them to be absorbed into normal American society.  His appointments and policies promoted the establishment of so called ‘black codes’ that allowed southern blacks to be kept in some sort of servitude as second-class persons.  He was instrumental in defeating the 14th Amendment which eventually made the former slaves actual citizens.  Lincoln was a practical man who would do what it took to eventually get the outcome that he wanted, but his appointment of Johnson was easily his biggest mistake, and one, that with his death, could not be undone.  Johnson’s apparent racism which undermined many of the victories that so much blood was shed for during the Civil War put him high on the list.

4. Ulysses S. Grant– Grant’s two terms as president of the U.S. were notable for their corruption and failed domestic policies.  Waffling on the issue of ‘greenbacks’ and allowing unrestrained speculation in the gold market by Jay Gould and James Fisk led to Black Friday in which the Stock Market shut down.  The Grant administration failed to react by releasing gold early.  This caused the ruin of many investors, and when the administration finally did release its gold reserves, it caused a crash in the gold market that led to more ruin.

Though he was never personally accused of corruption, his administration was involved in several famous instances of corruption.  The most famous of these were the Credit Mobilier swindle and the Whiskey Ring.

Grant may have been a great general, but he was not a great president.  His two terms and his military legacy keep him off the bottom of the list.

5. Richard Nixon– Nixon is an anomaly.  His foreign policy achievements could easily have put him into the top 20 presidents of all time.  The problem was that his own paranoia and character flaws led him to use abuse his power as president and to eventually sanction crimes committed at the expense of his political opposition.  Of all the people on the list, his actions as president were probably the worst, but his extremely effective foreign policy keep him off the bottom of the list.

6. James Buchanan– I added a sixth because he is really the only other bad president.  For the most part, America’s presidents have been good and able men who led the country to the best of their ability.  Some may have been less effective than others, and some served short terms, but the true bottom-dwellers are a short list.  Buchanan’s lack of any attempt to keep the U.S. from devolving into Civil War puts him near the bottom of the list.  He and Nero could have played a duet.

15 Responses

  1. Recession, bailouts of banks, & car companies, mortgage crisis, corruption & bankrupcy of financial companies. millions of americans jobless.

    torture of prisoners, illegal surveillance & disrespect of the US constitution & laws which bush swore to uphold.

    america is a hostage in iraq for 5 years. 3000 dead in NY + 4850 soldiers dead bec. of illegal war in iraq + thousands of america soliders wounded (physically, emotionally & psychologically) + thousands of iraqis dead & wounded. arrogant foreign policy.

    US was attacked on sept 11, 2001. –

    The hijackers were Saudis, bush lied that iraq & osama had connection. then he started a illegal war. –

    carter help peace process between israel & egypt. a recession, ( but no bailouts, mortgage crisis )americans hostage in iran for 1 year & 79 days and 8 killed in failed rescue attempt.

    do you see the comparison.

  2. Ah, classic Bush Derangement Syndrome. Bush lied – People Died. Mikehow shows his idiocy by spewing the same old Liberal/Keith Olberman talking points. Why don’t you learn to think for yourself mikehow. The great thing about it is that in 20 years historians will be rating Bush as a good to great President but Carter will still be at the bottom. The not so great thing about it is that the work that GWB has done to protect our freedoms means protecting idiots like you.

  3. As I respond to Mikehow, I see a skinny, thin goateed Vegan who is much too young and self-centered to appreciate the things that he has been given.
    -“Recession, bailouts of banks, & car companies, mortgage crisis, corruption & bankrupcy of financial companies. millions of americans jobless.” I do not agree with the need for all of the bailouts, but the policies that led to these problems were signed into law during the Clinton administration. Also, while there was corruption in business in America during the Bush years (just as there has always been and will always be to some extent), there was no link to the Bush administration.
    -“torture of prisoners, illegal surveillance & disrespect of the US constitution & laws which bush swore to uphold.”- This is simply a matter of opinion. I would not call what was done to the enemies of the U.S. torture in the first place, but even if it was, I would not have a problem with it as long as it made the world safer for Americans. As far as the Patriot Act was concerned, it was a law, and therefore was legal, by definition. I also believe that the Patriot Act was upheld by the courts. This is the price we pay to live in the world today, and the ability to live in freedom and safety in the greatest country on earth is what we get in return.

    -“america is a hostage in iraq for 5 years. 3000 dead in NY + 4850 soldiers dead bec. of illegal war in iraq + thousands of america soliders wounded (physically, emotionally & psychologically) + thousands of iraqis dead & wounded. arrogant foreign policy.”- Ludicrous. I assume you are referring to the Second Gulf War which was on of the most successful wars at the least cost of lives for the winner in the history of the world. We utterly defeated the fourth largest standing army in the world in record time. The problems we have had since then are largely a result of the fact that we are unable to stand firmly and deliver and deliver a consistent message to our enemies. Both Bush and his opponents are responsible for this. Also, America is capitalized always, you pimply faced little ass.
    -“US was attacked on sept 11, 2001.”- Really. This is so offensive that it does not deserve comment. At least Bush reacted in a way that has crippled the organization that was responsible for it. Carter, on the other hand, just sat there and did nothing, and we are still dealing with an out-of-control Iran today.
    .-“The hijackers were Saudis, bush lied that iraq & osama had connection. then he started a illegal war.”-This seems a little repetitive, and I do not see how it all fits together. I often wonder why it is not racist to assume that because the hijackers were Saudis, then any Bush relationship with any Saudi must have a tie to terrorism. Conservatives would never get away with this nonsense, but since liberals think of themselves as the arbiters of racism, they think they can get away with it.

    -“carter help peace process between israel & egypt. a recession, ( but no bailouts, mortgage crisis )americans hostage in iran for 1 year & 79 days and 8 killed in failed rescue attempt.”- This is hardly legible. However, for a better exposition of the horrible Carter administration and its aftermath read this ( I could not say it better. I encourage you to read every now and then, and buy yourself a grammar book.
    -“do you see the comparison.”- No. because there isn’t one.

  4. What about FDR? His policies extended the Great Depression for 7 years longer than it would have been had he kept his finger out of the pot.

    His “great” leadership in the war was really just hiding behind greater men in his cabinet and military. Sure, he deserves some credit for finding those people (such as Eisenhower) but that’s an odd claim toward “greatness.”

    I think destroying America’s economy would land him top of the list.

  5. Look, I consider myself a good conservative, but I cannot support ‘Dan from Seattle.’ FDR cannot be realistically placed on anyone’s bot five presidents list. Even if you disliked his policies, you have to respect FDR’s management of WWII and the sheer power and popularity that he wielded as president. I put him at number three on my Top 20 President’s List.
    Dan’s comments seem a little reactionary.

  6. I’m with bonafide and mikehow. Nixon should not be here, he was good aside from Watergate. my list:1.Buchanan-failed to stop the civil war 2.Pierce-failed to stop the civil war. 3.Jackson-genocidal egomaniac 4.GWB-too much to list 5.A. Johnson-naturally incompetent.

  7. Bush jr. is way worse than Carter.. I’m not saying Carter was a good president I’m just saying Bush jr. is worse.

    • That’s just silly. George Bush was a two termer. He effectively led the U.S. in a new kind of war, and kept us from being further damaged by forces that would like to have done us wrong. He took the hits and still did the right thing most of the time. In the end most of the criticism of him can come out of his fiscal policies at the end of his administration.
      On the other hand,… well, you simply need to educate yourself a little more if you have a positive attitude toward Carter. Don’t drink the cool aid. The information on his dismal presidency is out there, and easy to find. Don’t give him the pass that most libs do just because he has built a few houses for the poor.

  8. I’m not saying Carter was a good president. he was not by any means a good president. serving two terms doesn’t make you a good president. P.S. what pass? everywhere I look most democrats view him as mediocre at best. he was not on my bottom 5. that doesn’t mean he’s a good president. I think I made that quite clear. P.S I’m not a Democrat.

    • I am still waiting for the positive evidence of what Carter did that would not make him one of the bottom five. Two terms is a big deal. It’s four more years of effect on the nation, and it shows that at least a majority of the country supported the policies of this person for at least the first term. Unfortunately, for Bush, many of his negatives came at the end of his second term. Bush was able to get his policies passed even though he did not always have a sympathetic Congress. I remember lots of anger and threats by the democratically controlled Congress leveled at Bush, among them being the Patriot Act, the War in Iraq, and Guantanamo, but when I came down to it, they voted to pass his legislation. I believe it was because he was right, and they knew it (and I believe that we are still seeing this as in the fact that Obama keeps finding it necessasry to continue with Bush’s policies), but even if the only reason that they passed the legislation, was because they were affraid not to, it says a lot about his leadership ability.
      Carter, on the other hand, was completely inept. He could not even pass legislation with a sympathetic Congress. He left office with inflation spiraling out of control, and the impression that the U.S. could be bullied by smaller backward nation. He was so bad that the nation could not wait to vote in the next representative from the party that so recently had given it Nixon. The continual damage that he has done to the office of the President since he left is deplorable. And his unwanted interferance in foreign affairs weakens our position globally to this day.

  9. I’m mostly with mikehow on bush jr., but I wouldn’t call 9-11 his fault. I just can’t see Bush jr. getting rated positive.

    • The same thing happened to Reagan and Clinton soon after they left office. In fact, Reagan was one the most reviled presidents we ever had at the time, especially by those who did not agrre with his policies. The same went for Clinton, but on the other side of the aisle. In the end, the truth of their positive presidencies could not be denied. I may not agree with everything Clinton did, but I cannot deny that he was a good President, and one of th top twenty.
      The same will hold true for George W. The problem is that there has not be enough time to digest his impact on the U.S. and the world. I believe that, for the most part, histories should not be written until twenty years after the event to allow time for tempers to cool, and the facts and true impact of deeds to be sorted out. By including Bush on the list, I may have violated this policy a bit, but in the end, his positive impact will outweigh his negative impact.

  10. you may be right, but maybe you won’t.

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