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The best and worst presidents of the United States in the class

Modern-day US presidents such as Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan are at the top of the top US leaders, while Donald Trump is nearing the bottom, according to the latest poll by presidential historians.

The top five presidents, according to a C-SPAN poll, are Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The bottom five include William Henry Harrison, Donald Trump, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan.

The presidents at the top of the list have in common that most of them faced enormous challenges related to the nation’s performance. Lincoln led the Civil War and prevented the country from falling apart. Washington, the first president of the United States, helped nurture a future democracy by not becoming king and resigning after serving as president. Franklin Roosevelt presided over the United States during World War II, and Eisenhower negotiated the end of the Korean War.

“They were all presidents at important times in the history of the United States,” said Cassandra Newby-Alexander, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of history at Norfolk State University, who took part in the survey. “And they all, from John F. Kennedy (8th), all the way up to Abraham Lincoln (1st) created some vision of America.

Source: C-SPAN

The presidents were judged on the vision they had for America, the persuasiveness of the people, the leadership crisis, the economy, moral power, foreign affairs, governance, parliamentary relations, the pursuit of equality, and their performance in the context of their leadership. .

Political scientist Robert Kaufman, a professor of public policy at Pepperdine University who also took part in the survey, says it is important to distinguish between greatness and an influential president.

“Not all very effective presidents can be great, in my opinion, because the size also depends on the scope of the challenge,” he said. “Theodore Roosevelt, at the beginning of the 20th century, and Bill Clinton, at the end, were influential, but never faced the kind of challenge that would present itself.”

The man at the bottom of the list, James Buchanan, is often considered one of the worst presidents in the United States. His refusal to take a stand on slavery, while at times a slaveholder, is believed to have ignited divisions within the country before the Civil War.

James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States (1857-1861)

James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States (1857-1861)

Both Kaufman, who calls himself a Republican, and Newby-Alexander believe that Truman (6th) could be the most underrated president. Both point to his fight for civil rights, while Kaufman also praises the 33rd president for “contributing successful architecture to the Cold War.

Overall, Newby-Alexander says the results of the survey reflect traditional views.

“If you look at the average age of historians, they tend to be older, they tend to be white, and they tend to be male, so it really leads to a lot of them having a pretty traditional perspective,” he says. she points out how high Theodore Roosevelt (4th) and Woodrow Wilson (13th) were in the ranks despite their deep-rooted racist views and actions.

“Under their rule, we had the largest number of concentrated crimes that were punished than ever before in the history of the United States,” she said. “[Wilson’s] the one who strictly separated the federal government. It did not exist before. He distinguished the navy. It did not exist before. He initiated a major retreat at an important time in US history.

LIST - President-elect Woodrow Wilson and President William Howard Taft laugh at the White House steps before leaving for Wilson's inauguration in Washington, DC, in March 1913.

LIST – President-elect Woodrow Wilson and President William Howard Taft laugh at the White House steps before leaving for Wilson’s inauguration in Washington, DC, in March 1913.

As time passes and gaining an overview, there is a tendency to change the way the president is viewed. Although Newby-Alexander believes that Reagan (9th) is overestimated, he specifically mentions his stance on apartheid – he vetoed the comprehensive apartheid policy that imposed economic sanctions on South Africa in 1986 – Kaufman lists the reasons why he would push 40 The President of the United States higher up. list.

“Winning the Cold War, restoring US economic prosperity based on Judeo – Christian values ​​and optimism about the United States’ unusual policies,” Kaufman said. “He understood a) what the Soviet threat was about, b) what we needed to do to overcome it and he left Bill Clinton with a very strong hand. In many ways, we have survived the military capital on loan from the Reagan Rebuilding in the 1980s, when he inherited an army in chaos. “

And while he says that may be an unpopular opinion, Kaufman believes that Trump (currently in 41st place out of 44 presidents) will also rise in the polls in the future.

“I think as the years go by, the president will be honored, no matter how hot the process, for putting certain issues on the table that have long been neglected – sovereignty, especially China, and energy independence,” he said. . “I think China, which is the dominant threat of our time in foreign policy, in my opinion, is something where Trump will have more credit, materially, not temperamentally, than one would now appreciate in the ruins of his presidency.

Newby-Alexander believes that history will judge Obama (10th) better.

“I would have put Barack Obama under Abraham Lincoln because he not only succeeded in giving us an incredibly important initiative in health care – although it has many flaws, it was something that presidents have tried to do for almost 100 years, and he succeeded. “She says. “He was also someone who got us out of a crisis that was actually deeper than the Great Depression when the stock market crashed in 1929. What we experienced just before he took office was worse than what Franklin Roosevelt and he dealt with. gat. to pull us out. And I think it was greatly underestimated. “

The current president, Joe Biden, is not on the list and historians say it is too early to judge him.

The best and worst presidents of the United States in the class

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