The Worst United States Presidents

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10. John Tyler 

John Tyler, Jr. (March 29, 1790 – January 18, 1862) was the tenth President of the United States and the first to succeed to the office following the death of a predecessor. A longtime Democratic-Republican, Tyler was nonetheless elected Vice President on the Whig ticket. Upon the death of President William Henry Harrison on April 4, 1841, only a month after his inauguration, the nation was briefly in a state of confusion regarding the process of succession. 

Ultimately the situation was settled with Tyler becoming President both in name and in fact. Tyler took the oath of office on April 6, 1841, setting a precedent that would govern future successions and eventually be codified in the Twenty-fifth Amendment. Once he became president, he stood against his party’s platform and vetoed several of their proposals. In result, most of his cabinet resigned and the Whigs expelled him from their party. -Wikipedia.org

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9. Franklin Pierce 

Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869), an American politician and lawyer, was the 14th President of the United States, serving from 1853 to 1857. He is the only President from New Hampshire. Pierce was a Democrat and a “doughface” (a Northerner with Southern sympathies) who served in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. Later, Pierce took part in the Mexican-American War and became a brigadier general. His private law practice in his home state, New Hampshire, was so successful that he was offered several important positions, which he turned down. Later, he was nominated as the party’s candidate for president on the 49th ballot at the 1852 Democratic National Convention. In the presidential election, Pierce and his running mate William R. King won by a landslide in the Electoral College. They defeated the Whig Party ticket of Winfield Scott and William A. Graham by a 50% to 44% margin in the popular vote and 254 to 42 in the electoral vote. 

His amiable personality and handsome appearance caused him to make many friends, but he suffered tragedy in his personal life. As president, he made many divisive decisions which were widely criticized and earned him a reputation as one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. Pierce’s popularity in the North declined sharply after he came out in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, repealing the Missouri Compromise and renewed the debate over expanding slavery in the West. Pierce’s credibility was further damaged when several of his diplomats issued the Ostend Manifesto. Historian David Potter concludes that the Ostend Manifesto and the Kansas-Nebraska Act were “the two great calamities of the Franklin Pierce administration…. Both brought down an avalanche of public criticism.” More importantly, says Potter, they permanently discredited Manifest Destiny and “popular sovereignty” as political doctrines. -Wikipedia.org

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8. Herbert Hoover 

Herbert Clark Hoover (August 10, 1874 – October 20, 1964) was the 31st President of the United States (1929–1933). Hoover was a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business under the rubric “economic modernization”. In the presidential election of 1928, Hoover easily won the Republican nomination, despite having no previous elected office experience. To date, Hoover is the last cabinet secretary to be directly elected President of the United States, as well as one of only two Presidents (along with William Howard Taft) to have been elected President without electoral experience or high military rank. America was prosperous and optimistic at the time, leading to a landslide victory for Hoover over Democrat Al Smith. 

Hoover, a trained engineer, deeply believed in the Efficiency Movement, which held that government and the economy were riddled with inefficiency and waste, and could be improved by experts who could identify the problems and solve them. When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 struck less than eight months after he took office, Hoover tried to combat the ensuing Great Depression with volunteer efforts, none of which produced economic recovery during his term. The consensus among historians is that Hoover’s defeat in the 1932 election was caused primarily by failure to end the downward economic spiral. As a result of these factors, Hoover is ranked poorly among former US Presidents. -Wikipedia.org

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7. Richard Nixon 

Richard Milhous Nixon (January 9, 1913 – April 22, 1994) was the 37th President of the United States from 1969 to 1974, having formerly been the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. A member of the Republican Party, he was the only President to resign the office as well as the only person to be elected twice to both the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California. After completing his undergraduate work at Whittier College, he graduated from Duke University School of Law in 1937 and returned to California to practice law in La Habra. 

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the United States Navy, serving in the Pacific theater, and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander during World War II. He was elected in 1946 as a Republican to the House of Representatives representing California’s 12th Congressional district, and in 1950 to the United States Senate. He was selected to be the running mate of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Republican Party nominee, in the 1952 Presidential election, becoming one of the youngest Vice Presidents in history. He waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy, and an unsuccessful campaign for Governor of California in 1962; following these losses, Nixon announced his withdrawal from political life. In 1968, however, he ran again for president of the United States and was elected. -Wikipedia.org

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6. Millard Fillmore 

Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874) was the 13th President of the United States, serving from 1850 until 1853, and the last member of the Whig Party to hold the office of president. Being Zachary Taylor`s Vice President, he assumed the presidency after Taylor`s death. He opposed the proposal to keep slavery out of the territories annexed during the Mexican-American War (to appease the South), and so supported the Compromise of 1850, which he signed, including the Fugitive Slave Act (“Bloodhound Law”) which was part of the compromise. 

On the foreign policy front, he furthered the arising trade with Japan and clashed with the French over Napoleon III`s attempt to annex Hawaii, and with the French and the British over the attempt of Narciso López to invade Cuba. After his presidency, he joined the Know-Nothing movement; throughout the Civil War, he opposed President Lincoln and during Reconstruction supported President Johnson. Fillmore co-founded the University of Buffalo and helped found the Buffalo Historical Society. -Wikipedia.org

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5. Warren G. Harding 

Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) was the 29th President of the United States, from 1921 until his death in 1923. A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate (1899–1903), as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio (1903–1905) and as a U.S. Senator (1915–1921). He was also the first incumbent United States Senator and the first newspaper publisher to be elected President. His conservativism, affable manner, and ‘make no enemies’ campaign strategy made Harding the compromise choice at the 1920 Republican National Convention. During his presidential campaign, in the aftermath of World War I, he promised a return of the nation to “normalcy.” 

This “America first” campaign encouraged industrialization and a strong economy independent of foreign influence. Harding departed from the progressive movement that had dominated Congress since President Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1920 election, he and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge, defeated Democrat and fellow Ohioan James M. Cox, in the largest presidential popular vote landslide in American history (60.36% to 34.19%) since first recorded in 1824. President Harding rewarded friends and political contributors, referred to as the Ohio Gang, with financially powerful positions. Scandals and corruption eventually pervaded his administration; one of his own cabinet and several of his appointees were eventually tried, convicted, and sent to prison for bribery or defrauding the federal government. Harding did however make some notably positive appointments to his cabinet. -Wikipedia.org

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4. Andrew Johnson 

Andrew Johnson (December 29, 1808 – July 31, 1875) was the 17th President of the United States (1865–1869). Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Johnson presided over the Reconstruction era of the United States in the four years after the American Civil War. His tenure was controversial as his positions favoring the white South came under heavy political attack from Republicans. At the time of the secession of the Southern states, Johnson was a U.S. Senator from Greeneville in East Tennessee. 

As a Unionist, he was the only Southern senator not to quit his post upon secession. He became the most prominent War Democrat from the South and supported Lincoln’s military policies during the American Civil War of 1861–1865. In 1862, Lincoln appointed Johnson military governor of occupied Tennessee, where he proved to be energetic and effective in fighting the rebellion and beginning transition to Reconstruction. Johnson was nominated for the Vice President position in 1864 on the National Union Party ticket. He and Lincoln were elected in November 1864 and inaugurated on March 4, 1865. Johnson succeeded to the presidency upon Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865. -Wikipedia.org

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3. James Buchanan 

James Buchanan, Jr. (April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was the 15th President of the United States, from 1857 to 1861, and the last president to be born in the 18th century. He is the only president from Pennsylvania and the only president who was a life-long bachelor. Buchanan (often called Buck-anan by his contemporaries) was a popular and experienced state politician and a very successful attorney before his presidency. He represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives and later the Senate, and served as Minister to Russia under President Andrew Jackson. He also was Secretary of State under President James K. Polk. After turning down an offer for an appointment to the Supreme Court, he served as Minister to the United Kingdom under President Franklin Pierce, in which capacity he helped draft the controversial Ostend Manifesto. After unsuccessfully seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 1844, 1848, and 1852, “Old Buck” was nominated in the election of 1856. 

Throughout most of Franklin Pierce’s term he was stationed in London as a Minister to England and therefore was not caught up in the crossfire of sectional politics that dominated the country. Buchanan was viewed by many as a compromise between the two sides of the slavery question. His subsequent election victory took place in a three-man race with Fremont and Fillmore. As President, he was often called a “doughface”, a Northerner with Southern sympathies, who battled with Stephen A. Douglas for the control of the Democratic Party. Buchanan’s efforts to maintain peace between the North and the South alienated both sides, and the Southern states declared their secession in the prologue to the American Civil War. Buchanan’s view of record was that secession was illegal, but that going to war to stop it was also illegal. Buchanan, first and foremost an attorney, was noted for his mantra, “I acknowledge no master but the law.” -Wikipedia.org

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2. Ulysses S. Grant 

Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869–1877) as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant’s command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America. Grant began his lifelong career as a soldier after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843. Fighting in the Mexican American War, he was a close observer of the techniques of Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. He resigned from the Army in 1854, then struggled to make a living in St. Louis and Galena, Illinois. After the American Civil War began in April 1861, he joined the Union war effort, taking charge of training new regiments and then engaging the Confederacy near Cairo, Illinois. 

In 1862, he fought a series of major battles and captured a Confederate army, earning a reputation as an aggressive general who seized control of most of Kentucky and Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh. In July 1863, after a long, complex campaign, he defeated five Confederate armies (capturing one of them) and seized Vicksburg. This famous victory gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, split the Confederacy, and opened the way for more Union victories and conquests. After another victory at the Battle of Chattanooga in late 1863, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to the rank of lieutenant general and gave him charge of all of the Union Armies. As Commanding General of the United States Army from 1864 to 1865, Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of very high casualty battles known as the Overland Campaign that ended in a stalemate siege at Petersburg. During the siege, Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns launched by William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas. Finally breaking through Lee’s trenches at Petersburg, the Union Army captured Richmond, the Confederate capital, in April 1865. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Soon after, the Confederacy collapsed and the Civil War ended. -Wikipedia.org

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1. George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) was the 43rd President of the United States, serving from 2001 to 2009, and the 46th Governor of Texas, serving from 1995 to 2000. Bush is the eldest son of President George H. W. Bush, who served as the 41st President, and Barbara Bush, making him one of only two American presidents to be the son of a preceding president. He is also the brother of Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. After graduating from Yale University in 1968 and Harvard Business School in 1975, Bush worked in oil businesses. He married Laura Welch in 1977 and unsuccessfully ran for the House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. 

In a close and controversial election, Bush was elected President in 2000 as the Republican candidate, defeating then-Vice President Al Gore in the Electoral College. He was named Time Person of the Year 2000 and 2004. Early on, the Bush administration withdrew from a number of international treaty processes, notably the Kyoto protocol on global warming. A series of terrorist attacks occurred eight months into Bush’s first term as president on September 11, 2001. In response, Bush announced a global War on Terrorism, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan that same year and an invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition to national security issues, Bush promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. He signed into law broad tax cuts, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors. His tenure saw national debates on immigration, Social Security, electronic surveillance, waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques”. -Wikipedia.org

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