U.S. Presidents For Dummies with Online Practice book cover

U.S. Presidents For Dummies with Online Practice

By: Marcus A. Stadelmann Published: 06-30-2020

Discover how the Oval Office’s occupants have made and make history

Which one was the tallest? Which one fought a duel? Which had liquor smuggled into the White House during Prohibition? And why is the president even called the president in the first place? From periwigs and knee breeches to the 24-hour news cycle and presidential Tweets, the fascinating and colorful stories of the 45 incumbents are a powerful lens through which to view U.S. history and get insight into the present.

Taking readers on a fact-filled journey through two centuries, this book examines how each individual obtained their dream (or nightmare) position, what they stood for (or against), achieved (or didn’t), and how their actions affected the country—for better or worse. And—remembering that presidents are people too—it shows how the personal really can be political, exploring how each president’s vision, strengths, and foibles helped or hindered them in building the country and their own legacy. 

  • Accessible biographies of all presidents
  • Sidebars, timelines, and photos
  • Lists of best and worst administrations
  • Bonus online content, including quizzes galore to help build retention

Whether you’re a student, a history buff—or are even interested in becoming president yourself one day—U. S. Presidents For Dummies is the perfect guide to what it takes to be leader of the free world, who has stepped up to that challenge, and how those personal histories can help us understand yesterday’s, today’s, and even tomorrow’s union.

Articles From U.S. Presidents For Dummies with Online Practice

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U.S. Presidents For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-14-2021

Over the last 231 years, 44 men have dominated U.S. politics and history. Although almost every American can name the current president, less than half can tell you the name of the vice president or the Senate majority leader. No other office within the U.S. government has received as much attention as the presidency. The successes and failures of the chief executive have become a staple of U.S. culture. Every year, the media spends thousands of hours disseminating information on their virtues and shortcomings. Their biographies become best sellers. The public marvels at their childhood plights and adult accomplishments. Stories about their personal lives and office conduct have become ingrained in American culture and literature. The public revels in the presidents’ personal shortcomings and failures, and eagerly laps up scandals involving them.

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The 10 Best Presidents

Article / Updated 07-01-2020

Developing a list of the ten best U.S. presidents presents a truly difficult task. Selecting the ten best presidents out of the 44 (President Trump does not qualify to be rated because his presidency is ongoing at this time) isn’t easy. Of course, some choices are no-brainers; some presidents, such as Washington, Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt stand out so much that they have to be included in any list of the top ten presidents. Other picks may cause a little controversy — this is good. Feel free to disagree with these ten choices, because every list of presidents is subjective in nature. This evaluation of the best presidents is based on seven characteristics. They consist of policy leadership, crisis management, quality of their appointments, how they’re regarded by foreign leaders, their character and integrity, how effective they are at getting the public’s support, and the vision they have for the country. For a president to be listed in the top ten list, he has to have shown superior abilities in all seven categories. Without any further ado, here’s a subjective list of the ten best presidents in U.S. history, with the best president being listed first and the tenth best listed last. Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln not only saved the Union, but he also issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the slaves in the Confederacy free, and pushed for the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery in the United States. He expanded the war-making powers of the president, and he was a founding father of the Republican Party. If Lincoln had lived longer, the reintegration of the Confederate states into the union would have proceeded differently, leading to less controversy. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Franklin Delano Roosevelt has the distinction of being the only president elected to four terms. He assumed the presidency during the Great Depression and provided practical help to the people affected by it. His New Deal programs provided help and hope to millions of U.S. citizens and set the foundation for the modern welfare state. Franklin Roosevelt saved democracy in Europe by aiding Great Britain early on in its struggle with Nazi Germany, and turned the U.S. economy into a wartime economy capable of winning World War II. During the war, he became one of the founding fathers of the United Nations, committing the United States to an active interventionist foreign policy. Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt broke the longstanding isolationist tradition that kept the United States deliberately uninvolved in world affairs. By getting involved in world affairs, he set the foundation for the United States to become a world power in the 20th century. Theodore Roosevelt gave the world the Panama Canal, and he was the first U.S. citizen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for settling the war between Japan and Russia in 1906. Roosevelt further protected average citizens from business excesses by regulating industries. George Washington As the first president, George Washington kept the new country together. He legitimized the new form of government and set the foundation for democracy in the United States. Washington also established many traditions, some of which are still around today. From the ceremony and protocols surrounding inaugural addresses to the isolationist foreign policy in place until the early 20th century, Washington’s ideas stuck around. Harry Truman Harry Truman is one of the most unappreciated presidents in U.S. history. He made the difficult choice of dropping two atomic bombs on Japan, which ended World War II. In the opinion of many scholars, Truman’s decision saved untold lives that would have been lost if the United States had been forced to invade Japan. Truman single-handedly saved Western and Southern Europe from communism with the Truman Doctrine, extending military aid to countries fighting communist uprisings, and the Marshall Plan, which helped to rebuild the economies of post-war Europe. He was the first president to realize the Soviet threat. He acted to stop communism from expanding, establishing organizations such as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) to contain Soviet expansionism. Ronald Reagan Ronald Reagan was elected president in a time of crisis, as U.S. power was declining internationally. He restored U.S. power and prestige throughout the world. His military spending led to the destruction of the Soviet economy, which wasn’t able to keep up with U.S. spending, and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet empire. Without Reagan, the United States may not have won the Cold War in 1991. Reagan’s economic policies, while increasing the U.S. debt, provided for years of unheard-of growth for the U.S. economy. When he left office in 1989, he was one of the most idolized and admired presidents in U.S. history. Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson was the most intellectual president in U.S. history. He enjoyed a worldwide reputation for his writings, and he was the chief author of the Declaration of Independence. As president, Jefferson doubled the size of the country with the Louisiana Purchase, and he kept the country from going to war with major European powers. Woodrow Wilson Woodrow Wilson saved democracy in Europe. He made the decision to enter World War I on the side of the democratic allies in Europe. Wilson’s decision provided for the difference in WWI, as democracy emerged victorious over the authoritarian German and Austrian-Hungarian empires. The League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations, was his brainchild. Even though the U.S. Senate refused to join the League of Nations, the foundation for the United Nations was set. Domestically, Wilson was a reformer who gave women the right to vote in 1920. He also oversaw the newly established way to elect U.S. senators, which put the selection in the hands of voters instead of the state legislatures. Dwight D. Eisenhower This choice may surprise some. Dwight D. Eisenhower was a president who accomplished much in a very quiet way. He ended the war in Korea and managed to contain the Soviet Union for the eight years he held office. He gave the United States eight years of peace. During his tenure in office, not one U.S. soldier was lost in combat. Eisenhower passed the first civil rights legislation since the end of the Civil War. He stood up to several Southern governors who refused to implement the Supreme Court’s decision to integrate public schools. Finally, Eisenhower also gave us our present-day interstate highway system. James Polk This is another choice that may surprise some readers. James Polk is often considered to be the most underrated president in U.S. history. He arranged a dramatic expansion of the country by acquiring most of what today is the southwestern United States. Polk was a hardworking, honest man, who actually worked himself into an early grave. During Polk’s administration, there were no scandals involving him or his cabinet. This president stuck to his promise to serve only one term, and he put the good of the country before his own interests, earning the right to be listed as one of the top ten U.S. presidents.

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Performing Many Roles: The President’s Duties in Modern Times

Article / Updated 04-06-2020

Today, the president performs many roles in society. The president has become the preeminent politician in the United States. Some of his presidential duties and roles include: Head of state: The president symbolizes the United States. Other countries judge the United States by what kind of president the U.S. public elects. Commander in chief: The president heads the U.S. military. The public looks to him to commit troops into combat. The public also holds him accountable for the successes or failures of military operations. Chief foreign policy maker: The president is expected to make foreign policy, meet foreign leaders, and negotiate treaties. The public holds him responsible for successes and failures in foreign policy. Chief executive: The president is in charge of the federal bureaucracy, which includes the cabinet departments, the Office of Management and Budget, and the military — more than 4 million people altogether. Chief legislator: Today, the president is responsible for most major legislation. He proposes the budget and uses his veto power to shape policy. The president acts, and Congress usually reacts to his policies. Crisis manager: Whenever crisis strikes the country, the U.S. public looks to the president to act. After the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, the public expected the president, not Congress, to react. It was George W. Bush and his advisors who explained to the public and Congress what had happened, as well as what measures the government would take. Leader of his party: The public, as well as party supporters, look at the president as the leader of his party. If the president does well, the public will usually reward his party in the elections. If he performs poorly, the public will usually punish his party, especially in off-year (non-presidential) elections. Today, the president is the chief politician in the United States. However, he still has to share his powers with Congress on many occasions, and Congress can keep his power in check, if necessary. The president’s power of shaping public opinion The greatest power a U.S. president has is not found in the Constitution. It is the power to persuade and convince the U.S. public. If the president can get the public behind him, he becomes unstoppable. Congress cannot and will not oppose him if he can show Congress that the public supports him on a certain issue. For this reason, the power to shape public opinion is a great one. Persuading the people Theodore Roosevelt was the first U.S. president to take advantage of the power of public opinion. He used the presidency as a bully pulpit — a forum to use his influence to promote his causes — and preached to the U.S. public in an attempt to gather public support. When Congress began to stifle his progressive reforms, he toured the United States and attempted to convince the public of the integrity of his programs. With the public behind him, Congress had a tough time not agreeing to his agenda. Woodrow Wilson, a political scientist, recognized this power and continued in Roosevelt’s tradition. He, too, traveled around the country to rally support for his policies. In addition, Wilson established the tradition of holding regular press conferences, and addressed Congress directly by giving his State of the Union address in person to Congress. Wilson transformed the State of the Union address into the public spectacle it still is today. He set the precedent of using the media to disseminate his speeches to the U.S. public. Making use of the media With the invention of the radio, and later television, the power to persuade, or shape public opinion, gained new importance. Radio made it possible to reach the U.S. public easily, without ever leaving the White House. The first president to take advantage of this was Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. A week after presenting his first inaugural address, FDR began addressing the U.S. public directly over the radio with his famous fireside chats, which he used to explain his policies and foster trust and confidence in the public. Roosevelt continued this practice throughout his presidency, delivering a total of 27 fireside chats. John F. Kennedy used television for similar purposes. He became our first television president. Kennedy and his advisors had figured that the best way to reach the public was through television appearances heavily laden with political messages. Nothing was more successful in gaining the support of the U.S. public than a well-timed, well-written, and well-delivered speech. Kennedy was also the first president to allow his press conferences to be covered on live television. (Eisenhower had his press conferences taped and reserved the right to edit them before they were broadcast.) Kennedy delivered 64 live press conferences before he was assassinated. Today, using television to reach the public is common. Inaugural addresses, State of the Union addresses, and press conferences are all designed to reach out to the U.S. public and convince people that the president’s policies merit their support. Clearly, a well-written and well-delivered speech can sway public opinion in a president’s favor. This in turn facilitates his dealings with Congress. While television is still the major tool to communicate with a majority of Americans, social media has become more prevalent. It was first widely used by President Obama, who started an AMA (ask me anything) thread on Reddit to target young and minority voters. The strategy was so successful in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections that it has been copied by every candidate running for higher office. Who could imagine President Trump not using Twitter? Today, campaigns use social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram and Snapchat, to target specific groups of voters. Studies have shown that the use of social media can increase voter turnout and impact political opinions especially for millennials (18 to 24). Older voters are more immune to social media messages. With social media being so successful and so much cheaper compared to television, it would not be surprising to see it overtake television as the major campaign tool in the future.

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President Donald Trump: Controversies at Home and Abroad

Article / Updated 04-06-2020

President Donald Trump has been known for being controversial at home and abroad. Take a brief look at how these controversies have helped shape Trump’s presidency. Being Controversial at Home Controlling both houses of Congress, Trump tried to move quickly to have his agendas secured. However, he became frustrated with how slowly Congress operates and has relied heavily on executive orders to implement or change policies. Implementing domestic policies Some of his most important domestic policies include: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017: This act was the largest tax cut since 1986. It cut the corporate tax rate permanently from 35 percent to 21 percent and reduced individual income taxes until 2027 for all tax brackets. The act further increased the standard deduction and increased tax credits for families. Cutting back Obamacare: The Trump administration eliminated the individual mandate from Obamacare that required everybody under 65 years of age to get health insurance or pay a fine. It further cut Obamacare’s advertising budget and cut the enrollment period in half. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this will increase the number of uninsured by about seven million by 2026. Reshaping the federal courts: Up until November 2019, President Trump had appointed two Supreme Court justices and a record 183 federal justices (district court and appeals court). This amounts to 25 percent of all federal justices. Most of his appointees are young and conservative and will move the federal courts to the right for the foreseeable future. The Muslim travel ban: President Trump imposed a travel ban on travelers from mostly Muslim countries (it also included North Korea and government officials and their families from Venezuela) that experienced terrorist activities. On June 26, 2018, the United States Supreme Court upheld the ban, which now excludes legal permanent residents, dual citizens, and the country of Iraq. Succeeding economically Since President Trump assumed office in January 2017, the U.S. economy has been booming. The economy grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, and 2.2 percent in 2019. The stock market (Dow Jones Industrial Average) has seen an increase of over 9,000 points. The unemployment rate is at the lowest level in 50 years, and unemployment for African-Americans and Hispanics is at a historic low. Being Controversial Abroad While President Trump has been successful dealing with the United States economy, foreign policy has been a mixed bag. There have been successes in the Middle East and in the fight against terrorism, but at the same time President Trump’s emphasis on an “America First” policy has alienated many U.S. allies. His major foreign policy include the following: Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord: By 2019, 195 nations had signed on to the Paris Treaty, known as the Paris Climate Accord. The treaty stipulates that all signees have to initiate policies to limit global warming and then report on their efforts. The objective of the treaty is to mitigate global warming and to limit the increase of global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Trump administration declared its intentions to withdraw from the treaty in June 2017, but the United States cannot fully withdraw from the treaty until November 2020. So far none of the signees have adhered to the treaty, and the treaty contains no mechanism to enforce its goals. Getting tough with Allies: Beginning in 2017, President Trump demanded that NATO allies pay more for their military defense. In 2014, NATO members had agreed to spend at least two percent of GDP on their militaries, but most just ignored the obligation. Out of 28 NATO members, only 5 countries had met the mark by 2017. The United States, on the other hand, spent close to 4 percent of GDP on its military. Overall, the U.S. outspent the other 27 NATO members two to one. Germany, for example, actually cut military spending to 1.1 percent while running big budget surpluses. After Trump’s complaints and even threats of being unwilling to continue to protect NATO members if they refused to protect themselves, NATO, including Germany, begrudgingly agreed to increase defense spending and meet the 2 percent obligation by 2024. Declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel: The Trump administration declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel despite objections from the United Nations and most European allies. The American embassy was moved in May 2018 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP): The Trump administration withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration. Trump prefers bilateral agreements, namely trade agreements between two countries. Implementing tariffs against China: Claiming that China was using unfair trade practices against the United States and was further illegally obtaining U.S. technology, President Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese goods. China retaliated, but on January 15,2020, a Phase I deal was reached. China agreed to buy more American farm goods and allow the United States to bring criminal charges against Chinese companies for stealing U.S. technology. The U.S. in turn agreed to not impose further tariffs. Negotiations on a Phase II deal started right away. Renegotiating NAFTA: President Trump successfully renegotiated NAFTA. The treaty is now called The United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). It includes new labor and environmental standards as well as intellectual property protections. It is estimated to create 176,000 new jobs in the United States. Cutting troops in Afghanistan: President Trump announced that he will withdraw most U.S. troops from Afghanistan but keep a small contingent of about 8,600 in the country. Destroying ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham): By 2019 ISIL had been defeated on the battlefield, and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in a U.S. raid. Need further reading? Learn more about the scandals that have defined Trump’s presidency.

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Scandals: Defining Donald Trump’s Presidency

Article / Updated 04-06-2020

From the beginning, the Trump administration was mired in scandals that have undermined his presidency. The constant wave of scandals has resulted in negative coverage of his presidency, overshadowing his economic and foreign policy successes. Instead of being able to focus on domestic and foreign policy, President Trump has constantly dealt with putting out fires often caused by his own actions. The two biggest scandals were the Russia and the Ukraine scandals. The Russia scandal Almost as soon as Donald Trump had assumed the presidency, the Russia scandal broke out. It involved some of the president’s closest aides, including his national security advisor. During the 2016 presidential election, Russian operatives hacked Hillary Clinton’s server and later also the server for the Democratic National Committee. U.S. intelligence would later find out that the Russian government was actively trying to interfere in the U.S. presidential election by creating dissent among the U.S. public and trying to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. In May 2017 Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading an investigation into links between the Russian government and Trump associates. Comey later testified that he was fired after he refused to drop the investigation of President Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who had resigned after only 24 days in office after it was discovered that he had lied to Congress about meetings with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was appointed in May of 2017 to investigate whether there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether the Trump campaign had attempted to obstruct justice. The findings of the investigation were released in April 2019 and stated that while there was clear interference by the Russian government in the 2016 presidential elections, there was no clear evidence that the Trump campaign had conspired with the Russian government. The report does note that while there was no evidence the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government, it clearly did benefit from Russian interference. The findings on obstruction of justice were less clear. Mueller concluded that he could not charge a sitting president with a crime because a sitting president cannot stand trial. Only Congress can charge and then impeach and even remove a president. According to the report: “The investigation does not conclude that the president committed a crime; however, it does also not exonerate him.” In other words Mueller took the easy way out and left it up to Congress to take the next or no steps. The Ukraine scandal After having weathered the Russia scandal, it looked like President Trump’s presidency was safe until the 2020 election. However, in September 2019, the Ukraine scandal broke out. The scandal involves President Trump’s alleged attempts to coerce Ukraine into providing information on his possible democratic challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter. According to the charges, President Trump threatened to withhold $400 million in military aid from Ukraine, unless it reopened an investigation into Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine. An anonymous whistle blower brought this to the attention of Congress and the media, and in September 2019, the House of Representatives began hearings on whether President Trump solicited foreign intervention in the 2020 campaign. This would be an impeachable offense. Full impeachment hearings were started on October 31, 2019. These were open to the public and were nationally televised. On December 18, 2019, the House of Representatives voted 230 to 197 to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. President Trump was the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were the other two. After being impeached by the House of Representatives, the Senate started on January 16, 2020, to debate whether to remove President Trump from office. On February 5, 2020, the Senate acquitted President Trump by a 52 to 48 vote. It is now up to the U.S. electorate to decide whether he deserves a second term.

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The 10 Worst Presidents

Article / Updated 04-06-2020

While the United States had many mediocre presidents, only a few were really bad. Choosing the five worst presidents is fairly easy, because there is agreement among the public and academics as to who belongs in a list of the bottom five. But selecting the bottom ten U.S. Presidents is a more difficult task. Nonetheless, let’s give it a shot. Please feel free to disagree with the selections. The presidential rankings are subjective, so consume the following list with that in mind. These presidential ratings are ranked on characteristics including policy leadership, crisis management, presidential appointments, foreign standing, character and integrity, public persuasion, and presidential vision. (Historians and other people who rank presidents often base their decisions on many of these same qualities.) The presidents in this list appear with the worst president coming first. Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson is widely considered one of the worst presidents. He became president only because President Lincoln was assassinated. His Reconstruction plan for the Southern states after the Civil War was lenient for the former Confederate states, and it didn’t benefit former slaves at all. He pushed Congress to the point where he was impeached by the House of Representatives for violating the Tenure of Office Act. In addition, Johnson was an unpleasant, bigoted fellow with a bad temper. Had it been up to him, African Americans would have never received citizenship or any civil rights. Warren G. Harding President Warren G. Harding’s administration was a massive failure. He appointed friends to high-level government positions, and they repaid him by creating many financial scandals. His administration accomplished nothing of value, and his years as president are utterly forgettable. Harding was a hypocrite and womanizer. He supported Prohibition and drank in secret. He married his wife for her money, and then he cheated on her in a White House closet (just off the Oval Office) while she slept in her bedroom. Harding put it best himself: “I am not fit for this office [the presidency] and never should have been here.” Franklin Pierce Franklin Pierce was a Northern Democrat with a Southern soul. He supported slavery throughout his career because he believed that the Constitution allowed the states to decide whether to be slave states or free states. More importantly, Pierce laid the foundation for the Civil War by not opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The act overturned the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed new states to choose whether to allow slavery. Pierce drank heavily as he ignored the conflict that tore Kansas apart. He didn’t even run for reelection in 1856. He retired and drank himself to death instead. James Buchanan James Buchanan served his country loyally and faithfully until he became president. As a Northern Democrat, he personally opposed slavery, but he believed that the Constitution allowed it. So he refused to do anything about the issue. Instead, he supported the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision in 1857, which declared that slaves were not people or citizens. When most Southern states seceded after Lincoln’s victory in 1860, Buchanan stood by and did nothing, just waiting for his term to end. When Lincoln arrived in the White House, Buchanan hurriedly left and disappeared into oblivion. John Tyler John Tyler became president by default when President Harrison died in office in 1841. He wasn’t a Whig like Harrison, but he had been selected because he could appeal to Southern voters. He alienated his own party to the point where its members threatened to impeach him. Tyler accomplished almost nothing while in office, with the exception of bringing Texas into the Union. Without this one accomplishment, Tyler would rank even lower on the presidential scale. Millard Fillmore Millard Fillmore was another vice president who became president by default. He took over after President Zachary Taylor died one year into his term. Shortly after taking office, Fillmore destroyed his own party by backing the Compromise of 1850 which many Whigs considered pro-slavery. To make matters worse, Fillmore ran for the presidency in 1856 as a candidate for the racist American party, which advocated against blacks, Jews, and Catholics. In 1864, Fillmore turned against Lincoln by backing Lincoln’s opponent, General George McClellan. He then later backed Andrew Johnson in his fight with Congress. It would seem it takes one bad president to try to help out another bad president. Ulysses S. Grant Ulysses S. Grant was one of the most capable soldiers in U.S. history — for this, he deserves much credit. As president, however, he was the opposite of capable. Grant filled cabinet positions with his friends and relatives, resulting in rampant corruption and many scandals. Grant was an honest man, but he didn’t have many honest friends. To make matters worse, he defended his corrupt friends, undermining his own credibility in the eyes of the public. Grant’s trust in people was so high that he lost all of his money when his son invested it improperly. He retired a pauper and wrote his memoirs to help feed his family. William Henry Harrison It is not fair to judge William Henry Harrison on his term in office. He served only a little over a month, most of it on his deathbed. It is justified, however, to rank him on his campaign and his agenda. Well, there was no agenda, because Harrison stood for nothing and ran without a platform. His campaign portrayed him as a hard-drinking man of the people, who was born in a log cabin. He did drink hard cider, but he grew up wealthy on a large estate in Virginia. His campaign was based on a lie, but it got him elected. Martin Van Buren Martin Van Buren was one of the best politicians in U.S. history. He knew how to play the political game. He helped create the Democratic Party on Andrew Jackson’s behalf. He served his country well until he reached the presidency. Suddenly, his accomplishments stopped. How could such a great politician be such a bad president? He wasn’t responsible for the depression of 1837, but he also didn’t do anything about it, which undermined his chances for reelection. He refused to address slurs against him in the 1840 election and lost badly. In 1848, he took the presidency away from his own Democratic Party by running as a third-party candidate. Herbert Hoover It’s a difficult task to put Herbert Hoover on the list of the ten worst presidents. Hoover was a self-made man and a great humanitarian who was responsible for saving millions of Europeans from starving to death after both world wars. How could such a great human being be such a bad president? Well, although he can’t be blamed for causing the Great Depression of the 1920s and early 1930s, he can be blamed for reacting to it too late — a classic example of doing too little, too late. Hoover shows that being a great person and being a great president don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Check out this list of the ten best U.S. Presidents.

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