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An Initial Exercise in Presidential Rankings

April 22, 2013

Barack Obama is the 44th U.S. President, but since Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms, truly only 43 different men have served as President.  Of these, William Henry Harrison served only one month.  That gives us only 42 men who really had the chance to do anything.  Some would also suggest Garfield’s administration be eliminated from consideration due to its brevity.  That would leave only 41 Presidents who had enough time to distinguish themselves.   In order to minimize any partisan bias, let us further eliminate any who served after World War II.  That would give us 30 Presidents from Washington through Truman.

Here are three questions for your consideration.  Of these 30 Presidents, who are the top three?  Who are the bottom three?  What are your criteria?  In order to help you decide, we have listed the 30 Presidents below.  Those in parentheses appear in their proper chronological location but are not among the 30 we are considering.

George Washington

John Adams

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

James Monroe

John Quincy Adams

Andrew Jackson

Martin Van Buren

(William Henry Harrison)

John Tyler

James Knox Polk

Zachary Taylor

Millard Fillmore

Franklin Pierce

James Buchanan

Abraham Lincoln

Andrew Johnson

Ulysses S. Grant

Rutherford B. Hayes

(James A. Garfield)

Chester A. Arthur

Grover Cleveland, 1st term

Benjamin Harrison

Grover Cleveland, 2nd nonconsecutive term

William McKinley

Theodore Roosevelt

William Howard Taft

Woodrow Wilson

Warren G. Harding

Calvin Coolidge

Herbert Hoover

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Harry S Truman

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