26 December 2009

A Libertarian Ranking of the United States Presidents

Martin Van Buren: America's best president.Note: I have updated the list on 16 January 2013 to rate the entirety of Barack Obama's first four years as president. His score is -292, making him currently the second-worst President ever. But he is on pace to easily surpass George W. Bush's eight-year score of -332.

I enjoy reading rankings of the American presidents. But, it's very difficult to find libertarian presidential rankings. (I found only one online that is decent, but there is also a book.) Most rankings are problematic because they reward successful conquests and legislating as much as possible. Shouldn't presidents be commended for not killing people and for giving us as much freedom as possible? Another problem is that we rarely read about what presidents actually did. All we read is the twisted propaganda (e.g., Lincoln preserved the nation, FDR got us through the Great Depression). And so, my goal in this article, which took about 60 hours of research over two months to create, is to (1) objectively rank the 43 US presidents from best to worst by libertarian standards and (2) summarize and score the actions that they took.

The Greats


The Near Greats

1. Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
Good: Deregulated finances (+5), supported gold and silver as money (+7),[1] advocated lower tariffs (+4) and free trade (+4), opposed war abroad (+8),[2] kept federal troops out of Mormon War (+9), laissez-faire policies during Panic of 1837 (+9).[3]
Bad: Implemented Trail of Tears (-10).[4]
Score: 34

2. Grover Cleveland (1885-1889, 1893-1897)
Good: Vetoed hundreds of pension expansion bills and other wasteful spending (+9), fought against numerous tariffs (+7), fought valiantly for gold standard (+10), despised imperialism and prevented American colonialism in the Congo (+10),[5] appointed government employees by merit (+5), reduced number of government employees (+4),[6] refused to annex Hawai'i (+9).[7]
Bad: Created Interstate Commerce Commission (-2), Dawes Act (-3), Scott Act (-3), used Army to forcefully stop Pullman Strike (-10), pushed Britain out of Latin America with interventions/threats (-10).[8]
Score: 26

3. John Tyler (1841-1845)
Good: Vetoed Third Bank (+9) twice,[9] vetoed tariff bill (+5),[10] ended Second Seminole War (+7), held back federal troops in Dorr Rebellion (+7), established trade with China (+2),[11] established role of Vice President while fending off Henry Clay (+2).[12]
Bad: Annexed Texas (led to war with Mexico) (-10).[13]
Score: 20

4. Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)
Good: Oversaw Roaring Twenties (+5) and budget surpluses (+5), reduced national debt somewhat (+3), almost no inflation despite existence of Fed (+4),[14] resisted federal crop pricing (+5),[15] despised and minimized regulation (+9),[16] massively decreased income taxes but raised estate tax and created gift tax (+5),[17] granted citizenship to Native Americans (+1),[18] anti-war but pro-self-defense Kellogg-Briand Pact (+9),[19] withdrew from Dominican Republic (+8).[20]
Bad: Signed race-based Immigration Act of 1924 (-2), mismanaged Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 (-3), supported Mexico against rebels (-10) and maintained occupations of Nicaragua (-10) and Haiti (-10).[21]
Score: 19

5. Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)
Good: Clayton-Bulwer Treaty (+8), stopped Narciso López's filibustering expedition to Cuba (+9), opposed Compromise of 1850 (+1).[22]
Bad: Nothing.
Score: 18

6. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
Good: General Mining Act of 1872 (+9), supported equal rights for blacks and Native Americans (Fifteenth Amendment) (+4), favored but failed to institute civil service reform (+1),[23] vetoed Inflation Bill of 1874 (+7), cut taxes (+6), lowered debt (+3), fired 2,248 government employees (+6),[24] de facto gold standard (+8),[25] Specie Payment Resumption Act (+7), avoided war with Spain/Cuba despite Virginius Affair (+9),[26] peaceful Treaty of Washington (+6).
Bad: Created Office of Solicitor General (-1), left Reconstruction violence problems to state militias instead of Army but kept some federal troops in South (-2),[27] Ku Klux Klan Act that suspended habeas corpus (-9), wanted to annex Dominican Republic (-10),[28] intervened in Liberian-Grebo War (-10), Comstock laws (censorship) (-5), anti-Mormon Poland Act (-8), Civil Rights Act of 1875 (-9), numerous scandals (-2).[29]
Score: 10

7. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
Good: Swiftly ended severe depression of 1920–1921 by cutting spending (+7) and taxes (+7) and refusing to intervene in private economy (+9), leading to Roaring Twenties (+7),[30] pardoned Wilson's political prisoners (+2), signed peace treaties to end WWI (+3), called Washington Naval Conference for worldwide naval disarmament (+8),[31] immigration quota (+3),[32] Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (+1), wise Supreme Court choices (+2), supported blacks' rights (+2).[33]
Bad: Created Dept. of Veterans Affairs (-4),[34] protectionist Fordney-McCumber Tariff (-6), regulation/tax on grain futures (-4),[35] appointed allies who were involved in Teapot Dome Scandal (-2),[36] continued occupations of Dominican Republic (-10), Haiti (-10), and Nicaragua (-10).
Score: 5

The Average

8. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
Good: Vetoed post-war military occupation (+9), vetoed 14th Amendment for honorable reasons (+3), rightly fired Edwin Stanton (+1),[37] granted amnesty to Confederates (+2).[38]
Bad: Expansionist/costly Purchase of Alaska (-2), interfered with French in Mexico (-10).[39]
Score: 3

9. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
Good: Appointed Brigham Young as governor of Utah (+2),[41] didn't interfere in Europe (+9),[42] initiated White House library.[43]
Bad: Supported Compromise of 1850 (-1),[44] threatened to bomb Japan (-8).[45]
Score: 2

10. Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885)
Good: Ended spoils system with Pendleton Act (+6), lowered tariffs (+2),[46] advocated International Meridian Conference (+1).
Bad: Anti-Mormon Edmunds Act (-5), racist Chinese Exclusion Act (-3).
Score: 1

11a. William Henry Harrison (1841-1841)
Good: Did no damage.
Bad: Nothing.
Score: 0

11b. James A. Garfield (1881-1881)
Good: Favored gold/silver as money (+2).
Bad: Didn't care for Mormons (-2).[47]
Score: 0

13. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)
Good: Ended Reconstruction and withdrew federal troops (+9),[48] vetoed inflationary Bland-Allison Act (+5).
Bad: Used federal troops to murder 70 striking workers (-10),[49] wanted to control Panama Canal (-5),[50] banned sale of alcohol at Army forts (-1).[51]
Score: -2

The Below Average

14. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)
Good: America "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy" (+9).[52]
Bad: Supported American System (-9), enraged South with Tariff of 1828 (-7).[53]
Score: -7

15a. Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
Good: Reduced taxes (+6) and paid down national debt (+8),[54] banned slavery in Northwest Territory (+7).[55]
Bad: Started Barbary Wars (-10),[56] unilaterally purchased Louisiana Territory (-5),[57] advocated Indian removal (-8),[58] Embargo Act of 1807 (-9).[59]
Score: -11

15b. Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Good: Tax Reduction Act of 1975 (+5), urged end to domestic oil price controls (+4),[60] refused to bail out bankrupt New York City (+9),[61] supported women's rights (+3),[62] helped expose (+8) and limit (+10) CIA activities,[63] helped create Human Rights Watch (+10),[64] legalized private gold ownership (+10).[65]
Bad: Supported Indonesian genocide in East Timor (-10),[66] 5 percent tax surcharge (-4),[67] urged deadly H1N1 vaccinations (-4),[68] Education for All Handicapped Children Act (-2), forceful rescue during Mayaguez_Incident (-10), requested huge financial aid for Southeast Asia (-10), vetoed end to military aid to Turkey (-10), gave in to Israel's request for US$2.59 billion in aid (-6),[69] funded Kurdish rebellion in Iraq (-10),[70] railroad subsidies (-4).[71]
Score: -11

17. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
Good: Opposed Civil War (+6),[72] installed heating in White House,[73] reduced national debt (+4).[74]
Bad: Ostend Manifesto (attempted annexation of Cuba) (-10), expansionist Gadsden Purchase (-2), caused Bleeding Kansas (-10).[75]
Score: -12

The Failures

18a. George Washington (1789-1797)
Good: Foreign policy of neutrality (+10),[76] set precedent for constitutional veto power (+9),[77] left office after two terms (+5).[78]
Bad: Created First Bank (-8), appointed Alexander Hamilton Secretary of the Treasury (-9),[79] introduced national draft (-10),[80] Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 (-5), used federal military to crush revolt against whiskey tax (-10).[81]
Score: -18

18b. James Monroe (1817-1825)
Good: Improved relations with Britain after war (+4),[82] did basically nothing in response to Panic of 1819 (+10).
Bad: Declared war on Seminole (-10) and Creek (-10) Indians in Spanish Florida (-10),[83] Monroe Doctrine (-2).[84]
Score: -18

20. James Buchanan (1857-1861)
Good: Refused to use force to stop Southern secession (+9).[85]
Bad: Pushed in favor of Dred Scott Decision (-2),[86] protectionist Morrill Tariff (-7),[87] anti-Mormon Utah War (-10),[88] supported pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution in Kansas (-3), ran deficits when hard money was accepted (-8).[89]
Score: -21

21. John Adams (1797-1801)
Good: Nothing.
Bad: Unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts (-9),[90] appointed John Marshall to Supreme Court (-5),[91] Quasi-War (-10).
Score: -24

22. James K. Polk (1845-1849)
Good: Supported Jacksonian economic policies (+9).[92]
Bad: Started war with Mexico (-10) and lied about it (-3),[93] provoked Britain in Oregon Territory negotiations (-8),[94] tried to buy Cuba (-10),[95] created Dept. of Interior (-3).[96]
Score: -25

23. William Taft (1909-1913)
Good: Peaceful free-trade treaties (+8).[97]
Bad: Added more tariffs with Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act (-6),[98] 80 antitrust suits (-4),[99] Dollar Diplomacy (-10), blatantly selfish intervention in Nicaragua (-10),[100] Sixteenth Amendment (-9),[101] white supremacist (-2).[102]
Score: -33

24. Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
Good: Believed in hard money (+9),[103] paid off national debt (+10), refused to recharter Second Bank (+8).[104]
Bad: Forced removals of Choctaw (-10), Creek (-10), Chickasaw (-10), Cherokee (-10), and Seminoles (-10),[105] threatened war with South Carolina over tariff (-7),[106] instituted spoils system (-6).[107]
Score: -36

25. James Madison (1809-1817)
Good: Nothing.
Bad: Started War of 1812 (-10),[108] Creek War (-10), occupied Spanish Florida (-10),[109] created Second Bank of the United States (-9).[110]
Score: -39

26. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Good: Deregulated oil prices and telecommunications (+6),[111] ended occupation of Panama Canal (+8),[112] wanted to withdraw from South Korea (+4),[113] sought disarming of nuclear weapons (+8),[114] Voyager Golden Record (+1).
Bad: Caused gasoline shortage (-7), funded Mujahideen (-10), signed FISA (-9) and CRA (-9),[115] backed Indonesia's genocide in East Timor (-10),[116] accelerated inflation but appointed Volcker to stop it (-4),[117] wanted to control prices (-8),[118] bailed out Chrysler (-8),[119] allowed Iran hostage crisis (-4).[120]
Score: -42

27. John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)
Good: Wanted to dismantle CIA (+5), refused to attack/send troops to Laos (+8), refused to bomb/invade Cuba during Cuban Missile Crisis (+8), wanted to abolish nuclear weapons and signed Partial Test Ban Treaty (+9),[121] attempted to prevent future bankruptcy with Executive Order 11110 (+4).[122]
Bad: Went along with CIA's disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion (-10), state-sponsored terrorism in Cuba (-10),[123] costly/failed "Alliance for Progress" in Latin America (-9), created Peace Corps (-3), funded/lied about successful South Vietnamese coup (-10),[124] fully supported coup in Iraq (-10),[125] spendy/foolish New Frontier programs (-9), sent 3,000 troops to protect James Meredith (-6),[126] wiretapped Martin Luther King, Jr. (-4),[127] influenced steel prices (-4),[128] violated Native Americans' rights by constructing Kinzua Dam (-5), costly/nonsensical "space race" (-4).[129]
Score: -50

28. William McKinley (1897-1901)
Good: Kept federal troops out of the South (+3),[130] Gold Standard Act (+9).
Bad: Annexed Hawai'i (-10),[131] signed the highest tariff to date (Dingley Act) (-7), contrived Spanish-American War (-10) in order to conquer Guam (-10), Puerto Rico (-10), Cuba (-10), and the Philippines (-10),[132] ensuing Philippine-American War (-10), sent American troops to crush Boxer Rebellion (-10).[133]
Score: -75

29. Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)
Good: Installed electricity in White House.[134]
Bad: Spendy Dependent and Disability Pension Act (-6), protectionist McKinley Tariff (-6), subsidized sugar (-5),[135] anti-capitalist Sherman Antitrust Act (-9),[136] supported free silver/Sherman Silver Purchase Act and depleted gold supply (-8)[137] attempted to establish naval base in Haiti (-10), seized Canadian ships in fishing dispute (-10), intervened in Chilean Civil War (-10), attempted annexation of Hawai'i (-10),[138] Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1890 (-2).[139]
Score: -76

30. George H. W. Bush (1989-1993)
Good: START I nuclear disarmament treaty with USSR (+7).
Bad: Broke promise and raised taxes (-7) in order to support increased spending (-7), increased welfare (-5), increased unemployment benefits (-5),[140] Americans with Disabilities Act (-6), regulatory Clean Air Act (-2), invaded Panama in order to remove Manuel Noriega from power (-10),[141] Gulf War (-10),[142] Andean Initiative (anti-drug military funding abroad) (-10),[143] intervened in 1989 Philippine coup attempt (-10), Operation Restore Hope in Somalia (-10), NAFTA (reduced tariffs but increased regulation and moved toward world government) (-3).[144]
Score: -78

31. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)
Good: Mediated Treaty of Portsmouth to end Russo-Japanese War (+4).
Bad: Created regulatory state via Meat Inspection Act (-6), Pure Food and Drug Act (-6), and railroad-killing Hepburn Act (-8), filed antitrust suit against Northern Securities Company (-6), desired war with numerous countries (-7), white supremacist (-2), brutal war against the Philippines (-10), unilaterally took over customs houses in Dominican Republic (-10), sent out entire battle fleet in order to intimidate Japan (-7), supported Panamanian rebels (-10) in order to build Panama Canal for America (-10),[145] high protectionist tariffs (-5), spendy/damaging "conservation" policies (-5), pushed for income tax (-6),[146] threatened to use Army to seize coal mines (-7).[147]
Score: -101

32. Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Good: Withdrew troops from Nicaragua (+8) and Haiti (+8), wanted to reduce world's navy (+6), mediated Treaty of Lima (+3).[169]
Bad: Told businesses not to reduce wages (-9),[170] Children's Charter that made government instead of parents responsible for children (-9),[171] expanded civil service (-4), 5.3 million acres for national parks/forests (-4), doubled veterans' hospitals (-2), created antitrust division (-6), air mail regulations (-3), proposed Dept. of Education (-5), pro-union Norris-La Guardia Act (-5),[172] loans to failed businesses (-9), unemployment relief (-8), farm subsidies (-6), price controls (-9),[173] white supremacist (-2),[174] Davis-Bacon Act (-6), Mexican Repatriation (-10), Smoot-Hawley Tariff (-8), Federal Home Loan Bank Act (-5), Revenue Act of 1932 (-8), Bonus Army (-10).
Score: -103

33. William J. Clinton (1993-2001)
Good: Utilized and promoted Internet technology (+4),[175] Defense of Marriage Act (left same-sex marriage laws to the states) (+7),[176] Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 (+3), Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act (improved but did not end welfare) (+6), supported Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (+5).
Bad: Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (-5),[177] 1993 World Trade Center Bombing (-10),[178] Brady Bill (-9),[179] health care reform attempt (-9), skyrocketed EITC socialism (-9),[180] caught lying about Monica Lewinsky affair (-2),[181] created SCHIP (-9), Digital Millennium Copyright Act (-8),[182] INS raid on Elián González (-6), Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (-9), Communications Decency Act (attempted to regulate Internet) (-6), increased minimum wage (-9),[183] Iraq Liberation Act (-10), Battle of Mogadishu (-10), non-combatant intervention in Rwanda (-4),[184] bombed Afghani civilians (-10) and a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory (-10),[185] bombed Yugoslavia (-10),[186] military intervention in Haiti (-10),[187] Waco Siege (-10),[188] regulatory "free trade" agreements (-5).[189]
Score: -145

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)
Good: Swiftly ended Korean War (+10),[190] did not intervene militarily in Hungarian Revolution of 1956 (+5).[191]
Bad: Arpaio-like fascist crackdown on "Mexican-looking" people (-8),[192] sent federal troops to protect Little Rock Nine (-7), government ownership of interstate highways (-7),[193] minor increase to debt despite efforts to balance budget (-2),[194] created SEATO (-7) and CENTO (-7), Pact of Madrid (-6), Operation Ajax (1953 Iranian coup d'état) (-10), Operation PBSUCCESS (1954 Guatemalan coup d'état) (-10), CIA intervention in Cuba/attempted assassination of Castro (-10),[195] Operation Blue Bat (sent Marines to suppress uprising against pro-American president of Lebanon) (-10), CIA assistance during Congo Crisis (-10), sent first soldiers/assistance to South Vietnam (-7),[196] strong-armed Britain/France/Israel to end Egyptian invasion during Suez Crisis (-1), document NSC 162/2 (built up and threatened attacks with nuclear weapons) (-9), 1960 U-2 incident (-8), created NASA in response to Sputnik (-7), signed Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (up to 91 percent income tax) (-9),[197] paranoid criminalization of joining Communist Party (-8),[198] created Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare (-9), appointed Earl Warren to Supreme Court (-9).[199]
Score: -146

35. Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Good: Lowered absurd defense spending level (+5),[200] opened normal relations with China (+8),[201] SALT I (+7),[202] ended draft (eventually) (+9).[203]
Bad: Bombed Cambodia (-10), Laos (-10), and Vietnam (-10),[204] continued Vietnam War for five years (-10),[205] increased Social Security (-8) and Medicare (-8) payments, billions of dollars more for food aid/public assistance (-8),[206] instituted multiple disastrous wage and price freezes (-9),[207] openly Keynesian and destroyed/inflated the dollar (-10) by eradicating the gold standard (-10),[208] 10 percent tax on all imports (-9),[209] created DEA (-9), EPA (-9), OSHA (-9), and CPSC (-9),[210] expanded "civil rights" (-9) and created affirmative action (-9),[211] continued costly/nonsensical "space race" (-4),[212] supported Pakistan/genocide against India (-10),[213] increased federal employees' wages (-4),[214] support for Israel (-9) that caused 1973 oil crisis (-9),[215] 55-MPH speed limit (-2),[216] Watergate (-5).
Score: -170

36. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)
Good: Freedom of Information Act (+5), significant income tax cut (+5).[217]
Bad: Mammoth 25 percent chicken tax (-7), egalitarian, divisive, freedom-killing Civil Rights Act of 1964 (-9),[218] Voting Rights Act (-9), Fair Housing Act (-9),[219] Age Discrimination in Employment Act (-9), Food Stamp Act (-9), Economic Opportunity Act (-8), Higher Education Act (-7), created Medicare (-10) and Medicaid (-10), Public Broadcasting Act (-7),[220] Elementary and Secondary Education Act (-9),[221] Gun Control Act (-9),[222] Immigration and Nationality Act (-9),[223] continued costly/nonsensical "space race" (-4),[224] sent in federal troops to deal with urban riots and wanted to spend billions more to 'solve' the problems (-10),[225] contrived, interventionist, costly Vietnam War (-10),[226] murdered/disabled millions of Vietnamese civilians with bombs/Agent Orange (-10),[227] drafted 2.2 million Americans (-10),[228] provoked USSR (-4),[229] milk co-op corruption (-3), continued wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr. (-4),[230] supported overthrow of democratically elected leaders of Dominican Republic (-10)[231] and Brazil (-10).[232]
Score: -186

37. Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)
Good: Nothing.
Bad: Created Federal Reserve (-10), created federal income tax (-10),[233] Adamson Act (imposed eight-hour workday) (-8), Clayton Antitrust Act (-8), unnecessarily entered Europe's war (-10),[234] created League of Nations (-9), Espionage Act of 1917 (-9), Sedition Act of 1918 (-9), militarily forced Nicaragua (-10) and Haiti (-10) to do what he wanted,[235] brutal occupation of Dominican Republic (-10),[236] sent troops to Mexico (-10)[237] and Russia (-10),[238] created Federal Trade Commission (-8), socialist Federal Farm Loan Act (-8), Prohibition (-9), caused disastrous Treaty of Versailles (-10),[239] Harrison Narcotics Act (-9),[240] draft (-10),[241] Palmer Raids (-9), white supremacist (-2).[242]
Score: -188

38. Harry S Truman (1945-1953)
Good: Integrated armed forces (+3),[243] chose Berlin Airlift over more threatening options (+2).
Bad: Dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima (-10) and Nagasaki (-10), demanded Japan's unconditional surrender (-3),[244] seized control of railroads (-8) and threatened to draft striking railroad workers (-9),[245] fathered "containment" by giving US$400 million to Greece (-10) and Turkey (-10) to "fight communism," created CIA for expensive, secret wars (-10), US$17 billion Marshall Plan for Europe (-9), joined NATO military alliance (-6), massive Keynesian increase in military spending (-8), unconstitutional Korean War (-10), gave France US$500 million per year to fight Ho Chi Minh (-10), wanted to seize meat industry (-4), seized steel industry (-8), created concept of ridiculously costly Third World aid (-9), created Israel in order to win Jewish votes (-10), endorsed vindictive Nuremberg trials (-2), Operation Keelhaul (-10), corrupt administration (-2),[246] proposed national health insurance (-5),[247] Housing Act of 1949 (-7), Social Security Act of 1950 (-7), high inflation (-5), supported creation of UN (-8),[248] draft (-10).[249]
Score: -195

39. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
Good: Fired 11,359 striking federal air traffic union employees after giving them a fair warning (+8), loosened national 55-MPH speed limit law (+2).[250]
Bad: Intervened in Lebanese Civil War (-10),[251] intervened in Iraq-Iran War (-10),[252] Iran-Contra Affair (-10), bombed Libya (-10),[253] invasion of Grenada (-10), funded murderous military groups in Colombia (-10), El Salvador (-10), Guatemala (-10), Panama (-10),[254] Honduras (-10),[255] Nicaragua (-10), Afghanistan (-10), Mozambique (-10), Angola (-10), and Cambodia (-10),[256] crackdown/war against "all drugs" (-9),[257] claimed to lower taxes while raising them, especially for Social Security (-7),[258] massive spending that tripled debt from US$1 trillion to US$3 trillion (-9),[259] increased government regulation (-4), expanded government departments (-4), encouraged inflation (-5), protectionist trade policies (-8), expanded foreign aid (-8), heavy restrictions on "sinful" choices (smoking/drinking/pornography) (-8).[260]
Score: -202

40. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)
Good: Economy Act (cut federal salaries and veteran payments) (+5), vetoed Bonus Bill (+3), approved abolishment of Prohibition (+5),[261] completed end to occupation of Haiti (+7).
Bad: Seized gold from citizens (-9) and forbid owning it (-9),[262] suspended gold standard (-9) and revalued gold from US$20.67 to US$35 after Treasury had taken it (-9),[263] took control of banks (-9),[264] Agricultural Adjustment Act that forced up prices (-8) while destroying farmland/animals (-7), federal monopoly of bungling Tennessee Valley Authority (-7),[265] insane National Industrial Recovery Act that created 500 cartels (-9),[266] National Labor Relations Act (surged labor costs) (-7), US$3.3 billion Public Works Administration (-4), National Recovery Administration featuring price-fixing (-9) and minimum wages (-8), blatantly coercive, ruinous, Madoff scheme known as Social Security (-10), Works Progress Administration, Civilian Conservation Corps, etc. (costly pointless temp jobs) (-6),[267] created SEC (-9),[268] United States Housing Authority (-9), extreme tax increases (-9),[269] allowed Pearl Harbor (-10) in order to enter WWII (-10),[270] German-American internment (-9), Italian-American internment (-9), Japanese-American internment (-10), drafted 10 million Americans (-10),[271] complete firebombing of Dresden (-10), ended two-term limit (-3),[272] Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (-7), authorized Manhattan Project (-10).
Score: -215

41. Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)
Good: Did not finish second term.
Bad: Started catastrophic war (-10) in order to prevent freedom to secede (-10), murdered 350,000 Americans (-10), white supremacist who did not care about slaves and tried to deport all blacks to Liberia (-9), destroyed 10th Amendment (-9), suspended habeas corpus (-9), Union blockade (-5), imprisoned 15,000 political opponents without a trial (-9), shut down newspapers (-8), restricted firearm ownership (-8), rigged elections (-4), started draft (-10) and murdered its protesters (-10), divided Virginia for electoral advantage (-6), ordered destruction (-9), plundering (-9), rape (-9), and murder (-10) of Southern civilian towns,[273] used European mercenaries (-6),[274] Chicago machine "pay to play" politician (-2),[275] nationalized railroads (-7), anti-capitalist (mercantilist) policies: Morrill Tariff (-7), National Banking Act (-9), greenbacks (-9), and deficits (-7), genocidal policy toward Sioux (-10),[276] Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act (-3), created temporary income tax in order to fund Civil War (-9),[277] made medicine contraband during war (-10),[278] attempted assassination of Jefferson Davis (Dahlgren Affair) (-10),[279] used water torture on Northern civilians (-9),[280] cotton industry takeover/cronyism (-9).[281]
Score: -261

42. Barack Obama (2009–2013)
Good: Ended moratorium on drilling (+4), New START (+1), withdrew troops from Iraq (+5)
Bad: Lied about closing Guantanamo (-10), drone strikes in Pakistan (-10), continued Afghanistan genocide (-10), auto regulations (-7), billions for "AIDS" (-5), Ledbetter Act (-3), CHIP (-4), US$787 billion ARRA (-9), major expansion of AmeriCorps (-5), furthered reliance on federal government in states with high unemployment (-6), Omnibus Appropriations Act (-5), sanctions against Iranian people (-9), murder of Somalis (-10) and Yemenis (-10), Omnibus Public Land Management Act (-4), "see something say something" police state (-9), doubled foreign aid (-10), persecution of Julian Assange (-10), tobacco regulations (-6), health care reform (-10) that coerced ownership (-10), Shepard Act (-3), Haiti aid (-2), banking regulations (-7), threw money at the worst schools (-3), Libya intervention (-10), Benghazi scandal (-10), Fast & Furious scandal (-10), EPA regulations (-8), debt ceiling drama (-5), proposed even more spending (-8), assassination of American Anwar al-Awlaki (-10), Syria intervention (-10), NDAA (-10), STOCK Act (-4), "you didn't build that" (-2), soaked the rich (-9), raised Social Security tax (-9), post-Newtown gun regulation (-10) via tyrannical executive decree (-10)[313]
Score: -292

43. George Walker Bush (2001-2009)
Good: Significant tax cuts (+5),[282] opposed Kyoto Protocol (+5).[283]
Bad: 9/11 (-10), invasion of Afghanistan (-10),[284] Military Commissions Act that ended habeas corpus (-9),[285] USA PATRIOT Act that destroyed civil liberties: spying on citizens (-9), restriction of freedom of association (-7), seizure of private "evidence" (-9), indefinite suspensions without evidence (-9), as well as various regulations/expenditures (-9), tortured prisoners (-9),[286] created No Child Left Behind (further federal control over education) (-7), Sarbanes-Oxley Act (-9), Iraq invasion (-10) and occupation (-10), created Dept. of Homeland Security (centralized police state) (-9),[287] vastly expanded Medicare (-8),[288] Energy Policy Act of 2005 (-6), $286 billion for transportation projects (-7),[289] Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (-5), spending to overthrow Iran's government (-10),[290] wasteful spending on Vision for Space Exploration (-4), steel tariff (-5), US$1 billion for tsunami aid (-1),[291] Hurricane Katrina incompetence/martial law (-4),[292] incredible spending/deficits (-9),[293] funded Somali warlords against ICU (-10),[294] supported Ethiopian invasion of Somalia (-10),[295] attempted coup in Venezuela (-10),[296] provoked Palestinian civil war after Hamas was democratically elected (-10),[297] attempted destabilization of Pakistan (-10),[298] orchestrated civic coup in Bolivia (-10),[299] Operation Pipe Dreams/expanded drug war at home (-7)[300] and militarily abroad (-10),[301] "counterterrorism" military training abroad (-10),[302] restricted Second Amendment (Project Safe Neighborhoods) (-4),[303] nationalized (-9) and bailed out (-9) economic disasters,[304] encouraged easy credit/housing bubble (-8),[305] created "free-speech zones" (-7),[306] one-million people on "no fly lists" (-9),[307] TSA searches (-7),[308] US$190 billion farm subsidies (-7),[309] Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (-4), sought partial privatization of Social Security that would have accelerated borrowing/spending (-2),[310] no-bid contract corruption (-2),[311] vetoed less than any other President (-2).[312]
Score: -332


  1. Overall a good and well thought out policy based list, although I think that DOMA should have counted AGAINST Clinton rather than for him, as it worked against equal protection under the law and did more than leave the matter to the states by saying that, regardless of what the states say, the feds only recognize heterosexual marriage. The only marriage bill that should earn libertarianism points is one that privatizes marriage.

  2. Appointing Brigham Young governor was a good decision? Should have appointed that fraud to the gallows...b

  3. Ah, I get it. See, I've read "Recarving Rushmore" and you pretty much lifted their list cold. Also, and as an ancap, I'll mention their list (and thus yours) seem to intentionally overlook a lot of the back story of how these events came to pass, using only a "straight from the textbook" view of a much more complex and devious historical record.

  4. I haven't read Recarving Rushmore. It's pretty insulting to say that I 'lifted' it when I linked to my sources (which were usually Wikipedia and lewrockwell.com combined with some Google).

    I apologize for not being an expert on every historical figure nor on every piece of legislation. You may be right.

    1. You didn't "lift" it at all! Recarving had Carter at #8! And Wilson was dead last.

  5. A lot of stuff I didn't know about. Great post, you've given me a lot to read about!

  6. It is tough to put a quantitative number to do what you attempted. Obviously, the problem is that you only got the major legislation or acts and rated those. That has no bearing on how a president really did on everyday things. Generally, Jefferson is considered the most libertarian despite the Louisiana Purchase. The way your rankings are calculated, war or threat of war are always negative and racism is negative (on a libertarian scale... it is a bad thing), but if it has no effect on legislation passed or signed, why would it? Just wondering. Obviously someone could despise drugs, prostitution, and other things, but not place prohibitions on them. I would find that to be very libertarian. You took the path that disliking any of those were a negative even if it did not make a change to policy.

  7. Good comment. My thinking is that, for example, although Garfield did nothing, he made strong anti-Mormon comments in his inaugural address (viz., they're immoral, criminal, and undermining federal authority). Surely such comments from the President influence popular thinking and how elected officials act. Thus, a small deduction.

    For the record, I'm not Mormon. And I gave a positive score to appointing Brigham Young because he fiercely defended Utah from federal interference. His role in the Mountain Meadows massacre is questionable. Evidence (his belated letter) suggests that he did not desire it.[1]

    1. Shouldn't Supported compromise of 1850 count as more than -1?

  8. Accuracy (-2)

    Millard Fillmore didn't put the bathtub in the White House.


  9. Interesting post, and like others have said it gives a lot of things to think about and read up on. My only qualm is why do you (like many others) use Obama's full middle name, when you either leave out others or just use the initial (except for G. W. Bush and J. Q. Adams)? Is it done on purpose to be inflammatory? If so it takes away from your otherwise very well researched arguments.

  10. I use his full name in order to distinguish him from his father. I will change it so that no one thinks that I'm one of those people who thinks that he's a secret Muslim terrorist.

  11. The creation of Social Security ranks the same as supporting the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia? wow.

  12. As a retired ship's employee who in the latter years had become increasingly concerned over piracy and the fact that we were not allowed to carry arms, I am curious as to your categorization of the killing of the Somali pirates as "murder."

    Those Somalis forfeited any rights they had the moment they forced their way onto that ship at gun point and took a hostage. I imagine you'd feel quite a bit differently about it if the shots had not been taken and the hostage had died.

    Life at sea is one of the last free frontiers, and it is not for the squeamish. People living there should be allowed to protect their lives and liberty.

  13. The noble Somali privateers are not typical pirates, such as the ones found in Indonesia and Nigeria. They are defending Somalia from trawlers and dumpers. It was well-known that their policy is not to kill.

    1. Actually, they are killers, and you have crossed the line.

  14. What an absolutely ridiculous list! WOW! Any list that puts Warren G. Harding, Martin Van Buren, and Ulysses S. Grant as "near great" Presidents made me dumber for reading it.

  15. LOL, a Democrat high school teacher. How dare I not agree with the answer key in your liberal textbook. Paste some of your public school propaganda for me.

  16. My universal reply to the variety of self-important, dopey comments that I have read around the Internet: read the sources to which I have linked.

    And no, I'm not a "roll over and die pacifist." If you break into someone's house and they pull out a gun, it does not suddenly become self-defense when you murder them.

  17. Stunningly wrongheaded, but a fun read.

    If you redefine libertarianism enough then I guess this works, but by classic libertarian values your rankings make no sense at all. Clearly influenced by the Austrian school twaddle and the Ron Paul isolationist, states-rights revisionism that's become so popular with the repugnant crypto-birchers who claim to be libertarians these days.

    Plus it also highlights the fact that the people who fit your particular libertarian mold include some of the worst presidents we've ever had.


  18. Another "you're wrong, just because" nobody. Build an argument for me to destroy.

  19. Solid list. Although I think it would be better to just list the good and the bad rather than use a points system. Back when I was a more hardcore libertarian my list would've looked something like this.

    I would put Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Eisenhower higher. I know many libertarians despise Lincoln, but there have been plenty of presidents who have done worse (Wilson, FDR, and L.B. Johnson are at the bottom of my list). Lincoln could only be called a "trendsetter" at worst.

  20. Excellent post, overall. I would've left out the "home improvement" things (plumbing, heating, etc). The don't seem to serve much purpose, especially considering they don't garner any points (therefore making them neutral, not good or bad). Also, several are called white supremacists. While abhorrent, having an opinion is not reason enough to dock points. You should have cited just how racism affected executive performance. Upon initial reading, you seemed sort of obsessed with Mormon issues, but I think on further reflection, Mormonism was sort of the Islam of the 19th century with the paranoia and conspiracy theories we see today. Anti-Catholicism has also been a huge problem in US history, though. I may also take issue with the number of points assigned to each issue and probably am with Mr Tuba on DOMA. But all in all, I really enjoyed reading this and I appreciate all the work you put into it. Thanks a lot!

  21. I just want to comment and say I will post about your excellent work here eventually. Probably tomorrow. Your timing was absolutely the worst for me.

  22. That's sweet of you.

    I addressed Mormonism and white supremacy in earlier comments. I'd like to add that I added the minor White House improvement things (with no points awarded) because it subtly makes it more quirky and absurd. It makes it a properly libertarian list.

  23. I hope that if you do comment on this post ever, you'll make more terrible comments about Muslims. Appalling is not a strong enough word. You swallow the propaganda like it's my semen.

  24. I was going to make a long, intelligent reply but I got FIOS early and live sports + torrent + porn overload ensued. 25MB/25MB, I'm in heaven.

    So, I'll just rant.

    My main issue is that your ranking system is rendered meaningless by lack of research, bias, and vast negativity. The 19th century Presidents have the advantage of less information easily found about them. Mr. 43 Bush is penalized because you wanted to make a point.

    My other issue is that every war act is a negative. I know you feel war is necessary at times, and libertarians also do reacting in self-defense. So, what's the deal. That's not libertarianism. That's ridiculous utopism.

    Bush loses 10 points for 9/11, and 10 for Afghanistan. That is terrible. And Clinton loses nothing for this matter.

    What propaganda concerning Mohammedanism? Every time I read a news outlet, it's about how they do no wrong and we have to accept them. I fail to see why people refuse to accept, and get so angry, by saying what Mohammedanism is, and the vile man that Mohammed was. It's main doctrine states that they should kill others. Kill you and me. And a significant amount of them do so. What steams my buttons is when people think I'm racist because of this. I'm completely against racial profiling. But, when I know a Mohammedan is near, I will protect vigilantly. People choose to be in this cult of death, hatred and misogyny.

    Also, not all annexes are bad. King Kamehameha asked for Hawaii to be taken by the United States.

    Your thoughts on Israel is what's appalling. Now I'm done.

  25. I am fully capable of going "line by line" and shredding every sentence you wrote. But you intermix your genuine bigotry with time-wasting baiting well enough that I'll just not bother communicating with you. Enjoy your FIOS and your life in Buffalo, my neoconservative, erstwhile companion.

  26. I think you were a little unfair to W, giving -10 for 911 and the invasion of Afghanistan. Also if he lost points for Project Safe Neighborhoods then he should have gained points for letting the federal assault weapons ban expire. He also said no to sending military troops into Buffalo NY when Cheney and Addington wanted to. He also passed the Disaster Recovery Personal Protection Act, which is redundant since we have the second amendment, but I would blame the martial law in New Orleans on Mayor Nagin and Eddie Compass, not so much Bush. Overall I thought the list was pretty good, especially Lincoln being at the bottom where he belongs despite most people normally rating him as number 1.

  27. Jeff from Detroit26 March, 2010 08:51

    Mostly good except for the ranking of things that were not actually policy (i.e. 9/11 for Bush and Roaring Twenties for Coolidge).

    I have done a similar ranking, although only for domestic policy (not foreign policy), and mine is:
    Most Libertarian:
    1) Taylor
    2) Polk
    3) Monroe
    4) Ford
    5) Coolidge
    Most Statist:
    1) Truman
    2) Wilson
    3) F. Roosevelt
    4) Hoover
    5) T. Roosevelt

  28. Had to laugh at the "good" rating for Barack Obama for more government transparency! Promised to hold public hearings for Health Care Reform, promised to make bill public and give Americans time/input. What a JOKE!

  29. Note that I wrote this post in 2009 and tried to project Obama as well as I could. If I update it in 2012, he'll probably be as bad as Bush II, or worse.

  30. I feel that ever since WWII and the creation of the CIA that our Presidents have been just marionettes when it comes to our militaristic ways. Look what happen to Kennedy. Also, I know this is based strictly on policy and libertarian (which I confess to be one) viewpoints. But the Presidents of the past 20 years (Clinton and Bush, mostly Bush) will take alot of time to come to fruition, as to whether he will be judged positively or negatively, on the broader political spectrum. Some of the bubbles that were produced during Clintons years, just came to burst. But your list is great, seems to have taken alot of time and effort!

  31. How did you decide how many points to add or subtract? I'm really curious about that. Otherwise, a great list.

  32. Decisions to murder or cause widespread economic ruin are -10 points. Likewise, major decisions in the interest of peace and sound money are +10. Scores in between are a matter of how relatively (un)important the decisions were.

  33. Great job on the list Xavier. However I would disagree with the WORST President of all time. In my opinion that distiction should go to Harry Truman. The second worst I would agree with Lincoln. The third worst I would put Wilson. The fourth worst would go to Franklin Roosevelt. Finally Obama would be the fifth worst. And GW Bush would be the sixth.

  34. Calvin Coolidge is the last President that I recognize. The rest can go to hell. Including the next one, and probably every one after that until the State ceases to exist.

  35. I can see how Truman could be rated as the worst. Dropping two nuclear bombs on Japan is among the most horrendous crimes ever committed. I don't really care about the exact order. They were all terrible, but some were really fucking terrible.

    Nobody should be respected for ruling over us, Leelee. The only possible exception would be if an anarcho-capitalist infiltrated politics and got elected, and then did everything possible to destroy the State from within. Ron Paul's economics are excellent (the same could even be said of Bachmann) but I need the absolute freedom to do anything I desire (except commit crimes).

  36. Bachmann is an ethanol subsidy queen who has already lied her ass off about that and would spend billions to murder "terrorists". She's just as bad. Tea Party rhetoric can be pleasing to me, but they're all a bunch of social cons.

    I don't respect any form of government, even if I agree with them. That's pure propaganda garbage. But, I think it's important to follow and know the best choice to vote for. Because that's all we can do for now.

  37. Ron Paul would be, by far, the best President in America's history. But I still can't over the "choosing the lesser evil" issue. I do not want the State to exist. Maybe his election would help pave the way for lesser and lesser government until there is none at all, though.

  38. Ron Paul has no chance of getting the Republican nomination, though. As long as he sticks with his non-interventionism, neocons will think he's the devil. It saddens that his followers fight so fervently.

  39. As for the top four of the list I can agree with you, though not quite in that order. I guess it is pretty much subjective anyway. Each was unique in their own respect.

    I would also agree that RON PAUL would be the Greatest President we ever had.

  40. I bet Obama is farther down the list as of now.

  41. Anonymous, in my opinion he would be the 5th worst.

  42. Obama +2 for increased government transparency??? Are you out of your mind? Did you miss the fast and furious operation that the White House is doing everything in its power to conceal what happened? Or what about the fraud at Solyndra that they are trying to cover up. Or the biggest one of them all, Obamacare? That was 2500 pages of law that got shoved down our throat before anyone even got to read what was in it. You libertarians are almost the same as liberals. The political spectrum is really a circle. When you go so far right you end up on the left side of the spectrum.

  43. There is a disclaimer at the top of the article that reads

    Note: I have not updated the list since its initial creation. If I did, Barack Obama would be in the bottom three.

    The article was written two years ago. It is conservatives and liberals who are the same, because they do not understand private property rights.

  44. My thoughts, and they are just thoughts, not argument (comparing ePenis) points:

    1) The Mormon issues have not been satisfactorily resolved. "Didn't care for Mormons"? Really? That takes points away? How about other Presidents that "didn't care for" Jews, or Muslims, or Indians, or slaves? That's a pretty subjective issue to judge some Presidents on, and not every single one.

    2) Speaking of which. The issues are completely subjective as to which issues were chosen, and which were not. Why did a few Presidents get penalized for fighting against certain Indian tribes, yet you left out dozens of other tribes. Same can be said for many other issues. Many Presidents lowered certain taxes or tariffs. Many minor and some major.

    3) Most lists and rankings of Presidents will leave out the most recent Presidents of say, the past 20 or 40 years. Personal bias and political frustrations will always will play into the rankings. Not to mention that Presidents are viewed by their contemporaries in a much different way than their legacy is viewed by the next generations. That said, your hatred of Bush 43 comes out loud and clear. I agree that he was not a libertarian (and I'm not a fan), but you take your hatred to an extreme and were searching for any little thing to discredit him for. After reading your comments, the same could be said of your feelings toward Obama.

    4) I understand that Presidents have not been very libertarian, but you seem to have gone on a quest to look for negatives, and ignore positive libertarian traits and actions. Yes you have given a few positive points, but very few.

    5) I completely agree that the Islamaphobe commenter doesn't deserve a response.

  45. In James Garfield's inaugural address, regarding polygamy in Mormonism, he stated that it is the duty of Congress "to prohibit within its jurisdiction all criminal practices, especially of that class which destroy the family relations and endanger social order. Nor can any ecclesiastical organization be safely permitted to usurp in the smallest degree the functions and powers of the National Government." That is easily worth at least -2 points.

    Most people don't get that Presidents have done a lot more stuff since the Fed/WWI in the 1910s. I didn't leave out much regarding the Presidents in the 1800s. They just didn't do much. I included and rated every action of note that I found. Today's Presidents do a lot more and it's almost always for the worse, like the police state that Bush and Obama have created.

  46. As a High School History Teacher (NOT a liberal one, thank you!), I can easily justify my comments and refute your idea that Presidents of the 1800's "didn't do much".

    This is a great start, but I can tell you only did 60 hours of research, because most of it was for the modern Presidents.

  47. Apologies for my Mohammedan post in January 2010. It took some time to me to shed my neoconservative brainwashing.

    I also have to disagree that presidents did this much less pre-Fed. There just isn't much written proof of what they did. Lincoln is the exception because people have done vast research to dispute the biggest lie in American history. I'm far from a historian, but for example, I could include numerous boundary disputes that were a bunch of stupid nonsense.

  48. Well, I was a left-libertarian. I think that anyone who is neocon, liberal, or whatever is mainly a product of culture. It is mainly social pressure rather than government's laws that influences our behavior. When other people around you encourage blatant violation of property rights, you don't realize the error of the thinking. But, from what I've seen and personally experienced, when one is properly educated on economics and politics, there is eventually that moment called 'epiphany.' That moment where you you keeping reading because you just can't deny that something about it is right. You think to yourself, "Oh my Tebow, now it all makes sense."

    Back to Presidents, I really can't believe this point is debatable... Look at the Death and Taxes chart. Look at the US debt. All of the massive spending and expansion of government programs started around the 1910s and has been generally been accelerating. In the 1800s there were no Depts of Energy, H&HS, Education, Transportation, Homeland Security, etc. in addition to the gargantuan entitlement programs. Back then the idea that "the best government is that which governs least" was actually normal, as opposed to today's insanity of "government must do everything." I will likely say more about this issue soon.

  49. Rant here.

    I made a rare trip to the U.S. Post Office on Thursday. I was sending a Tebow Christmas card to Steph. Anyway, what a communist hellhole. I knew that going in, but it made me want to weep. I knew not to go on a Monday, but there was still the standard 5-10 minute wait in line. I watched one guy interact with a megacunt parasite. He had a box marked 'very fragile.' And he was politely asking about whether it would be handled properly. Of course it won't at USPS, but the lady was being a total bitch, basically saying shit like, "At this time of year?" At FedEx boxes get mashed around too, but we always repair open/damaged packages, if possible. USPS doesn't give a fuck about your package because they have no profit incentive. How else are you going to send a first class package? You can't. Coercive fucking monopoly bitchez.

    All of that was expected, however. What really bothered me was how this one lady was treated. She was there with her little boy, age about 5 or so. She was just doing her thing, filling out some forms or whatever, and letting the kid look around. And I mean literally everyone in the post office acted like she was the worst parent ever. "Ma'am can you please control your child?" "Someone could grab him!" "He's going to get hit by the door!" Fuck the heck? The kid was about 10 feet away and doing nothing disruptive. It got to me because it seems like Americans now are totally out of control in regard to forcing others to do what they want. Like North Korea, nobody even knows what liberty really is. You try to explain it to them and they think you're a nutjob (look at Ron Paul). When you look at the political compass, I think this country isn't moving left or right but it is moving upward—toward that Hitler/Palin area of no social liberty.

  50. How is FDR not the worst? He was a DICTATOR, backed by the Federal Reserve, that implemented some of the Statist policies the country has ever had and still has. Not to mention when he confiscated the nation's gold to bail out the Fed.

  51. Because FDR's total points placed him 40th out of 43. Hey, he sucked, I agree. Lincoln, Bush II, and Obama sucked even more.

  52. Xavier and Anonymous, the one thing you both seem to forget is FDR's biggest blunder and that is his support for Truman's Democratic vice presidential nomination of 1944 election.

    I would rank FDR as the 4th worst and Truman as the worst.

  53. There were a lot of horrible Presidents: Obama, W, Lincoln, FDR, Reagan, Truman, Wilson, LBJ, Nixon. The exact order is debatable. I would say Obama is the worst.

  54. Xavier, you believe Obama is the currently worst ever now. I would love to see you up date his record and show the readers just how bad this guy really is, from Lybia to NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), Drone attacks that killed a US citizen, to US credit rating down grade, and on and on. I'm sure with a little more research, given the fact that we could be facing another 4 more years of this guy, it would be good for people to see just what we can expect with another 4 more years of Obama.

  55. Explain to me how treating people equally in public accomadations is a minus for grant? The civil rights act of 1874? PUBLIC. Not private

  56. I will update Obama at the end of his first term (for now I'm assuming that there will be a second one). His personal slogan should be "everything I do is wrong." A score of -400 wouldn't surprise me.

    I know, it's difficult to understand opposition to the Civil Rights Acts. People assume that you're a racist if you oppose them. First, 'public accommodations' include privately owned businesses (inns and theatres are specifically named). The Civil Rights Acts are problematic because the Feds basically say that they can tell you what to do with your private property and because the racial integration is coercive rather than voluntary, thus creating resentment.

  57. Not necessarily. Public accomodations don't have to include private. For example, the civil rights act of 1864 talked about specifically both. Not only that, even if you are correct, that means we are obligated to cut social security benefits along with medicare and medicaid since they are unconstitutional.

    1. I would be thrilled if Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid were cut to zero.

    2. I have paid in all my life, I would like to see something out of that. It was supposed to be a sort of trust fund, but got leined on (robbed) so hard, the solvency is fake.

      I agree a better way is needed, because had I been able to see that money go into an interest bearing fund since 14 years old, I could retire now (I'm 57). Now I have to wait until I'm 67. Another rat trap deal foisted on us.

      However, I like Ron Paul's concept of gradual phase out, protecting those that have paid in. Any other way would be robbery on top of robbery. I have also paid into Medicare for over a couple decades, so I have invested in that as well. But yea, they are doomed to fail and should be carefully tweaked until a vested interest program can replace them.

  58. So we should also cut the aid we give to everyone right now to zero? Lol some libertarians make me laugh

    1. Absolutely, and I would be happy to refute any argument you present in favor of aid.

    2. extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice

    3. I have already made my arguement. But I see you are very young. SS can be considered as fatally flawed, but I assure you, if you had paid in for 43 years (a huge sum) without warning in time to not feel reliant, you would have a different view. SS is not a welfare program.

      Most people, who have worked all their lives, have paid in far more than they will see back. It's not nice to see "20 somethings" decide it's okay to toss all of us under the train. We didn't make the rules, we just financed them. ;)

    4. We don't really disagree here. I want the programs ended immediately, but anyone who paid should get back what was robbed from them. I wrote a whole article about how we should get back the money that the State has stolen from us. The State only owes me about US$20,000. Compensate me and then end the Ponzi.

  59. Jeff from Detroit13 February, 2012 05:10

    I like Harding and Coolidge in general, but you missed Harding's government healthcare for women and children, and Coolidge's farm subsidies.

    My real problem with your way of grading presidents is that you include things they say not just what they do (policy is more important than rhetoric in my opinion), things that happen outside of presidential control (e.g. 9/11, "oversaw roaring twenties"), and you use an adding and subtracting sytem rather than just an adding system (theoretically a president could nuke New York City and kill 10 million people, but still be considered the most libertarian president in history if they cut taxes 100 times).

  60. Good attempt, thanks for doing a lot of leg work, but it would have been best served to ask the community for its input for the point system.

    If I was a teacher, I would give it a C for effort, but there are still too many things left off your list, and the Good and Bad are totally subjective. It should be easy to take their policies or actions and compare it to pure Libertarianism.

    Gotta say how tired and boring it is that Libertarians hate Lincoln so much, too. It's amazing how close minded you guys are about Lincoln preserving the Union in the way he did.

    It's kind like baseball stat heads who rip Derek Jeter's defense- technically correct but misses the BIG PICTURE.

    Zachary Taylor > Van Buren due to Trail of Tears. The original list online at http://www.campaignforliberty.com/blog.php?view=13379 is much better.

  61. LOL @ Obama even being on this list. epic fail

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Comment removed only because it was written by L**l** Ph**n*x. I don't care if indoctrinated idiots leave retarded comments.

  62. Wow Obama gets credit for ending the Iraq war when the plan was created under Bush? Also, GITMO is still open. Medical marijuana shops are being shut down far more than during Bush's term in office. He has done nothing to improve government transparency and is having Bradly Manning prosecuted.

  63. I can understand someone being extremely unhappy with the Obama administration; however, I fail to see how he even approaches the atrociousness of the Bush II administration. Honestly, it's not even close. Obama inherited a lot and he's trying, not very effectively, to undo some of this. Ending the war in Iraq, apologizing to other countries, and I think he really wants to get out of Afghanistan and Guantanamo, but he's not showing enough spine around campaign season to do something that might be politically risky in our political world. Just perusing the list, I don't see Obama falling worse than you're ranking of LBJ, because all the people from LBJ and below are "worse" in the Libertarian sense. Especially, if you look at them during their time and what the world was like immediately before they were in office. (Lincoln may be "worst" if that's taken into account). I think Obama is an improvement over Bush II, I'm not nearly as paranoid as I used to be about living here.

    You're list is very fun to read. I'm not a Libertarian, but I enjoy reading all political philosophies. I'm whereever one would pin Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky (more Vidal). Personally, I think Monroe is the most underrated president. My favorite flawed presidents are John Adams (imagine him without the Alien and Sedition Acts) and Jimmy Carter (only for the things he mentions in his "malaise" speech). My least favorite presidents are Woodrow Wilson, Harry S Truman, and George W Bush.

    1. I'll update Obama in November. Everything he does is the opposite of what he should do.

  64. I'm the same anonymous guy from the March 3, 10:45pm post.

    I was wondering how you did the point system. (+10) or (-10). Did you have a system down for that, or was it more intuitive? I think I want to make my own ranking.

    1. Decisions to murder or cause widespread economic ruin are -10 points. Likewise, major decisions in the interest of peace and sound money are +10. Scores in between are a matter of how relatively (un)important the decisions were.

  65. I created my list using yours as a template. I'm not a paleo-conservative; therefore, I have a different criteria for what makes presidential greatness. However, I'm open-minded enough to appreciate your list and I thank you for the inspiration. For the most part, they're graded on the same things you are grading them on. Here is my ranking:
    1. George Washington
    2. FDR
    3. Jefferson
    4. Lincoln
    5. JFK
    6. TRoosevelt
    7. Madison
    8. Clinton
    9. JAdams
    10. Monroe
    11. JQAdams
    12. Eisenhower
    13. Taft
    14. Coolidge
    15. Obama
    16. Fillmore
    17. Arthur
    18. Tyler
    19. Hayes
    20. BHarrison
    21. Cleveland
    22. McKinley
    23. LBJ
    24. Polk
    25. Carter
    26. Ford
    27. Garfield
    28. GBush
    29. Truman
    30. WHHarrison
    31. Taylor
    32. Hoover
    33. Jackson
    34. Nixon
    35. Van Buren
    36. Grant
    37. Pierce
    38. Wilson
    39. Harding
    40. AJohnson
    41. Reagan
    42. Buchanan
    43. GWBush

    1. I'm not a paleoconservative either.

      How the hell are FDR and Lincoln at the top.

    2. Let me also add, How is Bill Clinton ranking #9, yet GWBush and Reagan at the bottom? How is Wilson at the bottom but FDR and Lincoln is at the top? How is Washington at the top and Buchanan at the bottom?

  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

  67. Hi Xavier and Mike,
    Thanks for the feedback. I'm actually do a re-ranking. I figured out a way that is more accurate for ranking, I think. Using an MS Excel algorithm. I'm hoping to create something that will allow anyone to rank the presidents in accordance to the values of the ranker.
    When I re-rank my presidents, I'll elaborate on my ranking of FDR, Lincoln, Clinton, Reagan, etc.
    Sorry, didn't mean to call you a paleoconservative. I meant paleolibertarian. My best friend is a paleoconservative. I'm probably closer to a libertarian socialist -- (something between Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky). I don't have rules that I grade people by for my personal rankings as I think times and events change rules.
    For instance, if a street light says "Don't Walk" and on the other side of the street I see someone getting beat up, I'm going to run across the street to save the person. I'm not going to wait for the street light to say "walk".
    This is why sometimes I can approve exceptions. For instance, entering a war; although, I hate war. I disapprove of almost every war. Sometimes I disapprove of things that are legal. For instance, secession. It is my personal view, and some disagree, that America could have been in a worse situation if the USA had been balkanized. Never in these situations do I think something is solely good or solely bad; often times, like the civil war, I have to choose between to bad options. Again, these are just my opinions and it doesn't bother me, or make me happy, in the least if people agree or disagree with me.
    Lastly, I see you have Van Buren #1; yet, you don't give him points (or remove points) for the Caroline Affair, 2nd Seminole War, or the 2nd Sumatran Expedition. Also, one could consider giving people points for cabinet members. For instance, Van Buren had Joel Poinsett, who is supposed to be good. For VP, he picked Richard Mentor Johnson, who is one of the worst VPs ever--everyone hated him (especially Southerners). He didn't have much power, but the decision to pick him probably caused some indirect damage to Van Buren somehow.
    Anyway, thanks for inspiring me to make a ranking!

    1. There is a vast amount of information regarding Martin Van Buren that one could argue he would be considered one of the "Greatest" Presidents of all time. Here is a great lecture from the "Reassessing the Presidency" by the Mises Institute. You can hear this lecture on "Youtube".

      "Martin van Buren: What Greatness Really Means | Jeffrey Rogers Hummel"

    2. Thanks for the video. It was very informative and enjoyable. I like listening to opinions that are not my own. I still don't think he was a great president, but I think I'll be less critical about some of the things he did do (or rather didn't do).

  68. I notice you have "opposed the Civil War +6" for Pierce. I looked at your link. He said that after he was president. I don't think any president should get credited or debited for events/decisions/opinions that occurred outside of the term.

    1. That maybe true. However, Pierce vetoed the bill entitled "An act making a grant of public lands to the several States for the benefit of indigent insane persons". This is something Xavier does not give him credit for, but I would. As you can see above, I would consider him a failure, but not at the top of the list of failures.

  69. I'm the anonymous guy that keeps posting on here. Realized, I should have put a name. Anyway, here are some more events/decisions that you could add to your presidents whenever you update this list. When I did my presidential ratings, I used yours and I also did more research, in addition to what I already knew. Here are things to consider adding:

    Van Buren: Believed in a less-active presidency; rejected pressure to annex Texas; resolved boundary between Maine and Canada; Caroline Affair; 2nd Seminole War; 2nd Sumatran Expedition

    Cleveland: Strong belief in limited government; Melville Fuller appointed as ChJustice; Lazy on civil rights; Native Americans as wards of the state; Apache Wars

    Tyler: Wished to civilize Indians; owned slaves; his cabinet resigned on him; anglophobe; strong States' Rights advocate; first president to have an impeachment resolution drawn up (failed before it became official); advocated expansionism; applied Monroe Doctrine to Hawaii; Webster-Ashburton Treaty; Navajo Wars; Cayuse War

    Coolidge: Slept 11 to 13 hours a day; didn't believe in an active presidency; appointed J Edgar Hoover

    Taylor: Owned slaves; Bipartisan; didn't understand politics; Bloody Island Massacre; Apache Wars; Navajo Wars; Cayuse War

    Grant: Dept of Justice created; appt Morrison Waite as ChJustice; Panic of 1873; Naturalization Act; Force Acts; Louisiana Coup; Amnesty Act; Marias Massacre; Camp Grant Massacre; endorsed Indian Reservations; Apache Wars; Comanche Campaign; Korean expedition; Modoc War; Red River War; Black Hills War; Nez Perce War; Great Sioux War; Colfax Massacre

    I'll finish this up when when I can. I'll be out of town for two weeks but may try to do the rest anyway. Hope this helps.

    1. Thank you. There's room for more research, certainly. It was a project that I wanted to get done, and I didn't plan on actively maintaining it. I just wanted a general idea, although I knew beforehand that it would be this site's most popular article ever (aside from the list of kickoff returners, yeesh).

      I plan to update Obama's info when his first term ends. I may update some of the others as well. I'm not very defensive about my list. It could probably be rearranged quite a bit. All that really matters to me is that the horrible murderous socialist presidents whom historian 'intellectuals' worship get put in their rightful place at the bottom.

    2. Jonathan, keep in mind none of these guys I would consider "GREAT". However, many of the things you posted on them in this post I would consider a good thing.

      Here is some opinions of Ivan Eland and Murray Rothbard as to who they think is the best President.

      Ivan Eland on John Tyler as best US President

      Rothbard on the 'best' US president

    3. @Xavier - I'll post some more events/decisions you may want to put in your updated ranking when I get back from Texas. I was meaning to do it while I was here, but my excel document that I created is on my desktop.

      @Mike - Thanks for the videos. While, I don't agree with them on the greatness of Tyler or Van Buren, they do enlighten me on some things I haven't considered. I do, however, give a lot more credit to Tyler than most presidential rankers. Eland does say something that is factually incorrect. He speaks as if the Founding Fathers were unified in their belief of a limited government. The Founding Fathers weren't unified in anything (not even Independence at one point!). You will find little agreement in a room with Hamilton, Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Franklin, Robert Morris, or John Jay, etc. But I think that's what makes this country great. Honestly, I can't find a favorite Founding Father because I find myself disagreeing and agreeing with some of all of them.

    4. Regarding the Founding Fathers, I always found Aaron Burr to the most interesting of them all.

      As for Eland and Rothbard, it all depends as to how you want to define "Greatness". For them they use the Liberatarian principals. Some Founding Fathers were more "Libertarian" than others. They seem to give them more weight. It is been said, Lew Rockwell ranks William H. Harrison as #1.

      I have place my rankings of the Presidents below.

    5. @Mike

      I think WH Harrison was very promising. Excellent cabinet and some great ideas. For instance, he was going to have his cabinet vote on decisions. Additionally, he was going to give Congress more power and basically enact their policies. The downside to Harrison was that many people thought he was ill-fit for president. He probably had something close to ADHD and wasn't interested in details.

      I agree with you on Aaron Burr. I suggest you read Burr by Gore Vidal.

      I don't think I have a favorite Founding Father. I like part of about all of them, even Hamilton, who I probably dislike the most out of the major founders. However, I think Hamilton was necessary at the beginning. They should have cut Hamiltonianism down about 1812. Most ideas have a place and a time they should expire.

      I'll look at your list

  70. I made some slight changes in my earlier ranks. I would rank the Presidents something like this:

    1a. John Tyler
    1b. Martin van Buren
    2. Grover Cleveland
    3. Zachary Taylor
    4. Calvin Coolidge

    5. Warren G. Harding
    6. Rutherford B. Hayes
    7. Andrew Johnson
    8. Chester A. Arthur
    9. Millard Fillmore

    10a. William Henry Harrison
    10b. James A. Garfield

    11. Thomas Jefferson
    12. Gerald Ford
    13. John Quincy Adams
    14. Ulysses S. Grant
    15. James Monroe

    16. George Washington
    17. Franklin Pierce
    18. James Buchanan
    19. Andrew Jackson
    20. John F. Kennedy
    21. John Adams
    22. James Madison
    23. Benjamin Harrison
    24. Jimmy Carter
    25. William Taft
    26. Herbert Hoover
    27. Dwight D. Eisenhower
    28. George H.W. Bush
    29. James K. Polk
    30. William McKinley
    31. Richard Nixon
    32. Bill Clinton
    33. Ronald Reagan
    34. Theodore Roosevelt
    35. Lyndon B. Johnson
    36. George W. Bush
    37. Barack Obama
    38. Franklin D. Roosevelt
    39. Woodrow Wilson
    40. Abraham Lincoln

    41. Harry Truman

    1. I have no major problems with your list. I'm a little curious why you're slightly friendlier to Eisenhower than I am.

    2. Here is one big reason why I moved him up slightly from my previous list.

      Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.

      I also concluded the policies and records of George H.W. Bush, James K. Polk, William McKinley worse and therefore moved them down my list.

    3. I think it's kind of interesting that with you and Xavier, I rank Wilson GW Bush and Truman near the bottom; however, I still rank FDR and Lincoln closer to the top. I'll explain why I do, when I post my updated rankings.

      One thing I do like about Carter is this. According to a scholar (forgot his name), researching Presidential campaign speeches, Carter is the only president since Wilson (or Taft) whose pre-presidential talk was consistent with his presidential actions. For that I give Carter a lot of credit. I think lying in any sense to the American people should be impeachable.

  71. This is really great! I was mostly agreeing with you until I saw Obama generously ranked, ha, ha. Yeah, he's waaay at the bottom. Also, Coolidge is my favorite, so I would wish he was higher. And Reagan was so inspirational and really loved America and the principle of liberty. I agree he had contradictory actions, but, I hate to say it, it's the thought that counts. His effect on Americans' pride and respect for the individual and private enterprise is significant. It's a shame he didn't always walk the walk, so I have to agree with your ranking.

  72. [Continue my list of factors to consider when editing your president list; that is, these are things you left off. I'll just do Harding for now.]

    Harding: Refused to resign even through he admitted to being unfit for office, reduced tax for wealthiest Americans, Federal Highway Act, Called for worldwide naval disarmament, had immigration quotas, minor labor war, great railroad strike, *Also, you should list the Harding scandals separately as they're many of them and they probably shouldn't be weighted the same.

  73. Aaaand this is why more Socialists have been elected to Congress than Libertarians. You guys remain, as always, your own worst enemy. The nigh-hateful jab at Abraham Lincoln alone is bound to turn off a lot of people. Keep up the good work, though.
    I am disappointed with you guys' performance in the latest election, though...we liberals don't quite have you to depend for drawing votes away from the Republican candidate this time around--do better next time, alright? It's all you're really good for, so....you should endeavor to become better at it.
    With the exception of Bush Jr, have you noticed that your list is the near-opposite of most historian's rankings of presidents? Buchanan above Lincoln and TR....that's something special.

    1. Socialists get elected because poor people like the promise that the candidate will steal from the rich.

    2. I'd have to disagree. I'm probably closer to a Socialist or a Green party member than any of the parties that are out there (although, I'd like to say I'm something else). I don't vote for liberal candidates out of hate of the rich nor do I think they should have to pay for everything. I like the idea that people that cannot afford much are more likely to have their basic necessities covered (or at least affordable) under a liberal government. I think it is ridiculous that poverty still exists in our country. However, I don't think stealing money from the rich is fair. I'd rather we cut down on military expenditures and use that towards the poor. I also think we should invest more in creating a wide-range of jobs. Perhaps, allow rich companies tax-breaks if they hire a certain amount of people. That would benefit the poor better than handout. So, although liberal, I'm not a text-book Socialist. I'm just not a big fan of capitalism; although, it does have it's good points. Maybe I could like capitalism if it was reformed to allow more people, especially those who aren't terribly interested in money, to benefit from it and thrive in an industry they enjoy.

    3. Indeed they do. I happen to like the idea of stealing from the rich, and I make no attempt to conceal that the reason people like Socialism... is precisely what you describe. I would make the argument that the majority of the wealthy really don't tend to do much to justify their wealth--they really don't tend to work all that much harder than the poor or the middle class, nor do they tend to be significantly more talented or intelligent than the classes below them, but....I learned a long time ago that this point isn't worth arguing with you people.
      What _is_ pointing out, however, is that democracy doesn't tend to favor Libertarian views: Poor people don't like you guys....and it _is_ for a reason. You trade the monster of Big Government for the monster of Big Business, and in most folk's eyes...one is answerable to votes, and the other is answerable only to profit
      I can fight Dracula, or I can fight the creature from Aliens....I go with Dracula....at least that one has weaknesses. The Alien just bites off your head and bleeds acid on you even if you _do_ manage to harm it. And it looks like Anne Coulter.
      I just....don't see _why_ you think America has any chance of adopting your ideals...ever. The Founding Father Presidents sit in the bottom echelons of this ranking--all of them.
      Wouldn't it behoove you guys to move to Singapore, Hong Kong, or one of those other handful of countries you claim as so much more Libertarian than the United States at this point? You have big ole' Free Market of a planet's worth of nations competing for your talent and citizenship...a competitive "Free Market" of countries, if you will--you should do your part and take your business elsewhere if you're dissatisfied with the product you're getting for your tax dollars--it's like if Coca Cola came to your house with Men With Guns to collect on the soda you bought....and yet you continue to buy Coke products, is it not? Surely there's an RC Cola or Bubba Cola out there that doesn't send Men With Guns...or at least sends Men With Not-So-Big-Guns....
      Not your ideal alternative, but don't _all_ great things have similarly small beginnings? Courage, comrade, courage. : )

    4. In theory, the reason a business earns massive profits is that it satisfies market demand for technology/services better than anyone else. (Like AAPL.) In reality, though, governments DISTORT MARKETS so much that it's understandable why 'big business' gets so much blame. They have to have close relationships with politicians.

      There's nothing on Earth more disgusting to me than utilitarianism. The idea that theft or any other crime is ok as long as one has 'noble intentions' is sickening. Private property rights are the basis of society. When you don't respect them, the society breaks down. I don't know how people can want to live in a society in which theft is not only acceptable but encouraged. All I want is acceptance of the idea that my property isn't yours for the taking under any circumstances.

      I don't consider the socialist argument worth anything. "Yes we're stealing trillions of your dollars, because you, like, don't deserve them, man!"

      I don't believe in democracy or any form of government.

    5. I'm more or less a market anarchist (and would even identify as a socialist in the Benjamin Tucker sense) and while I would quibble here and there I basically agree with this list. I might put Woodrow Wilson at the very bottom just out of my own personal distaste, but I can't really argue with the others that you ranked lower.

      Jesse & Jonathan,

      Big Business (at least as it exists today) is the result of centuries of state intervention. The particular form of corporatist state capitalism that flourished after the Civil War has virtually nothing to do with free markets, which have been grossly distorted by hundreds of different forms of cronyist rent-seeking. This includes everything from railroad land grants to tariffs to banking monopolies to bailouts to corporate welfare like the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, agribusiness, and transportation subsidies to large corporations like the Interstate Highway Act, to patent monopolies for pharmaceutical corporations and IP laws like the DMCA, to the use of state violence on striking workers, to enforcing regulations that benefit cartels like the AMA, and so on down the line. Big Business would not continue to survive without being propped up by all this intervention, which is backed up by force of a planet-spanning imperial apparatus.

      The regulatory state, which was really ramped up under Wilson and later FDR, is usually supported by the sectors it is meant to control, because they can and do capture it and use it as a weapon by creating barriers to entry against smaller firms that would compete with them. Furthermore, the New Deal, far from being helpful to the poor, consolidated the existing system under the Wagner Act by placing severe restrictions on labor's ability to effectively organize by banning all sorts of activity like wildcat strikes and subordinated workers to a useless bureaucratic class. Safety net programs for the poor like Social Security and Medicare primarily take money from the people who are intended to benefit from them via the payroll tax, which undermines their ability to develop voluntary organizations of mutual aid.

      So it's probably better to look at the system we have now as first and foremost a welfare state for the rich, who collect rents and are provided protection and are allowed to impose all sorts of authoritarian measures on the population under the guise of national security. Occasionally some meager form of aid is provided to the poor, mainly to prevent open insurrection. Eliminating those sources of rent and protection and restrictions on liberty would be a far more effective way to deal with poverty and deprivation than supporting more statism.

  74. Interesting article. Thinking about updating it anytime soon?

    1. Yes, after Obama is reelected I will look at his first term.

    2. Obama was reelected and I have scored his first term as President.

  75. Here are some things to add to Coolidge and Hoover if you update him. You pretty much got all of Hoover:

    Coolidge: Didn't believe in an active presidency, Bonus Bill passed over his veto (benefits to veterans), Appointed J Edgar Hoover.

    Herbert Hoover: Hoover-Stimson Doctrine (non-recognition of territories taken by force by Japan or China; alienated the Japanese)

    Lastly, here are two books you may like to critique. They're interesting, but promote a view other than your own; however, it may help strengthen your own views as it is pretty competently written. They're both by Philip Bobbitt. One is The Shield of Achilles and the other is Consent and Terror (the newer book).

  76. Okay, I can see where you may criticize President Reagan on his foreign policy (although I believe these involvements were necessary), but when it comes to tax policy, you can't criticize him. According to the OMB, the Reagan tax increases cancelled out only 50% of his tax cuts: this still amounted to a substantial sized tax cut. This policy helped to revitalize our stagnating economy.

  77. Here are some more events/decisions to consider if you update all the presidents. This is for Andrew Johnson, Fillmore and Arthur.

    Johnson: Unionist, favored Lincoln's lenient Reconstruction, Impeached (acquitted), failed to protect rights of Freedmen, Black Codes, Impoverished the South with military reconstruction, KKK emerges, Comanche Campaign, Red Cloud War, Apache War, Civil War officially ends.

    Fillmore: anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant, Fugitive Slave Act, strong Unionist, Neutral foreign policy, discouraged "American" invasion of Cuba, never vetoed, Old Shasta Town Massacre, Bridge Gulch Massacre, Apache War, Navajo War, Cayuse War

    Arthur: Civil Service reform, Surplus, Gilded Age, vetoed internal improvements (overridden), Apache War, built up navy significantly

    1. Arthur: Possible not native born.

    2. It's funny how Arthur went through the same thing as Obama 130 years earlier. It's never different.



  78. @Mike -- Yeah, I heard about that too. Possibly, Canadian.

    @Xavier -- True. Also, in 1968, Mitt Romney's father ran for president even though he was born in Mexico. The issue was lightly discussed, but it never became an issue. For awhile, Romney the Elder was the front runner. He lost out to Nixon not because of his foreign birth. They claimed he was eligible because his parents were US citizens (although, also born in Mexico) because the grandparents were US citizens and declared their child a US citizen. Apparently, by this claim, anyone who has a US Citizen descendant can claim US citizenship so long as everyone down the line is declared a US Citizen by the parent. In this way, even if Obama was born in Kenya (I don't think he was, or that it matters if he is; I don't really care about that) his mother was a US citizen and this would make Obama one. Anyway, that's how legality was in 1968 and there wasn't a fuss about it.


    1. No one can seriously think it matters anymore. It's just a technicality used by the opposing party in an attempt to get the guy disqualified.

      Quite ironic, the reason it was written into the Constitution was to prevent wealthy aristocratic types from creating a monarchy... and today Presidents are simple figureheads of the banks that are really running things (corporatocracy).

  79. One paragraph sums up most of everything that's wrong with elections:

    "In an attempt to hold Iowa, team Obama has launched an advertising assault that’s unprecedented here for its price tag and early start. The curtain of fire includes a series of ads portraying Romney as an outsourcer. Fact-checking organizations have discredited the description, but the Obama campaign is betting it resonates with voters."

    -Candidate is no more than the banks' 'product' that they're selling to voters
    -100% appeal to emotion

    Fuck this planet.

  80. Before you rate Ulysses S. Grant so high, Murray Rothbard's favorite writer, H.L. Mencken, had a take on Ulysses S. Grant that you should read if you haven't yet already done so:
    also here:

  81. May I ask what you mean by Bush Jr Negatives: 9/11?

    1. There are four major reasons that people visit this blog:

      1. They are searching images for attractive girls on the Internet. Most often they are looking for "hot black girls," with the implication being that they are a rarity. I'm surprised that they don't add the stipulation "who don't have AIDS."
      2. Seasonal searches, like the NFL Draft in April and fantasy football in August.
      3. Regular readers, including my autistic groupie, but most of whom are interested in my skill at technical analysis.
      4. This fucking president article in which people want to quibble with minutiae about which I give zero fucks. "Why did you give Dick Johnson a -69 for jacking off on his Vice President's face in 1834 when the VP enjoyed it?" Does anyone ever think about the main point of the article? That our rulers are always responsible for death and robbery on a massive scale? That humans are just a bunch of emotional fucking retards?

      I imagine you people reading the complete works of Shakespeare and reacting, "I don't think Sicinius should use the word 'viperous' in Act III Scene I of Coriolanus." Really, that's what you want to express? When I ignore someone, it means I find whatever they said to be not worth my time, because it is so utterly devoid of intelligent thought.

    2. But it's interesting, from a social research perspective, how easily people can be manipulated away from logical thought by stirring up their emotions.

      During my draft last week, obviously occurring in my parents' basement, I commented that I "wanted to leave the draft as the most hated person." And this guy nicknamed Tercer wrote, "You've already succeeded." OMG he was being a prick to me for no reason! Well I think I'm going to be bitter about this joke for six fucking years! He wrote it because he hates men! (Alternative: He "fears penis.") He was completely serious! He totally hates me and wants me to feel bad about myself, which is very easy to accomplish! "Do not expect any replies from me. I will be dead in a few hours."

    3. Cicero.



  82. It is nice to see this blog back, Xavier.

  83. Fantastic Post. I've been thinking about this subject for years and this analysis was thorough and engaging. Lots of morons posting earlier who do nothing more than regurgitate 6th grade public school hagiography, tautology, or ad hominem attacks. Great read.

  84. It is always good to hear from people who appreciate what I write even though it may be imperfect or controversial.

  85. For Obama shouldn't you only give him partial credit for withdrawing troops when kept advisers there and only pulled out combat troops, or at least update to say withdrew combat troops from Iraq? Also, I know he didn't do personally do these things, but what about the DADT and women-in-combat ban repeals?

    1. Who cares whether murderers on behalf of the State are men, women, or gay?

  86. Also how is DOMA libertarian? It blocks federal recognition of state-recognized rights on the state level. Isn't that an encroachment?

    1. Federal gov't shouldn't be redefining marriage.

  87. You did give Truman credit for desegregating the armed forces, those by your reasoning would be murderers of the state as well, so it seems inconsistent to not include the women-in-combat ban and the repeal of DADT regardless of one's perspective on the troops .From an anti-federalist perspective I don't see how DOMA is libertarian at all because it interferes with federal recognition of state's decisions in defining marriage, and allows the federal government to define marriage, or at least parts of it do, though I could understand how parts of it would be libertarian from an anti-federalist perspective.

  88. Also, I think the argument could be made that the list while very good in many regards, is more paleoconservative than libertarian, as it seems to endorse state's right to government discrimination regardless of one's views on the Civil War (for example, many libertarians are only against the parts of the Civil Rights act that interfere with private business, but the list seems to be against the whole thing, and apparently oppose not just the Civil War but the 14th Amendment) though I suppose this could just be anti-federalism as opposed to outright paleconservativism.

  89. The reasoning is not quite the same. The emphasis is not so much on the integration into the armed forces but instead on the society-wide issue of treating blacks as separate from whites. There are numerous actions on the list that are difficult to quickly summarize and score. I don't dedicate much time to arguing these minor points.

    When I made the list in 2009, I considered myself paleolibertarian. I am full anarcho-capitalist now.

  90. A very interesting list. I don't agree with all of it, but it's well thought-out. Certainly better than most lists by Progressive Libtards and Neoconservatives.

    I also happen to make two similar lists at a thread of a forum (which I don't recommend registering too): http://s15.zetaboards.com/Character_Discussion/topic/7635853/1/

  91. Um... what happened to my previous comment? I could have sworn I didn't abuse the space bar as I was typing.

  92. Blogger automatically stretches the words to fit to the end of the line. The URL was too long for that line, and so that line had only three words.

    The other people on that forum seemed relatively uninterested in your rankings.

  93. Yeah, the people of that forum are generally leftists, hence why one of them regarded highly of Woodrow Wilson. They are extremely pro-feminism to boot.

  94. But what what did you think of my lists, were they crap?

  95. Our lists are pretty much the same. The top 5 should be some combination of Van Buren, Cleveland, Tyler, Coolidge, Taylor. And then the big-state war mongers are the worst: Obama, Bush II, Lincoln, FDR, Wilson, etc.

  96. Our lists are more different than you think. My five favorite included Chester A. Arthur, an accidental who's possibly of Canadian origin. He was an excellent president, whom deserves more reverence than what's he has been given. Even Mark Twain, a many who's naturally distrusting of politicians, praised his presidency.

    I'm also more positive towards those you'd either regarded as failures or below average. Such as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, and even Andrew Jackson to some extent. Despite their mistakes (some which have been unjustifiably cruel) they've also left positive impacts for their fellow countrymen. That's something that cannot be said for almost every post-FDR U.S. president.

  97. Just to ask, why did Bush loses points for 9/11 and Clinton for the 1993 WTC bombing? While you can judge their reactions to those events, it was not their fault that terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. Other than that I really liked your list.

  98. You should hand out ten more negative points for LBJ for orchestrating and covering up Israel's attack on the USS Liberty. Israel and the government claim it was an accident, but it was obviously a deliberate assault.


  99. Interesting points on Lincoln. Personally I think it's a good idea to end slavery even if it prevents the owners from being able to call them selves the confederacy but hey that's just me.

  100. Any idea when this will be updated, i want to see how much lower Obama goes.

  101. I want to ask as to how Lincoln's policies were genocidal towards the sioux? As far as I know he only ordered the execution of 38 Sioux for raiding and destroying towns in Minnesota, and what is your source for this?

  102. Curious as to why, considering the apparent cutoff at -18 for Failures, the top 5 don't constitute as Greats at 18+ points.

  103. So maybe I can't find it on your site but I would like to know the scale you are using for points. Like what does minus 10 mean vs a minus 7? Is it just purely subjective or is it like, minus 10 is like something to do with war, or economics, or a certain policy? I agree with your list with a few swaps here and there, but a scale would make it more understandable, and honestly make it more credible in the sense that it gives some kind of definition of how you distribute points. Thanks!

  104. This list is a pretty comprehensive list, but I have one question: How are civil rights laws un-libertarian?

    When government at the state and local level violates civil rights, they are liable to have these laws overridden because they're unconstitutional. There's nothing libertarian about forced segregation or slavery, so why is it that a law that undoes segregation or inhibits slavery is considered to be against libertarianism? Why is the federal government not rightful to intervene when a subordinate government violates the civil rights/liberties of people living within its boundaries? Civil and human rights are more valuable than states' rights. Just because a government is smaller doesn't mean that it's right all the time. Take for example the Confederacy; it wasn't a "libertarian, states' rights paradise" as commonly thought. Jefferson Davis was as violent and tyrannical as Abraham Lincoln (and was described as such by Confederate citizens, like his vice president's brother).

    1. Not Enough credence to people who did positive things for slaves humans rights in their time, but other than that great list

  105. I'm surprised #'s 1 and 2 are democrats. Don't usually consider those 2.

  106. Wow! I have to say I'm impressed, though I don't agree with all the rankings off-the-bat, at least there is justification and an actual point scale. This could cause me to re-adjust my own list. Thanks for making it!

  107. Ok, great article, I'm now going to post my libertarian POTUS ranking. Keep in mind I read the article (really just skimmed it) once about 4 hours ago, and this being Independence Day, I think it is a good time to do something like this. I will use nothing but my pre-existing knowledge and beliefs. Like to see how close I get.
    ~The Greatest~
    1. William Henry Harrison
    ~The very good~
    2. Calvin Coolidge
    ~The decent~
    3. James K. Polk
    4. Grover Cleveland
    5. Zachary Taylor
    6. Franklin Pierce
    7. Andrew Johnson
    8. Warren Harding
    9. James Buchanon
    ~The tolerable because of their awesomeness in so many other areas~
    10. James Madison
    11. Thomas Jefferson
    ~I here admit the next 18 are pretty interchangeable in my limited scope of knowledge: I will call them "the not too bad"~
    12. Ronald Reagan
    13. Donald Trump
    14. Chester A. Arthur
    15. Martin Van Buren
    16. John Quincy Adams
    17. James Monroe
    18. John Tyler
    19. Ulysses S. Grant
    20. James Garfield
    21. Benjamin Harrison
    22. Millard Filmore
    23. Rutherford B. Hayes
    24. Gerald Ford
    25. Richard Nixon
    26. John F. Kennedy
    27. Dwight Eisenhower
    28. W.H. Taft
    ~The bad~
    29. William McKinley
    30. John Adams
    31. Jimmy Carter
    32. George HW Bush
    33. Bill Clinton
    ~The very bad~
    34. George W. Bush
    35. Barack Obama
    36. Harry Truman
    37. Herbert Hoover
    38. Teddy Roosevelt
    39. Andrew Jackson
    ~The Big Five~ (includes the next two sections)
    40. George Washington
    41. Woodrow Wilson
    42. LBJ
    ~The Two Tyrants~
    43. FDR
    44. Abraham Lincoln

  108. LBJ was a better President than Reagan? Are you crazy?

  109. We need to have this list updated. I want to know if Obama ousted Bush for the title of Worst President Ever.

    1. Obama was easily the worst president ever. There won't be an update though.

  110. Is the author Mormon? He seems to give undue weight to Mormon issues.

    1. No I'm not Mormon. They are an important part of American history.

    2. Dear Mr. Cromartie,
      Thank you for attempting to rank the presidents. I don't agree with everything you say, but I do immensely appreciate the effort.
      I have some questions for you:
      1. If his presidency were to end now, where do you think Donald Trump would rank?
      2. I notice that this post is from 2013, now that his presidency is finished, does Barack Obama still rank 42nd?
      3. In your opinion, is it possible for an anti-libertarian action to benefit liberty itself in the long run.
      Ex: It's true that if the Civil War hadn't happened, than over 800,000 people wouldn't have been killed, but than the policies of Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, and others wouldn't have reached as many people if the Union hadn't been preserved.
      4. I notice that you knock George W. Bush down ten points simply for 9/11. Are you of the opinion that 9/11 was an "inside job", and if so, what is your source?
      I ask the latter question because your citation of the Wikipedia page for the War In Afghanistan (number 284) does not explicitly say that George W. Bush did 9/11.
      5. I notice that Bill Clinton is marked down for increasing the minimum wage. I understand why that would be a negative. However, why are Clinton, and FDR the only presidents who were marked down with regards to the minimum wage.
      Every president since FDR except for Ronald Reagan, and so far, Trump has raised the minimum wage at least once. If i were you, I would have marked down all those presidents at least four points, and ten for Carter because he raised it four times while in office. I would also add back three or four to Reagan or not raising the minimum wage.
      6. I noticed that you marked down Bill Clinton for the 1993 World trade Center bombing. I looked at your citation (number 178), and the article from Lew Rockwell.com mentions that FBI incompetence led to the terrorists not being caught. Why would president Clinton be marked down for something that the FBI failed to do. I'm not trying to argue that the FBI isn't corrupt, but I will say that it appears to be their fault, not his, based on what the article says.
      For that matter in the Wikipedia page you linked to on the bombing, it mentions that the head of the attack had immigrated to America illegally on September 1st, 1992, which is two months before Bill Clinton was even elected.
      7. In Woodrow Wilson's section you claim that Wilson caused the Versailles Treaty. In the Lew Rockwell article that you cite, it mentions that Wilson got the United States involved in World War 1. The Versailles treaty was mentioned, but not in connection to Wilson. While Wilson pushed for the League Of Nations, there is no evidence as far as I can tell that he supported, let alone caused the Treaty of Versailles. The link for that one is number 239.
      8. There is one thing that you knock Abraham Lincoln for that I would not mark him down for. While it might not have been the best idea to start the Civil War, and Lincoln deserves credit for starting it, I don't think he deserves credit for dividing Virginia. If anything, that is a side-effect of the Civil War that he didn't call for.
      If one good thing comes out of the Civil War, it's that the nation became more industrialized, and the railroad systems started to take off.
      9. You mark Truman down for dropping the atomic bombs. While this does lead to the deaths of many Japanese civilians, I would have given him a point for choosing to drop the atomic bomb over an invasion that could have killed even more people.
      10. John F. Kennedy is marked down for creating the Peace Corps, while Gerald Ford is awarded ten points for creating Human Rights Watch. Why is that?
      11. Given the current state of America, are their enough problems that a president who properly fixes them all could rank first on your list?
      12. Last question: Do you think we will ever live to see a president that you would rank in the top 10? Or are the top 10 set in stone?
      Thank you for making such an intriguing list. Have a wonderful day!

    3. I wrote this article nine years ago, and so I don't agree with everything either.
      1. Trump is top 10 easy. Aside from bombing Syria, he is racking up points just by undoing what the last few presidents (especially Obama) have done.
      2. Barack Obama was the worst President.
      3. Utilitarianism is retarded.
      4. 9/11 was a 'heist' type job with multiple parties involved but most people who benefited were Jewish.
      5. Maybe the minimum wage grades are slightly off. Min wage hasn't changed since 2009.
      6. Clinton could have enforced stricter immigration policies like Trump.
      7. It wouldn't have happened if the US stayed out of the war.
      8. WV favored the Union, pretty clear benefit for Lincoln.
      9. Utilitarianism
      10. The Peace Corp is designed to interfere in other countries.
      11. Trump
      12. Trump

    4. Hi Xavier, I hope you are doing well.

      First of all, thank you for replying, it was interesting to hear from you.

      I have a few more questions if you don't mind:
      1. In Harry Truman's section, you criticize him for recognizing the state of Israel. The article does indeed mention that he did so in part for political reasons. If politics had not been a reason, than would it impact his score? and is it foreign aid to Israel, or the act of recognition itself that you are critical of?

      2. While we are still talking about Israel, do you have an issue with Donald Trump moving the US embassy to Jerusalem?

      3. Since you said that the atomic bomb, and the Civil War are both bad ideas for utilitarian reasons, what would you have done if you were president to resolve those issues?

      4. How would you describe your ethics system?

      5. How would you describe your political philosophy?

      6. Do you plan on updating your rankings any time in the future?

      7. Have you thought about ranking other things (ex: The harm that TV news divisions have done? Or Secretaries of State?)

      8. I notice that on your main blog page your tag line is: "Everything you know is wrong". What is the most common lie that people repeat in your view? And what is the most common fact that people know, from what you've observed?

      Thank you for replying, and I hope to hear back from you soon.

      Have a great day!

    5. 1. Israel shouldn't exist.
      2. Don't care.
      3. Not bomb Japanese civilians / Let the South secede.
      4. Ethical egoism.
      5. Hoppe libertarian.
      6. Trump is the best and Obama is the worst.
      7. No, it's too much work.
      8. "Diversity is our strength" is the biggest lie today. People are catching on to the fact that the media is "fake news."

  111. Enjoyed this very much. Thanks for such a thoughtful article. I concur with your updated assessments here.

  112. I have always said that most of the best US presidents were the boring ones nobody knows about, your list has a fair bit of that. They tended to just hold things down and not do anything crazy.

    I would disagree with a few things though... A lot of the negatives for some people were things that were just kind of inevitable at the time. I guess using a 21st century libertarian bar they do count, but I usually try to view people through the lens of the world they actually lived in. On those grounds a lot of the bad things done were as good as could be expected at the time.

    Also, a lot of the things were AWESOME for the USA long term, if not purist libertarian actions. Knocking Thomas Jefferson for the Louisiana Purchase, come on! LOL Best real estate deal in history!