Here are some of the best American Presidents of all time, and these Ranking systems are usually based on surveys of academic historians and political scientists or popular opinion. The rankings focus on presidential achievements, leadership qualities, failures, and faults.
11- Woodrow Wilson, 28th President
Woodrow Wilson led the American nation during the first world war and is best known for crafting the famous fourteen points of the Versailles Treaty. One of the points urged the international community to form the ‘League of Nations’ to ensure global peace. At first, he had declared the US as neutral in the war. However, when the Germans continuously defied the US neutrality, Wilson urged Congress to declare war.
At home, his other legacies include sweeping reforms for the American middle class, most notably his Underwood-Simmons Act as it reduced the taxes on small businesses that had previously favored industrialists over them. This led to economic prosperity in all sectors of the economy, leading to a significant decrease in poverty. He assumed the presidential office as the women’s suffrage movement was gaining popularity across the country. Initially, President Wilson remained “lukewarm” towards women’s right to vote. But thanks to his academic self, his opinion evolved, and eventually, he supported the cause.
10- Lyndon B. Johnson, 36th President
It would be fair to say that President Lyndon B. Johnson, a southerner, fell into the presidency at the worst time possible. Johnson was in office during the disastrous Vietnam War, but amidst all the adversities, his statesman-like qualities that developed over his years in politics helped him get through the hard times. Throughout his political career, Johnson had been a senator, a Senate majority and minority leader, and vice-president before serving as the president.
Interestingly, he remains the last American President to pass a massive domestic policy agenda that favored the poor. Besides, President Johnson was also responsible for declaring a war on poverty, voting, and civil rights act, implementing gun control, reforming and improved funding in the education system, setting up public broadcasting, and enacting Medicare. Additionally, he is credited for appointing Thurgood Marshall as the African American on the country’s apex court. Unfortunately, his standing took a hit when it came to an escalation in the Vietnam war, and perhaps that is why he did not seek a second term in office.
9 – Ronald Regan, 40th President
Interestingly, President Ronald Regan also made it to the list of best American Presidents of all time. When Regan is compared to other presidents in history it indeed produces mixed results. Domestically, he was best known for his crisis management, political persuasion, and economic management. Collectively, Regan’s economic policies were mostly known as ‘Reaganomics.’ Under his presidency, the US recorded its longest economic stretch of economic prosperity. Additionally, he made numerous positive steps towards achieving lasting global peace as the Cold war came to an end.
The actor-turned-politician created millions of jobs which dramatically decreased government spending and bolstered the national defense. Even though the defense spending led to more government debt, he took the risk and somehow managed to keep the peace during his time in office.
8- John F. Kennedy, 35th President
There are numerous reasons why John F. Kennedy is among the best American presidents of all time. His plan with the CIA to overthrow the Cuban government failed, and that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. To thwart it, President Kennedy took military measures, and if the situation had escalated further, it may have led to an all-out nuclear war. In the states, he gained quite a reputation for his political persuasion as he set out to establish a New Frontier Plan, including tax reform, numerous educational amendments, positive labor, and pushed for key civil rights legislation. Considering that Kennedy helped decelerate the nuclear arms race, the President’s work in crisis leadership must be noted and commended. Unfortunately, just three years into the office, he was assassinated, and his presidency came to an end.
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7- Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President
Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence and is credited by many for expanding the US territory through the Louisiana Purchase from the French it encompassed nearly fifteen states. As a president, Jefferson sent the navy to fight the Barbary pirates who troubled the American merchant ships in the Mediterranean and significantly decreased the national debt by promoting the trade and incentivizing the traders.
He was popular among the masses for his unmatched agenda-setting skills and congressional relations. Unlike many other presidents in history, his good relations with both the legislatures helped him enact and approve treaties without any political deadlock.
6- Harry S. Truman, 33rd President
In 1945, when Harry S. Truman took office, he found himself in a hot seat as he had to make decisions about dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima at the end of the second world war. A few years later, in the 50s, when North Korea attacked South Korea, his efforts to keep the violence and the deaths at minimum were acknowledged by many across the globe. Given his political persona, he rightfully deserves the sixth spot in the list of best American presidents.
At home, Truman handled the crisis well as he created programs for fair employment and expanded social security to protect the working class. During his time in office, he called for congressional aid for Greece and Turkey when the Soviet Union threatened to take over both the countries, also known as the ‘Truman Doctrine.’
5- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President
Dwight D. Eisenhower had quite a grip on foreign relations even before assuming the presidential office. When he came to power, he brought his knowledge to the international relations that he learned after leading the country through the second world war as a commanding general in the American army. Using his expertise Eisenhower took a series of steps of the Cold War. One of his biggest achievements remains to negotiate a deal with the then-Soviet amidst a global nuclear arms race and assisting in achieving peace after years of war at the South Korean barrier.
When it comes to domestic politics, he continued the Fair Deal and New Deal that were initiated by his predecessors. But unlike them, he paid his attention to initiating the desegregation in the US armed forces and schools across the country. Perhaps, it is because of his quite successful foreign policy and crisis leadership qualities that many historians have placed him among the best presidents in history.
4-Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President
It was due to the assassination of President McKinley that Theodore Roosevelt entered the White House. During his time in the Oval Office, he took the country’s foreign policy in new directions and kept playing the roles that his predecessors had initiated. Roosevelt is known for the creation of the Panama Canal by facilitating Panama’s succession from Colombia. Thanks to his efforts, he was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for working towards peace in the Russo-Japanese War. His famous ‘big stick’ policy in which he would first try to negotiate a violence-free deal, but if things didn’t work out, he would not hesitate to use military force. This gained him quite a reputation both overseas and abroad.
At home, Roosevelt was quite famous for his political persuasion and his progressive policies to assist the national growth. Some of his salient policies were preservation of natural resources, consumer protection, control of the big corporations. Besides, his belief that the government should put all its resources to use to bring relief to the American public.
3- Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President
Franklin D. Roosevelt put his attention to constituting the New Deal to reverse the effects of the depression as well as leading the American nation through the first world war. He was quite connected to the people, given the fact that he comforted the whole nation during the Depression. Plus, he was the pioneer of pushing the American political system to more democratic trends and reoriented the local politics. Additionally, President Roosevelt laid the foundation of what we now know as American Liberalism. And it is what helped grab the third spot on the list of best American Presidents of all time. With the nation facing numerous challenges like Polio, he changed the face of the health care system across the country. Many historians credit him as the most effective president in American history. No wonder why he made it to the third on the list.
2- George Washington, First President
As the first President of America, George Washington did his best to lay the foundation of the nation. He made it to the list of best American Presidents for all the right reasons. During the revolutionary wars, he served as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and led the nation to new glories. Besides that, President Washington is credited for introducing the cabinet system of government, making sure that the cabinet members were in close coordination with the department.
Given the fact that most of the state had not yet joined America and the French revolution sparked a political crisis in the country, Washington had to tackle numerous hurdles. He also fixed the army that was already in bad shape. President Washington also defeated the Whiskey Rebellion and led the country when it needed a leader like him. No wonder why he made it to the second spot on the list of best American presidents of all time.
1-Abraham Lincoln, 16th President
Undoubtedly, President Lincoln is the best American President of all time and we all know why? By issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln paved the way for the abolition of slavery in the US. He is best remembered for his Gettysburg Address in which he told the nation that all men are created equal and deserve equal economic, social, and political rights. However, Lincoln’s presidency ended when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth in Washington, DC, during a play. Even though he did great in every department of the government, his prominent achievement was reforming the system of governance. It was his crisis management and leadership that led the country through the deadliest war in history while keeping the union of states intact.
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