Skip to main content
  1. Life
  2. Society & Culture
  3. Generations

2014 Presidential Rankings

See also

In time for President’s Day, here is the 2014 Presidential rankings. This year, ten presidents qualified for “failure” status. On the other end, nine men rated great or near great. The remainder finished somewhere in between. As usual, William Henry Harrison and James Garfield were left off due to the brevity of their service.

The first three presidents were the greatest the country ever produced. Abraham Lincoln held the Union together, won the Civil War, and set the country on the path toward emancipation. Likewise, George Washington’s presence, moral authority, and force of will united the disunited states of America. He asserted federal authority and fleshed out a skeletal constitution. Franklin Roosevelt guided the country through the Great Depression and modernized the government. Although the New Deal did not end the depression, it alleviated suffering. World War II ended the economic downturn and FDR spearheaded the American war effort. Roosevelt’s abilities and leadership essentially saved the world from totalitarianism.

1. Abraham Lincoln

2. George Washington

3. Franklin D. Roosevelt

The next grouping did not face such dire circumstances as the first three, but performed admirably in their role as chief executive. Theodore Roosevelt steered a middle course between ideological extremes and produced many reforms. His foreign policy asserted America power at the end of the Victorian Age. Harry Truman ended World War II, implemented the containment policy designed to halt communism’s spread, and saved South Korea from being consumed by their northern cousins. Ronald Reagan restored America’s economic and military strength. His efforts ended the malaise left over from the seventies, restored faith in government, and ended the Cold War. James K Polk ended the long standing bank controversy, the dispute over the Oregon Territory, and then added millions of acres of land to the country after the Mexican War. Andrew Jackson created the modern presidency through executive action. The former general won the Bank War, ended the Nullification Crisis, and retired the federal debt. On the other hand, he was responsible for Indian Removal and the Spoils System. Dwight Eisenhower worked to balance the budget, created NASA, ended the Korean War, sent troops to integrate Little Rock High School, and built the interstate highway system.

4. Theodore Roosevelt

5. Harry S. Truman

6. Ronald Reagan

7. James K Polk

8. Andrew Jackson

9. Dwight Eisenhower

Great presidencies alluded the next set of men. Events or short terms precluded their inclusion amongst the near greats. Thomas Jefferson had an amazing first term and horrendous second term. He purchased the Louisiana Territory, commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition, and initiated an ideological revolution in the country. On the other hand, he attempted to usurp federal courts and created a great depression while hiding from the Napoleonic Wars. James Monroe expanded the country into Florida, established American supremacy in the western hemisphere through the Monroe Doctrine, and provided 30 years of sectional peace with the Missouri Compromise. William McKinley created an American overseas empire. John Adams sacrificed re-election to achieve peace with France. On the other hand, he did sign the Alien and Sedition Acts into law. John F. Kennedy saved the world during the Cuban Missile Crisis and sided with the Civil Rights Movement. Grover Cleveland created the Interstate Commerce Commission, which remains the most powerful tool in the congressional arsenal. He also tried to help Native Americans through the Dawes Act. Cleveland’s second term was dominated by an economic collapse caused by his successor and predecessor, Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland is the only man to serve two non-consecutive terms as president. James Madison guided America through the War of 1812, which produced mixed results. George H.W. Bush fulfilled the U.N.’s promise by evicting Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. He also adroitly guided America through communism’s death throes. Chester Arthur attacked corruption, initiated reforms, and rebuilt the American navy.

10. Thomas Jefferson

11. James Monroe

12. William McKinley

13. John Adams

14. John F. Kennedy

15. Grover Cleveland

16. James Madison

17. George H.W. Bush

18. Chester Arthur

The following seven all proved controversial in some way. Richard Nixon created Détente, opened China, ended the Vietnam War, created the EPA, and initiated many reforms. However, Watergate consumed his presidency. Woodrow Wilson revolutionized the government, freed labor, and guided the country through World War I. He misled the country in his re-election bid because he knew the U.S. could not stay out of the Great War, launched a ridiculous invasion of Mexico, and shredded civil liberties during and after the war. Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon and oversaw the Whip Inflation Now fiasco. However, he also helped heal wounds and promulgated the Helsinki Accord, which undercut the Soviet Union. Rutherford B. Hayes won the presidency in a backroom deal. He withdrew troops from the South, broke the Railroad Strike of 1877, worked to reform the civil service, and arbitrated an end to the Paraguayan War. Calvin Coolidge restored faith in the government following the Harding years and ushered in an age of prosperity. Lyndon Johnson did a lot of good. He initiated many reforms including the Civil Rights Act, The Voting Rights Act, Head Start, Medicare, Medicaid, and so on. However, his War on Poverty failed and resulted in large deficits and a stagnate economy. Additionally, he birthed the Vietnam War, which killed 58,000 Americans and broke the country apart. John Tyler was politically inept and was kicked out of two political parties. On the other hand, he added Texas to the Union and provided for a peaceful, seamless transfer of power to the vice president after a president’s death.

19. Richard Nixon

20. Woodrow Wilson

21 Gerald R. Ford

22. Rutherford B. Hayes

23. Calvin Coolidge

24. Lyndon B. Johnson

25. John Tyler

The next six were not quite failures, but not entirely successful either. Ulysses S. Grant oversaw a series of scandals, but also crushed the Ku Klux Klan and oversaw ratification of the 15th Amendment. George W. Bush provided great leadership during 911, passed No Child Left Behind and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, overthrew the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, created the infrastructure to fight the War on Terror, and initiated the PEPFAR program which saved millions of lives in Africa. On the other hand, the Iraq War broke the country apart and was almost lost before a troop surge stabilized the country. William Howard Taft attacked corporate monopolies and preside over good economic times. On the other hand, he bugled his way through foreign policy and seemed to side with polluters over the environment. John Quincy Adams agenda was bottled up in Congress. He signed the Tariff of Abominations into law, which almost caused South Carolina to secede. Zachary Taylor threatened to hang anyone that opposed California’s entry into the Union as a free state and then died. Bill Clinton helped end genocide in the former Yugoslavia and signed Welfare reform into law. His mishandling of health care reform led to a Republican congress, balanced budget, and economic boom. However, his installation of policies that led to bad housing loans led to the economic collapse in 2008 and Clinton refused to eliminate Osama bin Laden, which led to 911. On top of this, he was impeached for obstruction of justice and perjury, had more major scandals than any president in history, and adopted regime change in Iraq as official American policy.

26. Ulysses S. Grant

27. George W. Bush

28. William H. Taft

29. John Quincy Adams

30. Zachary Taylor

31. Bill Clinton

The last grouping failed as president. Benjamin Harrison’s policies initiated the Panic of 1893. Martin Van Buren oversaw Indian Removal and the Panic of 1837. Herbert Hoover presided over the Great Depression, passed Smoot-Hawley Tariff worsening the depression, and allowed the troops to disband the Bonus Marchers resulting in casualties. Millard Fillmore opened Japan to trade, but also signed the Fugitive Slave Act into law. Warren Harding was Bill Clinton without the economic boom. Jimmy Carter brought the Misery Index, Iran Hostage Crisis, and general incompetence. Barack Obama intentionally cancelled millions of health policies, ran up oppressive deficits, kept the economy slow through regulations and taxation, completely mishandled the Middle East resulting in El Qaeda’s resurgence and instability in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Iraq. Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act into law, which created a civil war inside Kansas. Andrew Johnson undercut Reconstruction, was impeached, institutionalized Jim Crow for a century, and essentially created the need for a second reconstruction in the 1960s. James Buchanan supported the Dred Scott decision, endorsed vote fraud, allowed the South to secede from the Union, and committed near treason.

32. Benjamin Harrison

33. Martin Van Buren

34. Herbert Hoover

35. Millard Fillmore

36. Warren Harding

37. Jimmy Carter

38. Barack Obama

39. Franklin Pierce

40. Andrew Johnson

41. James Buchanan

Advertisement

Life

  • Transgender cop
    A transgender police officer is stepping down from her position to run for office
    Video
    Political Office
  • Easter eggs
    Craft delicate, hand-painted eggs with flowers and other designs celebrating spring
    Camera
    Easter Eggs
  • Subway message
    Subway customer finds 'Big Mama' written on her order
    Video
    Subway Message
  • Working from home
    Working from home can be an exciting venture. Get tips to ensure productivity
    Camera
    Get Tips
  • Limes
    Rising cost of limes could be putting the squeeze on your favorite restaurant
    Expensive Limes
  • Pope Francis
    Religion: Pope Francis instructs how to fight against Satan
    Morning Mass

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about Examiner.com and apply today!