who is the worst President in US history?

A freind says GW, I say he’s beat out by Andrew Jackson … what with the Trail of Tears and genocide and such. Nixon was scum but not a bad prez.


James Buchanan, for standing idly by and letting the Civil War occur. Result - death of 660,000 Americans.

There’s really no contest.

Ronald Reagan-for being out of touch, for supporting terrorism in Latin America and for Iran-Contra.

I am, or at least I will be if ever elected.

Kind of broad question, don’t you think? Could we maybe get some kind of qualification as to what makes one Pres worse than another? I mean, at the time, a lot of people apparently thought Lincoln was fairly useless as a chief exec.

Seriously, though. Of course, we are at a great distance from those days, but for overall ineptness and/or corruption, the Grant presidency seems a serious contender for the crown. Post-1900, how about Herbert Hoover? GWB, much as I loath him, doesn’t quite make the grade yet. He could still come through, however; ask me again at the end of this term.

For shere incompetence I’d have to say Harding.
For consequences Buchanan.
For general evilness Nixon.

I think that it really depends on how you define “worst”. If you mean “evil”, then I think Andrew Jackson would take the cake. If you mean “bad at the job”, probably either Dubya or Reagan.

OK, I can understand the hatred some on this board have for Bush, but Reagan? The worst president ever??? Reagan??? Come on.:rolleyes:

I’d like to see that case outlined in detail.

Bush :slight_smile:

Was there really anything Buchanan could have done to avert the Civil War? I agree he didn’t do anything…but what options did he actually have in hand?

If you were his privy advisor, knowing as mcuh of what was to come as the wisest and most fore-sighted people of the time, what would you have advised him to do?


I think Hoover got a bum deal. Lots of presidents have been blamed for economic problems that were actually the result of the predecessor’s predecessor’s economic policies, if that. Lots of presidents have also been given credit for economies they could have done little to bring about.

Buchanan?? Isn’t Lincoln really to blame for this?

I’d have to say (honestly, not trolling here) that Lincoln is the worst in my opinion. He caused the second greatest travesty to justice in American history in order to end the greatest one. And if I weren’t a libertarian who equated slavery with death, then it could easily be the other way around. With slavery an inefficient economic system that would never have survived in a market economy that had developed more efficient means of production, why we had to fight a bloody war over it I don’t know. Let the South secede, so what? It’s Wilsonian self-determination. 20 years down the road, slavery would have disappeared, and the death toll from the War would never have occured. Lincoln was an egomaniac who couldn’t bear to see the Union split under his watch, and no friend to civil liberties (see his suspension of habeus corpus.) As a libertarian, the end of slavery is the greatest accomplishment in American history, but whether that should have been done by drafting the poor into the army and throwing them into a slaughter is something I vigorously disagree with.

I’d say the second worst was Wilson, despite how much I like his postwar ideology. Getting us into WW1 began a century of US intervensionism, and our forefathers warnings about becoming involved in European entanglements proved true as hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their lives through meddling interventionist foreign policies in the decades to come.

As for Jackson, I rather like his stance on the Bank War, and he was very popular in my state. But I’d have to rank the “Trail of Tears” right behind those first two injustices above as being quite the black mark on our history. Especially considering how well the Five Civilized Tribes had adapted, we ought to have integrated them into our nation not stolen their property and exiled them to a harsh future resulting in thousands of deaths.

I’d say heading up an administration responsible for the sale of arms to America’s enemies would qualify as pretty bad.

Whoever was President when you were in college, and had your eyes opened to The Hypocrisy All Around Us :smiley:

Or maybe Milliard Fillmore, because of the Know-Nothing Party anti-Catholic thing.

Never thought much of Rutherford B. Hayes, either, because Reconstruction went so far off the tracks.

Well Clinton was pretty bad. He was just fortunate that the only crisis he had to deal with were those of his own making.

Did Kennedy do anything other than screw up the Bay of Pigs, start Vietnam and then get shot in the head?

And by the idiotic criteria of RexDart and Rashak Mani, wouldn’t FDR and Truman be the worste presidents? After all, FDR allowed Pearl Harbor to happen and got us involved in WWII and Truman used nuclear weapons to kill a bunch of Japs which thanks to the miracle of revisionist history, wasn’t really necessary?

RexDart, while Lincoln might not have been perfect, I have to dispute your post. You seem to have an idea that if the Union had just let the southern states go, slavery would have died on it’s own and the south either readmitted to the Union or at least become a dependably peaceful neighbor like Canada.

That scenerio seems utterly unlikely to me. Slavery wither away? Despite Reconstruction, the quasi-peonage of southern blacks didn’t begin to die until the 1950s, and even then under pressure from the Federal government. Make no mistake: the South didn’t secede because they didn’t like tariffs or because the transcontinental railway didn’t take a southern route; they seceded because a pro-abolition party took control of the presidency. Never mind whether slavery made economic sense, southern whites considered Negroes a caste of untouchables, and would never have voluntarily given them equal rights. Maybe by the 1930s or 40’s (!) pure chattel “sold on the auction block” slavery might have passed away, to be replaced by some sort of apartheid culture without even the pretense of “separate but equal”.

Did the South have a case for seceding, in a pure democracy sense? Undoubtedly. But if Lincoln hadn’t opposed secession, the rest of the Union might have fallen apart. Or at best, the precedent would have been established that the states could tell the Federal government to go to hell. If what’s now the continental US had split into two (or three or four) separate countries, some of which might have fought over the unincorporated western territories, or taken opposing sides in world wars One or Two, the Civil War might seem a bargain by comparison.

BTW: “Drafting the poor”. Yes, the north had a draft, but it was mainly a device to encourage people to volunteer for a regular three-year tour (and get a fat bonus incidently), after which they were exempt from further service, and had numerous exceptions. By James MacPhearson’s account, only about one man in nine whose name was drawn was ever actually pressed into service. The South btw had a universal draft for the duration.

Anyway, to get back to the OP, most people today have little good to say about Andrew Jackson, who is now regarded as a bigoted obstructionist who derailed true reform in the South.

If we are allowed to judge past presidents by today’s moral standards, one might argue that Jefferson was surely one of the worst presidents. He actually owned slaves, afterall.

Millard Fillmore. Both for the reason already mentioned, and because he inspired that stupid comic strip.


  1. What Lumpy said re: Lincoln.
  2. What was Wilson supposed to do? Let the Germans keep killing American civilians? It isn’t interventionism to consider unrestricted submarine warfare against a neutral power conducting commerce in international waters an act of war. It’s called having a grasp of the blindingly obvious.


I’d say the worst in recent memory was LBJ (for Vietnam and the Great Society which we are still reeling from) and Carter (for his general incompetence and blame-America first weakness). A little further back was Wilson (for getting involved in WWI instead of trying for a truce). Nixon was pretty bad even leaving aside Watergate and his dirty tricks.

Great Presidents? Ronald Reagan for winning the Cold War (Oh, but wait, what about Iran-Contra? Yeah, like that has any importance whatsoever in the grand scheme of things) and making the country believe in itself, simplifying the tax code (getting rid of all the tax dodges that the rich took while at the same time cutting rates from 70% to 28%). FDR for sheer pluck through the darkest times of the country.

I never understand Lincoln being called great. If the South wanted to leave, why didn’t he just let them go? I mean if my wife wants to divorce me, do I go to war with her to “preserve the union”? And he said if he could preserve it without freeing the slaves he’d do so, so don’t say he did it to free the slaves. Besides, slavery would have probably ended on its own in another 10 or twenty years.

Despite what has long been maintained by apologists for the South, slavery was not an inefficient economic system. It allowed slaveowners to extract labor under coercion, which would normally be far cheaper for them than paying a fair market wage.

This page is an examination of the effect of Time on the Cross, a seminal 1974 book that sparked wide reexamination of traditional economic views on slavery. It mentions a 1995 survey of members of the Economic History Association which found that nearly 100% of both economists and historians affirmed the propositions that slavery was profitable and viable. In addition, a majority of members of both fields agreed that slave agriculture was efficient compared to free labor. The robustness of slavery prior to the Civil War is now the mainstream position.