Ranking the Presidents

Since we are constantly bombarded by presidential rankings that are never objective and are entirely partisan, I decided it was time for me to tackle this task once and for all. I’ve read enough history to have the ability to do this (and will research any knowledge gaps along the way), and I can be reasonably objective in the manner in which I grade their individual effectiveness and performances.

To grade each president I will consider the following criteria (scores graded from 1-5 with 5 the highest):

  • Foreign Policy
  • Domestic Policy
  • Crisis Management
  • Cabinet
  • Enduring Accomplishments
  • Adherence to Constitution and American principles
  • Overall Legacy

Because of his tenure of only 31 days, William Henry Harrison will not be included in the rankings. I also won’t count Grover Cleveland twice. I will include the current president, Joe Biden, as well as the shortened presidencies of Gerald Ford, etc.

  1. George Washington
    FP: 4.5, DP: 5, CM: 5, C: 4.5, EA: 4, AC: 5, OL: 5: Total Score: 4.71
    Washington set an incredibly strong legacy for future presidents through his leadership, diplomacy, a strong cabinet, and his choosing not to run for a third term, paving the way for a democratic transition of power. Washington handled crises like the Whiskey Rebellion with a measured level of force, while still seeking to establish peaceful relations for trade and prosperity by signing the Jay Treaty with Great Britain.
  2. John Adams
    FP: 5, DP: 2, CM: 3, C: 2, EA: 3, AC: 1, OL: 3: Total Score: 2.29
    Adams was undeniably a great patriot of great character and intellect. His defense of the British soldiers charged in the Boston Massacre proved that America would be a nation of fair laws and justice. However, as president, Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts that undid the Bill of Rights at a time when the nation’s future remained in a delicate state. His one notable achievement was avoiding a war with France, which would have likley been disastrous for the newly formed nation.
  3. Thomas Jefferson
    FP: 4, DP: 5, CM: 4, C: 3, EA: 4.5, AC: 3, OL: 4.5: Total Score: 4.0
  4. James Madison
    FP: 2, DP: 4.5, CM: 3, C: 1, EA: 3, AC: 4. OL: 4: Total Score: 3.07
  5. James Monroe
    FP: 5, DP: 3, CM: 3.5, C: 3, EA: 5, AC: 4, OL: 4: Total Score: 3.92
  6. John Quincy Adams
    FP: 4, DP: 5, CM: 3, C: 5, EA: 2, AC: 5, OL: 4.5: Total Score: 4.07
  7. Andrew Jackson
    FP: 3, DP:3, CM:2, C: 3, EA: 2, AC: 3, OL: 3: Total Score: 2.7
  8. Martin Van Buren
    FP: 3, DP: 4, CM: 3, C: 4, EA: 2, AC: 4, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.36
  9. John Tyler
    FP: 4, DP:1, CM: 2, C: 1, EA: 2, AC: 2, OL: 1: Total Score: 1.86
  10. James K. Polk
    FP: 5, DP: 4.5, CM: 4, C: 3, EA: 5, AC: 3, OL: 4.5: Total Score: 4.14
  11. Zachary Taylor
    FP: 3, DP: 3.5, CM: 3, C: 4, EA: 3, AC: 4, OL: 3: Total Score: 3.36
  12. Millard Fillmore
    FP:4, DP: 2, CM: 2.5, C: 4, EA: 2, AC: 4, OL: 3: Total Score: 3.07
  13. Franklin Pierce
    FP: 4, DP: 2, CM: 1, C: 3, EA: 1, AC: 4, OL: 2: Total Score: 2.43
  14. James Buchanan
    FP: 3, DP: 1, CM: 1, C: 2, EA: 1, AC: 3, OL: 1.5: Total Score: 1.79
  15. Abraham Lincoln
    FP: 4, DP: 5, CM: 5, C: 4, EA: 5, AC: 5, OL: 5: Total Score: 4.71
  16. Andrew Johnson
    FP: 3, DP: 1, CM: 2, C: 3, EA: 2, AC: 2, OL: 2: Total Score: 2.14
  17. Ulysses S Grant
    FP: 4, DP: 5, CM: 4, C: 2, EA: 5, AC: 5, OL: 4.5: Total Score: 4.21
  18. Rutherford B. Hayes
    FP: 3, DP: 3.5, CM: 3, C: 3, EA: 3, AC: 4, OL: 3: Total Score: 3.21
  19. James Garfield
    FP: 4, DP: 4, CM: 3, C: 4, EA: 3.5, AC: 4, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.71
  20. Chester A. Arthur
    FP: 2, DP: 3, CM; 3, C: 3, EA: 2, AC; 3, OL: 2.5: Total Score: 2.64
  21. Grover Cleveland
    FP: 2, DP: 3, CM: 2, C: 3, EA: 3, AC: 3.5, OL: 3: Total Score: 2.79
  22. Benjamin Harrison
    FP: 4, DP: 3.5, CM: 3, C: 3.5, EA: 4, AC: 4, OL : 3.5: Total Score: 3.64
  23. William McKinley
    FP: 4.5, DP: 3, CM: 3, C: 4, EA: 4, AC: 3, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.57
  24. Theodore Roosevelt
    FP: 5, DP: 5, CM: 4.5, C: 4, EA: 5, AC: 5, OL: 5: Total Score: 4.79
  25. William Howard Taft
    FP: 5, DP: 3, CM: 3, C: 3, EA: 3, AC: 5, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.64
  26. Woodrow Wilson
    FP: 5, DP: 3.5, CM: 5, C: 3, EA: 4, AC: 3, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.86
  27. Warren G. Harding
    FP: 2, DP: 3.5, CM: 1, C: 1, EA: 1, AC: 3, OL: 2.5: Total Score: 1.86
  28. Calvin Coolidge
    FP: 3, DP: 4, CM: 2, C: 3, EA: 3, AC: 3, OL: 3: Total Score: 3.0
  29. Herbert Hoover:
    FP: 2.5, DP: 3, CM: 1.5, C: 3, EA: 3, AC: 3, OL: 2.5: Total Score: 2.64
  30. Franklin Roosevelt
    FP: 5, DP: 4, CM: 4, C: 4, EA: 4, AC: 2, OL: 4: Total Score: 3.86
  31. Harry Truman
    FP: 5, DP: 4, CM: 4, C: 3.5, EA: 4, AC: 3, OL: 4: Total Score: 3.93
  32. Dwight D. Eisenhower
    FP: 4.5, DP: 5, CM: 4.5, C: 4, EA: 4.5, AC: 4.5, OL: 4.5: Total Score: 4.5
  33. John F. Kennedy
    FP: 3, DP: 4.5, CM: 4.5, C: 4, EA: 4.5, AC: 4, OL: 4: Total Score: 4.07
  34. Lyndon Johnson
    FP: 2, DP: 3, CM: 3, C: 3, EA: 3, AC: 3, OL: 3: Total Score: 2.86
  35. Richard Nixon
    FP: 5, DP: 4.5, CM: 2, C: 2, EA: 4, AC: 2, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.29
  36. Gerald Ford
    FP: 3, DP: 3, CM: 2.5, C: 3, EA: 2, AC: 4, OL: 3: Total Score: 2.93
  37. James Carter
    FP: 2, DP: 2, CM: 1, C: 3, EA: 3.5, AC: 4, OL: 3: Total Score: 2.64
  38. Ronald Reagan
    FP: 5, DP: 4.5, CM: 4, C: 4, EA: 3, AC: 4.5, OL: 4.5: Total Score: 4.21
  39. George HW Bush
    FP: 4.5, DP: 3, CM: 4, C: 3, EA: 3, AC: 4, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.57
  40. Bill Clinton
    FP: 3, DP: 4, CM: 3, C: 3, EA: 4, AC: 3, OL: 3.5: Total Score: 3.36
  41. George W Bush
    FP: 3, DP: 2, CM: 4.5, C: 3, EA: 2, AC: 3, OL: 2.5: Total Score: 2.86
  42. Barack Obama
    FP: 3, DP: 3, CM: 2.5, C: 2, EA: 2.5, AC: 2.5, OL: 3: Total Score: 2.64
  43. Donald Trump
    FP: 3.5, DP: 3.5, CM: 3, C: 2, EA: 4, AC: 2, OL: 2.5: Total Score: 2.93
  44. Joe Biden (current)
    FP: 2.5, DP: 2.5, CM: 2, C: 2, EA: 2.5, AC: 2, OL: 2.5: Total Score: 2.28

The highest rated presidents were:
1: Theodore Roosevelt: 4.79
2: Tie: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: 4.71
4. Dwight D. Eisenhower: 4.5
5. Tie: Ulysses S. Grant and Ronald Reagan: 4.21

The lowest rated presidents are:
1. James Buchanan: 1.79
2. Tie: John Tyler and Warren G Harding: 1.86
4. Andrew Johnson: 2.14
5. Joe Biden: 2.28

Just to let you know, I was very fair and objective in compiling the scores. I did not inflate scores based on political affiliations or based on popular sentiment. The results are what they are.

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