BECK index

Evaluating US Presidents

Andrew Johnson to Taft 1865-1913

by Sanderson Beck

Becks and CSPANs ranking of US Presidents


US Reconstruction & Johnson 1865-66

From Civil War to Reconstruction in 1865
Andrew Johnson to 1865
Johnson & US Reconstruction April-July 1865
Johnson & Reconstruction August-December 1865
Johnson & Reconstruction January-May 1866
Johnson & Reconstruction June-December 1866
United States & Red Cloud’s War 1865-66

US Reconstruction & Johnson 1867-68

Johnson & Republican Reconstruction in 1867
United States & Indian Wars 1867-68
Impeachment & Trial of Johnson in 1868
United States & Johnson in 1868
United States & Elections in 1868

US Reconstruction & Grant 1869-72

US Reconstruction & Grant in 1869
US Reconstruction & Grant in 1870
US Reconstruction & Grant in 1871
Grant & United States Elections in 1872
Grant’s US Indian Policy 1869-72
“Boss” Tweed in New York 1863-73

Grant & United States Depression 1873-77

Grant & the US Panic of 1873
Grant & US Depression in 1874
Grant & US Depression in 1875
Grant’s US Indian Policy 1873-76
Grant & United States Elections in 1876

United States & Hayes 1877-81

Hayes to 1877
United States & Hayes in 1877
Nez Perce, Cheyenne, Ponca & Apache 1877-80
United States & Hayes in 1878-79
United States & Hayes in 1880-81 
United States Elections in 1880

United States, Garfield & Arthur 1881-85

Garfield to 1881
United States & Garfield March-June 1881
Assassination of President Garfield
Chester Arthur to 1881
United States & Arthur July-December 1881
United States & Arthur in 1882
United States & Arthur in 1883
United States, Arthur & Elections in 1884

United States & Cleveland 1885-89

Cleveland to 1885
United States & Cleveland in 1885
United States & Cleveland in 1886
United States & Cleveland in 1887
Cleveland, Indians & the West
United States, Cleveland & Elections in 1888

United States & Harrison 1889-93

Benjamin Harrison to 1889
United States & Harrison in 1889
US, Oklahoma Territory & Wounded Knee
United States & Harrison in 1890
United States & Harrison in 1891
Harrison & United States Elections in 1892
US, Harrison & Hawaii in Early 1893

US Depression & Cleveland 1893-97

Grover Cleveland 1889-93
Cleveland, United States & Hawaii in 1893
Cleveland & United States Panic of 1893
Cleveland, Debs & the General Strike in 1894
United States & Cleveland in 1894
United States & Cleveland in 1895
Cleveland & United States Elections in 1896

United States & McKinley’s War 1897-1901

McKinley to 1897
United States & McKinley in 1897
United States & McKinley’s War in 1898
United States & McKinley’s Filipino War 1899-1901
United States & McKinley in 1899
United States & McKinley in 1900
United States & McKinley in 1901

US & Theodore Roosevelt 1901-09

Theodore Roosevelt to 1896
Theodore Roosevelt 1897-1901
United States & Theodore Roosevelt 1901-02
United States & Theodore Roosevelt in 1903
United States & Theodore Roosevelt in 1904
United States & Theodore Roosevelt in 1905
United States & Theodore Roosevelt in 1906
United States & Theodore Roosevelt in 1907
United States & Theodore Roosevelt 1908-09
United States & the Philippines 1901-09

United States & Taft 1909-13

William Howard Taft to 1899
Taft in the Philippines 1900-03
Taft in the Roosevelt Administration 1904-09
United States & Taft in 1909
United States & Taft in 1910
United States & Taft in 1911
United States, Taft & Elections 1912-13

Summary & Evaluation 1865-1913

Andrew Johnson 1865-69
Ulysses S. Grant 1869-77
Rutherford Hayes 1877-81
James Garfield 1881
Chester Arthur 1881-85
Grover Cleveland 1885-89
Benjamin Harrison 1889-93
Grover Cleveland 1893-97
William McKinley 1897-1901
Theodore Roosevelt 1901-09
William Howard Taft 1909-13


United States Presidents 1865-1913
Native Americans


      This second volume evaluates the ten Presidents of the United States from the end of the Civil War in April 1865 until the end of William Howard Taft’s term in March 1913. This work endeavors to describe the presidencies and the consequences of the decisions and policies in ethical terms as to how they affected the people of the United States and the world. The effort is not to judge the persons but to evaluate their presidencies.
      After reading this Introduction readers may choose to read the last chapter “Summary & Evaluation 1865-1913” before turning to the other chapters for more detailed descriptions of the presidents’ decisions, policies, and their consequences. The evaluation is only on the presidencies though their previous experiences that prepared them to be President are often described, and sometimes significant things they did after being President are briefly mentioned.
      My rankings are based on ethical values as to whether the presidential decisions and policies were beneficial or harmful. William Henry Harrison was President for only one month, and he had very little influence for good or evil. On my list the names above his in my opinion did more good than harm while those below him on balance had a negative influence on the nation and the world.
      I reserve the right to adjust my rankings as I complete each volume and find out more about the presidents. In this volume I have moved up Theodore Roosevelt from #4 to #3. Although he promoted and helped facilitate McKinley’s war against Spanish colonies, that was before he became an excellent President who was very conscientious about ethics. He understood the importance of the natural environment, and he took on the greedy capitalists who were increasing the inequality of wealth that still plagues the United States today. He mediated a treaty that ended the war between Russia and Japan and was given the Nobel Peace Prize. Roosevelt with help from his friend Taft managed to create the Panama Canal that also helped Panamanians gain their independence from Columbia without violence.
      Readers may be interested to learn that the Democrat Andrew Johnson from Tennessee who was impeached and nearly convicted was an abolitionist and a strong believer in democracy. Lincoln probably chose him to be his Vice President because he believed that Johnson would consider the southerners’ situation in a humane reconstruction that followed a terrible war.
      The warrior Ulysses Grant was a peaceful President though he used troops to help the liberated African-Americans gain their civil rights during his presidency. He has been maligned for scandals in his administration which were caused mostly by others. Like Roosevelt he was a very popular President. His successor Rutherford Hayes continued Grant’s policies and even improved upon them, but he had promised to serve only one term and kept his promise. Chester Arthur is another politician who has had a low rating. He was rather corrupt before he became President, but then he changed and did a fairly good job.
      Grover Cleveland was the only Democrat elected President during this period, and he was known for his integrity and hard work. He has the distinction of being the 22nd and the 24th President which is why the number of US Presidents is one less than the number of the latest one.
      As a peace activist I am very critical of warmakers especially those who start and perpetuate very unnecessary wars. In my view there are always better ways to solve problems. I agree with Ben Franklin who said there has never been a good war or a bad peace. Thus I severely criticize McKinley’s starting an imperialistic war in 1898 and especially the attempt to dominate the far-away Philippine Islands. Taft tried to be a good civil governor there before he became President.

I have included the 2021 list compiled by the television network C-SPAN based on rankings in ten categories of “leadership characteristics” by 142 historians and professional observers. Their rankings are also shown next to mine for each president.

Sanderson Beck’s List    C-SPAN#

  1. Thomas Jefferson           7
  2. George Washington       2
  3. Theodore Roosevelt      4
  4. James Monroe                12
  5. Woodrow Wilson          13
  6. John Quincy Adams      17
  7. John Adams                   15
  8. Ulysses S. Grant            20
  9. Rutherford B. Hayes     33
  10. Grover Cleveland         25
  11. Jimmy Carter                 26
  12. John F. Kennedy            8
  13. Franklin D. Roosevelt    3
  14. Dwight D. Eisenhower   5
  15. William Howard Taft    23
  16. Chester A. Arthur          30
  17. Millard Fillmore             38
  18. Zachary Taylor              35
  19. James Buchanan             44
  20. William J. Clinton          19
  21. Barack Obama               10
  22. Calvin Coolidge             24
  23. Benjamin Harrison       32
  24. Herbert Hoover              36
  25. Gerald R. Ford                28
  26. James A. Garfield         27
  27. William H. Harrison      40
  28. Franklin Pierce               42
  29. John Tyler                      39
  30. James Madison              16
  31. Andrew Johnson           43
  32. Andrew Jackson            22
  33. Martin Van Buren          34
  34. George H. W. Bush        21
  35. Warren G. Harding        37
  36. William McKinley        14
  37. Ronald Reagan              9
  38. Donald Trump               41
  39. Lyndon B. Johnson        11
  40. Richard M. Nixon          31
  41. George W. Bush             29
  42. Harry S. Truman            6
  43. James K. Polk                 18
  44. Abraham Lincoln           1
  45. Jefferson Davis             


C-SPAN List  2021

Abraham Lincoln                     1
George Washington                  2
Franklin D. Roosevelt               3
Theodore Roosevelt                  4
Dwight D. Eisenhower             5
Harry S. Truman                      6
Thomas Jefferson                      7
John F. Kennedy                       8
Ronald Reagan                         9
Barack Obama                          10
Lyndon B. Johnson                   11
James Monroe                          12
Woodrow Wilson                     13
William McKinley                    14
John Adams                             15
James Madison                         16
John Quincy Adams                 17
James K. Polk                           18
William J. Clinton                     19
Ulysses S. Grant                       20
George H. W. Bush                   21
Andrew Jackson                       22
William Howard Taft               23
Calvin Coolidge                       24
Grover Cleveland                     25
Jimmy Carter                            26
James A. Garfield                     27
Gerald R. Ford                          28
George W. Bush                       29
Chester A. Arthur                     30
Richard M. Nixon                     31
Benjamin Harrison                   32
Rutherford B. Hayes                 33
Martin Van Buren                     34
Zachary Taylor                         35
Herbert Hoover                         36
Warren G. Harding                  37
Millard Fillmore                        38
John Tyler                                 39
William Henry Harrison           40
Donald J. Trump                      41
Franklin Pierce                         42
Andrew Johnson                      43
James Buchanan                       44


Copyright © 2022 by Sanderson Beck

Evaluating US Presidents Volume 2: Andrew Johnson to Taft 1865-1913 has been published.
For ordering information, please click here.

Evaluating US Presidents Volume 1: Washington to Lincoln 1789-1865

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