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Greatest American presidents

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BWF89 Posted: Sat, Feb 16 2008 1:51 PM

Who do you consider to be the greatest American presidents and why?

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Mark B. replied on Sat, Feb 16 2008 3:30 PM

I won't use greatest, which were the best, defined as they honored their oath of office and obeyed Article II of the Constitution.  These men weren't perfect by any means, but were at least decent. 

 The Best <All four of these men are distinguished mostly by what the did NOT do, i.e. they did not meddle in the economy, etc.>

#1  Grover Cleveland

#2  Martin van Buren

#3  Calvin Coolidge

#4  Warren G. Harding

followed by a group that for the most part honored their oath's, etc, yet had serious incidents

#5  Jefferson <foreign policy problems, did not act forcefully to undo Federalist central banking policies>

#6  Madison <foreign policy problems, War of 1812>

#7  Jackson <brutal treatment of Indians>

#8  Eisenhowever <foreign policy problems>

#9  Washington <suppression of Whiskey Rebellion, Bank of United States> 

 James Monroe I have not placed yet, he will likely end up ranked in the second group.


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Morty replied on Sat, Feb 16 2008 10:53 PM

I have a somewhat different list, though the poster before me has a fine one. I look to what a President did not do, of course, but also what government they rolled back or prevented.

1. Cleveland (Anti-inflation, pro-market, strong in the face of recession and strikers)

2. Jackson (stopped the National Bank, rotation-of-office, etc)

3. Van Buren (Independent Treasury, stayed steady in the face of recession, etc)

4. Harding (reductions after WW1, generally didn't do much)

5. Tyler (prevented Henry Clay's "American System" for his Presidency, didn't do much)

6. Buchanan (didn't act on Southern secession, lowered tariffs)

7. Coolidge (did a lot more than many think, but still not much)

8. Jefferson (end to excise taxes, decreased military)

And they pretty much drop off sharply after that, as far as I'm concerned.

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Grant replied on Sun, Feb 17 2008 9:12 PM

In recent years, Clinton's vetos actually shut down the federal government for a while. That was pretty cool; I'm not sure thats ever happened before? Of course, his sanctions also lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Thats a lot less cool.

I think the title should be changed to: "least terrible presidents". None have been good, at least not in their role as presidents. The incentives of power do not create good behavior.

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A somewhat tangential (but good) article on the whole presidency notion.


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Glad to see some respect for Cleveland. Grover's a pimp. 

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 I am a Harding man myself.

 If we have to suffer presidents I would prefer that they only go to funerals and write letters congradulating people for living to one hundred years or more.

Imagine having an election based only on penmanship, looking good in a suit and not getting airsick? Travel, Adventure Travel, Arguments, Recipes.

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MacFall replied on Mon, Mar 3 2008 10:41 PM


Van Buren


 all others = fail.

Pro Christo et Libertate integre!

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I'm partial to Cleveland, Coolidge, Harding, and Van Buren, myself.
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shazam replied on Sun, Mar 9 2008 10:31 PM

I think that Cleveland, Van Buren, Coolidge, Harding, Tyler, and Pierce were our best presidents. However I would take the ideas of Rothbard, Mason, Paine, Spooner, Acton, and Mises over them any day of the week.

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If I had to pick the best president, I would say Coolidge, Harding and Jackson.  Coolidge and Harding would be one and two because they were basically the same.  They are some of the better ones mainly for what they did NOT do.  Coolidge was able to ward off the depression/recession of 1921 by not going over board with federal action, and instead, cutting government spending.  Jackson comes in a distant second mainly for his success with abolishing the national bank.  However, Jackson did show a lot of brutality as head of state with his treatment of the cherokee indians.

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