This is usually a very subjective issue, and the answers are always very contradictory and confusing. However, there are some more objective ways to judge U.S. presidents, based on their values as leaders, the way they handled a crisis, internal and foreign policy, and many other actions. The American Political Science Association recently created a system of ranking, based on objective merits and 162 members discussed, evaluated, and judged the presidents in comparison to facts. Check out the results in the list below.
Did you know that in most polls and discussions by historians, James Buchanan is the worst U.S. President in history? His policy towards people of African origins and slavery influenced the Dred Scott decision, announced by the Supreme Court in 1857, which states that people of African origins can't be American citizens, no matter if they were slaves or not. The decision was a major factor that led to the Civil War.
Warren G. Harding
He was president for only two years, but in that short period, he managed to get involved in various incidents and scandals. He appointed his closest friends aka the Ohio Gang to the highest positions in the government, and they took advantage of it in the 1920s. He once said "I have no trouble with my enemies, but my d*** friends, my God-d***** friends… they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor at nights!"
Johnson was the president after Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He was against the Fourteenth Amendment, which allowed former slaves to be citizens of the U.S. A letter he sent to the Missouri governor included: "This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men."
The worst decision during his time as president was certainly the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 which referred to the question of slavery in the West. More precisely, the question of expanding it further. His inabilities to be a leader and to make his own decisions are also some of the reasons why he was one of the only presidents whose own party did not nominate him for a second term.
William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison, the 9th U.S. president, has a high position on this list because he was in office for a really short time, exactly 30 days and 12 and a half hours. He died in April 1841 from pneumonia, and it's impossible to evaluate his achievements.
His inability to properly react and communicate during the Great Depression, which made the situation even worse (even though he was an educated engineer) is the biggest reason he's ranked as the sixth worst president.
He wasn't elected but became the president when Zachary Taylor died in 1850. His major failure was reinstating the Fugitive Slave Act, which ordered that slaves in free countries must be sent back to their masters and it deepened the slavery issue.
John Tyler is also known as "the man without a party." He is yet another case of a president who took office after his predecessor's death, in this case, William Henry Harrison's. He abandoned the entire Whig party policy (and was officially removed from the party in 1841) once he came to power, advocating slavery.
George W. Bush
After September 11, 2001, Bush won the elections for his second term. In the first elections, he almost lost to his opponent, Al Gore. George W. Bush won't be remembered only for his insensitive speeches and questionable intelligence, but more importantly, for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
We're all aware that the Watergate Scandal is the reason why Nixon is ranked so high on this list! He tried to cover it up in various illegal ways. He ordered the secret bomb attacks of Cambodia and taped the conversations of officials in the White House until he resigned in 1974.
The Mexican-American War brought him glory and the status of a hero. But his actions in dealing with furious Southerners did not. They were enraged by his decision of urging California to ban slavery. He said during a formal meeting with Southerners: People “taken in rebellion against the Union, he would hang … with less reluctance than he had hanged deserters and spies in Mexico." This fueled the existing problem that contributed to the outbreak of the Civil War. The short time he was president, 17 months, is also why he is on this list.
He became a president in 1881 after James Garfield was killed. Politically corrupt and unable to deal with problems of the Federal Budget after the Civil War, he also succeeded in angering his own party, which didn't nominate him for a second term.
James A. Garfield
As an intellectual who was fluent in writing and speaking Greek and Latin, Garfield was a Civil War hero, and he was strongly against the slavery. "If a man is black, be he friend or foe, he is thought best kept at a distance. It is hardly possible God will let us succeed while such enormities are practiced." However, his presidential term was too short. He was a president for 200 days before he was murdered. Therefore it is not possible to accurately evaluate his time in office.
Rutherford B. Hayes
Hayes was responsible for the White House Easter Egg Roll tradition. He was also successful years after the Civil War and during the Reconstruction of the South. But the questionable manner in which he won the elections and the incident with the rail workers in 1877 (when many of them were killed because of the strikes) earned him this spot on the list.
He was the grandson of William Henry Harrison. High taxes on international trade surely didn't help his already bad reputation. Before the elections, he promised compensations to veterans from the Civil War, but never intended to keep that promise. Once he took office, he openly refused to compensate them.