According to most of the 65% of Americans who do not have a very high public opinion of President George W. Bush, it would probably be a general consensus that he is the “worst United States President.” Though on certain topics it may be truer than others, President Bush’s presidential term would have to take a deep nose dive in order to compete with some of the Worst Presidents of the United States:
5. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
As the leading general of the Union army during the American Civil War, it was thought that Grant would made a great president in piecing the nation back together after the disastrous war. Grant’s presidency would be stained by the corruption within his Cabinet that, once exposed, morally endured the dishonestly among his aides while protecting them. Though only poor errors of judgment and “not of intent” Grant also suspended the habeas corpus, the writ that protects American citizens from unlawful detention in his attempt to stop the Klu Klux Klan. Considered to be an admirable move for African-American rights, he also violated the constitutional rights of American citizens during mass arrests.
4. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
President Pierce took major steps to prolong, but never to avoid, the coming of the Civil War. His attempts to forge a compromise between slave-holding and Free states brought him to support the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a redrawing of boundary lines that would enter new Free and Slave states. Pierce also attempted to annex Cuba even if force was needed, angering northern states who believed that this annexation would upset the balance between North and South states in the Senate. These attempts at compromise only fueled the future-Confederate desire to split from the Union, drawing in the American Civil War.
3. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
President Johnson was one of the few presidents who publically resisted the Republican policies aimed at providing civil rights for African-Americans following the Civil War. He showed a racist unresponsiveness to freed African-American seeking protection of civil rights. He vetoed a bill to renew the Freedman’s Bureau and strongly voiced public opposition as he vetoed the first introduced civil rights bill. He was impeached though never convicted for entangling himself in bills that would reverse the effects of the Civil War, and failed to even receive the Republican nomination for his reelection.
2. James Buchanan (1857-1861)
Though Buchanan religiously opposed slavery and its expansion, he would not challenge the constitutionality of slavery and even signed many compromises that would help to spread slavery into the western territories. Buchanan supported the decision found in the case of Dred Scott, disallowing states to ban slavery within their own borders. When finally threatened with the secession of the Confederate states, Buchanan declared that states had no constitutional right to break away from the Union, but also that the Union itself had no constitutional authority to go to war with the seceding states in order to prevent it. Buchanan failed to hold the Union together and avert the impending American Civil War.
1. 1. William Henry Harrison (1841)
Harrison was assassinated one month after he became president, effectively sealing his inept and short-lived presidency in which he appointed no Supreme Court officials and was unable to produce any positive effects for the American people. (Okay, he doesn’t really count.)
The Real 1. Warren Harding (1921-1923)
Before the end Harding’s short presidency, in which he summed up by stating “I am not fit for this office and should never have been here”, he both supported and refuted the American sponsorship of the League of Nations following World War I. Harding was the most unfit president in American history, and sacrificed time needed for his presidential duties and instead gambled and took recreational golf outings. All the relaxation of golf wasn’t enough to keep stress from overcoming Harding, who suffered from a stroke in office and died.
Opinions taken into consideration:
Faber, Charles and Richard Faber. The American Presidents Ranked by Performance (2000)
Miller, Nathan. Star-Spangled Men America’s Ten Worst Presidents (1999)
Ridings, William J., Jr. and Stuart B. McIver. Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent