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"Worst American President of the 19th Century" Topic

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian05 Jan 2012 12:56 p.m. PST

Your nominations?

flooglestreet05 Jan 2012 1:00 p.m. PST

James Buchanan

epturner Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 1:06 p.m. PST

Second for the man with a backbone like a chocolate eclair..


anleiher05 Jan 2012 1:16 p.m. PST

Will there be a sequel for the 21st century?

Murvihill05 Jan 2012 1:17 p.m. PST

Andrew(?) Johnson. IIRC he was up for impeachment.

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 1:20 p.m. PST

Nah, Johnson was trying to follow Lincoln's post war attitude towards the South. That made him VERY unpopular.

Probably Buchanan or maybe Grant. He last term was embroiled in constant scandals.



Personal logo FingerandToeGlenn Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 1:22 p.m. PST

Grant. Just because your appointment is a friend doesn't mean he'll be honest.

Steve05 Jan 2012 1:24 p.m. PST

Grant I think – although I'm not a well-studied 19th century political expert.

Pictors Studio05 Jan 2012 1:33 p.m. PST

I'm going to go with Buchanan too. Although he inherited something of a mess, which is something I typically look at as moderating my opinion, he certainly made an even bigger mess of it. Grant wasn't good either but I don't think he was quite as bad.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 1:35 p.m. PST

So many choices

My first thought was Andrew Johnson, but Grant and Buchanan are also good picks

coryfromMissoula05 Jan 2012 1:45 p.m. PST

Grant was incompetent, Buchanan was more than just incompetent. Still the only reason Buchanan proved to be worse than Fillmore or Pierce was that his administration followed rather than preceeded theirs.

Oddball05 Jan 2012 2:01 p.m. PST

Grant. Good/Great general, but a terrible president.

flooglestreet05 Jan 2012 2:09 p.m. PST

Yeah, it's a national tradition to make lousy presidents out of good generals. Not all generals, Washington was very good, but too many. It's the Peter Principle at work.

Onomarchos Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 2:15 p.m. PST

Without a doubt it would be Franklin Pierce; read about the Ostend Manifesto and the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the damage they caused.

Scorpio05 Jan 2012 2:20 p.m. PST

Pierce, easily.

If you haven't seen Robert Wuhl's HBO special 'Assume the Position,' it's well worth your effort to check it out. Like on the YouTubes…

YouTube link

Chalfant05 Jan 2012 2:21 p.m. PST

Just like in the 20th century… quite a few to choose from.


NoLongerAMember05 Jan 2012 2:29 p.m. PST

Jefferson Davis suerely….

Dn Jackson05 Jan 2012 2:35 p.m. PST

Andrew Jackson. Did a lot to start the change from a Republic to a Democracy. Very damaging to the country long term.

CPBelt05 Jan 2012 2:41 p.m. PST

I'd like to see everyone name as many 19th century presidents as possible without looking at Wikipedia. I have a feeling Grant keeps coming up because he is one of the few presidents people know. Kind of skews results when folks have limited knowledge. ;-)

Captain Lincoln F Sternn05 Jan 2012 2:43 p.m. PST

15mm, 20mm, or 28mm?

vojvoda05 Jan 2012 2:58 p.m. PST

FreddBloggs 05 Jan 2012 1:29 p.m. PST
Jefferson Davis suerely….

Dead on with that one, a traitor with a history. Grant gets a pass with me. He had bad friends but good intentions.
James Mattes

Who asked this joker05 Jan 2012 3:04 p.m. PST

Andrew Jackson. Quite a character and certainly worth reading about but man, what a tyrant. Trail of tears anyone?

Personal logo John the Greater Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 3:06 p.m. PST

Jeff Davis, since the questions was "American". Not just because he was a traitor, he really was a terrible president (keeping Bragg employed? Puh-leeze!)

Buchanan followed by Pierce and Grant if we just want US presidents.

Personal logo Inari7 Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 3:08 p.m. PST

Franklin Pierce, and his last descendant that sat in the White House.

Personal logo Tacitus Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 3:10 p.m. PST

Buchanan. A man of true action in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian05 Jan 2012 3:12 p.m. PST

Will there be a sequel for the 21st century?

Not until 2110, according to current TMP policies… grin

skinkmasterreturns05 Jan 2012 3:30 p.m. PST

Millard Fillmore,only because I cant recall anything about him,without looking it up.

Pizzagrenadier05 Jan 2012 3:31 p.m. PST

Lancaster's finest, Buchanan.

Terrement05 Jan 2012 4:10 p.m. PST


Norman D Landings05 Jan 2012 4:31 p.m. PST

Oh puh-leeze.

Santa Anna, anybody?

Diaz, definitely.

Santa Cruz started out with good intentions and revolutionary pedigree, but he just couldn't keep his hands off Peru, for some reason.

Cabrera just squeaks into the 19th century. PROPER nutjob. Anytime the President starts building marble temples in his own honour, you know it's not going to end well.

Rodriguez de Francia: If you're going to give yourself a nickname, "El Supremo" is hard to beat.

Lopez (Francisco, not Carlos) got 90% of the adult male population of his country killed, according to some sources.

Melgarejo. Tried a coup – failed – grovelled for his life – was spared – tried a second coup – won – personally killed the guy who spared him. Like a BOSS.

But, if we must restrict ourselves to NORTH American Presidents, might I suggest… William Walker.

MahanMan05 Jan 2012 5:43 p.m. PST

I protest the inclusion of Fillmore, as clearly stated by relevant authorities (Mr. D. Barry); a key highlight of the Fillmore administration was, and I quote from his work that "A) The Earth did not crash into the sun."

That has to be a high point for any administration.

James Buchanan has to get my vote; the man was indecisive at best, a domestic coward for most of his term (when it came to confronting slavery, at least), and a near-traitor when it came to trying to resolve the crisis when it finally fell into his lap…and then he hands it all over to Lincoln.

Personal logo Aladdin Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 5:57 p.m. PST


epturner Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 6:11 p.m. PST

CP Belt;
Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, JQ Adams, Van Buren, Jackson, Harrison, Polk, Filmore, Taylor, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Johnson, Hayes, Grant, Cleveland (Twice – Separately), McKinley, Harrison (the other one)…

All I can think of off the cuff.


Toshach Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 6:13 p.m. PST

William Henry Harrison, he died in 30 days.

Actually it was 32 days, which was, and still is the shortest term served by an American president.

He made the longest inauguration speech in history, on a cold day in the rain with no hat or coat. He caught pneumonia and died.

He may not have actually been the "worst" but he was certainly the most foolish.

Personal logo Dances with Clydesdales Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 6:16 p.m. PST

Andrew Johnson

Personal logo McKinstry Supporting Member of TMP Fezian05 Jan 2012 6:21 p.m. PST

Franklin Pierce by a hair over Buchanan. Both were awful.

John the OFM05 Jan 2012 6:28 p.m. PST


Saginaw05 Jan 2012 6:46 p.m. PST

Gotta go with Buchanan, too. I agree with vojvoda's viewpoint about Grant, though.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 6:51 p.m. PST


You forgot #1, Washington, on your list. grin


Spreewaldgurken05 Jan 2012 7:06 p.m. PST

JQ Adams was a very good man – one of those rare true intellectuals in high elected office…

…who proves the dictum that true intellectuals and highly-educated, cultured men, generally make terrible politicians.

Repiqueone05 Jan 2012 7:19 p.m. PST

I guess if we were going for "American" Profirio Diaz ought to get a vote-since last time I looked Mexico was in the Americas.

Certainly, Buchanan was the wrong man at the wrong time. Jefferson Davis does not really qualify since the CSA was a failed rebellion, and never a state recognized by the major powers-hence he was a traitor , but the state he was ostensibly the President of, never actually existed.

Repiqueone05 Jan 2012 7:35 p.m. PST

Great Haircuts,

Adams did say'"The declaration that our People are hostile to a government made by themselves, for themselves, and conducted by themselves, is an insult."

Undoubtedly an intellectual!

Saginaw05 Jan 2012 7:35 p.m. PST

I guess if we were going for "American" Profirio Diaz ought to get a vote-since last time I looked Mexico was in the Americas.

Speaking of, my maternal grandfather absolutely HATED Porfirio Diaz, according to what I've been told (since he passed away when I was two). I'm sure that was one of the main reasons he took up arms in the Mexican Revolution when he was a youngster.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 7:38 p.m. PST


Repiqueone05 Jan 2012 7:47 p.m. PST

These votes for Grant are very misguided, I think. Modern scholarship looking at his career, including the reconstruction and the admitted scandals during his administration has been MUCH kinder to the man, and the life he described in his memoirs and the courage it took to complete them speaks of a man far above the Fillmore's, Buchanan's, Johnsons, et al.

History's estimation of historical personages rise and fall as the history is looked at more closely and as new sources appear. My favorite biography of this extraordinary man is Jean Edward Smith's, "Grant."

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 8:20 p.m. PST

James Buchanan

roughriderfan05 Jan 2012 8:37 p.m. PST

One problem with Grant's place in history as President was that he was an early target of the Woodrow Wilson school of history – early Southern revisionists – who disliked Grant not only for his role in winning the Civil War – but also for attempting to enforce the XIIth, XIVth and XVth Amendments, which were designed to protect the rights of freeman. Grant took these duties rather seriously – cracking down on the KKK and similar groups.

For Wilson – the President whose one of his first steps upon taking office was the segregation of the federal offices in Washington DC – and his fellow "historians", the "scandals" of the Grant Administration became the weapon of choice to beat him up with faint praise –

After all, Grant was a great honest fellow whose friends were dishonest

The story was told often enough that it became the "truth"

However the spoils system and "helping your friends" was a part of the American political scene from the start – one can site examples in the 19th century from Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, Pierce, Buchanan, yes Lincoln. – on through Grant, and others.

The Civil Service Reform movement grew out of the American disgust with the entire spoils system – though one can not be sure that the solution (Civil Service Tenure) was better than the illness.

As to the worst President – Buchanan for sure

My .02

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2012 9:33 p.m. PST

Well said roughrider fan and repiqueone.

Another vote for Buchanan.

epturner Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2012 5:42 a.m. PST

I thought CP Belt said 19th century. Otherwise GW would have been at the head of the class.

And as I was driving into work I realized I forgot Tyler and Garfield.


Sane Max06 Jan 2012 5:54 a.m. PST

since last time I looked Mexico was in the Americas

North America as well! (My fave little known fact)

I don't like to think ill of Buchanan, he might have made a fair president in a better time. Pierce on the other hand.. No.


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