This list is in the order they took office and not how badly a job I think they did. I am certain at least one of my choices will cause some people to think me nuts. But before you shunt aside any of my choices out of hand, consider the evidence offered.
1. John Quincy Adams — Adams was seen by the Federalists as a natural to take office. He was hugely popular in senate. He was a successful Secretary of State under Monroe and held a number of other offices which seemed to make the case for his being president. Once in office, however, Adams became impotent. He had to fight sectionalism and factionalism that was rife in the congress of the day. He did not take on either fight. Charges of corruption were rampant during his term, and Adams proved to be entirely unfit for the office. He was easily defeated by Jackson. Adams was sent to the house of representatives in 1830. His career as a U.S. representative was stellar and showed the initiative and statesmanship he lacked as chief executive.
2. John Tyler — Most people in government did not take Tyler seriously. Even though he was a Whig, he vetoed the entire Whig agenda. He vetoed a bill that may have helped the country after the Bank Panic of 1837. He was so hated by his own party members that he was expelled from the party prior to the next election cycle.
3. Franklin Pierce — Pierce was in many ways like J. Q. Adams. He was neither able to lead his party nor navigate the maelstroms of the day. Issues like expansionism, states rights, slavery, the Kansas Nebraska Act, and a civil war in Kansas were his undoing. Pierce found it difficult to gain a consensus on any issue and frequently found himself at odds with his own party, and Northerners in general, he was from New Hampshire.
4. Andrew Johnson — The man Lincoln hand-picked to help bring the south back into the union failed in that respect, and many others. When the Confederacy put down its arms it was the Johnson administration that oversaw the events that followed. Northern men who saw a quick buck to be made at the south’s expense rushed to the defeated states and became known as carpetbaggers. Johnson’s handling of the officers of the Confederate army was seen as particularly heavy-handed. They were not allowed to hold public office and were forced to sign a pledge of allegiance. Johnson’s rebuilding of the south was an abysmal failure.
5. Ulysses S. Grant — Grant simply continued many of the failing programs started by Johnson, most of which are referred to as “radical reform.” The radical spoken of is that of the “Radical Republicans.” These were northern Republicans who were hell-bent on a continued punishing of the south for having started the civil war. Grant was a scrupulously honest man but ill-suited for the office of the president.
6. Warren G. Harding — Harding may have been the most corrupt president this country has ever had to suffer with. Harding is best known for the “Teapot Dome Scandal.” This scandal refers to the probably bribery involved with high government officials, possibly Harding himself, in the leasing of an oil field known as “Teapot Dome.” But that was just one of many such charges pressed to the administration. Well-known criminal elements were able to influence federal officials to make deals with them that helped them dodge probable arrests.
7. Herbert Hoover — Hoover inherited the excesses allowed by the Coolidge administration. These were excesses in the banking and asset trading community. In March 1929 Hoover was warned that the stock market was in perilous danger of collapse. But Hoover chose to ignore the warnings, possibly desiring to not anger industrialists he relied upon. But even after the collapse of the market in October 1929, Hoover continued to insist that America stay the course, that recovery was near. His intransigence was his ultimate demise.
8. Jimmy Carter — One of the things Carter is accused of is having been too cerebral. He lacked the ability to be pragmatic about the economics of the nation at the time. Carter, for all his success with Israel and Egypt, was equally a failure in his handling of the economy. Interest rates skyrocketed which greatly hurt the housing market as well as other markets.
9. Ronald Reagan — People were so unhappy with what Carter had brought them they almost greedily embraced any change in economic course. And Reagan offer just such a course. Reagan started deregulation without any thought to its consequences. Reagan put to flying public at immediate risk when he fired all the striking air traffic controllers and replaced them either with managers or poorly trained controllers. Reagan, and his cronies, were responsible for the Iran-Contra affair which only LtC. Oliver North was convicted. I can assure you a person at North’s rank does not have the power to pull off the deals done in Iran-Contra. Reagan’s mishandling of economics and regulation almost brought the collapse of the stock market in 1987.
10. George W. Bush — Bush was not, in spite of what others may say, responsible for America’s lack of readiness on September 11, 2001. Federal intelligence agencies have a long history of not sharing material, which still exists today, and that is what is most responsible. But, Bush allowed falsehoods to be the reason we started a war in Iraq that eventually cost in excess of 4000 American lives. There was ample proof that Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, and had nothing to do with 9/11. There is no doubt Bush knew this. This unnecessary war in turned cost America trillions of dollars. The Bush administration was advised as early as 2005 of improprieties in the mortgage market but chose to take no action. Worst of all, the Bush administration pushed into law the “Patriot Act” which was mostly a scam to get Americans to give up some of their constitutional rights in the name of Patriotism. This act ranks right up there with the Dred Scott decision the Supreme Court made.