Top 20 US Presidents Ranked
If you were asked what was the best president in American history, what would you say? Well, if you have no idea how you would rank american’s best presidents, a team of experts did just that. They gave the definitive answers and the results are fascinating. The experts ranked each presidents according to a series of factors such as crisis leadership, international relations, public persuasion and vision.
Wondering which presidents were the cream of the crop? We’ve made list of the top 30 presidents since 1774. You won’t believe who is at number 12, and what presidents didn’t even make it to the top 30. Let’s start.
30. Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison is the 23rd president of the United States. He served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. His relationship with Congress while in office from 1889 to 1893 was outstanding. But the field he absolutely excelled at were international relations.
Harrison’s nickname while in office was “Little Ben”. But what did he do? He will always be remembered as the president that advocated and enforced voting rights of African Americans. He admitted six western states into the Union and was in fact the only president to also have a grandfather serve as a president of the United States (William Henry Harrison).
29. James A. Garfield
James A. Garfield was the 20th US president. He was the only sitting member of House of Representatives that was elected to be a president. He also served as a major general on the Union side of the American Civil War and he fought in many important battles.
He was in office from March 4, 1881 to September 19, 1881 and during this period he managed to build up the navy and beat corruption in the postal service. He was concerned with civil rights and fought for a universal education system for all. Unfortunately, his presidency didn’t last long because of an assassination attempt that lead to number of infections.
28. Richard M. Nixon
Richard M. Nixon was the 37th president of the United States who had an incredible negotiating talent. His presidency is remembered for his successful ending of American involvement in Vietnam, he also opened diplomatic relations with China, brought POWs home and signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with the USSR.
He served as a vice president to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961 before being elected himself. Nixon enforced desegregation in the South and started the “War on Cancer”. If it wasn’t for the Watergate scandal, Nixon would have surely reached a higher rank on this list.
27. Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge took over the office after President Warren Harding died in 1923 as a vice president. Only after, in 1924 he was elected as a president and served until 1929. He was a big supporter of small government and laissez-faire foreign policy.
He was a firm advocate of racial equality and civil right, and he had a soft-spoken demeanor. In fact, his presidency was viewed as the one that restored dignity to the position. Also, he passed the Indian Citizenship Act, making all Native Americans on reservations american citizens.
26. Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States from 1977 until 1981. He entered the politics in a quite unusual manner, he actually grew up in a family of peanut farmers and became passionate about the civil rights movement while he was building up the business.
He faced several international crises while being in office, such as the Iran Hostage Crisis and 1979 Energy Crisis. However, despite losing his presidency to Roland Reagan in 1980, he remained remembered for his moral authority and pursuing equal justice for all.
25. Gerald R. Ford Jr.
After Richard Nixon resigned, Gerald Ford became the 38th president of the United States. He is also the only man to serve both as a president and vice president without being elected.
His presidency is remembered for the Helsinki Accords, which was meant to tame the relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. He is ranked at 25 for his high moral authority while he led the country through an economic depression.
24. William H. Taft
William H. Taft served as the 27th president of the United States. He is remembered to be the only man to serve as president and then chief justice of the United States. He attended Yale to study law and was said to be a member of the Skull and Bones secret society.
He was so talented that he was appointed a judge while still being in his 20s. However, he ranks 24 on this list mostly for his efforts on east Asia and interventions in Latin American affairs.
23. Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland had two terms of presidency. The first one lasted from 1885 to 1889, and the second one from 1893 to 1897. He is known for his fiscal policy and advocacy of the political reform.
He faced the Panic of 1893, the economic crisis he handled really well, as well as the Pullman Strike of 1894. His family is also among the first ones that moved to the Americas. He excelled at public speaking and persuasion.
22. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th US president whose presidency lasted from 1869 until 1877. Before being elected, Grand served as the commanding general of the Union Army during the Civil War.
At the time, he was the youngest president by being elected at the age of 47. He ranks this high for his moral authority, great international relation negotiations and for pursuing equal justice for all Americans. He also took a strong stand against the KKK and appointed African Americans and Jewish Americans to office for the first time.
21. John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States. His presidency lasted from 1825 until 1829. Adams was the son of president and Founding Father, John Adams.
He is ranked at number 21 for his devotion to an equal treatment of all Americans and for his strong vision for the country. He was against the slavery and was also a big advocate of nonintervention policies. So, he stayed out of European politics.
20. George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush served as the 41st President of the United States from 1989 to 1993. He ranked high on the list of the top presidents due to his excellence in crisis leadership and amazing skills in international relations.
He was also a vice president under Ronald Reagan for 8 years. He established the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Clean Air Act.
George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara hold the record for the longest marriage among the presidents – the unbelievable 73 years.
19. John Adams
John Adams was one of the founding fathers of America and the second president of the United States. His term from 1797 to 1801 was remembered for his resolution of the conflict with France and for the building of the army and navy.
In fact, he is also known as “the father of the American Navy”. He ranks 19 on this list for his excellence in international relations, moral authority and crisis leadership.
18. Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson served as the seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837. Before being elected, he served in both houses of Congress and was also a famous general in the United States Army. His skills in crisis leadership along with his abilities in public persuasion earned him the 18th rank in this list.
He is also known as the only US president to have been in prison of war. At the age of 13, Jackson was taken captive by the British during the Revolutionary War. He is the only president that managed to pay off the national debt.
17. James Madison
James Madison was a Founding Father, the Father of the Constitution and the fourth president of the United States. He is appreciated for his high moral authority and incredible performance during his two terms.
His wife Dolley was the key person that defined the role of first lady. Dolley, was the first presidential wife that took an active role in the White House by leading a program for orphans.
16. William McKinley Jr.
William McKinley served as the 25th President of the United States from 1897 to 1901. He is also the very last president to have participated in the Civil War. McKinley was remembered for the U.S. victory in the Spanish-American War.
He maintained the gold standard and advanced the US economy. During his presidency Puerto Rico, Philippines and Guam became US territories. He ranked high for all criteria in this list except from the pursuit of equal justice for all. But, wait until you see who came at number 15.
15. Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton was elected the 42nd President of the United States in 1993 and stayed in office until 2001. He is remembered for his excellent public persuasion and great skills in economic management. He is known for holding the record of the longest period of economic expansion during peacetime of all presidents.
He also accomplished reforms in welfare and health insurance for children. White House reporter Helen Thomas said for him “He has brought on the greatest prosperity we have ever known and he doesn’t get the credit for it and that’s too bad.”
14. James K. Polk
James K. Polk was the 11th President of the United States that stayed in office from 1845 to 1849. He ranked at 14 for his strong leadership during crisis and clear vision for the country. He was the first president whose inauguration was in the news by telegraph.
He is known for the victory in the Mexican-American War and for expanding the US territory to the Pacific Ocean. During his tenure, U.S. annexed the Republic of Texas.
13. James Monroe
James Monroe was among the Founding Father and the fifth President of the United States. His tenure lasted from 1817 to 1825. Monroe fought in the American Revolutionary War.
His first term was known as the Era of Good Feelings. However, President Monroe is appreciated for his foreign policy known as “The Monroe Doctrine” and for his great performance and outstanding diplomacy skills.
You would never guess who came at 12 place!
12. Barack Obama
Barack Obama comes at the 12 rank of this list as the 44th President of the United States and the very first African-American to run the office. His presidency lasted from 2009 to 2017. The field in which he excells are his moral authority, pursuit of justice for all and public persuasion.
He is remembered for the reform in healthcare, normalizing relations with Cuba, initiating sanctions against Russia for the Ukraine invasion and his military “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy.
11. Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States and his tenure lasted for two terms, from 1913 to 1921. He scored highest for public persuasion and clear agenda.
Wilson is remembered for leading the United States through World War I and his assistance in the Treaty of Versailles that helped end the war. He was a big advocate of the US becoming a member of the League of Nations that eventually transformed in the United Nations.
10. Lyndon Baines Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States that served from 1963 to 1969. He pursued equal justice for all and managed to keep good relations with Congress while in the office.
Johnson worked a lot for many laws considering civil rights, gun laws, and welfare. He passed Social Security into law and also made it to expand Medicare and Medicaid. However, he scored low for international relations.
9. Ronald Reagan
At the night position of this list we have none other than Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States! He served in the office from 1981 until 1989 and he is remembered for his policy of Reaganomics, ending the Cold War and the Iran-Contra affair.
His iconic speech in front of the Berlin Wall in West Germany is well remembered for the words he told Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev: “Tear down this wall!”. He ranked high for his skills in public persuasion and his clear vision for the country.
8. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy is the 35th President of the United States and the 8th president on this list. He held the office from 1961 until his unfortunate assassination in 1963. JFK is also known as the only Roman Catholic to be elected a president.
He ranked highest for his skills in public persuasion, and for having a clear vision and agenda for the country. He remained remembered for establishing The Peace Corps and great leadership during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
7. Thomas Jefferson
The 7th rank of this list is held by the Founding Father and the third president of the U.S., Thomas Jefferson. He served as the president from 1801 to 1809. Jefferson was also the original author of the Declaration of Independence.
He managed to double the territory of the United States by negotiating the Louisiana Purchase with France. Jefferson was a big advocate of religious freedom and tolerance. The only category in which he ranked low is pursuit of equal justice for all.
6. Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States since 1945 until 1953. He also served in the US Army during the World War I. During his presidency, he made a record of the number of times he used his veto power – an astonishing 180 times.
Truman is also the only president to have used nuclear weapons. He ranks highest in the categories of crisis leadership, pursuing justice for all and for overall presidency performance.
5. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected the 34th President of the United States and his tenure lasted from 1953 to 1961. This army-general-turned-politician scored high for crisis leadership, moral authority and skills in international relations.
He implemented the policy of desegregation of the armed forces that was set by President Truman. Eisenhower is also known as the most admired of all presidents.
4. Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt comes in at number 4 as the 26th President of the United States. He ranked among the top 4 for economic management, administrative skills, vision and international relations, while he ranked second best for his skills in public persuasion.
During his tenure from 1901 to 1909, Theodore Roosevelt created many national parks, forests and monuments. He also expanded the Navy and began the construction of the Panama Canal. Theodore Roosevelt also won a Nobel Peace Prize for his help in ending the Russo-Japanese war.
But, who will make it to the top 3?
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
The position number three of the best U.S. Presidents of all time is held by the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He is the only president to have been elected four times.
His presidency that lasted from 1933 until 1945 is remembered for his crisis leadership during the Great Depression and the victory in World War II. As a part of the New Deal, Franklin D. Roosevelt established many social and economic reforms. FDR was also a master at public persuasion.
2. George Washington
The second best president of all time is the very first President of the United States, George Washington. Since he was one of the Founding Fathers and he defined the nation and all the duties of a president while in office.
His tenure lasted from 1789 to 1797 during which he helped the establishment of the core parts of US government, such as the seat of government and the tax system. Washington scored high for all categories except pursuing equal justice for all. But who will take the first ranking of this list?
1. Abraham Lincoln
The highest ranking US president of all time is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. He served in office from 1861 until 1865. During his tenure, he led the Union through the Civil War and set the grounds for abolishing slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation that changed the status of slaves in the South to free people.
Lincoln worked hard to add the 13th amendment to the constitution, which would outlaw slavery officially in all the states. Unfortunately, the amendment was passed only after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.