In American history, there have been two Presidents who have been perceived as time-servers who knew that a crisis was coming: James Buchanan and Calvin Coolidge. Buchanan did not get out in time. Coolidge did.
Buchanan is generally rated by American historians as among the worst Presidents in American history. This has been true ever since 1948.
Credit, or blame, for the first scholarly ranking of the presidents usually goes to Harvard historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr., who conducted a poll for Life magazine in 1948. He asked 55 specialists in American history to rate the presidents as great, near great, average, below average, or failure. Abraham Lincoln topped the list, followed by George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Claiming the cellar of that list were Warren G. Harding and, in ascending order, Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Calvin Coolidge, John Tyler, Benjamin Harrison, and Herbert Hoover.
U.S. News updated this in 2010. The bottom: Andrew Johnson. The next-to-last: Buchanan.
Polling of conservative and liberal historians produced the same result for the best: Lincoln. So, the two worst were the men who preceded and followed Lincoln.
My conclusion: do not send your child to major in American history in college. I speak as someone with a Ph.D. in the field.
Lincoln made a decision to bring the South back in because, as he said in his first inaugural address, he wanted to make certain that the union could collect tariffs.
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