Americas Four Best Presidents

To Be Fair

Most professional researchers do not rate a holder of High Office until 20 years have elapsed since departure.

This allows the effect of that leader to be stripped of hype and transient 'good feelings' and stand or fall on events and effects seen from the pinnacle of the future.

If one looks at ratings done over the years, one finds that many who have held the office of President have moved up or down, according to 'fashion' or reassessment of their contributions.


Presidential Seal

The Choices

The Top Four Presidents have altered only in placement, not in perception. For the past 60 years, no matter which organisation has done the Poll, these four have remained.

The criterion for Best is based on;

1) Did they leave the country better than they found it?

2) Have their policies persisted?

3) Is it likely they will remain in the top ten sixty years from now?

I have listed the Four Best Presidents in chronological order of their incumbencies.  At this  moment in time, historians rank them as; Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt, Jefferson.

George Washingon

Creating Precedents

It must be understood, that when George Washington became President of the United States in 1789 there were no 'precedents'. Everything he did had to be carefully constructed so that those that followed him would have a 'blue print'.

Fully aware of the burden of history, Washington established customs for the Presidency. Aware of the dangers for a new country just beginning its existence, his unilateral Proclamation of Neutrality in 1793 prevented involvement in foreign conflicts.

He desired to build a strong central government, implement an effective and fair tax system, and create a national bank. Washington.warned against partisanship, sectionalism, and involvement in foreign wars.

The fact he stepped down after two terms was taken as a precedent until the incumbency of Franklin Roosevelt.

What makes George Washington such an example is in this last act. He could have held office until he died, (Mugabe style) but showed that sense of decency, proof that he was not planning to make himself defacto 'king'.

thomas Jefferson

An active Presidency

Thomas Jefferson had been Vice President under John Adams, and became the 3rd President of the United States. This was not actually based on his positive traits, it is attributed to Hamilton's hatred of Aaron Burr, with whom he had tied. Hence whomever ran against Burr would have gotten Hamilton's vote.

This quirk of history is often ignored. If Hamilton voted for Burr, Jefferson would not have been the Third President.

Once in office, Jefferson repealed a number of federal taxes, thinking to rely on customs revenue. He pardoned people who had been imprisoned under the Alien and Sedition Acts which Adams had passed and he had considered unconstitutional.

He began and won the First Barbary War, (1801–1805), which was America's first significant overseas war.

Although largely forgotten this War against the Pirates of the Mediterranean is commemorated in the Marine Corps Hymn in the line '...to the shores of Tripoli ',

In 1803, despite his misgivings about the constitutionality of Congress's power to buy land, Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States.

More recently his involvement with Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves has garnered a lot of attention. It is pretty clear that after the death of his wife, when he was 44 years old, he began a long term relationship with Sally Hemmings and was the father of her children.

DNA testing has confirmed this.

Abraham Lincoln

Times that Try Men's Souls

When elected President in 1860, the Southern States had already begun to secede from the Union.

Abraham Lincoln presided over the greatest internal crisis, the Civil War. He preserved the Union, ended slaveyr and began reconstruction.

He wanted to unite the nation, willing to adopt many moderate policies so the South could be brought back into the United States as quickly as possible.

Six days after the surrender of Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln became the first American president to be assassinated.

It must be recalled that before Lincoln was sworn in, the Southern States had left the United States and formed the Confederacy.

He believed that it would destroy America if States could vote to leave the Union. The Civil War was fought to reunite the States.

He made no move to end slavery until 1863, when most slaves were in another country..


Franklin Roosevelt

From Depression to World War II

Franklin Roosevelt was a central figure in world events. He led America during the Depression, through World War II. He was the only President to serve more than two terms.

What is so important is that he brought hope during the Depression. He implemented many social policies. He brought a sense of 'rightness' with America's entry into World War II.

Although many of his programs were ended between 1975 and 1985, the Securities and Exchange Act and Social Security still remain.


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Comments 16 comments

someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 6 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

I think you'll find that Lincoln was not the first president to be assassnated

Roosevelt was put into office by the federal reserve bankers to use as their puppet.He signed an executive order requiring all Americans to turn in all gold bullion and gold certificates in exchange for federal reserve notes at a discounted rate which immeaditely increased once the gold was turned in.These people were legally robbed of their rightful property by this president.The premise was the charge that people weere hoarding gold ,by removing it from the banks that were holding it in private accounts.You cannot be hoarding something which you own.As for social security ,the only reason the people got it was because they saw how government workers were given the option to pay into the social security system which started out as a perk for government workers only.The people forced Roosevelt and congress on the issue of social security.

I see you didn't include J.F.K.He was just as knowledgable as Lincoln when it came to government control by the banking system and the C.I.A.He wanted to get rid of the federal reserve system and started printing united states bank note without interest being paid on the new money.


qeyler profile image

qeyler 6 years ago Author

I had to narrow it to four as I'd picked four worst. I looked at a lot of what historians had written from 1948 and these four kept coming up in some order. I am the last person to dis John Kennedy; If I'd done 10 he'd of been there, but I've been a bit hesitant to write too much, so cut from ten to seven to four.


mulberry1 6 years ago

It seems like a reasonable top 4 to me. Kennedy probably wasn't president long enough to make the kind of lasting changes others did.


qeyler profile image

qeyler 6 years ago Author

I picked the four that everyone agrees on...5 is split as some say Harry Truman, some say Teddy Roosevelt.


Maurs 6 years ago

Wait, what? someonewhoknows, who was the first president to be assassinated if not lincoln? You can't just post nonsensical conspiricist ramblings without expanding on them!


qeyler profile image

qeyler 6 years ago Author

Someonewhoknows is mixing up a President dying in office with a President being killed in office. I was hoping he'd repost to correct his delusion.


rjsadowski profile image

rjsadowski 5 years ago

I agree with you. Those are my top four also.


qeyler profile image

qeyler 5 years ago Author

If this was five...which one would you add?


blake4d profile image

blake4d 4 years ago from Now Rising Out of Phoenix Arizona Earthlings

I might have gone for Teddy R. but in essence I agree with ya. Good job. Keep on Hubbing. Blake4d


qeyler profile image

qeyler 4 years ago Author

Thanks Blake


StegToDiffer profile image

StegToDiffer 4 years ago from New York, NY

Good list. Personally, I'd replace FDR with Teddy. But I appreciate the fact that Thomas Jefferson is on the list.


qeyler profile image

qeyler 4 years ago Author

I think the 4 terms and WWII play a significant role in his selection, although FDR got tons of legislation passed.


ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

I agree with the first three, but FDR is one of my worst four presidents in the last one hundred years.

FDR didn't lead the country out of the depression, it was WWII that got the country out of the depression. FDR jumped at the chance to get us into WWII, he had been secretly funding England during the previous year.

He left us with SS while government employees were exempted from this TAX.

FDR was the reason why we have term limits on the presidency.

Passing lots of legislation is just actions, and not all actions are accomplishments. Today we are stuck with SS, and it is going bankrupt because the government only looked at it as a TAX revenue, and unlike the government employee pension fund, it was not protected, and not treated for the days when it had to payout big. Also the defined benefits pensions of the government employees is guaranteed by the taxpayers. So in 2008 when private 401ks were tanking, the government employees not only didn't lose and money, they received cost of living increases.

JFK, and or Reagan would be the better choice.

Washington was the best of the presidents because without him we would still be part of the commonwealth.


qeyler profile image

qeyler 4 years ago Author

Washington was first and many of his best ideas were not put into practice. He was against political parties as he felt they would cause dissension.

FDR did inspire people, just as JFK did. He made Americans feel they could 'win'.


billd01603 profile image

billd01603 4 years ago from Worcester

Good Hub, voted up and interesting. I agree with the first three, but Roosevelt? (see id radmaster's comment)


qeyler profile image

qeyler 4 years ago Author

Most researchers/historians have him in the top 4.

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