Special Report

Historians Rank Every President

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1. Abraham Lincoln
> Years served: 1861-1865
> Best performing category: Crisis leadership (97.8)
> Worst performing category: Relations with congress (79.5)
> Party affiliation: Republican

Few U.S. presidents have dealt with such serious trials as Abraham Lincoln. He presided over the divided land through most of the Civil War, which ended with the nation united again, and shepherded through Congress the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves. His life was also the classic American success story in that he started out extremely poor in Kentucky. However, his life was cut short after the war, when he was assassinated by pro-slavery advocate John Wilkes Booth while attending a theater production in Washington, D.C.

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2. George Washington
> Years served: 1789-1797
> Best performing category: Performance within context of time (97.7)
> Worst performing category: Pursued equal justice for all (54.4)
> Party affiliation: Federalist

Called the father of this country, George Washington was the young nation’s first president, voted in by electors in 1789, following his leadership at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. A Virginia native and landowner, Washington was known for his honesty, leadership on the battlefield, and administrative skills. Even though he took on the job as president reluctantly, he served two consecutive four-year terms as the commander in chief.

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3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
> Years served: 1933-1945
> Best performing category: Public persuasion (96.8)
> Worst performing category: Pursued equal justice for all (68.8)
> Party affiliation: Democratic

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, or FDR, was the only president to have been elected to the presidency four times. Like Lincoln, his presidency was marked by a war, World War II, and he also spearheaded sweeping legislation — to remedy the ravages left by the Great Depression through the New Deal, a set of government programs and reforms. The New Deal provided short-term government aid and jobs as well as ways to revitalize different industries with federal help. What was unknown to most Americans was that Roosevelt’s fragile health was failing. He died in office before completing his fourth term.

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4. Theodore Roosevelt
> Years served: 1901-1909
> Best performing category: Public persuasion (92.6)
> Worst performing category: Pursued equal justice for all (62.8)
> Party affiliation: Republican

Unlike FDR, his cousin, President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was a robust outdoorsman and a Republican (Franklin, a Democrat). He was also a soldier and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Among his most popular moves were to establish the U.S. Forest Service in 1905, which managed government-owned lands.

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5. Dwight D. Eisenhower
> Years served: 1953-1961
> Best performing category: Moral authority (85.6)
> Worst performing category: Pursued equal justice for all (60.7)
> Party affiliation: Republican

The Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in WWII, Kansas-born Dwight “Ike” D. Eisenhower, was a popular figure in post-war America. As such, he easily won the presidency in 1952. His signature million-watt smile and interest in American western literature were part of what endeared Americans to him. During the first of his two terms, he championed a balanced budget, less government control over the economy, and a return of some federal functions to states. Also, he also raised the federal minimum wage to $1 an hour. He expanded Social Security and created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.