Who are the top worst US presidents? What are the names of the top worst presidents in America? Here’s a complete list of the 10 worst presidents in US history and the reasons why they are scorned for their leadership.
The worst presidents in history are remembered for making questionable leadership policies that plunged their nations into chaos. In 2022, historians rank James Buchanan as the worst leader while Abraham Lincoln is ranked the best US president. Who are the other top worst presidents?
Trump is the worst president ever in modern America, but he is not the worst in US history. Historians consider bad presidents to have failed the nation on issues that were causing divisions and crises in the country. It is often thought that the Civil War could have been prevented if better leadership policies had been made by preceding leaders.
In 2022, the 142 presidential historians and professional observers of the presidency that were surveyed named James Buchanan as the worst president of the 44 they reviewed. He served from 1857 to 1861, and during that single term, he managed to further stoke tensions between the North and South by pushing the pro-slavery Dred Scott decision through the Supreme court. The Civil War started shortly after he left office.
Ranked No. 2 is Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s successor, and the first president to be impeached. Franklin Pierce was named the third-worst president to serve the United States. One of the most forgotten presidents in history, his pro-slavery politics are also blamed for setting up the country for the Civil War.
Who were the worst US presidents ever?
Below are the 10 worst presidents of the United States according to a 2021 C-SPAN survey of presidential leadership. The survey was done by 142 historians and professional observers of the presidency.
1. James Buchanan (1857 to 1861)
James Buchanan was the 15th POTUS and the last president before the beginning of the Civil War. He is infamous for making policies that caused division in the Union, leading to war soon after he left office. He is also known for his attitude towards slavery after backing a Supreme Court decision that denied African-Americans from US citizenship. Buchanan supported the admittance of Kansas, which had a pro-slavery constitution, to the Union. His decision did not sit well with several of his Democratic Colleagues.
2. Andrew Johnson (1865 to 1869)
Andrew Johnson was the 17th president of the world’s superpower. He became president upon the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and ruled from 1865 to 1869. His White House biography describes him as an honest and honourable man but one of the most unfortunate presidents in the US. After becoming the POTUS, he battled his own cabinet and party members over the scope of readmitting the secessionist and voting rights of blacks.
Johnson is also known for being a white supremacist. In 1866, he said the USA is a country for white men, and he wanted his government to be made up of white men. Later, the Radical Republicans won control over Reconstruction, and he narrowly survived the impeachment trial.
3. Franklin Pierce (1853 to 1857)
Franklin was the 14th president of the United States and ruled at a time when there was an intense dispute regarding slavery. In 1854, Franklin Pierce signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which overturned the Missouri Compromise and cancelled the ban on slavery. His decision angered people in the North and led to several years of violence between pro and anti-slavery activists.
4. Donald J. Trump (2017 to 2021)
Donald Trump was the first POTUS to face impeachment twice by the House of Representatives. During his tenure, he demanded political favours from Ukraine in exchange for military aid. Donald Trump was also scorned for his improper management of the COVID-19 pandemic and for refusing to concede defeat after losing to Joe Biden in the 2020 general elections. He instead caused unrest and instigated his followers to storm the Capitol.
5. William Henry Harrison (1841)
William was the 9th POTUS and served for only 31 days, the shortest tenure in US presidential history. He died in office, and his cause of death was pneumonia and pleurisy. His short tenure was marred by organizational chaos.
6. John Tyler (1841 to 1845)
John Tyler was the 10th POTUS. He became president after the death of William Henry Harrison in office and is often considered a political pariah. He was expelled by his party, and his cabinet resigned, becoming the first president without a party.
Tyler was supposed to serve as an interim president and carry out his predecessor’s agenda, as it was laid out in the Constitution.
7. Millard Fillmore (1850 to 1853)
Millard Fillmore, often referred to as His Accidency, was the 13th POTUS after the sudden demise of President Zachary Taylor in July 1850. He is infamous for signing the Fugitive Slave Act, which stated that escaped slaves should be returned to their enslavers.
8. Warren G. Harding (1921 to 1923)
Harding was the 29th POTUS from 1921 until his demise in 1923. His tenure was marred with corruption scandals, including the infamous Teapot Dome bribery scandal that led to the imprisonment of a cabinet secretary for the first time in history. Harding was also an accused adulterer and womanizer.
9. Herbert Hoover (1929 to 1933)
Herbert Hoover was the 31st president of the United States. He is faulted for making policies that led to the crashing of the stock market, which resulted in the Great Depression. He accepted the economic disaster as inevitable and did nothing to alleviate the ongoing suffering in the country.
10. Zachary Taylor (1849 to 1850)
Zachary Taylor is a former military leader and the 12th president of the United States. He served for one and a half years from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. During his tenure, slavery was a top issue, and he let states decide on slavery laws on their own.
Most of the top 10 worst presidents in American history were partly responsible for circumstances that led to the Civil War. The leaders are scorned for their leadership style, while others are forgettable presidents who did nothing to be remembered for.
You can view the full ranking of the 10 worst presidents of all time below. For a refresher on U.S. history, here are facts about all 46 American presidents.
- James Buchanan
- Andrew Johnson
- Franklin Pierce
- Donald J. Trump
- William Henry Harrison
- John Tyler
- Millard Fillmore
- Warren G. Harding
- Herbert Hoover
- Zachary Taylor