These are the best presidents in American history, ranked by their lasting contributions
to the country.
The tenth best President was John F. Kennedy, an inspiring leader whose key foreign policy
accomplishment was confronting the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, Europe and
most notably, Latin America, by forcing the Soviet Union to remove their nuclear weapons
from Cuba during the tense 13-day missile crisis in 1962.
At home, he promoted the ambitious "New Frontier" domestic program, promising federal funding
for education and aid programs for rural America. This also included pushing for medicare, which
today is one of the most popular government programs providing healthcare for America’s
seniors. It was passed by congress and signed into law three years after JFK was assassinated
in Dallas, ending his presidency after just three years in office.
Although James Polk died from cholera 3 months after he left office after serving only one
term, he got a lot done. He believed in Manifest Destiny, that American settlers were destined
to move westward, and negotiated possession of the Oregon Territory from the British and
purchased New Mexico and California from Mexico after defeating them in the Mexican-American
War. He restored an independent treasury and was able to enact much of the democratic policy
Lyndon Johnson grabs the eighth spot on this list for being the last president to pass
a massive domestic policy agenda that favored the people. Many of these achievements were
part of his “great society” and are still cornerstones of modern America. As president,
LBJ was responsible for signing the Civil and Voting rights acts; declaring a war on
poverty; implementing gun control; setting up public broadcasting; enacting medicare
and medicaid; appointing Thurgood Marshall as the first African American justice on the
Supreme Court; signing an education bill that significantly improved funding to schools;
establishing the National Endowments for the Humanities and Arts; protecting 9.1 million
acres of federal land; signing, developing and enforcing the clean air act; and passing
comprehensive immigration reform for non-europeans. Unfortunately, Johnson’s standing takes
a hit over the Vietnam war, in which he dramatically escalated American involvement from 16,000
to 550,000 combat troops. He did not seek a second term.
Under President Dwight Eisenhower the United States became the world’s richest country
and our final two states, Alaska and Hawaii, were admitted to the union.
At home, Eisenhower launched the Interstate Highway System, created NASA along with the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has developed a slew of important technologies,
and established strong science education. He was a solid supporter of civil rights and
signed the first major civil rights legislation in over 75 years, since 1875.
Abroad, Eisenhower used nuclear threats to conclude the Korean War with China and prioritized
inexpensive nuclear weapons and a reduction of conventional military forces as a strategy
for keeping pressure on the Soviet Union and reducing the federal deficit.
Number six is Woodrow Wilson, who led America into WWI, the decisive moment that turned
the conflict in the allies’ favor. After commanding the allied victory, he sponsored
the league of nations - an early UN. Unfortunately, despite Wilson’s strong support, the US
Senate voted not to join the league, a consequential moment that definitely made the body weaker
than it should have been and was partially the reason why the Nazi party was able to
rise to power in Germany.
Thomas Jefferson - the founding father who wrote the first draft of the Declaration of
Independence - became America’s third President in 1801 after serving as Adams’ Vice President
and the first US Secretary of State under George Washington. He brilliantly doubled
the size of the United States by reaching a deal with Napoleon Bonaparte to purchase
the Louisiana territory from France for just $15 million dollars. This area encompassed
what eventually became all or part of 15 different states. Though he signed a bill in 1807 banning
slave importation into the country, his legacy has been tainted by the fact that he owned
42 year-old Vice President Theodore Roosevelt, taking over after William McKinley was assassinated,
was the youngest man to become president. A true progressive, he was the first president
to call for environmental conservation and greatly expanded the national parks system.
His square deal also focused on an expansion of consumer protection laws and greater control
of corporations. A man of his word, he dissolved 44 monopolistic businesses during his presidency.
Teddy’s “speak softly and carry a big stick” policy built up America’s navy,
keeping the country militarily strong, but out of wars. After helping Panama win independence,
he negotiated US control of the construction of the Panama Canal there. Roosevelt won the
Nobel Peace prize for ending the first great war of the 20th century between the empires
of Russia and Japan.
George Washington, the first President of the United States, comes in third. His strength
as the executive after leading the country to victory in the revolutionary war cemented
his status as the “father of the country.” He kept America out of wars between European
powers so that America could mature from its infancy, and his leadership style established
many customs that are still in place today, like using a cabinet system to delegate responsibilities
and delivering an inaugural address.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt’s fifth cousin, is the second-greatest President
of all-time. FDR was elected president an unprecedented four times and served for 12
years until his death. He took office at the depths of the Great Depression and in his
first 100 days in office, aggressively implemented the New Deal programs, and the economy improved
rapidly. He successfully led the United States and the allies - along with Winston Churchill
and Joseph Stalin - defeating Hitler and the axis powers in World War II.
The greatest president of all-time is Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the glue that held the
country together as it unshackled itself from what was always going to be the biggest threat
to the continuity of the nation: ending the practice of slavery--a challenge so daunting
the founding fathers had to leave it for later generations to solve. Assassinated five days
after General Lee’s surrender, Lincoln paid the ultimate price for leading the victorious
Union through America’s bloodiest conflict. His victory in the Civil War strengthened
the federal government, modernized the economy and set the nation on the prosperous path
we are still walking today, nearly 150 years later.
Thanks for watching, let me know who you think was the best president of all time in a comment
below. If you enjoyed this video, you’ll love our website, TDCvideo.com where we bring
you our favorite stories from around the world each day. Until tomorrow, for the daily conversation,
I’m Bryce Plank.