Top 10 Worst United States PresidentsThe United States has seen some great leaders over the years who have made significant contributions to the country's progress and development. However, not all presidents have lived up to the expectations of the people, and some have even been deemed disastrous. From failed policies and scandals to questionable leadership and ethical lapses, the presidency has seen its fair share of controversial and widely criticized individuals.
Some of these presidents may have good qualities and accomplishments, but their negative impact on the country and their lack of leadership skills make them worthy of this list. From the early days of the nation to modern times, these presidents left a lasting mark on history, and not in a positive way.
There's the Iraq War and all its accompanying disasters (torture, undermining civil liberties, mishandling Afghanistan). Not only did he not confront climate change, but his policies arguably made it worse. His job creation record is one of the worst in modern history, which is almost separate from the fact that he sat by idly as the global economy fell apart in 2008. He's so unpopular that even his own party acts as though he was never actually president. He lost his race for re-election, his handling of the economy was not great, and he was a nasty and divisive campaigner. It's more than okay to agree that he was behind 9/11 the whole time in my opinion, for the simple fact that he was coincidentally reading a story to an elementary school right before and during the tragedy while it was taking place. A completely imbecilic and disgusting excuse for existence, I'd say he is.
Dear George W. Bush, the people who are blaming Barack Obama as the scapegoat for America's current problems are doing so largely because of YOU. I honestly can't think of one or two good things you did for the country, with the rise of ISIS being all because of your 2003 invasion of Iraq. You seemed to want the oil and used WMDs that weren't even there as an excuse. Sure, democracy was also a justification, but your invasion still divided Iraq because it exacerbated internal ethnic conflicts. Also, Barack Obama had to go and fix the recession YOU caused and is still dealing with the problems in the Middle East that you started and intensified. Yet, he is still criticized by America and perseveres despite the criticisms. You're only in 2nd place right now since TheTopTens is mostly conservative. I don't care if anyone calls me an Obamabot. I am just speaking with logic and reason here. George W. Bush, you will always be in 1st place as the worst US president ever, along with James Buchanan, in MY book. This is me exercising my right to freedom of speech to speak for what I believe in.
James Buchanan singlehandedly started the Civil War in his attempt to please everyone. Over 600,000 deaths resulted from this man's decision to try to maintain a perfect reputation.
Anyone who thinks Obama is the worst president is obviously biased for several reasons, but the most obvious one is that he is the current president, and since Nixon's time, it has been fashionable to criticize the sitting president. I don't think he's a great president, but at least he didn't let the nation fall apart under him. Enter James Buchanan, who practically let slavery spread and did nothing to prevent the Confederacy from forming. Luckily, we had Lincoln afterward, or else the United States wouldn't be the same.
First off, those people who voted for Obama as the worst president clearly have done very little research into the actual numbers. Secondly, even if he was terrible, I have a hard time believing he could come close to this guy. Heck, even as someone who really dislikes the way Bush handles things, he still isn't close to this guy. James Buchanan was a complete coward. He basically refused to do anything to prevent the growing Civil War because he was worried about his reputation and alienated all sides in the process. The idea that powerful leaders appear in times of crisis is easily disproved by Buchanan.
This guy could have sold ice to Eskimos or sand to Arabs. Yes, he was a smooth talker. He played the America is the greatest card to get elected in 2008 and then soon after being elected, he began playing the race card. He created staggering race division at every opportunity, and he and his wife continue that division in 2023. He was incompetent in all matters of foreign affairs, and Obamacare has proven a failure. He funded many ongoing war campaigns. He and his wife were born with silver spoons in their mouths but like to play the poor black hardship role. He is the first president to get a third term, pulling the strings for idiot Joe. He became very rich as a result of being president and continues to capitalize on this. He was an environmental hypocrite, and he used his clout to alter environmental laws in Hawaii to allow his new beachfront mansion to proceed. A very modestly accomplished president, except for again his tremendous ability to create race division.
If it weren't for Andrew Johnson, freedmen would have gained rights much earlier. His actions, including the implementation of Black Codes, vetoing citizenship for freedmen, and maintaining a large ego, make him one of the worst presidents.
Andrew Johnson has to be the worst US President this country has ever had, and if you know your history you will agree. First, he wasn't even elected. He was VP when Lincoln (who could be our best President or at least top 3) was assassinated. He was the first president to be impeached, and after the Civil War, when the country was in shambles and violent riots and revolts were popping up all over the country, he did more to extend the period of national disunity and contention than he did to heal the wounds of the war and state of the overall country.
Also, I do not believe Obama should be rated the number one worst president. Don't get me wrong. I do not think he is a good president, but there are definitely worse presidents in our history.
Donald Trump is terrible. He tried to build a wall in Mexico and claimed that Mexico would pay for it. He's racist and unintelligent, often saying ridiculous things like suggesting we should nuke hurricanes. He once said he met with the president of the Virgin Islands, threw paper towels at Puerto Ricans, and made fun of them. He disrespects women, calling them nasty and disgusting. His diet is unhealthy, and he's made bizarre statements like claiming he fell in love with Kim Jong Un. He suggested we should rake the forests and insulted other world leaders, expressing surprise at the number of countries in the world. He shows disdain for Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, and even claimed Andrew Jackson could have stopped the Civil War, even though Jackson died 16 years before the war. He's responsible for many COVID-19 deaths and attempted to overthrow the government. His appearance, with orange skin, looks even worse without it. He's a horrible, racist, monstrous pile of pig crap.
Everyone thinks the U.S. government sucks thanks to him. He wanted to extend the Vietnam War, resulting in lots of deaths, war crimes, and killings in Vietnam throughout the late 60s and early 70s. He was also absolutely racist and sexist as well. He was even an anti-Semite, as he disrespected Jewish Americans as well! Even though I am not a political person, I still think that Nixon is the worst president the USA ever had, but he did show a lighter side as he helped Apollo 13 get into space.
Nixon is mostly considered bad for Watergate, but when you consider that most of South America got turned into dictatorships and that he oversaw the bombings of Cambodia and Laos, which led to the Khmer Rouge a few years later - nearly sending Cambodia back to the Stone Age and killing millions of innocent people - you'll realize how much this guy sucks.
Nixon was a liberal Republican whom we can, in large measure, thank for the massive trade deficit we now suffer with China. But as to who hacks what and who helped whom, the visitor knows nothing about history or recent events. Nixon's crime was not the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, of which he knew nothing. It was in the cover-up after the fact. And you're clearly confused regarding who did what during the 2016 election.
In his defense, he thought what he was doing would get the Indians away from the cruel white settlers who had bought that land.
Also, he passed it but didn't enforce it (that was Van Buren).
And he was renowned for other things too (great military general, party-goer, etc.).
But on the other hand, what happened to the Cherokee people walking the Trail of Tears was something he should've seen coming, and it was a horrible decision.
Good intentions, but a predictably horrible outcome.
I can't believe the city I used to live in back in 2014-18 (hint: it's in the state of Florida) was named after this guy. So my city is named after a president who forced Native Americans off their land instead of letting them live in peace. I still like the city I used to live in but still... name it after someone else, someone else who's not a racist.
Indian Removal Act!? Blech! This horrible man was a total racist and destroyed Native Americans, driving them out of their own land. But despite that being totally unethical, we gotta credit him. We had a nation inside a nation. That's absolutely not right. I mean, no, dude, you should not have booted the natives out of their land. But America needed expansion! A horrible excuse, isn't it? Worse than Manifest Destiny, the stupid idea that we had permission from God to wipe out everyone because it was a religious command to grow. But hey, horrible man. Yes. Horrible president? Hate to say it, but no. He helped America grow. He was pretty darn evil, and a drunk as well. But a good president he was. Boot him out of here, but put him at #1 on the list of evil presidents.
Herbert Hoover's economic decisions eventually helped contribute to the Black Tuesday stock market crash in October of 1929, which triggered a worldwide economic depression. The civilized world would not fully recover until at least the mid-1950s. During this time, the U.S. would have three other presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Hoover's successor), Harry S. Truman (who took over when FDR died of a cerebral hemorrhage in April of 1945), and Dwight Eisenhower, as well as JFK and LBJ to a certain extent. What many people don't know is that it took these presidents to guide the U.S. back to pre-Great Depression levels, economically speaking.
Herbert Hoover did not cause the Great Depression. One person couldn't have caused that alone. But he didn't do anything to help. People living in boxes called the boxes "Hoovervilles." He built the Hoover Dam but under terrible working conditions. They made up a lie about a disease sweeping through the construction site, and that is how those men died. It wasn't how they died. They were killed by falling steel, bricks, etc., all so they wouldn't have to pay compensation money to the men's families.
Before Obama, Carter was definitely the worst ever! However, where Carter tried to elicit peace in the Middle East, Obama went out of his way to support the overthrow of many Middle Eastern governments that were either supportive or neutral, by radical Muslims who then unified and strengthened terrorism. His economic "leadership" threw the US into a disastrous recession, which eventually became the key item behind his defeat in the bid for a second term. Carter's weak, ineffective leadership opened the door for the Iran hostage crisis. Carter is a known liar and buffoon who used to carry around empty suitcases to appear as a "common man" and often deferred to both his drunken brother and (then) 10-year-old daughter about policy items. He is also the only president to be so arrogant and concerned with saving his wretched legacy that he's broken the cardinal rule of speaking out negatively about other presidents and has tried to take policy action.
Certainly, Harding was not a great man or great leader. However, his administration did something very significant for which it has been forgotten: it shortened the length of the deflationary depression of 1920-21 primarily by issuing debt-free silver coins to circulate among the people. Just look at the circulation of silver dollars for 1921 versus most of the earlier twentieth century. Following WWI, America needed a financial boost, and the Harding administration did it. This contrasts starkly with Hoover's and FDR's Keynesian mishandling of matters that fueled the Great Depression a decade later. The claims that Harding caused the Great Depression are without foundation. The Great Depression was caused by too much credit and the withdrawal of that credit, the opposite of the issuance of hard money, which Harding championed. Though he was not a great man, Harding deserves a better place than 11th worst.
What did Bill Clinton do to be on my list of the worst presidents? Quite a bit, actually. He passed the 1994 crime bill, which harmed the Black community at the time. He had multiple opportunities to kill Bin Laden (and foil 9/11 and prevent Bush's ill-advised wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) but failed. He also bombed Yugoslavia for almost no reason. Sure, Milosevic was no saint, but Clinton's bombing of Yugoslavia is partially the reason why Serbian-American relations are absolutely terrible.
What makes Bill Clinton atrocious is not his sex scandal (though admittedly the situation was likely abusive. Are you telling me there was not an abusive power relationship when the most powerful man in the world asks for a sexual favor?) but his war crimes. He illegally bombed (for more than 60 days, which counts as an act of war) a sovereign nation, Yugoslavia. It had not attacked another NATO member. Ignoring the idea of national self-determination, NATO proceeded to level the country for purely political disagreements. Bill Clinton set the standard that the president, without asking Congress, can destroy sovereign nations for purely political reasons. The Founding Fathers rightly identified this as the making of a king.
The creation of the Federal Reserve under Wilson was the death of this country's liberty, as Benjamin Franklin had previously stated it would be. He was backed by the private "Federal Reserve" (implying something that is simply untrue, that it is government-owned) to be elected, in return for signing the bill that officially created the Federal Reserve. Lincoln had already been killed and there were two assassination attempts on Johnson for printing his own money, greenbacks, instead of paying 25-36% interest to pay for the war and create such debt for the country, and for actually shutting down the First Bank, respectively. But Andrew Johnson was horrible in other ways. He's definitely in the top 10 worst as well. Wilson died with huge regrets, saying, "I have betrayed my country" (by signing the Federal Reserve Act). So this redeems him somewhat in my eyes, as most of the presidents on this list are so bad, they had zero qualms about killing innocent people, American or otherwise. Because there are so many downright evil men on this list, I think it should be mentioned that Wilson did recognize he created a monster and regretted it greatly for the rest of his life. He did not cause WWII, but he made money off it.
The country needed an active president. They also needed a president who would bring the country closer to each other. But often when the country gets divided, it's because of the president. All of that sums up Pierce. He was so pathetic that he knew he had liver cirrhosis, yet still drank heavily.
Franklin Pierce behind FDR? FDR is arguably our nation's greatest president! Pierce was a drunkard in the War of 1812 and couldn't even fight. He basically won the presidency because his good friend wrote a book about him. Let's not also forget that the Kansas-Nebraska Act basically spread slavery out west.
His poor decisions led to Bleeding Kansas and opened a hole that Buchanan widened. Definitely worse than Bush. He was also rejected by his party for a second term in favor of Buchanan, who was worse.
This man deserves to be number one. He started Vietnam and killed in cold blood, and as another person wrote, his strings were pulled by the CIA. He murdered JFK. He even murdered his own sister. He was led by greed and money. Any goodness that came about was not by him. The civil rights bills were released because of the CIA and their top operatives being African American. They passed it. He was friends with some of the biggest criminals in America at that time. Malcolm Wallace was his hitman and murdered dozens of people at the word of Johnson. He should be the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth worst presidents of all time.
Why this President isn't number one is beyond me. He didn't lead anything. The CIA is the one who pulled his strings. In fact, if Kennedy wasn't killed, he would have been the first Vice President in history to go to jail, just like his grandmother said would happen. He was saved by the CIA, to whom he then owed everything, and let them lead the country for those four years that put this country in the debt we are in today. He was the one who started it all. In fact, we would have been debt-free if Kennedy's plan had stayed in place. Johnson not being number one shows me that the American public doesn't know exactly what this man has done in the history of our country, which is a shame.
His era was rife with corruption because he was very trusting in people who were taking advantage of his power. He ultimately has to be considered among the top people responsible for the mess that was Washington during this time period. As was said earlier, perhaps the greatest general in U.S. history, but his undeniable skills didn't translate well to his presidency. It was a horrible black hole of corruption in any honest reading of U.S. history. Not as bad as Andrew Johnson, whom he preceded (and who was undoubtedly the worst president of all time), but definitely among the top 10 worst presidents to date.
Never used his cabinet, nor listened to the advice of family members. Allowed criminal activity over the land. He may have saved America in the American Civil War, but he was a terrible president who never got to experience a second term.
No president in the 19th century, short of Abraham Lincoln, fought harder for racial equality.
Millard Fillmore was an excellent president. He passed the Fugitive Slave Act and raised employment rates for bounty hunters. He also didn't drink or smoke, setting an example for the American public. We haven't had a good president since Fillmore.
A hypocrite. It is up to the state if they want slavery or not, but slave-free states should help catch escaped slaves and return them to their masters in the slave states.
He was one of the laziest presidents ever! He was the last president of the Whig party. He is the most forgotten president ever!
He was a bad conservative, just like Reagan. He lost in a landslide to a far younger candidate, Bill Clinton. He gave birth to a monster who barely won the 2000 election. I guess he did undo "Reaganomics," so the middle and lower class didn't have to cough up the cash, while the rich had tax cuts. So I guess that was good.
This is the worst, most criminal of them all, and his family were the termites in our government, going all the way back to the late 1800s! The Bush family gave our future over to the greedy banks and set the precedent for all of the crooked government leaders we have to deal with today.
Where to begin? Before him, Bill Clinton had talked about building a bridge to the 21st century. And he built half a bridge and drove the country right off the end.
I'm trying to get his name into the top 10 so he would be the only US president to have two entries to his name on this list.
Joe Biden funded Hamas and Russia, who started wars and killed many innocent people. The economy began to decline immediately after he took office. He also shut down the pipeline, resulting in reduced oil production in America. Some people argue that Trump is worse because, apparently, what you say is worse than what you do. Whatever happened to the idea that actions speak louder than words? Biden claimed he would defend Taiwan, but it seems the only thing he's defending is the ice cream truck.
Dementia-riddled loser who gives credibility to Trump supporters by doing nothing in office and having his aides speak for him, with the cherry on top being his support for genocide in Israel.
Corruption and incompetence are on full display. He will assume Jimmy Carter's role as the dumbest president. Joe is a puppet. This presidential term hopefully continues the eye-opening experience for America and the world. Hopefully, Western world peoples are waking up and realizing that big corporations are controlling everything, including government and, importantly, garbage lefty legacy mainstream media and social media, the education system, and idiotic Hollywood. This global elites' "plan" is real, and the West is in trouble. WAKE UP.
He never did anything. How could he be in the Whig party? Voters after 1833 have no common sense. From 1840-1844 as president, is there anything he is known for? He should be higher up. Probably the worst president of the Reconstruction period along with Andrew Johnson.
Instigated the Mexican-American War, supported slavery and slave-holding interests, betrayed the country for the Confederacy. Achieved nothing positive.
John Tyler betrayed the United States and joined the Confederacy.
Ronald Reagan was an absolute monster who should be ranked #1. He's the reason all of us are so divided. The embarrassing US interventionism that HW Bush underwent was inspired by Reagan. The harmful Clinton policies that stripped Americans of welfare and "encouraged" people to work instead of raising kids were Reagan doctrines.
Was 9/11 a consequence of his actions? Who funded and armed those extremists to fight Russians in the 80s? It was Ronnie Reagan. Obama's inability to make significant changes to healthcare is 100% due, in part, to this monster stripping us of the right to survive illness and normalizing it.
Credit score checks? This guy. Wall Street greed? This guy. Unqualified racist politicians with dementia running for office who were actors first like Donald Trump? Reagan came first. The war on drugs? A failure. The AIDS crisis? Ignored.
The end of the Cold War had nothing to do with Reagan. Chernobyl and Russian incompetence should get more credit. This dude just made more nukes. He should have been impeached for Iran/Contra. I hope my urine trickles down the soil to hit him in hell.
It is hard to say he did anything good while president, especially considering he died from eating cherries and buttermilk. Although, like Grant, he is considered okay because of what they did during wars. Taylor is the hero from the Mexican-American War and Grant won the Civil War, but they weren't presidents when that happened.
If he had lived longer, perhaps history would have judged him better. As the last US President to be a slave owner, he was just on the wrong side of history.
It's not fair because he only served for 16 months (1 year and 4 months).
Almost everyone who has played golf with him remembers President Ford saying, "I'm going to burn in Hell forever for two things: the Warren Commission and pardoning Nixon. I did both in the name of unity, but I sold my soul doing it."
Was pushed into office by Nixon's stupid mistakes. What was the poor man to do? Didn't run another term. Knew he couldn't handle it. Think about it: first Agnew went down, then Nixon.
My mom hated him because he pardoned Nixon.
You really can't say much about the guy. He died only a month after he was inaugurated, which is to say he was unable to do anything remarkable or detrimental throughout his entire presidential run. Whether he could have been a president who would have been seen as a U.S. paragon like George Washington or a presidential disgrace like George W. Bush is really up to your thoughts and imaginations.
He said, "I can survive in rain without a coat." I swear he got sick and didn't wear a coat at all! He was showing off. Is he God or Jesus? No! He is so stupid.
He's not the best. He's not the worst. He did nothing because he was stupid enough to do an inauguration in the cold and wind without a jacket.
FDR's policies undoubtedly prolonged the Depression, and his endless make-work projects did very little to actually provide a viable long-term solution to the nation's financial problems. His decision to raise interest rates in 1937 plunged the country deeper into recession and ensured that the US would not further recover until WWII. However, FDR's most egregious sin was introducing Keynesian deficit spending, which essentially guaranteed the US would accumulate massive national debt. The problems caused by this reckless spending strategy persist today, with the US currently shouldering an 18-trillion-dollar debt.
Who better to be the worst president? He was the one who started us on the path toward Marxism. He introduced deficit spending, that is, spending money that one does not have, as a good idea to the federal government. His Agricultural Adjustment Act wasted vast amounts of crops and livestock while his citizens starved, and he kicked back on his yacht. He stole gold from his citizens with his Gold Reserve Act. He created Social Security, the most successful Ponzi scheme in US history, and other major welfare organizations while criticizing dependence on welfare. He encouraged corporations to form cartels and stifle competition with his National Recovery Act, in contradiction of the popular misconception of him being a Man of the People.
The only thing stopping scholars from ranking him within the top 10 worst presidents is his enduring cult of personality. But his schemes to deliberately prolong the Depression and the precedents he set for such flagrant abuses of executive power ought to give academics good reason to scrutinize the myth surrounding him.
He may actually be the worst President. People here are saying he was a victim of Jackson's screw-ups, which undermines how spectacularly he screwed up in his own right. While Wilson destroyed freedom of speech and tortured suspects, and Bush destroyed privacy, Van Buren did something debatably worse. He allowed Lilburn Boggs to pass Executive Order 44. This criminalized the Mormon faith in Missouri and legalized the killing of Mormons. He knew it was wrong but told the Mormon community that while he sympathized with their plight, interfering could hurt his reelection chances.
He continued Jackson's failed policies. If you look at the data, just as many, if not more, Native Americans were killed during Van Buren's administration than in Jackson's!
During the Panic of 1837, people called him "Van Ruin."