Top 10 Best Presidents of the United StatesThe presidency of the United States is a position of great responsibility and power, with the ability to shape the course of the nation and the world. Over the centuries, there have been many presidents who have risen to the challenges of this role, leading the country through difficult times and leaving a lasting impact on history.
This is a list of the best presidents of the United States, those who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision, and integrity. From the founding fathers to the modern era, these presidents have guided the country through wars, economic crises, and social upheavals, and have left an enduring legacy that continues to shape American politics and society today.
Abraham Lincoln was a man who could change his ideas. Initially, he believed that slavery was good. However, he eventually recognized that slavery was wrong. He made tremendous efforts to rectify the state of the country. No other president had considered that slavery should be abolished or even addressed the issue of segregation. Although Martin Luther King Jr. was not a president, he still fought for what was right. Only Abraham Lincoln believed that slavery was unjust. He was a man of change who did what was right for all of us. If he had not existed, slavery would still persist, and African Americans would not have been treated equally. Therefore, I believe that Abraham Lincoln should be regarded as the best president in history.
Lincoln, Washington, and Jefferson are the top three. The rest of the top ten is debatable. What is not debatable is having Clinton, Ford, Carter, and Nixon in the top five. Anyone who votes for Trump is a fool. Donald Trump is the worst president ever. Immature, arrogant, irresponsible, crass, and delusional are only some of the negative adjectives to describe this racist egomaniac.
The most important Founding Father, he led us to victory in our war for independence, put the people first, and established so many precedents. He truly was the Father of America.
George Washington was a much better president than Abe Lincoln. Washington fought a war that was necessary for us to be a free country. Lincoln's war was not really necessary. If he had let the Confederate States stand, they would have wanted to rejoin the union within a short period of time. The North would have invited them back. Both the North and the South needed each other. Slavery was not an issue in the war until 1863 when Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, which accomplished absolutely nothing. It only applied to the states over which Lincoln had no authority at the time. It didn't apply to the slaves in the states that were under his control. There were slaves in Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and a few other states. The purpose, as stated by Lincoln, was to "preserve the Union." It did preserve the Union, but at the expense of several fortunes and over half a million lives.
He and his future relative FDR are two of my favorite presidents because they resemble the Gracchi Brothers of Ancient Rome if they had remained in power and achieved success in their endeavors.
Returning to Teddy, he initiated the FDA to regulate the quality of our food and drugs. He also dismantled monopolies like Standard Oil, making capitalism more appealing to a broader range of people beyond wealthy and exploitative oligarchs such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Bezos, Musk, and others. Additionally, he established numerous national parks and monuments, which later laid the groundwork for the creation of the NPS. These examples demonstrate the essence of what made his presidential term exceptional - he championed the interests of ordinary individuals instead of following the directives of wealthy elites and lobbyists. Moreover, he displayed remarkable courage, enduring a bullet like a professional, or rather, a "bull moose."
If I were to highlight some negatives, I must admit that I am not particularly fond of his foreign policy. Although I appreciate his quote, "Speak softly, but carry a big stick," emphasizing the need to support our words with action, some of his actions in other countries struck me as paternalistic or imperialistic. The Roosevelt Corollary, in particular, seemed to grant the United States unrestricted authority to do as it pleased in Latin American countries, disregarding their sovereignty. Therefore, in my opinion, it wasn't his proudest moment.
Nevertheless, overall, I believe the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and he is an extraordinary president deserving of fond remembrance. We should strive to emulate his example both now and in the future.
A timeless president, FDR helped save many from financial hardship by creating the New Deal programs. He also helped defeat Nazi Germany and the rest of the Axis in WWII by sending aid through the Lend-Lease Act and later by fighting in the European, African, and Pacific theaters. This effort was carried on by his successor, Harry Truman, who dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan in an attempt to force their surrender. FDR has a problematic legacy in some regards, particularly in civil rights, as he created Japanese Internment Camps and refused to shake hands with Jesse Owens. However, he did open up many pathways for future positive changes.
No one was greater than Roosevelt. He died before I was born, but I can barely look at his picture without crying. My parents were children during the Depression and credited this man for literally saving them from starvation. My mother said that no one was working, had any food, or money, and lived in daily fear of what would happen to them. They would listen to his fireside chats on the radio, and she said fear would lift at the sound of his voice, bringing calm over the house. He assured them they would be taken care of, not to worry, and government trucks started delivering potted meat and some staples. I have been told that almost every American home at that time had his picture hanging on their wall. Unless you lived during those times, you cannot fully appreciate what this man did. He saved America, paralyzed, and from a wheelchair. I adore this man.
The Louisiana Purchase greatly expanded the USA. He wrote the Declaration of Independence and didn't want the National Government to take away the states' and people's rights.
Thomas Jefferson is one of the most underrated presidents ever. The fact that George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were ranked above Jefferson is bad enough, but Lincoln being number two is unbelievable. Lincoln destroyed Jefferson's vision of a free, voluntary union of sovereign states. If people understood history, Bush, Clinton, Lincoln, and all other imperialist presidents would be ranked as some of the worst presidents in the history of the country. Reading Jefferson's Declaration of Independence will make it clear that every president who was ranked above Jefferson (with the exception of Washington) supported policies counter to the Founders' vision.
Educators have failed President Jefferson by teaching that he is not worthy of our respect. Some argue that he was a hypocrite for not freeing his slaves. The truth is that Virginia law prohibited him from freeing his slaves because he was in debt. Jefferson's first draft of the Constitution aimed to free the slaves, but that was quickly voted down to keep the Southern colonies from immediately exiting the Union. If Jefferson, Washington, or Adams could have freed the slaves by executive order and kept the country together, they would have done so in a second, but they knew the survival of the Union required patience.
Got us out of the terrible economic disaster of the 1970s, was tough on the USSR, and fought crime and drugs. He was very charismatic and was one of the first modern presidents to speak out extensively against abortion.
#40. (Republican) He was able to fix the economy, create twenty million new jobs, lower inflation rates, exempt low-income Americans, create economic stability for small businesses, lower taxes, and bring an end to the Cold War with his concise and effective foreign policy skills. He also survived a gunshot and returned to his duties only three weeks later. A true American who believed in this country and a true father to conservatism! Even the Democrats loved him. God bless Reagan.
Ronald Reagan deserves to be regarded as one of the greatest presidents in American history. Reagan's achievements of dismantling the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War, and liberating Eastern Europe are every bit as comparable to Abraham Lincoln's saving the Union and freeing the slaves, and FDR's leading the USA to victory in World War II. The Cold War lasted 40 years, and all Cold War presidents accepted that the Cold War was a given and didn't think it could be ended. While their work was notable in keeping Western Europe free from communism, it was Reagan who dared to suggest that the peoples of Eastern Europe deserved the same freedom. By dismantling the Soviet Union, he rid the world of an evil country that had the capability of destroying the US. It is said that Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the Union. I'd say, so did Reagan.
Seriously? George W. Bush is #1? All he did was start the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, not to mention he barely helped at all when Hurricane Katrina came through. Now JFK, he was amazing. He started the Peace Corps, initiated the Space Race, ensured African Americans had equal rights in housing (and would've done more for Civil Rights if he had served longer), made sure steel industries couldn't raise their prices over and over, and stopped the Cuban Missile Crisis. And he didn't even serve a full term! So JFK deserves first or second for sure.
I have to add, JFK lost his older brother in the war. He had a Purple Heart himself and, as someone stated below, was willing to die for his country long before he actually did. He was also great at foreign negotiations and avoiding war. He was wise beyond his years - the things he put into motion while President. Unfortunately, his determination to fight corruption at every level of government made him a target. Most people don't even know what he accomplished while President, because LBJ immediately erased every good thing he ever did, except for Civil Rights. And he even messed that up, being one of the worst racist Presidents ever. If JFK and his vision had lived, there would have been no Vietnam, a stable economy, and no CIA providing arms and money to the Taliban, leading to 9/11 - to name a few. Unfortunately, he made enemies of very powerful people in his quest to rid the government of corruption.
The quintessential "moderate Republican" president. He wasn't afraid to use public money to build great projects, such as the Interstate Highway System, and helped to advance many of the causes of the Civil Rights Movement. This included forcing school integration in places like Little Rock, Arkansas, against defiant anti-segregation forces, and opening the door for future acceptance of the Civil Rights cause by his successors JFK and LBJ. He was also a WWII hero, as he was the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Forces and launched the brutal but successful Normandy Invasion, which led to Hitler and Nazi Germany's defeat and eventual surrender. He was so popular that both Republicans and Democrats wanted him as their presidential candidate, showing how beloved he was on both sides of the aisle.
The last good Republican President. Plain and simple. Nixon was smart but corrupt as hell. Ford was a forgettable non-entity. Reagan was dumb AND corrupt. Bush 41 was mediocre at best. Bush 43 was a disaster in both economic and foreign policy. As for Trump, we are experiencing a narcissistic egomaniac who befriends dictators because he wishes he were one, has alienated our allies, and has totally mishandled the most widespread medical crisis in my lifetime, and I'm 58. Yes, Eisenhower was the last good Republican Chief Executive. He was moderate, thoughtful, and terrific on infrastructure development. He was cautious in foreign policy because he experienced war firsthand.
Truman acted based on what he thought was right, not what would get him reelected. He integrated the military, helped found NATO and the UN, pushed the Marshall Plan through Congress, and so much more. He was not afraid to exercise the power of the executive, standing up to Stalin as well as McCarthyism. He came into office not wanting the job, and this lack of political prowess allowed a man of integrity to do what was right for the country. He made some of the toughest decisions in the nation's history, and his incorruptible spirit led to them being the right ones. Hands down, the most underrated president in American history.
President Truman made the right decisions and was never the most popular. He fought for the country in WWI. He stood up against the KKK. He was against lying. His values were never questioned. He never trusted Stalin nor the USSR. He shaped policy with his advisors on the Cold War. He brought an end to WWII, saving hundreds of thousands of allied lives and millions of Japanese. He stood up to the military. He asked Hoover to help feed millions in Europe after WWII. He actually took responsibility for his actions.
With few exceptions, John Adams is unmatched in character, morals, and honor. Among those in the 'top 10,' only Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson come close to matching Adams. He is one of the original founding fathers. As a lawyer, he defended the British soldiers in the Boston Massacre (and got them acquitted in a Boston courtroom full of people who wanted to hang them). He consistently voted for what he believed was right (including voting for Indian rights) even when it was not popular. What president in the last 50 years would do that?
#2. (Federalist) Another founding father whose examples led to the creation of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. It is because of his actions that led to our freedoms and fought for our rights as American citizens. He is also the well-known successor of our nation's first president, George Washington, and continued to carry out his dreams and responsibilities that have made America stand strong to this very day.
He was a very well-informed person, and many admired this about him. Because he knew so much and contributed a lot to the debates, Madison was called "Father of the Constitution." Also, Madison took notes, published in The Federalist Papers, which are today our best record of what happened during the Constitutional Convention. Madison argued for federalism (power being divided between the states and the national government), which eventually won over antifederalism (states having more power than the national government). Madison helped convince Virginia, which as a whole was opposed to a stronger central government, to ratify the Constitution. Madison was Secretary of State for Thomas Jefferson (some even commented that he controlled the President!) and then became President himself. While he was President, the U.S. faced the War of 1812.
Personally, James Madison is my favorite President.
Believed in small government, didn't crave power, supported African American Civil Rights, gave citizenship to Native Americans, and brought prosperity to all Americans.
The greatest president of the 20th century. His demeanor brought the country together: blacks, whites, upper class, and lower class. Under his presidency, the United States experienced the greatest economic expansion in its history, which was evenly spread throughout all classes. Not only that, but he restored the integrity of the national government, avoided war with Mexico, normalized relations with Cuba, passed the Young and Dawes Acts, which postponed World War II, limited the growth of government, and reduced taxes so that the middle and lower classes were paying close to zero percent rates. Despite all these successes, the most profound aspect of Calvin Coolidge was his adept understanding of the executive branch. Presidents do not create laws. They enforce them.
I've lost all faith in this list and in the people who have voted Bush as the 2nd best president, though I'm not surprised if you get your info from Fox News or even MSNBC.
The economy was booming fantastically during this man's terms, and he knew how to work with both the Democratic and Republican parties. Gas was cheaper than it ever was under George W. Bush (and Barack Obama's first term). Another thing is that Bush did not inherit a recession from Clinton. He inherited a surplus and drove it into the ground, and yet the man is second place on this list?
It joys me to see Democrats praise Clinton as one of the best presidents of all time and the best for them economically. He was, by today's standards, very conservative. He signed a Republican-sponsored welfare reform bill, which helped people get off welfare and balanced the federal budget. He signed into effect the Taxpayer Relief Act, which stimulated the economy by giving the largest capital gains tax cut in U.S. history. Not to mention, he was extremely anti-regulation. You guys are playing yourselves by supporting him as an advocate for a great Democratic candidate when he had largely conservative economic values, but I'll take it for sure.
Jackson had many flaws that came with his "My Way or the Highway" personality. But he was also one of the greatest leaders. Jackson was the purest form of what a Democrat should be: He looked out for the common people (yes, only whites, but his whole generation was racist, so I don't blame him too much). Jackson had been a militant fighter since he was 13 years old, Jackson single-handedly removed the U.S. debt, took down South Carolina when they tried to nullify laws, and even showed that the Supreme Court (which had often been criticized for granting far too much power to the government) had literally no way of enforcing their jurisdiction.
Reagan - tripled the national debt, bombed Libya and Grenada.
F. Roosevelt - internment camps, bombed German civilians.
T. Roosevelt - massively raised tariffs.
Kennedy - failed Bay of Pigs, Vietnam.
Eisenhower - illegally overthrew several democratically elected leaders.
Clinton - bombed Kosovo, massively stepped up the war on drugs.
Truman - 250,000 Japanese dead, failed Korean War.
Jackson was the only President to end the national debt and pursue economic policies not aimed at protecting the interests of the financial and mercantile class. The Trail of Tears was nothing in comparison to the heaps of war crimes that have been pursued by the administrations of every twentieth-century President since the Second World War...
The Civil Rights President. Despite what he did in Vietnam, which he and Kennedy largely started, his legislation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other Great Society programs were monumental for the United States. He also nominated the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, which helped ensure that many progressive changes were upheld on the Supreme Court. Like Joe Biden, he also had a lot of experience in the legislative process and was able to get things done, which made him a very effective legislator.
Domestically, he did more for average middle-class Americans of all races than any President other than Franklin D. Roosevelt, and especially more for African Americans than any President outside of Abraham Lincoln. His great tragedy was allowing military generals' advice to direct his policies on the Vietnam War without questioning their opinions. JFK, had he lived, wouldn't have done that. But based on domestic social policy achievements alone, he has to be rated as one of the best Presidents. It's amazing that a Southern politician was that progressive. And probably no President handled Congress more effectively!
James Knox Polk was the best example of a leader with efficiency, promise, and consistency. He was really a major unsung hero. Polk entered the presidency with clearly laid-out goals, promised to accomplish them, and ended up completing everything he wanted to do, which was incredibly significant and crucial. He then left and never returned. What a badass. This guy never receives enough credit and is a true success among US presidents. Polk is my favorite of all time, and he should definitely be a Top 10 staple. He should never be overlooked.
Top 10 President #6: He said he had an agenda and that if he achieved it, he would not run again. He set goals and achieved them. His agenda included annexing Texas, acquiring land in the West, and settling the Canada-USA present border. Polk accomplished these goals: Texas became a state, the Mexican War led to land acquired up to the Pacific Ocean, and fifty-four forty or fight settled the question with Great Britain. Because he was successful, he served for only 4 years.
Obama is probably the most underrated president since Lincoln. Right-wing propaganda shows like Fox News make him out to be some sort of Antichrist, but any logical person who really looks back on what this man has done for our country so far can say that he has done pretty well. First and foremost, he is the first African American president in a country infamous for racism and segregation, especially against Blacks. He's erased the ultimate stereotype by reaching the nation's highest office despite his skin color. He ended the pointless oil-grabbing war in Iraq and cut off the head of Al-Qaeda by killing Bin Laden, thus avenging all those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. He has put millions of Americans back to work, though America has not yet reached pre-Bush economic prosperity. He supports same-sex marriage, facing extreme opposition from homophobic right-wingers and ultraconservative religious organizations. He has done more to help the ailing environment than any president since Teddy Roosevelt by stopping the BP oil spill, working to make America dependent on homemade green energy, and condemning the XL doomsday device pipeline. He brought diplomacy back to the Muslim world and is trying to keep America out of outside intervention in places like Africa whenever necessary, thus avoiding another Iraq. He was raised in Indonesia, meaning that his childhood friends were mostly Muslim, and he respects Islamic beliefs and culture at a time when most Americans don't. And finally, although it is highly controversial, Obamacare (or at least some aspects of it) seems to be working now, though it has left many Americans still on food stamps and is undoubtedly flawed. Is he the best president? No. Does he deserve to be in the top 5? No. But he is one of the great ones and probably one of the best that this country will see in a while.
He was one of the great Presidents. What made him more special than all others was that he was a leader as well as a great President. Washington was a leader but a poor President, as were Jefferson and Madison. He held two cabinet posts at one time under Madison: Secretary of State and Secretary of War (Defense) during the War of 1812. He was one of the most well-loved and admired Presidents in history. He admitted five states to the Union, purchased the Florida Territory, which included land ceded by Spain in Texas and the Southwest US, and claimed part of the Oregon Territory. He stabilized the Panic of 1819, which lasted two years. He was the last of the Founding Fathers. His accomplishments included the Monroe Doctrine, the Rush-Bagot Treaty with England, the Treaty of 1818 with Britain, and the Russo-American Treaty of 1824. He was the last president not photographed, died poor, and was the Governor of Virginia. His accomplishments go on and on.
He combined the strategies of Washington and Jefferson/Madison to solve issues. He bought Florida from Spain and was really the man who bought Louisiana from France.
#41. (Republican) A great leader economically, he improved the quality of the economy after taking over from Reagan. The fiscal success from the '80s continued strongly into his presidency, and his foreign policy skills were also very sharp and effective. He succeeded in driving Iraq out of Kuwait and resolving conflicts in the Middle East with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The stock market did great under him. We also had economic recessions during Vietnam and World War I. He secured Middle Eastern oil. Recessions are beyond a president's control, so Clinton was lucky. Yes, unemployment occurred under him, and he added new taxes. For some of you, though, he was not president when 9/11 happened. His son was.
George had more guts to make difficult decisions. That's better than many of the recent and current presidents (excluding Ronald Reagan).
Only president to have served two non-consecutive terms. He was the 24th president from 1893 to 1897 and also the 22nd from 1885 to 1889.
The only truly fiscally conservative president since Jefferson.
His name was Grover, and he served two separate terms, the only one to do it. Pretty epic if you ask me.
John Q. Adams was hampered by Jackson after a deal with another foe for the presidency gave Adams the votes he needed to win. Jackson formed an alliance with others to keep Adams from doing anything of substance. John Quincy was the brains behind the Constitution and worked tirelessly for the success of the Madison presidency.
He was constantly prevented from governing during his administration, but his platform would have been good for America. This includes strong economic policies and rights for Native Americans, among other things. Also, after his presidency, he continued fighting for America in the House of Representatives.
One of the most brilliant men of his time, he fought for the change we see as normal today during a time when it was not popular to support these radical ideals. He is one of the most inspiring and influential people in U.S. history.
Garfield didn't have a chance to accomplish much because he was shot. Why was he shot? Because someone wanted a job in the government but didn't get one, even though he was a big Garfield supporter. This happened because Garfield didn't just give jobs to his biggest fans.
Garfield was a supporter of Black rights. If he hadn't been murdered in 199 days, he would have been pretty good. Garfield was unlucky because he was elected in 1880, the third year of Tecumseh's curse.
Had he not died in his first year, he could have been among the greatest presidents.
Most underrated president of all time. Annexed Hawaii, won the Spanish-American War, and paved the way for Teddy Roosevelt and the American empire as it is today. Finally taken by an assassin's bullet.
He is usually ranked in the 20s but deserves much more credit.
America would never have become a superpower if he didn't exist.
He is definitely an underrated president.
Similar to Eisenhower, Grant quelled hatred in the South during Reconstruction and secured the lives of many Black Americans. He was probably the finest American general, and without him, the war might have been very different. Although he was president during corrupt times, the entire late 19th century was corrupt, so don't let that overshadow his presidency.
Southern-sympathizing propagandists had spent almost a century undermining his reputation. But you can't keep a good man down. If Lincoln hadn't put his trust in Grant, there would be no USA as we know it today. One of the country's greatest and most important figures.
His high moral character, evident in his attempts at peace with Native Americans and in sending federal troops to round up the KKK in the South, has to be appreciated, considering he followed arguably the most racist president ever (A. Johnson).
Only president who wasn't around long enough to screw up.
He died of pneumonia. It was the shortest term any president has been in office.
Every other president has made some minor screw-up, but not this guy!