The American president is known to be the most powerful man in the world. But if we look at the list of presidents in US history, we find that power and competence don’t always go hand in hand. We have many examples of presidents who were incompetent, but the worst scenario is a president who is incompetent and ignorant. Some historians even believe that the civil war could have been avoided if the presidency was backed up by a suitable person.
The Accidental President – John Tyler (1841-1845)
President William Henry Harrison died after just one month since he got elected. According to the law, early elections had to be held. Instead, Vice-President John Tyler hurried to make the presidential oath, thus introducing a new political practice. His action brought him enemies and countless critics who called him “his accidence”.
The Coward – Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)
Just like John Tyler, Millard Fillmore came into office when his predecessor died in office. He was afraid of the outbreak of a conflict with the southern states, so he tried to postpone it as much as possible. To “keep the peace” he allowed the slave owners to have more influence in the country. Fillmore was criticized for treating the slavery problem in a political manner, instead of a moral one.
He was also a heavy reader. Therefore he was more concerned about the absence of a library in the White House, instead of the fate of the Americans. Fillmore was indifferent to the crisis in the American society.
The Malleable – Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)
Although Pierce came from the north, he sympathized with the southerners. The opponents of slavery called him “doughface”, a malleable person like a dough. In 1854, Pierce sustained a law that allowed the states of Nebraska and Kansas to introduce the slavery. However, his popularity decreased when he proposed to declare war on Spain if they will not sell Cuba to the United States.
Despite all this, probably his presidency was affected because he began in mourning. Weeks after his election, his only son died in a train accident.
The Great Racist – Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)
A few weeks after the end of the Civil War, Andrew Johnson swore the oath. His main task was to unify the divided nation, but he was against the idea of equal rights for all citizens. He was convinced that the country was only of the white man. Therefore he believed that for as long as he will stay in the office, the power will belong to the white man.
A Catastrophic Hero – Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)
The great general from the north had a promising start when he became president in 1869. A new law has strengthened citizen’s rights and the general attacked the Ku Klux Klan’s actions.
Despite this, Grant gave important functions to his old friends from the army, some of whom were completely unqualified for their task, while others took advantage of evasion. Grant’s presidency was particularly remarked by nepotism and corruption scandals. Sounds familiar, right?
No Achievement – Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
President Harding had great visions, but he couldn’t “achieve” them because he was afraid of confrontations and hated the political disputes. Instead, he was dedicated to golf, poker, and mistresses. Scandals flowed one after another.
Among other things, the Minister of the Interior received several times bribe from a petrol company. Harding admitted the gravity of the problem, but he didn’t take any actions. The interesting fact is that he was not embarrassed to admit his incompetence.
The Careless – Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)
Hoover took the office at the time of the Great Depression. He reduced the taxes, but he refused to spend money in order to help the hungry and unemployed people. This action brought him the disgrace of the public, also fuelled by his incapacity to communicate efficiently, which made him look cold and careless.