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America's Top Four Worst Presidents

Updated on July 12, 2017

To Be Fair

One usually allows Twenty Years to elapse between the day the Officeholder leaves office and the assessment. This is to allow all transient attitudes to disperse and historical considerations to take centre stage. However, one can not but reflect on the last person in this list, and feel a sense of certainty that he belongs here.

Presidential Flag

The Criterion

There have been 44 Presidents of the United States.

Grover Cleveland served as the 22nd and 24th; hence there were 43 different men who served as President.

William Henry Harrison, the 9th President, died after one month in office. It would be unfair to assess his incumbency, so the number drops to 42.

James Garfield, the 20th President was shot four months into his term, and died two months later, again, the briefness of his Presidency leaves more possibles than actuals, so the number drops to 41.

As Barack Obama has not completed his term, he can not be assessed, so that this list is made up of the 40 remaining Presidents of the United states.

The factors taken into consideration are:

1) Was the country in a worse state when the President remitted office?

2) How much corruption was permitted/encouraged during the Incumbency?

3) What is the historical effect of the policies of the President?

James Buchanan

Aunt Fancy

James Buchanan was elected in 1856. There had been rumours about his sexuality; but considering he has been held the worst President for over 100 years, one can appreciate why the Gay community does not recognise him.

Although he considered slavery evil, he did nothing to stop it, in fact, encouraged it. At his inauguration was seen speaking with the Chief Justice in such manner as it was clear to those at the time he was seeking to influence the decision in the infamous Dred Scott case.

Buchanan believed that the Constitution gave him, as President, no power to prevent states leaving the Union.

His indecisiveness, bad judgements, and what would be called waffling today caused greater dissension between the states then necessary and led directly to the Civil War.

Andrew Johnson


Andrew Johnson was born in the south and grew up hating the Plantocracy.
It was personal.

He was poor, and his mother was sold him as an 'apprentice' (virtual slave) to a tailor. He ran away when he was sixteen. Johnson was a self-made man who rose to political prominence.

He was the only Southerner to remain in the Senate after succession. He was hailed as a firm believer in the Union. He was trusted by Lincoln who never realised that Johnson was not pro-union, nor anti-slavery, he was simply anti-aristocrat.

Andrew Johnson hated the southern elite with a passion and would do anything to destroy them, their wealth and their power.

When he became President, after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln he tried to undo all the gains ex-slaves had made, as if the South had won the Civil War.

There were two impeachment attempts during the less than four years he held the office.

Warren Harding

Playing Poker and Enjoying the Ladies

It was after he had been nominated by the Republican Party that his various affairs came out. The Republican Party paid one of his mistresses fifty thousand dollars to leave the country. She wasn't his only mistress, he had many, and it can be proven he paid child support to at least one of them.

It was 1921, height of Prohibition, when Warren would leave the White House, go across the road to play poker and drink.  And he could drink.

His cabinet was made up of his corrupt friends. It was during his incumbency the infamous 'Teapot Dome' scandal broke.

He had a heart attack when it was exposed; (although some say his wife poisoned him). He died after two years in office.

He once said, quite honestly, "I am not fit for this office and should never have been here."

George Bush

History will not be Kind

Attaining Office, despite losing the popular vote, it was the September 11th attacks which ended the questions as to how he gained the Presidency.

As he was seen as a Hawk and it was the time of Hawks, his approval rating skyrocketed.
The war against Afghanistan was acceptable and he smuggled an attack on Iraq by using Colin Powell to present false information about Weapons of Mass Destruction.

During his second term his incompetence was fully exposed; the government's response to Hurricane Katrina, the Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay imprisonments, and his economic policies which lead America into the greatest economic depression since 1929.

There Are Others....Of Course

These are not the only really bad leaders America has had.  There are others whose historical significance is currently being reassessed; i.e. Woodrow Wilson who set back Civil Rights to the day before the Emancipation Proclaimation,  Van Buren who presided over the Trail of Tears, among other debacles, and Rutherford Hayes who, like Bush, 'won' an election he had lost and was incredibly corrupt.


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    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 8 months ago

      I suspect Trump will go down as the worst

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 8 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Nice article. I would love to read more about our presidents.

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 3 years ago

      Guess what Michael? I don't live or vote in America. I read history, current events. I look at the official can do it yourself.

      If you had read the opening, I left off Obama because his term isn't up and there is no period of assessment.

    • profile image

      Michael Scott 3 years ago

      List written by a democrat. Using race to defend Obama and not putting jimmy carter. You forgot about the 12 percent home mortgages and the high unemployment

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 5 years ago

      Some historians are hesitant to rate W as one of the worst due to the fact the full damage has not as yet been assessed. His father is in the lower half; (considering 40 ranked presidents, there are six worse than Daddy Bush).

    • profile image

      nancy morris 5 years ago

      Where is George Bush?

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 5 years ago

      Because many white Americans were shocked to find a black man in the white house the racism has skyrocketed to the extent that the Republicans will vote against anything Obama tries; even getting Americans to vote against free health care.

      Outside of America the obvious hatred for Obama among whites is not lost.

      Bush made the mess, every attempt Obama makes to clean it is blocked.

      Most historians put Carter towards the bottom, but he's a few to go before he reaches the worst ten.

    • profile image

      Spuring Plover 5 years ago


    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 5 years ago

      I don't think it is fair to blame Obama for the mess Bush left...the wars, the economy, the bad structuring, etc. Carter was completely ineffective. He was no better nor worse than the mundane.

    • profile image

      Jayfort 5 years ago

      And you left out Jimmy Carter, who's now smiling because Obama will go down in history as being worse than him!

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 6 years ago

      I was going with ten, then decided to drop it to a lot of really bad ones had to come off the list.

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 6 years ago

      You left out Ronald Reagen. He has hired by the republicans to widen the gap between the rich and the poor, to break the unions, and to begin deregulating savings and loans, banks etc. and he accomplished all three. His legacy is still in effect today.

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 6 years ago

      you're very welcome

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Yes ,Thanks for the nice post

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 7 years ago

      Thank you Spirit

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 7 years ago

      I will, Tony, Wilson is coming up in another of the those whose position in history is being reassessed, some historians still have Wilson as one of 'the best' while others are realising he was actually one of the worst.

    • SpiritLeo profile image

      SpiritLeo 7 years ago from Europe

      Nice to know!

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

      I also wanted to throw Woodrow Wilson in the mix too. He ushered in the Federal Reserve which is a banking cartel that slowly but surely has brought America to its knees !

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 7 years ago

      Thanks Petra, I'm trying to get it down to four of the best although the front runners are evident.

    • qeyler profile image

      qeyler 7 years ago

      I could have added a couple of more but didn't want to be too long. I shortlisted ten; the four above and Hoover, Tyler, Pierce, Hays, Wilson, and Nixon, but on the criteria these four left the country worse than it had been; Buchanan virtually assuring the Civil War, Johnson making a total botch, Harding tossing the country into a mess that only WWII could change, and Bush, of course.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you for the history lesson.

      Except for Bush who made your list (and I consider him the very worst, not one of the worse) I did not know much about the others.

      Would be interesting if you could write about the great presidents this country had and give the same brief description of their presidency.

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

      Looks like our present one will be added to the list soon.