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Belated Appreciation

August 8, 2019

Lincoln was not very popular when he was elected in 1860, but thanks to the genius of the Electoral College, he became the 16th President.  During his time in office and in the years since his assassination Lincoln has come to be regarded as the greatest of all U.S. Presidents.  This is as it should be.

Grant was very popular when he was first elected in 1868.  He was the winning General who had been most gracious to the conquered Confederates at Appomattox.  During his time in office and in the years since he left the White House in 1877 Grant came to be regarded as one of the worst U.S. Presidents.  This is not as it should be.

The 1962 survey of 75 historians placed Grant next to last, just ahead of Harding.  The 1982 survey of 49 historians placed him 30th out of 38.  Beneath him in serial order were Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Garfield, Nixon, Pierce, Buchanan, Harding, and William Henry Harrison.  When we compare both surveys and discover that Garfield and William Henry Harrison were not counted in the 1962 survey due to the brevity of their terms, and that Grant was placed ahead of them in the 1982 survey, we can consider Grant’s 1982 ranking to be 30th out of 36, which is not much of an improvement.

However, a more recent survey raised Grant’s ranking to 21st out of 44.  If we eliminate William Henry Harrison and Garfield, Grant becomes 21st out of 42.  This is a much fairer and more realistic assessment.  Too bad it took historians more than 140 years to reach this consensus.

 

 

 

 

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