Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Presidential Ranking

It's Presidents day and time for another spurious ranking of U.S. Presidents by C-SPAN. Has it only been 9 years since the last one? The C-SPAN 2009 Historians Presidential Leadership Survey, which asked 64 "historians or professional observers of the Presidency" to evaluate the Presidents, came up with the usual suspects at the top: Lincoln, Washington, FDR, etc., etc.

The bottom five:

38. Warren G. Harding
39. William Henry Harrison
40. Franklin D. Pierce
41. Andrew Johnson
42. James Buchanan

Serving as President before (Pierce, Buchanan) or after (Johnson) Lincoln seems to destine one to be ranked near the bottom. It also seems that dying after a short term in office is a risk factor for being perceived as a poor President. William Henry Harrison died after 31 days in office, and Warren G. Harding after two years.

As expected, Franklin Pierce maintains his position among the bottom-dwellers.

Link to the 2009 C-SPAN survey


Zhoen said...

In one Am History class in college, the litany of 19th century presidents always included the phrase "corrupt administration" - to the point of comedy. Then came Lincoln, then the pattern repeats.

David H. said...

They moved Washington down to #3. And the addition of George W. Bush didn't help Handsome Frank at all.

David C. said...

It looks like the chilling prophecy of Michael Holt had come true:

"Bush's slide in the presidential rankings 'may move Pierce up a notch, but I'm not sure it will move him out of the bottom five.'"

David C. said...


Also from the Concord Monitor article (see link in the last comment):
"Still, Holt said some of the criticisms against Pierce are unjust. Pierce did try to rid the executive branch of corruption, for instance."
Yet the professors lump him with the corrupt. Poor old Frank can't catch a break.


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