A C-Span survey asked historians to rank US presidents in terms of performance in a range of areas
Here are the country’s seven worst presidents.
7th - Millard Fillmore
Fillmore became the 13th president of the United States after the death of President Zachary Taylor. This Whig served as president from 1850 until the end of Taylor’s original first term in 1853. Fillmore clearly was not impressing his party – or the country – as he lost the Whig nomination of 1852 to Winfield Scott, who went on to lose the subsequent presidential race. This makes him one of America's shortest-serving presidents who did not die in office.
His C-Span score: 393 out of 1000.
6th – William Henry Harrison
If you know your American political history, then you will know that Harrison was America’s shortest-serving president, lasting just one month in office from March 1841 to his death in April. Despite, being in power for just 31 days, he is still only the sixth worst president.
His score: 383.
5th – John Tyler
Tyler was Harrison’s vice president so took over following his sudden death in 1841. He subsequently served out the rest of Harrison’s term. According to PBS, John Tyler was thrown out the Whig party following his veto of a Whig policy for setting up a national bank, and became America’s second ever independent president.
He was also responsible for the annexation of Texas.
His score: 372
4th – Warren G. Harding
The only 20th century US president, Harding was elected president at the 1920 election, and served up until his death in 1923, paving the way for his VP Calvin Coolidge to become president. During his time in power, he was in favour of business and reducing red-tap, as reported by PBS. However, he is often thought of as one of America’s worst presidents due to the so-called Teapot dome scandal, in which Harding’s interior secretary was involved in a bribery incident.
His score: 360.
3rd – Franklin Pierce
This Democrat served one full term as president between 1853 and 1857. He was so unpopular as a president he lost the Democratic nomination for the 1856 election.
The reason for his unpopularity can be largely attributed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which he pushed got passed in congress. The law allowed the new US territories of Nebraska and Kansas to vote on whether slavery should be allowed, according to PBS. This led to fighting between different factions in Kansas, ahead of the slavery votes.
His score: 315.
2nd – Andrew Johnson
After just one month into Johnson’s term as vice president, Abraham Lincoln was killed, resulting in Johnson quickly ascending to the presidency in 1865. According to the C-Span survey, Lincoln was America’s top president so it is interesting to observe that his successor was the country’s second worst. Reintegrating the north and south after the civil war was a key feature of Johnson’s presidency, which caused lots of tension and disagreements between the president and congress, according to PBS.
He was even impeached.
His score: 275.
America’s worst ever president – James Buchanan
As already mentioned Franklin Pierce lost his party’s nomination in the 1856 election. The man who he lost it to was James Buchanan, who went on to win the presidency. Buchanan served one full term thanks to the issue of slavery, which led to conflicts in US territories throughout his time in office and the eventual secession of South Carolina, which led to the civil war.
His score: 245.