While every American President has faced a unique set of challenges and opportunities during their administration, some have done a better job than others at inspiring the nation and the world. In honor of President’s Day we’ve put together a list of the most inspirational Presidents who have worked to bring the country together. From Lincoln to FDR to Reagan, see why each President is listed, along some fun facts and quotes from each.
Featured photo by Clearly Ambiguous
Thanks to Danielle Pearson for design work and Jerald Podair of Lawrence University for his “Presidential” knowledge. Originally published 2/18/13 and updated 2/17/14.
‘Greatness’ is a relative term, but holding to a set of principles, and making changes that improved US society and have stood the test of time, would seem to be a requirement. Lincoln deserves first place for his staunch determination to extirpate slavery, even in the face of determined opposition, and his unflinching leadership when that determination led to war and threatened to destroy the United States. Likewise FDR did so, both for the New Deal and for the leadership he showed in WWII, particularly against the isolationists who would have blithely have allowed Hitler to triumph over Britain.
It’s *waaay* too early to be assessing Obama’s standing in this company. Reagan’s demise caused an outpouring of rhetoric about his role in the collapse of the Soviet Union, but history may not be quite so certain. In reality, very few presidents of the past century have achieved more than passing success at leaving a significant legacy, and there are many more candidates eligible for the Simpsons’ roll call of mediocre presidents. Nixon had the chutzpah to visit and normalize relations with China, a significant achievement, but his presidency was poisoned nonetheless. Carter was forever damned for Iran, yet achieved signficiant domestic reforms, Clinton beat his head against the wall of Arab-Israeli relations with some success, yet his presidency was poisoned both by his own actions and those of the Republicans in Congress. What did Bush Sr and Jr achieve in their eight-year terms, or Ford or Johnson in theirs?
More telling is the sad truth that, if there was an Abraham Lincoln in the White House today, he would struggle to be heard against the party dogma that is American politics today.
Barack Obama? Are you serious? He has done more to divide this country in many ways than any President, increased our national debt by $6 Trillion in one term, and overtly attacks the very constitution he has sworn to protect! You chose this failure over presidents like Thomas Jefferson or James K. Polk? Not only was Jefferson a key figure in the creation of this country, he doubled its size with the Louisiana purchase, was a powerful advocate for liberty, religious freedom, reduced the national debt by a third while also reducing some taxes. James K. Polk was also key to acquiring a lot of territory that ultimately determined our country’s borders as they are today, he led during the Mexican-American war, and was a strong overall president despite his one term. His health prevented another. Seriously, you slight MUCH better men of MUCH higher quality by passing them over for the likes of Barack Obama.
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