Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Presidents' Rankings - Top Ten

01. Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865. Republican. Known for: Gettysburg Address.

Presidential Legacy: Leadership during the Civil War, Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment ending slavery, Reconciliation, Assassination. Made Thanksgiving a holiday.

I mean, come on - Lincoln had to keep this nation from ripping itself apart. He freed the slaves and reconciled the Union and Confederacy and began planning Reconstruction.

02. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933-1945. Democrat. Known for: The New Deal

Presidential Legacy: New Deal - Lowered unemployment and raised the GDP while lowering the national debt, WWII intervention and leadership, Internment Camps, Only president elected to four terms.

Besides the Civil War and slavery, surely the Great Depression and World War Two were the two greatest challenges we ever faced. The man didn't even have use of his legs.

03. George Washington, 1789-1797. No Party. Known for: First President.

Presidential Legacy: Set the two term precedent, Invented the idea of a cabinet, Whiskey Rebellion, Jay Treaty reestablishing relations with Great Britain.

He set the tone for the Presidency, showing the Federal Government under the new Constitution wouldn't be a repeat of the Articles of Confederation. And rebuilt the country after the Revolutionary War.

04. Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809. Democratic-Republican. Known for: Louisiana Purchase.

Presidential Legacy: Barbary Coast War - America's first conflict, Lewis and Clark Expedition, Assimilation policy for Native Americans and Tecumseh's War.

By doubling the size of the country, Jefferson transformed the US into a continental power. He also had to deal with America's first big conspiracy with Wilkinson and Burr.

05. Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909. Republican. Known for: Panama Canal.

Presidential Legacy: Trust busting, Pure Food and Drugs, Conservation and National Parks, Roosevelt Corollary. First American to win a Nobel Peace Prize for arbitrating the Russo-Japanese War.

The most recent of the Mount Rushmore Gang, Roosevelt defined the Progressive agenda that would define 20 years of American policy. Also lays claim to a number of Presidential 'firsts'.

06. Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921. Democrat. Known for: League of Nations.

Presidential Legacy: Creation of the Federal Reserve, Approval of racial segregation, WWI intervention, 19th amendment - Women's Suffrage.

Wilson had to get involved in World War One, and afterwards redefined how Western nations viewed war and its aftermath. Unfortunately his stroke meant his Presidency ended on a whimper.

07. Barrack Obama, 2008-present. Democrat. Known for: Obamacare.

Presidential Legacy: LGBT Rights, Handling of the Financial Crisis, Deescalation of Iraq and Afghanistan, Further encroachment of NSA wire-tapping, Bin Laden, Cuba, Prison and drug reform..

Despite the worst Congress in US history, he pushed through a significant Progressive agenda. Inheriting the worst Presidential legacy, and turning it around, was quite the feat.

08. Dwight Eisenhower, 1953-1961. Republican. Known for: Golf.

Presidential Legacy: Sent first soldiers to Vietnam, CIA coups overseas, Nuclear stockpiling, Creation of NASA, Interstate highways, Little Rock, Alaska and Hawaii. Liked taxing the wealthy.

The last of the Lincolnian Republicans, Eisenhower saw the Federal government as a way of increasing prosperity - which he did for all Americans. His foreign policy decisions were less ideal(istic).

09. Harry Truman, 1945-1953. Democrat. Known for: Hiroshima bombings.

Presidential Legacy: Truman Doctrine - Communist containment, Creation of the US Air Force and CIA, Support of NATO, the UN and Israel, Korean War. After WWII began America's desegregation.

Truman is slowly coming round for historians, as blame for an inevitable Cold War is no longer on his shoulders. Instead he's lauded for rebuilding Western Europe and setting the tone for Civil Rights.

10. (tie) John F. Kennedy, 1961-1963. Democrat. Known for: Assassination.

Presidential Legacy: Bay of Pigs Fiasco, Cuban Missile Crisis, Partial Test Ban Treaty, Escalation in Vietnam, Peace Corps and Civil Rights. His Playboy affairs likely included Marilyn Monroe. 

10. (tie) Lyndon Johnson, 1963-1969. Democrat. Known for: Civil Rights

Presidential Legacy: Reaction to the Free Speech Movement/Counterculture, National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, Medicare and Medicaid. Overseas he furthered involvement in Vietnam.

The combined Kennedy/Johnson administration has a core of idealism - going to the moon, a Great Society, the Voting Rights Act. But both Presidents had significant drawbacks: escalating Vietnam and being ineffectual. Each of these drawbacks, ironically, is countered by the actions of the other - Johnson was more effectual than Kennedy, and Kennedy wouldn't have heightened Vietnam.

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