C-Span today released a survey of American historians that ranks all the U.S. presidents in history based on merit/leadership. C-Span conducted its first ranking of this kind in 2000. In both this year’s ranking and the 2000 ranking, Abraham Lincoln is ranked as the best President. James Buchanan is ranked worst this year, replacing Andrew Johnson in the lowest spot.

James Buchanan

James Buchanan: Worst President Ever

C-Span has completed its second survey of American historians to rank all the U.S. Presidents in history from best to worst. This year, Republican Abraham Lincoln has been ranked as the best president yet again. He was ranked #1 in the survey C-Span conducted in 2000 as well. For his role in preserving the country’s union and ending slavery, Abraham Lincoln’s presidency is nearly universally recognized as the best in American history.

James Buchanan ranked as the worst U.S. president. His ineptitude from 1856 to 1860 is blamed for leading to the Civil War. He was ranked second-worst in 2000, when only Andrew Johnson was declared worse than Buchanan. Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan traded places in the 2009 ranking. Historians blame Andrew Johnson for botching the Reconstruction of the U.S. South, destroying the national unity Lincoln tried to create.

A complete view of the C-Span survey, with rankings based on multiple categories, is available here.

Interestingly, as pointed out in the Huffington Post, present day politics is driving the rankings. Bill Clinton rose in the rankings from 21 to 15. Right after his presidency was over in 2000, historians thought he was merely average. In retrospect, he seems to have grown in stature. George W. Bush came in at #36, the worst showing for a two-term President. It remains to be seen how he’ll rank with some historical perspective.

2009 C-Span President Survery

1. Abraham Lincoln
2. George Washington
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Theodore Roosevelt
5. Harry S. Truman
6. John F. Kennedy
7. Thomas Jefferson
8. Dwight D. Eisenhower
9. Woodrow Wilson
10. Ronald Reagan
11. Lyndon B. Johnson
12. James K. Polk
13. Andrew Jackson
14. James Monroe
15. Bill Clinton
16. William McKinley
17. John Adams
18. George H. W. Bush
19. John Quincy Adams
20. James Madison
21. Grover Cleveland
22. Gerald R. Ford
23. Ulysses S. Grant
24. William Howard Taft
25. Jimmy Carter
26. Calvin Coolidge
27. Richard M. Nixon
28. James A. Garfield
29. Zachary Taylor
30. Benjamin Harrison
31. Martin Van Buren
32. Chester A. Arthur
33. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Herbert Hoover
35. John Tyler
36. George W. Bush
37. Millard Fillmore
38. Warren G. Harding
39. William Henry Harrison
40. Franklin D. Pierce
41. Andrew Johnson
42. James Buchanan

Where will Barack Obama rank in the 2018 ranking?

George W. Bush #36. Bill Clinton #15. Lincoln #1.

President Rankings – Photos