Who’s your favorite American President?
In celebration of Presidents Day, we count down the top presidents of American history and how they made history during their time in office. We also include some iconic inspirational quotes and presidential portraits of former Commanders in Chief.
10. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963 – 1969)
“Freedom is not enough.”
The 36th president took office after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and had close relations with Congress. During his time in office, he passed legislation for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Medicare and Medicaid programs, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was also known for wanting to build “A Great Society” for the American people and his involvement with the Vietnam war.
9. Ronald Reagan (1981 – 1989)
“While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future.”
The 40th president used his acting skills for public persuasion while in office and is known for cutting income taxes through two laws – Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 and Tax Reform Act of 1986. He also coined the innovative program, the Reagan Revolution, to help the American public rely less on Government assistance. 69 days after taking office, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Reagan but the president recovered and returned to office after a couple of days.
8. John F. Kennedy (1961 – 1963)
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
This quote was made famous for his Inaugural Address to redeem his campaign promise of reviving America and working towards improving civil rights for all. The 35th president made American history being the youngest man and first Catholic elected president who had the knack for public persuasion. He enlisted for the Navy in 1940 after graduating Harvard and started his political career returning from the war as a Democratic Congressman. In 1953 he worked his way into the Senate and won the 1960 presidential election.
7. Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1809)
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
The 3rd president is known as the Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 with his relation to Congress and his vision of a truly free America. Jefferson also expanded US borderlines through a deal with France for the Louisiana Purchase.
6. Harry S. Truman (1945 – 1953)
“I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”
This quote refers to when Truman took office after the sudden death of his predecessor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, only a few weeks into serving as Vice President. The 33rd president pursued equal justice for all and was a leader in crisis for the American public, leading the US through the final stages of World War II in 1945.
5. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953 – 1961)
“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
The 34th president was known for his moral authority, founding the NASA space program, and signing a law to create the Interstate Highway System. Eisenhower also served in the military at the commanding general of the winning forces in Europe during World War II. He also ended the Korean War through a truce and worked to ease the tensions of the Cold War.
4. Theodore Roosevelt (1901 – 1909)
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”
The 26th president was elected to office as the result of the assassination of President William McKinley and was the youngest president in American history at the age of 43. He was known for his power of public persuasion leading the American public and Congress toward strong foreign policy and progressive reforms. Roosevelt was a lieutenant colonel during the Spanish-American War, leading the charge at the battle of San Juan. Roosevelt went onto win the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation during the Russo-Japanese War which led to a Gentleman’s Agreement on immigration in Japan. Roosevelt was also a crusader for the National Parks in protecting national forests in the West for future preservation for public use and irrigation projects.
3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933 – 1945)
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
This is one of FDR’s most memorable quotes that was delivered during his Inaugural Address, uplifting the public during a time of financial crisis. The 32nd president was well-known for handling international relations and public persuasion. He also made American history as the only elected president to serve more than two terms and died at the beginning of his fourth term in April 1945. He started his presidency during the Great Depression and ended his time in office towards the end of World War II.
2. George Washington (1789 – 1797)
“Truth will ultimately prevail where there are pains to bring it to light.”
The first president ever elected was none other than George Washington and served the military during the American revolution. Washington realized the Articles of Confederation weren’t functioning well for the Nation and called for the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Once they ratified the new Consitution, the Electoral College unanimously elected Washington for President.
1. Abraham Lincoln (1861 – 1865)
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”
The 16th president ranked the top spot for his administrative skills, crisis leadership, vision, and pursued equal rights for all. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is one of the most important pieces of American history and issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing all slaves in the Confederate states.
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