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The most underrated and overrated American presidents.

Discussion in 'World History' started by atr94, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. atr94

    atr94 Chieftain

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    IMO the most overrated president in American history is Andrew Jackson. He ruined the economy when he got rid of the Bank of the United States. He also created one of the worst tragedies in American history with the Indian Removal Act.

    The most underrated president is Hoover. Just because the stock market crashed a few months after he became president, doesn't mean it was his fault. Hoover was a great reformer as president.

    Who do you think are the most underrated and overrated presidents?
     
  2. Dachs

    Dachs Intelligence Officer

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    Hoover did his best work before he was President.

    I think that John F. Kennedy is a consistently overrated President, and that John Quincy Adams is consistently underrated. Note that these identifiers apply to the thoughts of the population at large, not most historians.
     
  3. LightSpectra

    LightSpectra me autem minui

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    Underrated, first.

    John Adams: Probably not that underrated compared to others on my list, but he's not given the same credit as many of the other Founding Fathers. Although the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional, they ended up preventing a disastrous war with France that would have destroyed the republic. Adams notably was also a strong abolitionist.

    John Quincy Adams: He is basically only remembered as being the guy that swindled the presidency from Andrew Jackson, but in reality, he was one of the best presidents of the 19th century. He was a major opponent of slavery, endorsed women's suffrage, and he was probably the most humane president of his time towards the Native Americans. He opened treaties with all of central Europe and Mexico. He also greatly expanded the economy by developing more roads and canals.

    Ulysses S. Grant: Although his administration was very corrupt, Grant himself was not, and he was the least racist president of his era. He fought hard for the Civil Rights Act of 1871 and if it weren't for him, many southern blacks would have had no protection from the KKK. Also, a little known fact: he was an excellent fiscal conservative of his day. He reduced the national deficit, lowered taxes, lowered inflation and put us on the gold standard. Very underrated president.

    Chester A. Arthur: Ascended to the presidency after Garfield was assassinated. Arthur is clumped together in a sea of awful presidents like Johnson and Hayes, yet he was excellent himself. Through an anti-partisan effort, he lowered tariffs, rebuilt the navy and attacked big business corruption.

    Calvin Coolidge: Remembered as the president who did nothing. But this isn't a bad thing; he believed that a society which was going well basically governed itself. He's the only president of the 20th century that did not make his office more powerful, which should be commended in light of some of the things our recent commanders-in-chief have done.
     
  4. LightSpectra

    LightSpectra me autem minui

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    Overrated.

    Thomas Jefferson: Mainly remembered for negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, but this shouldn't be given credit to him; Napoleon would have made the offer to whoever was president at the time. His main legacy was the embargo towards Britain that lead up to the War of 1812, but did nothing to hurt them; it only damaged our own economy. Jefferson was also a blunt hypocrite: he opposed Hamilton's National Bank, but used it to make the Louisiana Purchase; he opposed central government power, but funded the Lewis & Clark expedition; he opposed loose constructionism, but no other Constitutional ideology could justify the Purchase; he (supposedly) opposed slavery but never had any intention of releasing his own; and he supported a foreign policy of non-interventionism, but happily enforced an embargo against Britain.

    James Madison: The War of 1812 could have been avoided. Instead, his war killed 10,000 Americans (mainly from a failed invasion of Canada) and caused D.C. to be set aflame. We gained practically nothing from the war in the end. Madison opposed the national bank, but then decided it was necessary for the economy and re-established it. He was also quite inhumane to Native Americans.

    Andrew Jackson: Massacred Native Americans, ruined the economy, made the presidency dramatically more powerful (and unconstitutional), bluntly disobeyed the Supreme Court, most of his administration was corrupt, was extremely partisan and made the two parties hate each other and oppose everything each other did, appointed Roger Taney as Chief Justice who was probably the worst SC justice in history, committed federal crimes by ordering postmen to burn anti-slavery pamphlets, blocked John Quincy Adams from a second term, made populism the most important aspect of running for office, and his poor actions during the Nullification Crisis began tensions leading up to the Civil War. He is truly the worst president in the history of the U.S., yet he's considered to be in the top ten. What a crock.

    Woodrow Wilson: He embarked a massive propaganda campaign using tax revenues in order to convince the American peoples to enter into World War I, a war we had absolutely no business in whatsoever. He grossly and non-chalantly suppressed the Bill of Rights in order to keep us in the war. Wilson was the most racist president of his century, completely segregating the government and undoing all of the progress of his predecessors. He (reluctantly) caved on women's suffrage after he arrested many of the rights protestors, which essentially cemented him as the most hostile president to Constitutional rights in history. His insistance to lay all the blame of WWI on Germany's hand is what directly lead to World War II. (The Sixteenth Amendment, which authorized income taxes, was ratified under Wilson's administration, but most of the negotiation and handwork was done by the President William H. Taft; so let's not give him credit or blame for this.)

    Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The only thing FDR was actually good for was getting us into WWII and keeping America's hopes up through his speeches. The New Deal did not help to end the Great Depression at all (unemployment never dropped below 14% until the beginning of WWII), and had no constitutional authorization. His agricultural programs suffered from the broken window fallacy and only ended up driving food prices up so that the poor could not afford them. Executive Order 9066 is the worst mistake made by any president of the 20th century (it sent 120,000 Americans to treason camps based on their ethnicity). He is also the most authoritarian president in history; in addition to EO9066, he also tried to dominate the Supreme Court (resulting in horrible decisions such as Wickard v. Filburn), broke the traditional term limits and greatly increased the power of the federal government. Along the same lines, he also sent a million Soviet POWs back to the USSR after the war, and was indifferent to Stalin taking control of Poland (which resulted in the death of 20,000 Poles) and the Baltic nations.

    Harry S. Truman: He strangely has a positive legacy, even though he dropped out of the 1952 primaries because of abysmally low approval ratings. Although I believe the bombing of Nagasaki was absolutely unnecessary and morbidly inhumane, I acknowledge that it is a controversial issue and thus will not count it against him. He vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act, which literally prevented trade union monopolies and union shops in 22 states. In addition to this, he tried to continue to expand the New Deal, blocked tax cuts and other bureaucratic regulations; in addition to the Korean War and the Marshall Plan, had he succeeded, our economy would have been ruined. Like his predecessor FDR, he fixed his problems with very inhumane solutions; for example, to end a railroad strike, he drafted everybody involved in the labor union.

    Dwight D. Eisenhower: I am much less hostile to Eisenhower than the other presidents on this list, but I still want to attack his flawless reputation. Operation Ajax moronically deposed a democratically elected government in favor of autocracy; not to battle communism or fascism, but to control Iranian oil. Most of his Supreme Court appointments were poor, especially Stewart and Brennan. He is viewed so fondly because he resided over the 1950s, though the inclination of that decade was a result of post-war prosperity, not Eisenhower's machinations. Still, I give him credit for his civil rights activism and the interstate highway system.
     
  5. carmen510

    carmen510 Chieftain

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    Overrated: Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Abraham Lincoln, JFK.

    Underrated: Calvin Coolidge, Grant, John Quincy Adams, Carter.

    My explanations: Like LightSpectra's excellent analysis, I need not explain. Although the following for dissenting/unmentioned:

    Lincoln: While a great man, and I do believe he merits a top 10 in Presidents, he is a bit overrated in terms of civil rights. Contrary to popular belief, he DID want to liberate slaves, but did not believe them to be equal citizens. I believe he wished to deport them to Liberia so they could be in the home continent once more.

    Carter: While he made several mistakes, he was a great humanitarian, and should be revered as such.

    I also dissent with LightSpectra's analysis of Thomas Jefferson. He knew fully well that the Louisiana Purchase would be a hypocritical move, but he decided to go through with it because it would benefit the nation as a whole. Although I do agree the rest of his actions were hypocritical.
     
  6. Mowque

    Mowque Hypermodernist

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    I like Taft..i don't care what anyone else says
     
  7. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    Underrated, Truman. Overrated, Reagan and Kennedy.
     
  8. eastsidebagel

    eastsidebagel Chieftain

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    Overrated: Garfield for being a fat, useless cat.
    Frankly, I have no idea.
     
  9. JBGUSA

    JBGUSA Chieftain

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    I think you have to count his non-Presidential accomplishments as well. The setting up of probably the most successful country in the world is a trial and error process and I would have to say he did rather well in his first term. I think he deserves credit for the farsighted Louisiana purchase.
    Except for the deep peace that has prevailed on the longest undefended border in the world. That comes only with a show of strength. The British and the Canadians after them didn't want a repeat performance.

    I think the Supreme Court had to be shown boundaries. If you like an untrammeled all-powerful Supreme Court you'd love Canada. They're having the time of their lives.
    I disagree. By then the "Anglosphere" was coming into being. Frankly Pax Brittanica has morphed into Pax Americana. Do you really want ****hole countries ruling the world?
    Lots of blood on his hands for not letting the (productive and affluent) Jews in.
    Agreed but we didn't have the money to fight any longer.

    His big decisions:
    1. Hiroshima;
    2. Nagasaki;
    3. Integrating armed forces;
    4. Recognizing Israel;
    5. Berlin airlift; and
    6. Yes, Korea
    were great. My views on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are spelled out here, and won't be repeated (link). As far as Korea goes, the Russians and Chinese both learned there were boundaries which they by and large respected.
     
  10. JBGUSA

    JBGUSA Chieftain

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    Underrated:

    John Adams - Had key role in drafting of Declaration of Independence, money-raising for Revolution. As I said above starting a great country is a trial and error process, particularly where the Constitutional Monarchy model was unavailable and the rules had to be more or less made up as they went along.

    James K. Polk - Led vitally needed expansion of U.S.

    Theodore Roosvelt - Expansion of environmental protections, assertive foreign policy, anti-trust advances; need I say more?

    George W. Bush - No one has fought Islamic fanatics successfully. Learning how to do it is a work in progress. Plaudits to him for making attempt. Also, after Clinton years no one wondered what his after-hours activities were.

    See post above for my views on Truman and others.
     
  11. Aegis

    Aegis Chieftain

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    Fighting terrorism = Good.

    Invading two nations, turning the world against you and stirring up more terrorist activity than you stop and fomenting jihad against you = Bad.

    He may have had the best of intentions, but he went about it in probably the worst ways possible.

    Let's not even go into wiretapping, Gitmo, Katrina and wrecking the Federal budget.
     
  12. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee Trekkie At Large

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    Why care about his after-hours activities at all?
     
  13. say1988

    say1988 Chieftain

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    No. The British had no interest in attacking the US, and no particular care for North America in general. And being the English speaking countries on a continent would have made us good trade partners so long as we weren't regularly at war.

    Explain please. I can't think of anything that our supreme court did that would warrant this (and little enough that it does).
    If you mean the recent proroguement of parliament by the Governor General, I believe it was the best thing for the country and she was in a difficult spot. I have no doubt that if she had allowed the Coalition to govern they would have fell apart withing 6 months (though I believe they should have been given a chance if they had voted Harper out). This gives a second chance to prevent elections so close for no reason that will cost us a lot of money with no change and in a slumping economy.
     
  14. JBGUSA

    JBGUSA Chieftain

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    Fomenting jihad?

    September 11, 2001 somehow didn't count as jihad?

    Invading two nations? One of those nations, Afghanistan, actively allowed itself to be used as a terror base. The other, Iraq, is a harder case. Many people forget that throughout the 1990's Hussein played "cat and mouse" with U.N. inspectors. Even if Hussein wasn't engaged in aggressive or illicit activities he sure wanted the world to believe he was. He reaped what he sewed; a whirlwind.

    Wiretapping? I somehow doubt that the wiretappers wanted to know about your dry cleaning schedule. I assume they knew what they were looking for. The problem with Watergate was not the wiretapping per se but the spying on normal electoral activity in a democracy for strategic reasons.

    Gitmo? Obama is soon going to find that he has to put these not-so-nice people somewhere.

    Katrina? Did Bush cause Katrina or steer the storm? Isn't disaster management mostly a state/local function (after all the locals know the area, not some Guard troops from some distant state) with the Feds supplying money? Is anyone saying that money wasn't supplied (and squandered by the locasl) in abundant measure?

    wrecking the Federal budget - Don't people recognize that the war on terror is a war? How big was the WW II surplus?

    In short, Bush Derangement Syndrome is not a substitute for reasoning.
     
  15. JBGUSA

    JBGUSA Chieftain

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    At that point the British weren't quite done with North America. Both the French and the British, for that matter, were still quite interested, and the U.S. was caught in the middle. The British had not quite reconciled themselves to U.S. independence either. Their shabby treatment of John Adams and his wife during his period as the first U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain showed this, as did other belligerant activities such as impressment.

    The U.S. Supreme Court made totally defensible (from an intellectual point of view) rulings in favor of the Cherokees. The problem was that Jackson had no good way to restrain the settlers from encroaching on Cherokee lands, since the U.S. Army in those days was locally raised militias. These militias were not about to fire on their neighbors and friends trying to take Cherokee lands.

    The Supreme Court's rulings, then, while defensible, were impractical. Jackson basically said "the Court has made its ruling, now let it enforce the ruling". The result was that the Supreme Court has learned to make a virtue out of necessity and not render rulings that no one will obey and would sap its moral authority. A good example is Brown v. Board of Education. That decision required desegregation "with all deliberate speed", recognizing that nothing would happen overnight. A mandate that desegregation occur "forthwith" would have been a fiasco, and the Supreme Court would have suffered the same fate as the Wizard of Oz, when unmasked.
    I was referring to the Canadian Supreme Court's relatively untrammeled power. Canada seems to have the worst of both worlds; a Supreme Court that effectively "legislates", but can have its rulings nullified in Quebec under the "notwithstanding" clause.

    As fare as proroguement, I agree that the GG did what was best. The "coalition" attempt was in reality an attempted coup. The CPC increased its riding strength from, I believe, 124 to 144 (I am a Yank and know nothing about Canada so I could be totally wrong). This means to me that more people in more ridings approved of the CPC and Harper than in January 2006, and that the ABC (Anything But Conservative) movement was trying to "take a mulligan" on the October 14, 2008 election, and gain by internal maneuvering what the people wouldn't give them. If the powers that be are too juvenile to make Parliament work, which is what the people seem to want, they deserve another election.
     
  16. Aegis

    Aegis Chieftain

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    Do you not know what "Fomenting" means? :sad:

    fo·ment (f-mnt)
    tr.v. fo·ment·ed, fo·ment·ing, fo·ments
    1. To promote the growth of; incite.

    Right. So he ignored the UN, invaded two nations, and dissolved all of the world's good favor towards us gained from 9/11.

    Afghanistan, I feel was justified, but he bungled that as well. Instead of tasking the capture of Bin Laden to our troops, he outsourced the job to the local tribal leaders. :thumbsup:

    The decision to invade Iraq was flat-out wrong. Sure, getting rid of Saddam was a good idea, but not at the cost it has brought us. There is documentation that his administration misled the American public in an effort to convince us that we were right to invade Iraq. They misconstrued information, or just outright fabricated it, in order to show that Iraq had a nuclear weapons program. We know now that they did not. Iraq did have biological weapons (which are still unaccounted for), but our main reason for invading was false. They absolutely knew the US public would not go to war over the violation of UN resolutions, so they purposely made the case to go because of nuclear weapons, despite evidence stating otherwise.

    Let's not forget that doing this has spread our forces too thinly, thus weakening our ability to deal with other, more serious, problems. Ie. Iran, North Korea and Pakistan. Oh, and that pesky little "War or Terror."

    This isn't even taking into consideration the absolute failure to prepare for the aftermath to the invasion. He ignored advice from Generals who laid out what needed to be done. They half-assed the occupation. The resulting chaos was not surprising.

    Apparently you haven't heard the news about the Bush Administration spying on journalists. I suppose circumventing the rules is OK in your book so long as the ends justify the means. Sorry, the majority disagrees with you.

    We'll actually have to stop torturing people and give them fair trials now! Dear God, NOOOO! :cry:

    Bush appointed Michael Brown to head up FEMA who (obviously) had no clue what he was doing. It was cronyism at it's worst, and we paid the price for it. It was also Bush's decision to wedge the Federal Government away from disaster recovery so States could handle it locally, and it was also his decision to have FEMA focus mainly on response to terrorism.

    Bush is not responsible for the Hurricane, but he certainly is responsible for the painfully slow response in the aftermath. The response time from the Federal government embarrassed the US in front of the whole world.

    The war on terror would have been better spent by not invading Iraq. Doing so was completely counter-productive to our goals. Instead of focusing on Al Queda and Bin Laden, he decided to topple Iraq.

    And WWII brought the nation out of the Great Depression because it was a huge boon to the economy. What has this war done? Help us sink into a recession and pad the wallets of their friends.

    I'm not saying he does nothing right, only that he has some major F-ups that heavily outweigh any good that he has done. I used to be a strong defender of Bush's policies, but after the last four years or so, I have slowly had a change of mind. Thinking he has done a good job with his presidency is absolutely baffling. Stop being an apologist for his complete and utter fecklessness on these issues.
     
  17. Padma

    Padma the Inbond Administrator

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    Moderator Action: Seven posts deleted. JBGUSA and say1988: Stop the off-topic bickering about Canada.
    Please read the forum rules: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=422889

    If you really want to continue the discussion, I will be happy to move those posts to their own thread in Off-Topic.
     
  18. xarthaz

    xarthaz []D [] []V[] []D

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    Coolidge, hell yeah. It takes a great man to resist the temptation of creating pompous government plans. Few truly realise that the role of the government is to monitor, not to create.

    Anyway, likely path for the thread to take: image deleted

    Moderator Action: Funny, but not appropriate for these forums. --Padma
    Please read the forum rules: http://forums.civfanatics.com/showthread.php?t=422889
     
  19. Luckymoose

    Luckymoose The World is Mine

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    Obama is the most overrated and Bush is the most underrated.
     
  20. Sharwood

    Sharwood Rich, doctor nephew

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    How can you possibly say Obama is the most overrated, when he's had the job for about a week? And would you care to let us in on your reasoning, and for that matter point out which Bush?

    Personally, I am far from an expert in this field, as my primary knowledge of US Presidents is in the field of foreign affairs. For someone like LBJ, who didn't even run his own foreign affairs, his record is primarily based on domestic reforms and one messy war. I can't judge him on the reforms, but I can on the war. As such, I'll offer my admittedly limited two cents.

    FDR is the most overrated President in recent memory. He's considered one step below God, and the man had a terrible foreign policy much of the time - look into his treatment of Charles De Gaulle to find many examples of this - and left absolutely no notes for his successor. If one is a cripple nearing death, it would perhaps be intelligent to leave detailed plans for your successor to follow in case of sudden death. Or better yet, choose a VP with a good understanding of foreign policy to begin with - though all things considered, Truman didn't really do that bad. Didn't do that good either.

    The most underrated is definitely Bush Sr. I believe he was a fantastic President when it came to foreign affairs, doubtless due to his extensive experience in the area. I understand his record is not nearly as strong on domestic concerns though.
     

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