To rank the leaders of our nation is a difficult task, and honestly is one that is almost impossible. Do some events outweigh others, and should they reflect back on the President? Do certain qualities shine brighter than others?
Though this article is a matter of opinion, there is a lot of fact behind my choices. 2 of these men have presided over the two worst economic times in our history. Looking in terms of political party, there is one Independent, one Democratic-Republican, 3 Republicans (1 modern, 2 before the Conservative Revolution inside the GOP), and 5 Democrats.
I study Presidential History because, to fulfill my life’s goal to help more people than ever imagined before, I need to be elected President. My path will be both similar and different than the other men (and women, after 2017) that have held the office. There have been 44 Presidents, but only a few have been true leaders.
This is my list of those Americans:
10) President Theodore Roosevelt
9) President Dwight D. Eisenhower
8) President James Madison
7) President Jimmy Carter
6) President Bill Clinton
5) President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th, 1809 in Kentucky. Growing up a poor boy in Indiana, he learned the virtues of hard work and compassion.
In the 1830s, Lincoln worked as a lawyer along with serving 4 terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, where he gained a reputation as a moderate voice for an increasingly divided American people. In 1846, Lincoln is elected as a U.S. Congressman from Illinois, where he served one term.
In the 1850s, Lincoln became a vocal opponent of slavery but favored moderate solutions to issues beginning to threaten the unification of the United States. While moving up and building the Republican Party, he became the premier voice on slavery and helped unite the North against it.
In 1861, Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States. He presided over the only separation America has ever had, and lead the Union side of the Civil War with moral courage. With the Gettysburg Address, he challenged Americans to decide what kind of nation we wanted to be.
In 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater. Though Lincoln did not live longer than 56 years, his influence on the moral component of our nation has lasted since his last days, and always will influence us all.
4) Franklin D. Roosevelt
FDR was born into the affluent Roosevelt family on January 30th, 1882 in Hyde Park, New York. A born politician, Roosevelt was elected to the New York State Senate in 1910. In 1913, President Wilson appointed FDR to the position of Assistant Secretary Of the Navy, where he helped construct what the modern Navy is.
In 1921, FDR was stricken with the horrid disease of polio. Unable to do it himself, his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, built his image while he was suffering.
In 1929, Roosevelt became the Governor of New York in a year of Democratic losses nationwide. Leading effectively, he becomes the leading Democratic candidate for President in 1932.
In 1932, FDR was overwhelmingly elected President against Herbert Hoover. In his First 100 Days, Roosevelt returned optimism to a nation suffering under the Great Depression and passed his New Deal, legislation that created the modern economy.
In 1941, Roosevelt realized the threat fascism sent to all of the Free World and lead America into the Second World War after Pearl Harbor. In 1945, Roosevelt both lead the greatest victory liberty has ever had and died in Warm Springs, Georgia.
Eleanor Roosevelt helped spark the women’s independence movement and was the first person in power to support the Civil Rights Movement. Roosevelt’s influence has lasted all the way to today and will always continue.
3) George Washington
George Washington was born to Augustine and Mary Washington in 1732 in Virginia. Washington quickly showed his great potential at an early age, and in 1753 he became a Major in the Virginia Militia.
In 1754, Washington helped spark the French and Indian War when he leads the attack on Jumonville Glen. At Fort Necessity, the French captured Washington but allowed him to return to Virginia with his troops. In 1755, Washington became General Braddock’s senior aide and was at his side when Braddock died. Washington then was put in charge of the Virginia Frontier during the War, and helped secure British victory.
Starting with the 1765 Stamp Act, Washington became more and more disillusioned with British leadership. When the Townshend Acts were passed, he lead the boycott in Virginia against British goods until the Acts were repealed.
In 1774, Washington lead the Fairfax Resolves, which called for a Continental Congress. In 1775, after the attacks at Lexington and Concord, Washington became the Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army thanks to his charisma, support for the colonies, and his military experience. Throughout the war effort, Washington did the unthinkable: he led a group of ragtag colonists to bring the British Empire to its knees with the surrender at Yorktown in 1781.
After the War, Washington lead the effort to ratify the Constitution of the United States. He called for moderate solutions and helped form the greatest government the world has ever seen.
An American Cincinnatus, Washington reluctantly became President in 1789. Achieving many things as President, his greatest accomplishment was proving that a nation could be lead by good men elected by the American people.
Washington died in 1799 at the age of 67.
2) John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born on May 29th, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, a city near Boston. The son of wealthy businessman Joe Kennedy and wife Rose Kennedy, Jack’s childhood was marred by sickness and physical pain, but beat the odds and worked hard to both build his body and mind.
Inspired by the cause to save democracy and freedom, Kennedy joined the Navy in 1941. In 1943, as Commander of the Patrol Torpedo boat PT-109, the ship was sunk by Japanese forces. Kennedy heroically saved his crew by getting them to an island until evac, saving their lives. He continued his service until late 1944.
In 1946, Kennedy entered the world of politics when he was elected as US Representative from Massachusetts, which he served as for 3 terms, or 6 years. In 1952, Kennedy was elected as US Senator from Massachusetts, and in the same year he married Jackie Bouvier.
In 1960, when the country was looking for a young, visionary leader, Kennedy seized the moment and was elected President of the United States. With his inaugural address, he challenged the people to “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” and he asserted the proposition that America would lead the fight against the “common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war.”
Kennedy sparked the fire of the greatest change our nation has ever seen by showing real leadership and action on anti-communism (Ich Bin Ein Berliner), civil rights, poverty, women’s rights, and more. He utilized moderate solutions to the problems America faced, and filled a historically skeptical American people with optimism and hope.
In 1963, Kennedy’s administration was cut short with his assassination, but his legacy will live on forever.
And now for number 1. This choice will be found controversial, but allow me to explain it.
1) Barack Obama
Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on August 4th, 1961, where he was raised by his mother, Ann Dunham, and his maternal grandparents. In 1965, Dunham remarried an Indonesian immigrant, Lolo Soetoro, and in 1967 Obama and Dunham moved with him to Indonesia. Obama returned to Honolulu in 1971, where he graduated from Punahou School in 1979.
After high school, Obama studied at Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he became a strong and vocal opponent of apartheid in South Africa. In 1981, Obama transferred to Columbia University and graduated with a B.A. in 1983. 2 years after graduation, Obama moved to Chicago and worked as a community organizer, learning first-hand of the deep poverty our own fellow Americans suffer in.
Entering Harvard Law School in 1988, Obama garnered national attention for his election as the first black President of the Harvard Law Review in 1991. It was after this that he fulfilled his book contract with his American classic-level Dreams From My Father. From 1992 to 1997, Obama worked as a lawyer in Chicago and led massive voting drives for President Clinton.
In 1996, Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate, where he served as a supporter for bipartisan reform of health-care and ethics laws. In 2004, Barack Obama was elected as a US Senator from Illinois, where he focused his efforts on international relations.
After the beginning of the collapse of the economy, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President in 2007. After overcoming the odds, Obama rose above as the hope and change candidate and was elected President in 2008.
Starting immediately after his inauguration, Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped put America back on track after the sharpest economic drop since the Great Depression. In many ways, Obama prevented another Depression (or even worse) with his moderate actions that rebuilt the economy community by community.
In March 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the greatest reform the healthcare system has ever seen. These reforms, moderate solutions to problems that plagued the nation for over a century, have helped over 23 million Americans have been able to get quality, uncorrupt health insurance.
President Obama has also taken action on energy, gun control, foreign relations, and more. His greatest legacy, however, is the fact that he was able to put into action moderate solutions to rebuild America at the community level, and not with massive but effective government spending which has set the opportunity for anti-poverty reform to happen in the next decades. If it truly takes 50 years to judge a President, in decades Obama will be considered the greatest to ever hold the office.