Most Underrated Presidents in American History.Who do you believe to be the most underrated Presidents in Amerian history? Do you feel that some Presidents are treated unfairly because scandal...

Most Underrated Presidents in American History.

Who do you believe to be the most underrated Presidents in Amerian history? Do you feel that some Presidents are treated unfairly because scandal happened around them? Or do you feel that it is the job of the President to control and curtail scandal both in his administration and the government? Or should the President not be held responsible for the actions of people in the government and only be responsible for himself??

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Carter?  Double-digit inflation was good?  I agree that Jimmy Carter is perhaps the most decent man in modern history to have been president, but he was a failure during his catastrophic one term, both on the homefront with runaway inflation, and in foreign affairs. Attempts to get the hostages freed from Iran was a fiasco--the first day Ronald Reagan became president, who soundly defeated Carter, the hostages were freed.  What does this say about Carter?  Carter tragically proved the words of T.S. Eliot:  "between the Idea and the Reality...there lies the difference."  A good man, who proved this after he was out of office, he could not effectively rule as president. (His greatest achievement as president was leaving office.)  Check out the websites that rate him as one of the worst (and weakest) presidents in America

On the other hand, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a president for two terms, during which inflation was at an all-time low, industry was going strong and homes were being built and sold. By the way, it was Eisenhower who was responsible for the development of the interstate highway system coast-to-coast.  People sometimes remark negatively that there was very little that happened during his administration. Upon reflection, one must surmise that Eisenhower had to have been doing many things right for so "little" to have happened.   Reasons for his success point to his expertise as Commander in Chief of all Allied Forces in World War II and his knowledge and familiarity with foreign heads of stateboth of which were invaluable in dealing with foreign affairs.

With the tabloid press and the sensationalism and slant that it puts upon information, it is difficult for some public officials to avoid bad publicity while others have their scandalous connections with subversive radicals, etc. swept under the proverbial rug when the media supports them.  Of course, the paranoic Richard Nixon always thought that the press was against him; sadly, part of his actions with respect to Watergate were precipitated by this paranoia.  As a result of this debacle, it is true that many forgot or dismissed his accomplishments in his first term.

markchambers1966 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Okay I'm here's an outsiders perspective and I am going to say Warren Harding, who has ben dealt with due to scandal that broke out after his death, the 'teapot dome' which had absolutely nothing to do with him. But he won a big popular vote and was much mourned on his death. He was more than the quote on 'normalcy' I love the lines "I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!” So he had bathtub parties with illicit gin during prohibition and enjoyed a late night poker school, but should he be condemned for either? Look at his appointments: He appointed Andrew Mellon, the Pittsburgh banker, Treasury Secretary, which is why the Twenties really showed the economic growth they did. He was a great Treasury Secretary. Harding also named Calvin Coolidge as his running mate. Coolidge is sometimes condemned because he didn't advocate Big Government, but he was Reagan's hero. Reagan was in high school in the years when Coolidge expressed the ideas of low tax rates. In 1921 Harding led the world in the Naval Disarmament conference and he was a supporter in the senate of womens suffrage and spoke out against lynching. He was the first president to take questions openly from the press in white house briefings and he created the bureau for the budget, becomming the first president to take a real role in federal expenditure. Perhaps he is assessed abroad as a better president than he is seen at home?


dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John Adams was and still is an underrated president. I think being sandwiched between the 'father of our nation and the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence' might have something to do with our national forgetfulness. John Adams was a force to be reckoned with when it came to the passion he felt towards the tyrannical British Parliament. The governing body he felt betrayed its American subjects. Although considered too plain for French high society and speaking his mind to a fault, John Adams fought tooth and nail to perserve liberty in the American colonies, establishing diplomatic relations with Holland and France despite his crude exterior. Adams was instrumental in American independence, he was everything Washington and Jefferson were not, the role your sleeves up fighter.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the time I found this topic, mrsmonica had already written about my choice, Jimmy Carter  :)  He was also the first I could vote for. Carter worked very hard for peace while he was president and did not pander to groups just because it would have been the easy thing to do. I think it his actions since 1980 that speak for him even more. He has continued to work for peace, built houses for Habitat for Humanity, and in general worked for good. This was most evident to me when I watched his successor, instead, rake in as much cash as possible on the lecture circuit after he was no longer president.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think Jefferson doesn't get enough credit for his advancements in his presidency.  I know that his opinions on slavery are really under question, but his realignment of the American identity to include rural America was critical.  Additionally, the Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States, his election prompted the 12th amendment, and his introduction of "lesser government" became the fundamental mantra for Presidents in the latter half of the 20th century.

drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, Jimmy Carter was a terribly underrated president, despite the myriad economic and international problems our country faced during his tenure. I am proud to have voted for Jimmy Carter in the first presidential election I was old enough to vote in. His work since leaving office have shown him to be an individual of compassion and integrity. He speaks out when he believes it is in the best interests of our country.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
James Madison is the most underrated president. He is often blamed for the War of 1812, when it was really actions of his predecessors, including Jefferson, that caused him to have to go to war. He was an excellent legal mind and could have done great things for the country.
epollock | Student

Any president that comes into office under assassination or death of the former president are greatly under rated. There is always the desire to see that the former president's vision is somewhat carried through, and very often, that sitting president puts their own agenda on the back-burner.

The president who I feel is the most under rated is Chester A Arthur who didn't get along with either the Democrats or his own Party. The Pendleton Act did the most to end cronyism, though it never went away. He did diminish corruption a great deal and tried to be the "people's president" by doing what was in their best interest.