The Siena College Research Institute has ranked presidents since 1982 based on 20 categories ranging from integrity to executive ability. According to the latest survey of presidential historians, political scientists, and scholars, President Joe Biden falls somewhere in the middle of the pack. However, the survey also reveals who the worst and best presidents are.

Next are the rankings from WORST to BEST.

45. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)

Andrew Johnson
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Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln as president, received the lowest ratings from historians and was named the worst president in history. His tumultuous presidency was marked by disagreements with fellow Republicans over Reconstruction in the aftermath of the Civil War. Johnson frequently attempted to bypass Congress and became the first president to face impeachment, but was ultimately acquitted by a single vote. A damaged glass negative photo of Johnson from 1865-1880 is available through the Library of Congress.

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44. James Buchanan (1857-1861)

James Buchanan
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Historians have criticized Buchanan’s crisis leadership, as he failed to understand the gravity of America’s divisions over slavery. He neglected to address the issue, allowing it to fester and eventually lead to the Civil War.

43. Donald Trump (2017-2021)

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During his presidency, Donald Trump faced impeachment twice. He ranked highly in luck, public persuasion, and risk-taking, but his weakening of the presidential office led to low rankings overall.

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42. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)

Warren G. Harding
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Warren G. Harding’s presidency saw a rise in the economy, largely due to the increase in mass production of automobiles. However, his time in office was marred by scandals, particularly the Teapot Dome scandal, where his associates profited from secret oil deals, leading to a decrease in his popularity.

41. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)

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Franklin Pierce’s policies have been criticized for contributing to the Civil War. He signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed residents of new territories to decide on the legality of slavery. This decision further divided the nation and heightened tensions between the North and South.

40. William Henry Harrison (1841)

William Henry Harrison
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During William Henry Harrison’s brief presidency, chaos reigned in the White House due to the overwhelming number of job seekers who would show up unannounced to request a meeting with the president. Harrison himself expressed frustration, stating that he was unable to properly attend to his own business due to the constant interruptions. Unfortunately, Harrison’s presidency was cut short when he passed away on his 32nd day in office, leaving historians with little to judge his presidency on.

39. John Tyler (1841-1845)

John Tyler
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John Tyler, the first vice president to take over the presidency after the death of his predecessor, strongly supported states’ rights. He later became a member of the Southern Confederacy.

38. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)

Millard Fillmore
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Millard Fillmore became the President of the United States in July 1850, following the death of President Zachary Taylor. Despite his accomplishments, Fillmore is often criticized for signing the Fugitive Slave Act, which required escaped slaves to be returned to their enslavers. He did not receive his party’s nomination for re-election.

37. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)

Herbert Hoover
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Herbert Hoover’s economic management during his presidency is widely criticized for contributing to the Great Depression. The stock market crashed just months after his election, and the U.S. economy spiraled into a severe recession.

36. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)

Zachary Taylor
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Zachary Taylor, a former military hero, served as the 12th President of the United States from 1849 to 1850. He tried to avoid the issue of slavery by stating that each state should manage its own slavery laws. Unfortunately, he only served for a short period of time before his death.

35. George W. Bush (2001-2009)

George W. Bush
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During his presidency, George W. Bush’s approval ratings were greatly affected by the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was based on false intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, his term ended during a severe economic crisis in the U.S.

34. Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)

Benjamin Harrison
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Historians criticize Harrison for his ineffective leadership and communication skills. His efforts to address the high tariff issue resulted in price increases and economic downturn.

33. Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885)

Chester A. Arthur
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Arthur’s presidency is often criticized for failing to uphold equal justice. His administration passed the first immigration law, which excluded Chinese people, “paupers,” criminals, and lunatics.

32. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)

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Coolidge’s leadership during crises was rated poorly due to his lack of imagination and failure to work for equal justice for all Americans. He also refused to utilize the country’s economic boom to support struggling farmers and workers in other industries.

31. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)

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Historians have criticized Hayes’ record on equal justice as he oversaw the end of Reconstruction. Hayes pledged to protect the rights of African Americans in the South but then withdrew federal troops, preferring what he hoped would be “wise, honest and peaceful local self-government.” As a result, Southern states swiftly imposed Jim Crow laws, which led to institutionalized racial discrimination.

30. Gerald Ford (1974-1977)

Gerald Ford
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Historians have criticized Gerald Ford for his perceived lack of vision and inability to set an agenda for the country during his presidency. After taking office following Richard Nixon’s resignation, Ford granted Nixon a full pardon in an effort to move past the political crisis. Although Ford won the Republican nomination in 1976, he ultimately lost the election.

29. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)

Martin Van Buren
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Van Buren’s economic management received low rankings during his presidency. Despite a booming economy upon his inauguration, businesses and banks began to fail less than three months later. Historians believe his policies may have contributed to the worsening economic conditions.

28. Richard Nixon (1969-1974)

Richard Nixon
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Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the United States, is known for his accomplishments in ending the draft and enacting policies for environmental protection. He also negotiated arms control with Russia and made a diplomatic breakthrough with communist China. However, his presidency was marred by the Watergate scandal, which involved a break-in at the offices of the Democratic National Committee during his reelection campaign. On August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned from his position, becoming the first U.S. President to do so.

27. James A. Garfield (1881)

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James A. Garfield, a former Civil War general and congressman from Ohio, had limited foreign policy skills but was generally well-liked as president. Unfortunately, his presidency was cut short when he was assassinated just 200 days into office.

26. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889 and 1893-1897)

Grover Cleveland
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During his presidency, Cleveland vetoed a bill that would have provided government funds to veterans, drought-stricken farmers, and people with disabilities. He also used federal troops to end a railroad workers’ strike. He is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, leaving the White House after his first term and returning for a second term.

25. William Howard Taft (1909-1913)

William Howard Taft
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William Howard Taft is widely regarded as a president with high integrity. He prioritized the law over politics and later served as Chief Justice of the United States after his presidential term.

24. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)

Jimmy Carter
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During his presidency, Jimmy Carter faced a number of crises, including the Iran hostage crisis, and struggled with economic stagnation. Despite these setbacks, he is credited with creating a national energy policy to address oil shortages and bringing Israel and Egypt together for the Camp David accords. While some historians admire his pursuit of equal justice, he ultimately lost his bid for a second term.

23. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

Andrew Jackson
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Andrew Jackson was a popular but polarizing president who served from 1829 to 1837. He was known for his risk-taking behavior and his ability to draw large crowds. However, his presidency was marked by controversial policies and actions.

One of the most notable battles of Jackson’s presidency was against the Second Bank of the United States, a private company that operated as a government-sponsored monopoly. He was successful in dismantling the bank, but his actions were heavily criticized by his opponents.

Another controversial policy of Jackson’s presidency was his push for the forcible removal of Native Americans from their land. This resulted in the deaths of thousands of Native Americans and is considered by many to be a dark chapter in American history.

Despite these controversies, Jackson was re-elected to a second term with a significant victory in the American electorate.

22. William McKinley (1897-1901)

William McKinley
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William McKinley was a skilled leader and had a good relationship with Congress. During his presidency, he implemented the highest protective tariff in American history, which led to a surge in industrial growth. Additionally, he successfully navigated the Spanish-American War, which resulted in the U.S. conquering the Spanish fleet in Cuba, capturing Manila in the Philippines, and occupying Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, his second term was cut short when he was assassinated by an anarchist.

21. Ulysses S. Grant (1869–1877)

Ulysses S. Grant
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As the leader of the Union Army during the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant played a pivotal role in securing victory for the North. Despite his reputation as a champion of civil rights, his presidency was marred by poor administrative skills that prevented him from effectively implementing his policies.

20. George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)

George H.W. Bush
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Bush Sr.’s handling of the Gulf War is praised by historians. He led a coalition to liberate Kuwait and guided the country through the end of the Cold War. However, he lost his reelection bid due to an economic downturn.

19. Joseph Biden

Joseph Biden
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Historians appreciate President Biden for his integrity, willingness to compromise, and his appointments to the executive and judicial branches. However, his relationship with Congress and communication skills could use improvement.

Do you agree with where Biden is ranked? Hit the thumbs up if you agree or comment if you disagree.

18. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)

Ronald Reagan
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Ronald Reagan’s popularity among political scholars has decreased in recent years, despite his continued popularity among the general public. During his presidency, he worked with Congress to pass legislation that stimulated economic growth and strengthened national defense. Reagan’s “peace through strength” vision played a significant role in the end of the Cold War.

17. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

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John Quincy Adams was the first son of a former president to become president himself. He was known for his moral authority and fought for civil liberties and the unification of the country. Despite facing a contentious Congress during a time of great division in the country, Adams remained steadfast in his beliefs.

16. John Adams (1797-1801)

John Adams
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John Adams served as the second president of the United States, known for his integrity and fair handling of court appointments. Despite escalating tensions with France, he pursued negotiations to bring about a peace deal and avoided calling for war.

15. James K. Polk (1845-1849)

James K. Polk
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During Polk’s presidency, the United States expanded its territory by over 800,000 square miles, reaching the Pacific Ocean. Polk’s leadership and vision were instrumental in setting the agenda for this expansion. He chose not to seek reelection after his four-year term.

14. Bill Clinton (1993-2001)

Bill Clinton
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During his presidency, Bill Clinton was a well-liked and popular leader who was known for his effective economic management. As the first Baby Boomer president, he was also the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term. One of his major achievements was proposing the first balanced budget in decades, which led to a budget surplus. However, in his second term, Clinton faced impeachment over his dishonesty about a liaison with a White House intern. Despite this, he was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.

13. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)

Woodrow Wilson
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As president, Wilson was skilled at setting agendas and had a clear vision for the United States. He successfully passed important legislation through Congress and in 1917 convinced them that America could no longer remain neutral in World War I.

12. James Monroe (1817–1825)

James Monroe
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James Monroe has been praised by historians for his adeptness in international relations. He is most notably known for establishing the Monroe Doctrine, which cautioned European nations against colonizing or interfering with the Western Hemisphere.

11. Barack Obama (2009-2017)

Barack Obama
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During his presidency, Barack Obama’s landmark domestic policy, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, provided health insurance coverage to 20 million Americans. His administration’s efforts helped steer the country through the Great Recession and saved the U.S. auto industry. Despite his widespread popularity, his ranking dropped out of the top 10 in 2022, in part due to his handling of Congress and international relations.

10. James Madison (1809-1817)

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James Madison is highly respected by historians and had significant moral authority during his presidency. He declared war against Great Britain in 1812, which Americans viewed as a success, resulting in a surge of nationalism.

9. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)

John F. Kennedy
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John F. Kennedy is often praised for his exceptional oratory skills and his visionary leadership. He is also highly regarded for his ability to handle crises and his adeptness in managing international relations. One of his most notable achievements was successfully resolving the Cuban Missile Crisis, which had the potential to escalate into a full-blown war. Kennedy’s inspiring promise to put a man on the moon and his support for civil rights also earned him widespread admiration. Unfortunately, his presidency was cut short when he was assassinated after only a thousand days in office.

8. Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969)

Lyndon Johnson
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Lyndon B. Johnson is widely regarded as one of the most consequential presidents in American history. He is best known for his efforts to promote civil rights and social welfare programs. Johnson’s presidency saw the enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial discrimination in employment, voting, and public accommodations. He also championed the War on Poverty, which led to the creation of programs like Medicare and Head Start. Johnson’s legacy continues to shape American politics and society today.

7. Harry Truman (1945-1953)

Harry Truman
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Harry Truman’s foreign policy leadership has won him praise from historians despite being unpopular when he left office. Truman’s decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki after Japan refused to surrender ended World War II in the Pacific. Truman also witnessed the signing of the charter of the United Nations, which was established to preserve peace. Over the years, Truman’s leadership has become more highly regarded by historians.

6. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)

Dwight D. Eisenhower
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Dwight D. Eisenhower, a renowned commander during WWII, spent most of his presidency dealing with the Cold War. He successfully negotiated a truce in the Korean War and continued the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces. Additionally, he sent federal troops to enforce a court order to desegregate public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.

5. Thomas Jefferson (1801–1809)

Thomas Jefferson
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Thomas Jefferson played a significant role in the founding of the nation and his presidency was marked by his unique vision. As the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, he wrote that “all men are created equal,” despite owning slaves. During his term, he acquired the Louisiana Territory, which expanded the country’s size significantly. Additionally, he managed to reduce the national debt by a third, making him a highly ranked president.

4. Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (1901-1909)

Theodore Teddy Roosevelt
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Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest president in American history at the age of 42, was highly ranked for his public persuasion skills and other presidential attributes. He was known for his progressive reforms and strong foreign policy, famously summarized by his motto, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” An avid outdoorsman, Roosevelt oversaw the expansion of America’s national parks during his presidency.

3. George Washington (1789-1797)

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George Washington, the first president of the United States, is widely regarded as a moral authority and an effective leader during his time in office. He played a significant role in the creation of the Constitution, as he believed that the Articles of Confederation were not serving the country well. However, he was disheartened to see the country becoming more politically divided towards the end of his first term. He set a precedent by choosing to retire after his second term, which established the tradition of limiting presidential terms to two.

2. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)

Abraham Lincoln
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Abraham Lincoln is widely regarded as one of the greatest U.S. presidents for his leadership during the Civil War and his commitment to preserving the unity of the United States. He is also recognized for his efforts towards achieving equal justice for all citizens, as demonstrated by the Emancipation Proclamation which he signed in 1863, effectively freeing slaves in the Confederate states. His crisis leadership ability continues to inspire leaders today.

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)

Franklin D. Roosevelt
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Franklin D. Roosevelt was ranked the best president ever and is widely recognized for his exceptional popularity and his dedication to economic justice. He took office during the height of the Great Depression and famously declared, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” FDR also led the United States through the challenging years of World War II. He is the only U.S. president to have been elected to four terms, although he passed away before completing his final term.

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