Friday, December 3, 2021

Most Controversial Presidents in US History

By on February 20, 2017

War, Death, Corruption, Racism, and Murders.

These are just some of the events that have defined the past two centuries of American politics. From the first democratic presidential election in 1789, to Donald Trump‘s victory last November, the bid for the White House hasn’t been exempt from controversies that have plagued the presidential seat.

In light of Presidents’ Day, Caribbean Business evaluated historians and academics’ opinions in different surveys —Brookings, Wall Street Journal, and C-SPAN–, to present the most praised and controversial leaders in United States history.

George Washington

Prior to becoming the first president of the United States, George Washington wrote he would use his power to “set a precedent.” His presidency served to develop part of the nation’s policies active in the present day, such as the use of a presidential cabinet and the development of the judicial power with the creation of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Founding father of the nation and military leader, Washington became a symbol of freedom and liberty due to his protagonist role during the American Revolutionary War, an eight-year battle that culminated in North American autonomy, separate from the monarchical reign under Great Britain. Once president, Washington headed the group of men who drafted the U.S. Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln

Considered the wisest president to have occupied the Oval Office, Abraham Lincoln is remembered for his leadership, integrity, persistence, and compassion. During his presidency –interrupted prematurely by a bullet on an April evening–, the Republican was dedicated to uniting the nation after the Union’s victory in the American Civil War.

Contrary to Washington, the author of the famous line, “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” was a vocal opposer of slavery ever since he entered the political scene. In 1863, his iconic Emancipation Proclamation and energetic boost of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution set the bases to abolish slavery in American soil.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Known as the only president to have won four elections, Franklin Delano Roosevelt quickly became a spokesperson for hope in the country. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, he faced the nation submerged in unprecedented crises caused by the Great Depression of 1929.

The Democratic leader didn’t waste time to present his New Treaty, a series of reforms that made way for job creations, boost to agriculture, and infrastructure constructions. His second round of reforms included the creation of the Social Security System, and implementing higher taxes on the wealthy, always keeping in mind the well-being of the less fortunate. Apart from bringing stability to the impoverished nation he inherited, Roosevelt guided the nation through World War II.

1936: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) the 32nd President of the United States from 1933-45. A Democrat, he led his country through the depression of the 1930's and World War II, and was elected for an unprecedented fourth term of office in 1944. (Keystone Features/Getty Images)

1936: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 – 1945) the 32nd President of the United States from 1933-45. A Democrat, he led his country through the depression of the 1930’s and World War II, and was elected for an unprecedented fourth term of office in 1944. (Keystone Features/Getty Images)

James Buchanan

Out of the 45 men to have headed the world power, James Buchanan is constantly heralded as the worst president of the United States. His inaction is considered as the setting point to the Civil War –battle between states who either favored or opposed slavery, the bloodiest in U.S. history–, one month after Lincoln’s oath in 1861.

Although he was against slavery, Buchanan was a constant defender of the Constitution. Two days after he began his presidency, the Supreme Court determined that Congress didn’t have authority to regulate slavery, and prohibited citizenship to African-Americans. His call to accept that decision increased tensions among the states.

Andrew Johnson

The first president to have been prosecuted for impugnment in U.S. history reached the nation’s top executive rank after Abraham Lincoln’s murder in 1865. Prior to being elected as Lincoln’s vice president, Andrew Johnson opposed the Confederacy, composed of southern states who advocated for slavery.

However, his unexpected presidency was dominated by a handful of clashes with the radical Republicans in congress, who endorsed civil rights to freed slaves upon the North’s victory in the Civil War. Criticisms of Johnson’s legacy include his opposition to the first civil rights bill and the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, which protects African-Americans.

Richard Nixon

Although he isn’t considered to be the worst president in U.S. history, Richard Nixon is remembered as the only leader of the nation to have resigned his seat after his protagonist role in one of the most controversial political scandals to have shaken the nation: Watergate. Despite his alleged abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and infringement of the Constitution to ascend to power, he was never prosecuted thanks to the amnesty ceded by his successor, Gerald Ford.

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