Top 10 Worst US Presidents

Top 10 Worst US Presidents

10. Calvin Coolidge (1923 – 1929)

In 1919, three quarters of the Boston Police Force went on strike. Coolidge (then Governor of Massachusetts) had observed the situation throughout the conflict, but had not yet intervened. Curtis proclaimed that none of the strikers would be allowed back to their former jobs, and Coolidge issued calls for a new police force to be recruited. His reputation underwent a renaissance during the Reagan administration, but the ultimate assessment of his presidency is still divided between those who approve of his reduction of the size of government and those who believe the federal government should be more involved in regulating the economy

9. Richard Nixon (1969 – 1974)

In June, 1972, several of Nixon’s men were caught breaking into Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC – bringing to light the infamous Watergate Scandal. Nixon himself downplayed the scandal as mere politics, but when his aides resigned in disgrace, Nixon’s role in ordering an illegal cover-up came to light in the press, courts, and congressional investigations. N. Nixon was named by the grand jury investigating Watergate as “an unindicted co-conspirator” in the Watergate scandal. In light of his loss of political support and the near certainty of both his impeachment by the House of Representatives and his probable conviction by the Senate, he resigned on August 9, 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening. He never admitted to criminal wrongdoing, although he later conceded errors of judgment.

8. Zachary Taylor (1849 – 1850)

The slavery issue dominated Taylor’s short term. Although he owned slaves, he took a moderate stance on the territorial expansion of slavery, angering fellow Southerners. Taylor urged settlers in New Mexico and California to draft constitutions and apply for statehood, bypassing the territorial stage. Southerners were furious with Taylor and with California. Taylor held a stormy conference with Southern leaders who threatened secession. He told them that if necessary to enforce the laws, he personally would lead the Army. 

7. John Tyler (1841 – 1845)

Tyler’s Presidency was rarely taken seriously in his time. Opponents usually referred him to as the “Acting President” or “His Accidency”.  The House of Representatives considered the first impeachment resolution against a president in American history. A committee headed by former president John Quincy Adams concluded that Tyler had misused the veto, but the impeachment resolution did not pass.

6. Millard Fillmore (1850 – 1853)

Fillmore ascended to the presidency upon the sudden and unexpected death of President Taylor in July 1850. The change in leadership also signaled an abrupt political shift in the administration, as Fillmore removed Taylor’s entire cabinet, replacing them with individuals known to be favorable to the Compromise efforts. Fillmore signed into law the Fugitive Slave Act as a compromise between Southern slaveholding interests and Northern Free-Soilers. The act sought to force the authorities in free states to return fugitive slaves to their masters.

5. Ulysses S Grant (1869 – 1877)

Grant achieved international fame as the leading Union general in the American Civil War. The first scandal to taint the Grant administration was Black Friday, a gold-speculation financial crisis in September 1869, set up by Wall Street manipulators Jay Gould and James Fisk. They tried to corner the gold market and tricked Grant into preventing his treasury secretary from stopping the fraud. The most famous scandal was the Whiskey Ring of 1875, exposed by Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow, in which over 3 million dollars in taxes were stolen from the federal government with the aid of high government officials. 

4. Andrew Johnson (1865 – 1869)

Johnson succeeding to the presidency upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Johnson vetoed the first civil rights bill, stating that it gave “a perfect equality of the white and black races in every State of the Union.” In a letter to the governor of Missouri he wrote: “this is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men.” The Republicans in congress overrode his veto (the Senate by the vote of 33:15, the House by 182:41) and the Civil Rights bill became law. Johnson tried to remove Edward Stanton as Secretary of War directly violating the Tenure of Office Act which Johnson had vetoed. He was impeached (and is the first president to be so) but found innocent by only one vote.

3. Franklin Pierce (1853 – 1857)

He took office nervously exhausted. The most controversial event of Pierce’s presidency was the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and reopened the question of slavery in the West. The Act also caused widespread outrage in the North and spurred the creation of the Republican Party, a sectional Northern party that was organized as a direct response to the bill. Pierce is the only elected president (as of 2007) not to be denominated by his party for a second term.

2. James Buchanan (1857 – 1861)

In his inaugural speech, Buchanan stated that the slavery issue was of “little practical importance” because the Supreme Court was about to settle it. Two days later they announced the Dred Scott decision in which it ruled that people of African descent, whether or not they were slaves, could never be citizens of the United States, and that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories. Buchanan was widely believed to have been personally involved in the outcome of the case. Additionally, Buchanan’s administration was troubled by the Panic of 1857 federal soldiers surrendered to Texas troops. Historians in 2006 voted his failure to deal with secession the worst presidential mistake ever made.

1. Warren G Harding (1921 – 1923)

Harding’s term as president was beset with scandal – both personal and political. Albert B Fall, Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, became the first member of a presidential cabinet to go to jail for his role in the Teapot Dome affair. . Some of these appointees used their power to rob the government. Harding is reputed to have said: “I have no trouble with my enemies, but my damn friends, my God-damned friends… they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!

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