10 Best & Worst Presidents

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Best & Worst U.S. Presidents
There have been some great presidents throughout U.S. history. There have also been some less-than-great ones. Here are the 10 best and 10 worst presidents as ranked in 2010 by the Research Institute of Siena College, who have surveyed presidential scholars five times since 1982.
(credit: MIKE SARGENT/AFP/Getty Images)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Benjamin Harrison
10th WORST
(23rd President, 1889-1893, Republican)
"I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process." -- Benjamin Harrison (1891)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Dwight D. Eisenhower
10th BEST
(34th President, 1953-1961, Republican)
"Eisenhower had about the most expressive face I ever painted, I guess. Just like an actor's. Very mobile. When he talked, he used all the facial muscles. And he had a great, wide mouth that I liked. When he smiled, it was just like the sun came out." -- Norman Rockwell
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
William Henry Harrison
(9th President, 1841-1841, Whig) Harrison's ranking is likely more due to the fact that he died only one month into his term.
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Harry S. Truman
9th BEST
(33rd President, 1945-1953, Democratic)
"I never gave anybody hell. I just told the truth and they think it's hell." -- Harry S. Truman
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Herbert Hoover
(31st President, 1929-1933, Republican)
"I outlived the bastards." -- Herbert Hoover, when asked how he dealt with people who blamed him for the Great Depression
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Woodrow Wilson
8th BEST
(28th President, 1913-1921, Democratic)
"I do not know how to avoid the conclusion that a man who is capable of taking the illusions of religion so literally and is so sure of a special personal intimacy with the Almighty is unfitted for relations with ordinary children of men." -- Sigmund Freud
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
John Tyler
(10th President, 1841-1845, Whig)
"Popularity, I have always thought, may aptly be compared to a coquette - the more you woo her, the more apt is she to elude your embrace." -- John Tyler (1816)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
James Monroe
7th BEST
(5th President, 1817-1825, Democratic-Republican)
"If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy." -- James Monroe
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Millard Fillmore
(13th President, 1850-1853, Whig)
"An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory." -- Millard Fillmore, after losing the Whig nomination for governor of New York (1844)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
James Madison
6th BEST
(4th President, 1809-1817, Democratic-Republican)
"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." -- "The Federalist Papers" (1788)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
George W. Bush
(43rd President, 2001-2009, Republican)
"He's unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated and apparently quite proud of all of these things." -- Christopher Hitchens (2000)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Thomas Jefferson
(3rd President, 1801-1809, Democratic-Republican)
"All the Founding Fathers hated democracy -- Thomas Jefferson was a partial exception, but only partial." -- Noam Chomsky (2002)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Franklin Pierce
(14th President, 1853-1857, Democratic)
"You have summoned me in my weakness. You must sustain me by your strength." -- Pierce's Inaugural Address
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
George Washington
4th BEST
(1st President, 1789-1797, No affiliation)
"George Washington is the only president who didn't blame the previous administration for his troubles." -- Author unknown
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Warren G. Harding
(29th President, 1921-1923, Republican)
"I am not fit for this office and should never have been here." -- Quoted by Nicholas Murray Butler (1939)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Abraham Lincoln
3rd BEST
(16th President, 1861-1865, Republican/National Union)
"He has a face like a hoosier Michael Angelo, so awful ugly it becomes beautiful, with its strange mouth, its deep-cut, criss-cross lines, and its doughnut complexion." -- Walt Whitman
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
James Buchanan
(15th President, 1857-1861, Democratic)
"I am the last President of the United States!" -- Statement Buchanan reportedly made after the secession of South Carolina.
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Theodore Roosevelt
2nd BEST
(26th President, 1901-1909, Republican)
"Roosevelt was a great personality, a great activist, a great preacher of the moralities, a great controversialist, a great showman. He dominated his era as he dominated conversations ... the masses loved him; he proved to be a great popular idol and a great vote getter." -- Thomas A. Bailey, "Presidential Greatness" (1966)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Andrew Johnson
(17th President, 1865-1869, Democratic/National Union)
"No man in Tennessee has done more than Andrew Johnson to create, to perpetuate and embitter in the minds of the Southern people, that feeling of jealousy and hostility against the free States, which has at length culminated in rebellion and civil war. Up to 1860, he had been for 20 years among the most bigoted and intolerant of the advocates of slavery and Southernism." -- The Nashville Press (February, 1863)
(credit: Wikipedia)
(credit: Wikipedia)
Franklin D. Roosevelt
1st BEST
(32nd President, 1933-1945, Democratic)
"The greatest thing he accomplished was to make people all over the world feel that he, and therefore our country, actually was concerned about them and was interested in their problems." -- Eleanor Roosevelt
(credit: Wikipedia)
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  • Citizen

    Not even close ‘CCO – You’re missing Jimmy Carter and the current president in the list of 10 worst.

    • BettyC

      No not even close Richard Nixon needed to be included among the worst though

      • Dave

        Really? Do you know anything about him besides Watergate? How about the fact that he started the EPA? How about that he ended the Vietnam War? Or that he opened up China to trade and the Western world? Or the fact that he ended the draft? Or that he fulfilled JFK’s promise of a man on the moon? Or that he brought down the highest inflation rate in the century (brought about by LBJ’s policy’s)? He help facilitate racial integration of schools and dozen other accomplishments. Watergate guaranteed he would never be thought of as part of the ten best, but the ten worst? Use your brain BettyC!!!

        • Jorge

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    • Larry C.

      How did Jimmy Carter not come in as the worst. He was a humiliation but then again, he promised nothing and delivered nothing. When asked for specifics during his campaign, the answer was always “Trust me.”

  • Willard

    The problem I have with this is that there is nothing that says how or why they were rated as they were. That would make it more interesting.

  • Because

    That’s an easy one. Anyone, anything, anytime anywhere is better than bush. Even a pile of dung.

    • Stellett

      Highly doubt a 2 term president (Bush) could be one of the worst. Where is Jimmy Carter? Nixon? LBJ? Taft? This list is a joke…

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  • Journeyone

    3rd WORST is GEORGE H. W. BUSH

    • Slo

      You are such a Jack; Ronald Reagan was one of the great ones. He is the reason we were able to enjoy the 90’s. Fiscal policy alone was one of rebuilding the American dream. I hesitate to even mention the fall of the Soviet Union because that’s too easy. A president universally respected and feared around the world as one of the most powerful men to sit and lead a nation since the greats of WWII. You’re way off and GW1 was not worst or a best. He was a fill in, a president of little note. Much like veggies at dinner, they rarely get rated or remembered but they always get eaten.

      • The Crux of the Buscuit

        Reagan thought ketchup was a vegetable. Reagan started the fiscal calamity the country is still trying to dig itself out of. Reagan was popular, but not a great president. Iran-Contra ring a bell? W stated once that he was the logical extension of Reagan, nuff said…..

        • blueskies

          Just because W said he was the logical extension of Reagan doesn’t make it true – which it isn’t. Reagan created a surplus after the hole Carter dug us into which was then squandered by Bush the Elder. Clinton created a surplus which was then squandered by Bush the Younger – and now Obama is following W’s lead and taken a bad situation and made it much worse. So where you’re getting that Reagan started this “calamity” is completely false. Go back and read some history instead of just throwing out partisan, unresearched statements…

    • GOPSUX


    • jack

      Journeyone is obviously a young Democrate & needs to do a little more research.

    • Kayley

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  • sandy

    Get somebody with an open mind someone who doesn’t mind telling the truth about George W Bush. Look who is in office now. We are worse off today then we where four years ago and we will be worse off tomorrow.

    • Republicanus

      really? Look at the S & P in January, 2009 and look at where it is today. I don’t know about you but I am a lot better off than I was when the Bush/Cheney team were cooking up the Great Recession.

    • tan pup

      Exactly – W might not have been the best, but he was much better then the clown we have now. No question about that!!

    • Gary

      I like how it takes an “open mind” to realize Dumbya was a better President than Obama. We may never recover from the damage he and his awful administration did to this country — how’s that for an “open mind.”

    • BettyC

      No, its just taken longer than expected to recover from the damage W caused

      • Paul Willette

        Betty your dead wrong!! Bush made some bad moves, but this current president made the snowball that much bigger!!! He did everything wrong!! And when this bubble pops,its going to make 08-09 look like disney world.. Just ask Greece,, The Keynesian method has never worked!!!

    • Ferdinand

      wwacaien on October 25, 2011 Come on, boy. Hold on to that hat! Run forit, boy! Run straight home and don’t stop ’til you getthere!

  • Po Po

    Stupid biased liberal opinion.

    • Whatever

      I second that!

  • Bob M

    Oh, come one, George Bsuh as 5th worst? How Democratically biased is that. He was among the top 10 in my list of best.

    • The Crux of the Buscuit

      But Bob, didn’t you once state that you thought self flagellation should be an Olymipc sport?

  • Brian

    As a Social Studies teacher and History major, this list is absolutely awful and if I had to grade it I would give it an F. It is less about who is on the lists and who isn’t and more about the absolute failure to analyze and explain the selections. For example, if economic slumps were a factor (what I would assume the rationale behind the Bush and Hoover selections are) Martin Van Buren should also be listed as he was president during a recession that was even worse then the one this country just went through. Also, it could be argued Coolidge greatly contributed to the mess Hoover found himself in through his strict hands off government policies. Also, I’m not sure what the rationale behind Johnson’s ranking is, especially when you consider the fact he wanted to follow Lincoln’s plan to reunite the North and South, however Congress wanted to punish the South. This led to Congress impeaching him and effectively hamstringing him for the remainder of his term. Finally, at this point it would be unfair to put Bush on either list as nobody can say with any degree of certainty what his legacy is (this is the exact same reason Obama cannot be rated, not enough time has passed to judge the full impact of the choices they made).

    • DontTread

      “worse then the one this country just went through”? What planet do you live on? 9% unemployment (higher if you consider under employment and those no longer counted), inflation at unseen levels, more than ever before vulnerable dollar, debt for generations to come, ect. I’d say we are still very much in the think of it. In fact, I might even venture to guess it will get worse before it gets better. But heck, you’re the social studies teacher, not the economics teacher. Financial feasibility means nothing to the liberal wing-nuts when determining success factors. Yet to hear an argument backed by dollars and sense.

      • john

        guess I missed the high rate of inflation?

        • DontTread

          A loaf of bread cost 90 cents in early 2008. It now costs $2. That’s nothing gradual. Ya, that’s affordable for most, yet food stamps are in higher demand than ever. Congressional committees have been formed to combat the unusual rise of inflation. Libs live in a fantasy world where they believe its all good and “progress”.

    • Donald

      I can see and acknowledge your feelings on timing of the Bush inclusion, but…: two unfunded, unending, unjustified wars, the financial system meltdown and subsequent bail-outs, Hurricane Katrina response, and tax cuts that effectively bankrupted the Treasury. And that’s just off the top of my head. Bush was a complete failure because of all the things the caption listed. His only defense could be that none of the decisions made during his administrations were his (and therefore Cheney’s).

      • Pete

        freeing 10 million people from tyrannical rule and establishing the first democratic arab nation along with saving millions of lives in Africa are not bad. I think history will judge GW as one of the best, as they will only look at facts and not media bias and political spin.

        • DontTread

          Freeing 10 million people at the expense of killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. That surely is greatness. And on a domestic note, committing a nation to an unfunded war with unattainable goals, while stripping freedoms, lying to them, and then vacationing. Yes, that is surely worthy. You speak of facts, but your opinion seems to be formed by that of maybe, Fox?

        • Lishe

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    • brian

      That and they cited Wikipedia. Even college kids know that’s a big no-no.

  • DEEP

    Even adjusting for inflation Obama has increased war spending 17%!? Who is imprisoning and killing and who is making the money?

  • randy

    Franklin D. Roosevelt is by far the worst for starting the modern welfair state that will bring down the US. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a total socalist and hated the free market and the fact that states had any rights. We need to undo all things started by him.

    • The Crux of the Buscuit

      Nixon tried to get Congress to pass a nationalized health care package.

  • Reality

    Wow WCCO puts the most socialist president in history as #1 FDR. Also Teddy Roosevelt another socialist in the top ten. The FDR gave us social security enacted policies that kept up in the great depression. Also how can you not put George Washington as #1 or even Abe. Where is Jimmy Carter and LBJ as worse presidents. Ronald Regan should be in the top 10 for best. Did he not beat USSR and recover the economy that he inherited from Jimmy Carter?

  • Silvertogold

    Who the hell came up with this list and what moron decided it was worthy of publishing – CBS – get real

  • MrX

    Obama is the best president ever in the eyes of morons.

    • Sawthin

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  • jk

    This list is as absurd is it is useless.
    I suspect the writer was looking for a quick and easy paycheck.

  • Xanthophyll

    Franklin D. Roosevelt before Abraham Lincoln and George Washington? He deserves to be in the top 5, but not before those two. C’mon.

  • debate can be civil

    Well, WCCO did not compile this list. As stated on the first slide: “as ranked in 2010 by the Research Institute of Siena College, who have surveyed presidential scholars.” And the Wikipedia credits are for the images, not the rankings.

    Like Willard above, I was also troubled by the lack of context provided in this gallery. I found the Siena College press release online: “Over two hundred presidential scholars ranked the 43 U.S. Presidents on six personal attributes (background, imagination, integrity, intelligence, luck and willingness to take risks), five forms of ability (compromising, executive, leadership, communication and overall) and eight areas of accomplishment including economic, other domestic affairs, working with Congress and their party, appointing supreme court justices and members of the executive branch, avoiding mistakes and foreign policy.”

    The press release doesn’t provide the full ranking of 1-43 (Pres. Obama is not part of the survey since he’s still in office), but it does provide some detail around other names mentioned in the comments.

  • mike

    No surprise that George W. Bush is among the worst of them. After all he sure led this nation into an economic mess. Do you all think he really gave a damn whether his approval rating hit an all-time low? Huh, think again!

    • Mike

      Mikey if you remember correctly the mess didn’t start till the Democrats took full control of congress. Can you name any bill the Democrat congress passed that Bush vetoed that would have stopped the mess we are in today? Do you think Bush could have waved a magic wand and stopped this mess with a Democratic congress?
      Fact is both parties got us in this mess. Blaming one man is just silly.

  • Rich C

    How can George W. Bush NOT be the worst!
    He and Cheney should be in prison!
    Look what’s become of America since 9/11, when they lied and took
    us into invading and destroying a sovereign nation. Thousands have
    died or been maimed, a country destroyed and now corrupted nation
    building by us continues. And, they did this by expensing it all on the dole,
    while throwing away income by tax cuts to the rich. The eight years
    they “led” have brought this country to its knees, and we are still trying
    to recover from it all. Its insanity and yet people blame Obama and
    still salute both those shameless goons.

  • The Crux of the Buscuit

    “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.” –Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2000


    He should have been impeached for this statement. Bush, the ‘littlest Hitler’.

  • John Galt

    Only the Red Tribune could conceive such a laughable list…

  • Hank Rearden

    0bama: failed stimulus, $17 trillion debt, weakened dollar, record people on food stamps, unpopular 0bamacare jammed down our throats, lowest employment in 30 years, $4.00 gas…

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