Golden Nuggets from U. S. History
The Blue Quill Series
Siena College Research Institute Survey, 1994
As related in the William Henry Harrison essay, historians love to rank Presidents. A rankings by Siena College Research Institute Survey in 1994 (below) places Theodore Roosevelt 3rd, George Washington 4th(!), Bill Clinton 16th, Ronald Reagan 20th, Jimmy Carter 25th, and George Bush 31st.
|Siena College Presidential Ranking.|
|1||Franklin D Roosevelt||22||Martin Van Buren|
|2||Abraham Lincoln||23||Richard M Nixon|
|3||Theodore Roosevelt||24||Rutherford B Hayes|
|4||George Washington||25||Jimmy Carter|
|5||Thomas Jefferson||26||James Garfield|
|6||Woodrow Wilson||27||Chester Arthur|
|7||Harry Truman||28||William H Harrison|
|8||Dwight D Eisenhower||29||Herbert Hoover|
|9||James Madison||30||Benjamin Harrison|
|10||John F Kennedy||31||George Bush|
|11||Andrew Jackson||32||Gerald R Ford|
|12||John Adams||33||Zachary Taylor|
|13||Lyndon B Johnson||34||John Tyler|
|14||James Polk||35||Millard Fillmore|
|15||James Monroe||36||Calvin Coolidge|
|16||Bill Clinton||37||Franklin Pierce|
|17||John Quincy Adams||38||Ulysses S Grant|
|18||William McKinley||39||James Buchanan|
|19||Grover Cleveland||40||Andrew Johnson|
|20||Ronald Reagan||41||Warren Harding|
|21||William H Taft|
"Historical rankings" should be placed in a section of history with zodiac birth signs and rumors because they are in the same category of arrant nonsense, but fun to read. The importance of rankings or birth signs, rate well below trivia.
The Survey polled historians. Why historians? We don't have a clue. Why academia believe historians have more meaningful insights and judgements into the importance of events on people's lives befuddles us. Why not engineers, farmers, truck drivers, teachers, the clergy, housewives?
Most historians wear blinders while ranking presidents. They ignore public opinion, ignore national security, and especially ignore whether the presidents acted in the best interest of the country.
Knowledge of the historical record does not translate into superior judgement of Presidential importance.
Those who doubt the last statement need only look at the survey. We love Teddy Roosevelt and think he is one of the great Presidents, but look at the chart. He is ranked higher than George Washington! Even the most outrageous elevation of importance does not raise Teddy Roosevelt to the same category, much less a higher ranking, than Washington. Why does the survey rank him so high? -- Because Teddy was an environmentalist! Not that enviornmentalism is bad. It's just that liberals believe that speaking good WORDS about the environment trumps national security, individual rights, and states rights. They believe that animal rights trump human rights.
Another example of the ridiculous -- William H. Harrison. Harrison may have been a great American with a superb military and public service record. His aspirations for the future may have been of the highest caliber; but he died. He was President for only one month. His wife was just packing to join him in the White House when he died. How can he be ranked at all? ---- He can not. Why is he ranked so high? Well... he really is not. It's just that the historians had to put him at number 28 to make room to place some Republicans (Bush and Ford) lower and to make room for a couple of really aweful Presidents like Fillmore and Pierce. Because they insist on ranking ALL presidents they are forced to make adjustments to accomodate their own fixed notions of who must be banished.
Another man they wanted to move down the list was Coolidge. They hate Coolidge because he committed the unpardonable sin. He refused to take action on any matter not assigned to the federal government by the Constitution. Although the voters loved Collidge and would probably have elected him to a third term had he choose to run, historians hate him because he refused to support legislation to permit the federal government to tinker in the lives of individual citizens.
If historians want to establish ranking based on non-Presidential achievements they must move Herbert Hoover much higher up the list. On the other hand, if they only want to consider political agenda, they should label the results accordingly, i.e.,
Personal agendas became clear when selected historians were marched before Congress during the 1999 impeachment hearings of President Clinton and espoused all manner of malarkey to support a clearly biased political agenda. If accountants were to behave like historians and toss aside principle to achieve a pre-determined result we would have a terrible mess. As one might expect, highly biased academic settings combined with historians who want to advance agendas, will always produce awful results. The surveyors would be well advised to conduct future surveys across a more general base and leave historians to piddle in their labyrinth of make believe and revisionism.
To contrast with others we created our own rankings. Of course, we have er..., eliminated, bias from our list. :)
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