The US has had 46 presidents in its time as an independent country, but some of these heads of state were far worse than others. Five of these terrible presidents and the things they did echo through the ages. Here, we’ll examine the five worst presidents the US has ever had and what they left behind.

James Buchanan Was A Pre-Civil-War President

Buchanan was raised in Pennsylvania and came to power just before the Civil War. He was the 15th elected president of the United States, and his regime was filled with indecisiveness.


Buchanan’s stint as president seems to be one with high tensions over slavery. In fact, his actions led to deepening resentment in The South, leading to the declaration of war under Lincoln.

Out Of Tune with the Public

Buchanan had a lot of contacts in the South, and because of his close ties there, he understood the position of white landowners and, therefore, refused to take a solid stance on slavery.

Source: Mark Gulezian

Up North, the sentiment was that the enslaved people should be freed, but Buchanan decided just to avoid having to deal with this sentiment. He was out of touch with the Northern electorate.

He Supported the Dred Scott Ruling

Under his tenure, the Dred Scott vs. Sandford case ruled that black people in the US had no right to citizenship. It allowed Southern states to enforce slavery, even if the enslaved people fled to the North.

Source: Britannica

Dred Scott was wildly unpopular in the North, but Buchanan’s support of the legislation made him believe that the debate on slavery was at an end. It exacerbated tensions, leading to the Civil War.

Richard Nixon’s Crooked Ways

Richard Nixon was the 37th president of the United States and served as vice president under Dwight Eisenhower. For a while, many Americans trusted Nixon as a solid president.

Source: Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture

Unfortunately, something happened in Nixon’s second bid for president that cast his regime and the man himself in a stark and unflattering light. It’s still spoken of today.

Watergate Scandal Explodes

In a democratic society, no president should abuse their position to listen in on their political enemies. Yet that’s exactly what Nixon did during the Watergate scandal.

Source: Tripadvisor

The administration tried to bug the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters. The subsequent cover-up led to Nixon’s resignation and his continual protests that he was not a crook.

Donald Trump Divides The Country

In one of the most surprising victories in modern times, Donald Trump, a former entrepreneur and reality TV star, became the 45th president of the United States despite widespread condemnation.

Source: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Trump’s approach to politics was atypical, and during his tenure as president, he made some of the strangest decisions made by any president to date. He intends to run for president again.

Marked By Racial Tensions

One of the most recognizable issues that came about during Trump’s regime was how openly previously closeted racist groups demonstrated their disdain for others.

Source: Flickr/Anthony Crider

Racial violence and racially motivated crime soared during Trump’s administration. Very little was done to curtail these actions, and the former president even came out supporting some actions.

Ending On a Low Note

Trump’s presidency ended in 2021, but not without one of the scariest domestic threats to American democracy that has ever happened in modern times, all because of misinformation.

Source: Flickr/Victoria Pickering

Trump intimated to his followers that the Democrats had “stolen” the election. They stormed the Capitol to oust Biden and replace him with Trump. Luckily, they were unsuccessful.

Andrew Johnson Succeeds Abe Lincoln

After Lincoln was assassinated, Andrew Johnson took on the mantle of president. Unfortunately, he was not very well-regarded as a president and had some big shoes to fill.

Source: American Battlefield Trust

Johnson’s presidency was marked by his battle with the Radical Republicans. He championed states’ rights, but his trust in these states to do the right thing might have been misplaced.

Granting Amnesty To Southern Fighters

One of the most notable things Johnson did was to allow for a blanket amnesty for all Confederate fighters of the Civil War and allow Southern states the right to choose their elected officials.

Source: Flickr/edward stojakovic

Unfortunately, many of the people who were voted into office were previous Confederate heroes and set about enacting black codes that would keep oppression alive in the South for decades.

The First President to be Impeached

Johnson also holds the title of the first president ever to be impeached by Congress. His single-minded focus on his Reconstruction policies saw him try to bully Congress into accepting his suggestions.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

They were not impressed, and eventually, they voted to impeach him so that they would no longer have to deal with him. He was accused of several charges for the impeachment.

Warren G. Harding Tries to Balance the US After The First World War

Being the president after a war is no easy feat, and Warren G. Harding intended to help the US rebuild and grow after their victory in The Great War (World War I).

Source: The White House

Harding was the 29th president of the US, and when he took office, there was an air of hopefulness. Many people regarded Harding as competent, and he was well-liked.

The Teapot Dome Scandal Hobbles Harding

Through a series of meandering, Harding moved control of Navy Oil Fields in Teapot Dome to control of the Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall. Fall leased these fields to two oil companies.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Later, it emerged that Fall accepted bribes in the form of no-interest loans to make these deals as sweet as possible for the oil companies. Harding was only marginally involved, but his reputation took a huge hit.

American Presidents Have Their Failings

American presidents are only human, and many of their actions are typical of humanity. However, when put in a position of power, the citizens of a country expect certain things from their rulers.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

These five examples of terrible leadership are marred by scandal, corruption, and fraud. They represent some of the darkest times in our nation’s history. Remembering that situations like this have happened keeps us from committing the same mistakes again.