Your Top Five Presidents?

Having just torn the concept of President’s Day a new one, I thought it might be fun to talk about our favorite presidents. Historians like to make top X lists, so I figured we could have fun and do the same.

 Too often, I ask these questions and never get around to answering them myself, so I’ll go first.

1. William Henry Harrison – He did two important things that makes him number one.  First, h…

  1. Peter Fumo

    I know you are being tongue in cheek, but my favorites in no particular order are Washington,Lincoln,Polk, Cleveland,Coolidge and Reagan.

  2. Joe

    Maybe Van Buren? I’d never before thought of Van Buren until I watched this Murray Rothbard clip about his favorite (“least bad”) president. His points: pro-peace, sound money, and most of all, ability to work and maneuver within the system. The last surprised me coming from Rothbard, who’s always struck me as a “screw the system” type.

    Also, Marty has the t-shirt ready slogan “MVB is my MVP”. Other than that, your list looks pretty spot on to me.

  3. Baja

    HA HA HA The only thing that could beat your list is William Tecumseh Sherman If nominated, I will not accept; if drafted, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.

  4. Albert Arthur, 16th Earl of Tuftonboro, Lord Dime-Hacker, etc.

    Washington has to be #1 on any list of best presidents. Lots of people at the time wanted him to be President For Life. He declined. Also there’s the whole father of the country thing.

  5. Schrodinger

    Washington

    Lincoln

    Reagan

    Truman

    Coolidge

  6. Fred Cole
    QuickerBrownFox: Maybe Van Buren? I’d never before thought of Van Buren until I watched this Murray Rothbard clip about his favorite (“least bad”) president. His points: pro-peace, sound money, and most of all, ability to work and maneuver within the system. The last surprised me coming from Rothbard, who’s always struck me as a “screw the system” type.

    Also, Marty has the t-shirt ready slogan “MVB is my MVP”. Other than that, your list looks pretty spot on to me. · 29 minutes ago

    Edited 19 minutes ago

    Damn.  Okay.  You got me.  But I’m bumping Coolidge down then.

  7. EThompson
    Valiuth: I frankly have a strong dislike of Jefferson despite his accomplishments. He always struck me as kind of naive, especially when it came to military and economic matters. 

    You are certainly correct there and because of his fiscal recklessness, we have a Library of Congress stocked with 6500 books Jefferson was forced to sell due to bankruptcy.

    I would have cast my vote for Coolidge then and now.

  8. Mark

    1. Millard Fillmore.  Gotta love any former President who runs for another term a few years later as a “Know-Nothing”.

    2.  Gerald Ford.  Whip Inflation Now.  ‘Nuff said.

    3.  James Polk.  Had four major goals, accomplished them all.  Served one term and went home.

    4.  William Howard Taft.  First President to throw out pitch on opening day.

    5.  James Garfield.  Like what I read about him in Destiny Of The Republic by Candice Millard.

  9. Whiskey Sam

    If we’re talking favorites and not necessarily best:

    Washington – the indispensable man

    Jefferson – more personal matter for me as I grew up a few streets over from his Summer home, Poplar Forest, and played there as a kid before the historical society bought it and renovated it

    Madison – mainly through recent support of the Montpelier Foundation

    Ford – for a guy who was never elected, he didn’t do half bad

    Reagan – the best President of my lifetime and the first I have memories of getting elected

  10. Kevin

    Washington right at the top of the list.  He walked away from absolute power.  Twice.

    Harding.  Cut taxes, reduce spending.  THAT’S how you avoid a depression.  Learn guys.

    Reagan cause “We win, they lose.”

    Not much impressed w/ the rest of the 20th century guys and the few 19th century guys I know anything about, not impresses w/.  So…

    Lincoln & Jackson to round out the list.  Whatever.

  11. Zafar

    Hey, isn’t William Henry Harrison the hero of the Battle Of Tippecanoe – who basically partied himself to death?  This seems to ring a bell. ??

  12. Byron Horatio

    I’d say Warren Harding and Coolidge vie for the top. Unassuming men suspicious of big government and tyrants like Wilson. Slash budgets and taxes and “return to normalcy!” Grover Cleveland for his epic vetoes, Grant for demolishing the Klan. And Truman. Less for his economic views, but he was an incredibly decent man and true republican citizen. Probably the most courageous president we ever had too. Dropped the Bomb, saved Korea and fired the show boating MacArthur.

  13. EThompson
    Kevin:

    Harding.  Cut taxes, reduce spending.  THAT’S how you avoid a depression.  Learn guys.

    Attention: James Of England!

  14. James Of England
    QuickerBrownFox

    James Of England

    I’m willing to hear arguments for Arthur and Cleveland…Unlike Johnson, Van Buren had a conservative record on spending, but that seems OK.

    Why the smack on Marty and the support for Grover? Both supported decreased tariffs and a gold standard, opposed colonialism and foreign war, and refused to annex a now state (Van Buren – Texas; Cleveland – Hawaii).

    Also, like Gary Johnson (and so like Van Buren?), Cleveland vetoed a lot of bills. ·

    Several reasons. I see Cleveland as a man of principle in a way that I don’t MVB; in particular, he opposed Tammany Hall corruption and the spoils system that Van Buren had in large part developed (which gave him the GOP crossover votes to win in New York, where MVB had had the most influence.)  You’ll note that Arthur was also on my list of also rans, with a not totally dissimilar reason.

    I am grateful for Texas being American, but feel ambiguous about Hawaii. 

    I think that the BUS was a good thing, and oppose bimetallism. Federal banking should be as simple and objective as possible.

    I feel less comfortable with slavery than MVB did.

  15. thelonious

    Washington and Lincoln for obvious reasons.

    Polk.  Happy to see I’m not the only one.

    Eisenhower.  Underrated president. A lot smarter and shrewder than he was ever credited for.   Quickly got out of Korea.  His calm steady leadership kept us out of war with the Soviet Union.  Built the interstate highway system.  If we could ever reanimate a former president and give him another term it would be Ike.  I love Ike.

    Coolidge.  Loved his restraint.

    Honorable mentions.  Truman.  Had to make some gut wrenching decisions.

    Chester A. Arthurs’ muttonchops.  How I long for the day when I see another president with awesome facial hair.

     

  16. Bob Croft

    Just a quibble – it was Jackson, not Jefferson, who paid off the national debt.  Lasted a year; then came a sharp panic, receipts dropped, and the debt resumed.  If memory serves, it was Jackson destroying the national bank that set off the panic – go figure.

    Jefferson wasn’t too good on free trade – don’t have much trade if you institute an embargo – and his dislike of military and naval spending did us little good when his protege got us into war with Britain.

    Between Jefferson and Jackson, the relatively humane Washington/Knox Indian policy was unraveled; see “trail of tears”.

  17. Misthiocracy
    I  only have a top five:
    1. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho

    2. President Tom Beck
    3. President James Dale
    4. President Thomas Whitmore
    5. (Acting) President Glen Allen Walken
  18. James Of England
    Brian Clendinen

    Fred Cole:

    Calvin Coolidge-  But only with reservations (because he was pro-tariff).

    I would add he signed the first federal restrictions on immigration….

    One of the marks against Arthur is that he’s traditionally described as being the first, with the Chinese Exclusion Act, although Grant’s Page Act came before then. Cleveland expanded it. TR and Wilson were both vigorous racists in a way that Coolidge was not and both found ways of keeping new categories out. Harding passed the first immigration law keeping out Europeans (although TR stopped some from becoming citizens).

    Coolidge reformed immigration significantly (including making it more difficult for professionals to move), but he was very far from being a trailblazer in this regard; immigration was endlessly reformed, before and after him.

    Heck if Coolidge did not pass these two legislation and Hoover did not make it worse by increasing tariffs, there is a good chance we would not of had the great depression.

    Coolidge did not pass tariff legislation; am I misreading your “two legislation” reference? What was the other legislation?

    The depression was caused by a bubble being followed by Progressivism, exacerbated, but not caused by trade reductions or immigration.

  19. Underwood
    Mark: 3.  James Polk.  Had four major goals, accomplished them all.  Served one term and went home. · 32 minutes ago

    And died promptly, leaving no presidential library. Bonus points.

  20. flownover

    1-David Atchison is a good one, president for a couple of hours and asleep the whole time.

    2-Edith Bolling Galt Wilson , yes, she was in charge as Woody was out to lunch.

    3-Who exactly was running things in the WH from January 1945 to April 1945 when FDR finally died ? That person would be my number #3

    4-Alexander Haig, I’m in charge.

    5-And of course, Valerie Jarrett.

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