You’ll never find a universally loved US president. But some consistently rank lowest among public polls. While partisanship will always play a role in such decisions, some presidencies were such disasters that it’s hard to argue in favor of them. Below are ten of the most consistent choices for worst US presidents.
Were #7 and #8 really that different?
Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
Fillmore was the dying breath of the Whig Party as it broke-up into several smaller, conflicted groups. Though he had the relevant experience, having spent time as a state legislator before being becoming Zachary Taylor’s VP, his infamy comes from endorsing the Fugitive Slave Act, further stoking tensions between North and South.
Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
Johnson got the job following Lincoln’s assassination, so it’s reasonable to say the he walked into a difficult situation. But as the country was recovering from the devastation of the Civil War, Johnson proved unpopular by opposing the Fourteenth Amendment.
Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
It doesn’t matter what good Nixon accomplished during his presidency (and to be fair, he did quite a few things to please both sides of the aisle). Ultimately his legacy is tied to his resignation in the face of impeachment following the Watergate break-in and cover-up. There’s a reason why we slap the -gate suffix on any misdeed a politician has done since then.
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
Grant’s reputation has been viewed more favorably in recent decades, but after failing to get the Republican nomination for a third term public perception was much different at the time, ignoring his efforts to strengthen civil rights and focusing instead on the corruption rampant among those associated with him.
James Buchanan (1857-1861)
The Civil War broke out under Buchanan’s watch and while it had been building up for some time before Buchanan got the job, he supported the idea that slavery should be a state’s rights issue in the hopes that it would help everyone move forward to focus on what he felt were bigger issues facing the nation. Needless to say, he was wrong. Some historians believe Buchanan’s stance on slavery was the point of no return in regards to the Civil War.