The worst five presidents include James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore, according to an analysis of five major presidential polls by U.S. News and World Report. Buchanan was the worst; critics cite his refusal to curtail the spread of slavery and his failure to challenge the withdrawal of the Confederate states from the Union as major gaffes during his administration. Buchanan served as president from 1857 to 1861.
The second-worst president, according to pollsters, was 29th President Warren G. Harding, who served from 1921 to 1923. Detractors say that Harding was a womanizer who played poker instead of attending to national affairs. Harding himself declared that he was unfit for the office.
Number three on the list of worst presidents is Andrew Johnson, the nation’s 17th president, who served from 1865 to 1869. Johnson’s critics cite his opposition to the 14th Amendment and his resistance of policies for newly freed African Americans among his biggest faults. His unpopular policies lead to his impeachment, making him the first U.S. president to suffer such a fate.
Critics of the fourth-worst president, Franklin Pierce, who served from 1853 to 1857 and was the country’s 14th president, cite his proposal to annex Cuba as a new slave state as one of his greatest failings. His pro-slavery stance led future president Teddy Roosevelt to reflect that Pierce served slavery leaders, dubbing him a “servile tool of men worse than himself.”
Number five on the list, Millard Fillmore, served from 1850 to 1853. History remembers Fillmore for allowing the spread of slavery and helping to delay the Southern succession, both of which made him unpopular among pollsters.