If I had to say who’d be the 20th Century’s Millard Fillmores, I’d have to go with everyone prior to Woodrow Wilson. I can’t think of who comes before him until we get to Teddy Roosevelt. Everyone since then is going to be remember fairly well.
You’ve got Wilson who had World War I and his efforts to maintain neutrality, and you’ve got his failure to get the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations approved in the US. You’ve got Harding with his Teapot Dome scandal and early death followed by Coolidge who presided over the carefree prosperous 1920s (a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage and all that). You’ve got Hoover who will probably be regarded as a failure since he inherited a booming economy and wasn’t able to handle it’s slippage into the Great Depression.
Next you’ve got Roosevelt with his record four consecutive election wins and his leadership through the Great Depression and World War II. You’ll also think of really big government. Following him is Truman with his ordering the dropping of Fat Man and Little Boy, reconstruction of Europe, the beginning of the Cold War, and a squeaker of a win over Dewey. Eisenhower will be remembered for the Korean Conflict, the interstate system, and for the stability of the 1950s. Kennedy has Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, the U2 incident, and his assasination.
Johnson will be remembered for the Great Society, civil rights, and escalating our involvement in the Vietnam conflict. You’ve got Nixon next who’ll be remembered for getting us out of Vietnam eventually, his trip to China, Watergate, and his resignation. Ford may have only served two years, but he’ll be remembered for pardoning Nixon (but that’s probably all he’ll be remembered for). Carter will be remembered for the Iran hostage crisis and the failed attempts to rescue the hostages. Reagan will be remembered for our debt, our military build-ups, Iran-Contra, Challenger, and his assasination attempt.
G. H. W. Bush will be remembered for “read my lips – no new taxes” as well as the first Gulf War. You’ve got Clinton with Whitewater and the string of scandals and non-scandals following it all the way to impeachment and Monica Lewinsky. He’ll also be remembered for the booming economy of the 1990s and the failure on gays in the military and universal healthcare.
That’s what I could quickly come up with, and I am absolutely horrible when it comes to American history. I figure most Americans would be able to do the same, although I suppose of the ones I’ve mentioned Harding, Ford, and Carter are the most likely to require some thinking time.