The Top 40 US Presidents from lowest to highest
Who is the best president in American history?
A commission of experts from C-SPAN recently considered this question and came up with a list of the 40 most notable US Presidents to date, ranked from lowest to highest. If you’d like to know who the best President in U.S. history is, I suggest you read on…
40. – Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding was the first U.S. President appointed as a result of elections where women had a chance to vote. He was the 29th U.S. President and he came from rural Ohio. Harding owned the newspaper Marion Star.
He declared the U.S. at peace with Germany, Hungary and Austria, thus ending WWI. Afterwards he worked for “a return to normalcy” stimulating the economy. There were many scandals during his administration. While still in office he suffered a heart attack that took his life, after one of these scandals erupted. He stood in office from 1921 until 1923.
39.- John Tyler
After the death of William Henry Harrison, John Tyler took over as the 10th U.S. President. He was the first U.S. President not to have been elected. He defended the rights of States to make their own decisions in matters such as slavery. Congress tried to impeach him –for the first time in U.S. history. He stood in office from 1841 to 1845. The father of 15, remains the president with the most children in U.S. history.
38.- William Henry Harrison
The 9th U.S. President held the briefest administration in U.S. history. William Henry Harrison died from pneumonia after having been president for a total of 31 days (March 4 to April 4, 1841.) His inauguration took place on a rainy day and it was rumored that his pneumonia originated in the course of that rainy day; Harrison wore no overcoat, rode on horseback and gave a 2-hour speech. His military success in the Battle of Tippecanoe (1881) against the tribes of Native Americans led by Tecumseh would earn him the nickname “Tippecanoe” which became part of the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler” in the elections where he emerged victorious.
He was the first U.S. president to ever be photographed –though the picture was lost in time– and the last one to have been alive during the American Revolution. His father, Benjamin Harrison was one of the founding fathers and his son –also Benjamin Harrison– would become the 23rd President (1889-1893).
37.- Millard Fillmore
Fillmore became the 13th U.S. President when Zachary Taylor died of cholera during his administration in 1850. The whole White House cabinet resigned so Fillmore had to start from scratch. Among his noteworthy achievements is helping develop relations with Japan which at the time was an isolated state with no foreign relations.
36.- Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover (31th US President;1929-33) was in office during one of the most difficult times in US history; The Great Depression. He lowered taxes and tried to prevent businesses from firing people, which at the time was a very difficult task.
35.- Chester Arthur
Chester Arthur became the 21st US president as a result of the assassination of James Garfield in 1881. Arthur was vice president in Garfield’s administration. He’s responsible for the Pendleton civil service reform act and the first immigration law at federal level.
34.- Martin Van Buren
Van Buren’s administration (1837-41) was only 3 months when The Panic of 1837 got a large amount of banks and businesses in bankruptcy. This was the worst economic crisis in history before The great depression.
33.- George W. Bush
The son of former president H. W. Bush, won the elections by a very small margin. In office for 2 terms (2001-2008), the 43rd US president dealt with the 9/11 terrorist attack creating the Department of Homeland security, ordering the invasion of Afghanistan and declaring the 2nd war on Iraq, deposing Saddam Hussein.
32.- Rutherford B. Hayes
The 19th US President (1877-81), Rutherford Hayes also won the elections by a very short margin, though after months of disputes. He counted Mark Twain amongst his supporters. Hayes wanted to expand civil rights for the black community but his efforts were blocked by the Democrats in Congress.
31.- Zachary Taylor
The last of the Whig party leaders to be elected president, was a military hero of the Mexican-American War. Zachary Taylor 12th US president was elected in 1849 and died of cholera in July 9th,1850. In his brief term he fought slavery and encouraged California and New Mexico to join the USA.
30.- Benjamin Harrison
He got voting rights for African Americans and admitted 6 states into the union: Washington;Montana; Wyoming;North Dakota and South Dakota. The 23rd US president was grandson of a former US. president (William Henry Harrison) and great grandson of founding father and namesake Benjamin Harrison.
29.- James A. Garfield
The only sitting member of the House of Representatives to have been elected president of the US. He was a General for the Union during the American Civil War. Even though he was in office only briefly after an assassination attempt (1881)wrecked his immune system and finally killed him, the 20th US president built up the Navy, fought for a universal educational system and appointed several African Americans to prominent government positions.
28.- Richard M. Nixon
Though he’s mostly remembered for the Watergate scandal, Nixon ended the American involvement in Vietnam, opened diplomatic ties with China and signed the Antiballistic Missile treaty with the Soviets, dealt with the Opec Oil embargo and founded the Environmental Protection Agency. He stood in office from 1969 to 1974.
27.- Calvin Coolidge
Vice President at the time of Warren Harding’s death, he took over in 1923 and afterwards won the elections in 1924 staying in office until 1929. He was immensely popular by the time he left office having restored dignity to the presidency after years of scandals in the White House. Calvin Coolidge advocated small government with little intervention in business affairs. He also passed the Indian Citizenship Act and attempted to make lynching a federal crime.
26.- Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter had to deal with the second oil crisis (1979) and the Iran hostage crisis whilst he was the 39th US president (1977-81). He established the departments of energy and education.
25.- Gerald R. Ford
Gerald Ford became president after Richard Nixon resigned from office after the Watergate scandal. His term (1974-77) saw the thawing of relations with the USSR. He’s also remembered for having pardoned Nixon.
24.- William H. Taft
The only man to serve as president and then chief justice eight years afterwards. He went to Yale were it is rumored he was a member of the secret society Skull and Bones. His presidency (1909-13) toppled governments in Latin America and also set up others. He also focused in South East Asia rather than Europe.
23.- Grover Cleveland
Descendant of Quakers from the Mayflower, Grover Cleveland served 2 presidential terms: 1885-89 & 1893-97. He advocated for political reform earning the heart of conservatives. He handled the Panic of 1893 and the Pullman Strike of 1894.
22.- Ulysses S. Grant
Previously Commanding General of the Union Army during the American Civil War, he became the 18th US president at age 47 –the youngest at the time (1869-77) Grant was highly scored because he stood against the KKK, was very honest and appointed African Americans and Jewish Americans for office in an era when it took courage to do so.
21.- John Quincy Adams
6th US president (1825-29) and son of John Adams, former US president and founding father. Scored highly because he was anti-slavery and non-interventionist. Incidentally, his photo is the oldest surviving photograph of a US president, taken in 1843 when he was 76 years old.
20.- George H. W. Bush
After being vice-president for 8 years, George H. W. Bush became president in 1989 and stood in office until 1993. He was the US president during the fall of the Berlin Wall and when The Cold War ended. He was also commander in chief on the first war on Iraq. He also signed the North American Free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.
19.- John Adams
Succeeded by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams was one of the founding fathers of America. The 2nd US president (1797-1801) he resolved the conflict with France and built up the Army and particularly the Navy, becoming “the father of the American Navy.”
18.- Andrew Jackson
The only US president taken prisoner by the British during the Revolutionary War (he was 13) and also the only US president to ever pay off the national debt and stopping South Carolina from leaving the Union. His face appears on the $20 bill nowadays but curiously enough he was against paper money, he’d rather use gold or silver.
17.- James Madison
Founding Father and also father of the constitution; 4th US president (1809-1817) James Madison got the nation through the War of 1812 finding that the US needed a strong army and financial system. This led him to support a strong government, military and a national bank.
16.- William Mckinley Jr.
The last US president who served in the Civil War, (1897-1901) William McKinley led the US to victory during the Spanish-American War earning Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines as US territories, maintaining the gold standard and improving the US economy.
15.- Bill Clinton
The 42nd US president, Bill Clinton held a very prosperous economic expansion period. He held the highest approval rating since the WWII (60%) quite noteworthy feat considering the scandal he was involved in along with his secretary Monica Lewinsky.
14.- James K. Polk
11th US president (1845-49) his was the first inauguration covered in the news with telegraph. A period of vast expansion with the US winning the Mexican-American War expanding to the Pacific Ocean. During his term the Republic of Texas was also annexed.
13.- James Monroe
5th US president (1817-25) founding father and veteran of the Revolutionary War, both elections won by a landslide. He became known for the “Monroe Doctrine” his foreign relations policy. You won’t guess who’s number 12…
12.- Barack Obama
The 44th US president, and the first ever African-American president of the United States. Obama (2009-17) reformed Healthcare (ObamaCare) brokered the Iran nuclear deal and sanctioned Russia for invading Ukraine.
11.- Woodrow Wilson
Wilson led America through WWI and assisted in the Treaty of Versailles. He served 2 terms (1913-21) and pushed America to become member of the league of nations –congress did not approve.
10.- Lyndon Baines Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson also known as LBJ, was a champion of equality and justice for all. He stood in office as the 36th president (1963-69). He didn’t score very well internationally due to the Vietnam War, but he made up for it domestically.
9.- Ronald Reagan
Ending the Cold War is surely why he will be best remembered. The 40th US president became known by his economic policy dubbed “Reaganomics” and he gave a speech at the Berlin Wall telling Gorbachev –the Soviet president– “Mr. President… Tear down this Wall!”
8. – John F. Kennedy
The first and only Roman Catholic to ever become president of the United States, until he was assassinated in 1963. He behaved admirably during the Cuban missile crisis. The 35th US president (1961-63) also established the Peace Corps and fought segregation.
7.- Thomas Jefferson
3rd US president (1801-09) founding father and main author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson handled the purchase of the State of Louisiana from France. He also fought for religious tolerance and freedom.
6.- Harry S. Truman
The only president who authorized the use of nuclear weapons, Truman served in the WWI with the US Army. The 33rd US president (1945-53) performed admirably earning him the spot as the 6th best US president of history.
5.- Dwight D. Eisenhower
34th US president (1953-61), Dwight D. Eisenhower was an Army General who turned politician after WWII during probably the most prosperous period in US history. He gained legendary status during the war both as a strategist and as responsible for desegregation in the US armed forces.
4.- Theodore Roosevelt
The 26th US president (1901-09), Theodore Roosevelt, 4th in our list, created countless national parks and started construction of the Panama canal, no easy feat considering he had to create Panama to begin with. He strengthened the US Navy and even won a Nobel Peace Prize for brokering the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Our next president is –arguably– responsible of turning the US into a superpower…
3.- Franklin D. Roosevelt
32nd US president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, comes third in our list. He remains the only US president to have been elected 4 consecutive times from 1933 to 1945 basically running the US during the whole WWII. He brought the US out of the Great Depression and basically capitalized on WWII to turn the US into the superpower it’s today.
2.- George Washington
Second on our list is the first United States president, George Washington. Founding father he defined the nation and the office of presidency itself, along with the most basic parts of government. His term (1789-1797) was crucially important. Washington led the continental army during the Revolutionary War. He scored high an all accounts except equality for all.
1.- Abraham Lincoln
The best president in US history is none other than Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) leading the Union during the Civil War and ending slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution outlawing slavery in the United States which passed shortly after his assassination in 1865. Lincoln is undoubtedly the most admitted president of all tim.