Top 5 Terrible US Presidents – And What Made Them So Bad

There is something to be said about decorum and respect. Surely something like attaining the level of office that is the President of the United States means that you deserve the admiration of the average citizen. Well, here are five former presidents who will convince you that that’s not always true.


5. William Henry Harrison, the 9th President (1841)William_Henry_Harrison

It might not be fair to call William Henry Harrison amongst the worst presidents. He didn’t exactly get a chance to prove himself, although it is kind of his own fault.

Harrison died after thirty days in office from pneumonia that he had contracted at his inauguration. The ceremony, which was cold and wet, featured a stubborn Harrison reading the longest inaugural address ever, attending three inaugural balls, and trying to prove his tough, war-hero status throughout by refusing to wear a coat in the face of the elements. I guess even for politicians back then image was everything.


4. Richard Nixon, the 37th President (1969-1974)


It’s important to remember that even the worst politicians can still do some good. Nixon, for instance, opened up US trade and relations with China and established the Environmental Protection Agency. But that was his first term.

In the second term, Nixon accomplished all of the things that we actually remember him for-the Arab oil embargo, the resignation of his Vice President Spiro Agnew, and, of course, his own resignation in the face of almost certain impeachment for his involvement in covering up the Watergate Scandal.


3. Herbert Hoover, the 31st President (1929-1933)Herbert-Hoover

It’s not uncommon for presidents to have things named after them. Libraries or even entire states, for instance. Only one president, however, has the indelible honor of becoming the namesake for hastily constructed shanty towns populated by the poor and homeless during the worst economic recession in the nation’s history.

Hoovervilles were an unfortunate reality reflecting the many real American’s who were directly impacted by Hoover’s poor economic decisions, which were surprising coming from a former Secretary of Commerce.


2. Warren G. Harding, the 29th President (1921-1923)Warren_G_Harding

It might be frowned upon, but it is not unheard of for politicians to reward their close friends and supporters with important cabinet positions. But no one made a career of it quite like President Harding. Harding is best remembered not for his own actions but for the corruption enacted by his cronies. Called the Ohio Gang, members were involved in cases of bald incompetence, bribery, and even bootlegging.

Harding, for his part, was apparently too busy playing poker with these guys to really take notice.


1. James Buchanan, the 15th President (1857-1861)


Really any number of former presidents could occupy this spot for the same reasons that Buchanan landed here. John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, and Franklin Pierce before him are all also remembered for doing little to prevent the spread of slavery and contention that would lead to one of the ugliest periods in all of the USA’s history-the American Civil War.

Buchanan, however, deserves special mention for being right in the thick of it, taking no action as minor conflicts like the Dred Scott trial and the Kansas-Nebraska Act erupted and the bloc of confederate states grew.



Think James Buchanan was actually a great guy? Pretty sure Nixon deserves a spot on the “best of” list instead? Want to state your case as to why George W. Bush should be on this list? Convince us in the comments.

About Kale Hills

Kale Hills lives and works in Los Angeles, California. When he is not narrowing down lists of five things, he enjoys performing improv comedy and consuming unhealthy amounts of film and television.
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