Who were the truly great Presidents in the history of the United States? And how does one measure true greatness when it come to this position? After all, there have only been 44 men who have held this unique position, and they are spread across more than 200 years so it is in many ways very difficult to compare them.
In 1996 Arthur Schlesinger Jr. did poll ranking of the presidents using thirty-two experts (most academics). They did not include the two presidents who died shortly after taking office (James Garfield and William Henry Harrison). The following are the results, as reported by John Maxwell Hamilton in Casanova Was A Book Lover.
GREAT PRESIDENTS– George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt
NEAR GREAT PRESIDENTS
— Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Truman
UPPER AVERAGE PRESIDENTS
— John Adams, Monroe, Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson
LOWER AVERAGE PRESIDENTS
— James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Rutherford B. Hayes, Chester A. Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William H. Taft, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton
BELOW AVERAGE PRESIDENTS
— John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Calvin Coolidge
— Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon
I am curious, what do you think makes a successful President of the United States? What changes would you make to the evaluations above?