Special Report

Historians Rank Every President

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36. Herbert Hoover
> Years served: 1929-1933
> Best performing category: Administrative skills (64.7)
> Worst performing category: Economic management (28.4)
> Party affiliation: Republican

Iowan Herbert Hoover, the 31st president, became a hero when he saved millions of Europeans during World War I from starvation as head of the American Relief Administration, which sent boatloads of food to such countries as Germany and Bolshevik Russia. Yet, as president, he and the nation were challenged after the stock market crash of 1929, which heralded the Great Depression. He was viewed as a failure during the the Depression’s early years when he was unable to put forth policies that spared U.S. citizens from joblessness, homelessness, and hunger. So acute was the criticism that some homeless called their shantytowns Hoovervilles.

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37. Millard Fillmore
> Years served: 1850-1853
> Best performing category: International relations (48.2)
> Worst performing category: Pursued equal justice for all (28.6)
> Party affiliation: Whig

Vice President Millard Fillmore became the 13th president when Taylor died in office. A New Yorker who came from humble beginnings, Fillmore gave his support, against his own beliefs, the Fugitive Slave Act, which required federal enforcement to capture and return slaves to their owners. He favored it as a way of keeping the Union together. While the measure kept the Civil War at bay for another decade, his support of it led to his political demise.

Source: Derek Jensen (Tysto) / Wikimedia Commons

38. William Henry Harrison
> Years served: 32 days in 1841
> Best performing category: Public persuasion (47.6)
> Worst performing category: Pursued equal justice for all (31.4)
> Party affiliation: Whig

In 1841, when William Henry Harrison took over the Oval Office, he was 68, the oldest to become president at the time. He was also the first president to die in office. His death, only a month after he became president, was brought on by a cold he contracted on the frigid inauguration day. That day, he rode to the capitol without a topcoat on a white horse and proceeded to deliver a two-hour speech. He was succeeded by John Tyler.

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39. John Tyler
> Years served: 1841-1845
> Best performing category: International relations (50.9)
> Worst performing category: Pursued equal justice for all (24.1)
> Party affiliation: Whig

Known as a maverick, President John Tyler was shunned by his own party, the Whigs, while he was in office. His ascendancy to the highest office created a constitutional crisis in that this was the first time a vice president had become president after the commander in chief’s death. Tyler’s assertive taking of the office, however, settled the question, and it was never raised again. During his term, he reorganized the Navy, set up the United States Weather Bureau, brokered an end to the Second Seminole War, and quashed a rebellion against the state government of Rhode Island.

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40. Warren G. Harding
> Years served: 1921-1923
> Best performing category: Relations with congress (43.8)
> Worst performing category: Moral authority (24.7)
> Party affiliation: Republican

Twenty-ninth President Warren G. Harding accomplished relatively little during his three years in office. His administration left looming problems, including the Teapot Dome Scandal, for incoming President Coolidge to clean up. Harding’s cabinet came to be viewed as one of the most corrupt in U.S. history. The Teapot Dome scandal surrounded Harding secretly allowing oil reserves in California to be transferred from the Navy’s jurisdiction to the Interior Department. The department’s secretary, Albert Fall, then leased the oilfields to private oil companies and, as a result, received thousands in gifts and loans.

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