In honor of President’s Day, which president do you think was the most influential? The American Presidency is the most honored and revered political office in the world. Great Generals, Attorneys and even Actors have had the honor of being referred as the Chief Executive of the United States of America.
Many lists have the same presidents on their rosters, and below is the list that Martin Kelly, a historian and teacher, put together for About.com Guide. The list of 10 most influential presidents generally has the same seven or eight but a few different presidents sneak in, depending on who is compiling the list. You will find Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt but sometimes John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton will make the list. These men, as well as the rest that make up the list of US presidents, have all left their imprint on this country.
To narrow it down and choose one president who left the biggest mark is nearly impossible. Do you choose Lincoln and the changes he implemented on an entire race, which sent shock waves in the economic and social worlds? On the other hand, would you choose FDR for his economic plans that we still have today . . . that we either applaud or mourn? Each president has influenced history in his own way.
I probably would be undecided in choosing the top five most influential presidents, but in my opinion, there is only one who set the most traditions and tried to create a model for all future presidents. I choose George Washington, the very first US president as the most influential. Washington kept the extremely frail nation from falling apart in spite of the issue of taxes and slavery. He understood that did not know everything and was willing to have men of different beliefs than his own help shape the decisions of the country.
I am curious; who do you think the top five most influential presidents are? On my list, I would add Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman to George Washington, but the fifth influential president is hard . . . Reagan, Eisenhower, Kennedy? I do not know who I would add to my list of 5 most influential presidents . . . some would suggest Bill Clinton. Do you agree with Martin Kelly’s list below?
Top 10 Most Influential Presidents
By Martin Kelly
Of the 43 men who have been president of the United States, there are some truly clear choices of who were the most important and influential presidents. There were also many who would never have made the list. My picks for the top ten influential presidents were based on their historical influence and their actions while in office. This was a tough list to create – especially once we move past the 7th president. If one more could be added it would be Ronald Reagan. He helped bring the Cold War to an end after years of struggle. He definitely gets an honorable mention for this list of influential presidents.
1. Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln saved the Union during the American Civil War. His leadership during the war was one of no compromise but at the same time understanding that he would eventually have to unite the states once the North won the war. His actions eventually led to the abolition of slavery across the United States.
2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Having won four terms as president, FDR was sure to have a huge impact on the United States. His leadership throughout World War II was key to our victory. Further, he worked tirelessly to end the Great Depression including the creation of numerous programs through his New Deal to help Americans get back on their feet.
3. George Washington
As the first president, Washington couldn’t help but set precedents that were followed by later presidents. His lack of a desire to be seen as a ‘monarch’ was an extremely important part of creating a citizen president. Also, the fact that he retired after two terms set a precedent only broken by Franklin Roosevelt. After Roosevelt’s death, the two-term limit was added as the 22nd amendment to the Constitution.
4. Thomas Jefferson
Through Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, the size of the United States doubled overnight. Jefferson was a strong states’ rightest who also realized the need for consolidating power in the federal government in certain instances.
5. Andrew Jackson
Jackson’s election showed the rise of the common man. He was the first president elected from humble beginnings. His popularity was huge. Further, he was a strong nationalist who often made controversial decisions such as the removal of Native Americans east of the Mississippi. He was president during the ‘Trail of Tears’. He also fought against the national bank.
6. Theodore Roosevelt
TR was an extremely influential president. Not only did he earn the title of ‘Trust Buster’ as president by fighting against corrupt businesses, but he also was deeply committed to conservation. He established numerous national parks to preserve the wildlife that was quickly being overtaken through industrialization.
7. Woodrow Wilson
Wilson piloted the ship that brought America onto the world stage. He made the first steps of leading us out of isolationism, violating Washington’s tenet of avoiding foreign entanglements. He led America during World War I. His fervent hope was for the US to join a League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations.
8. Harry S Truman
Harry S Truman took over after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He made one of the hardest decisions in American History by deciding to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He presided over the end of World War II and set precedents for leadership during the beginning of the Cold War.
9. James K. Polk
After Thomas Jefferson, James K. Polk increased the size of the United States more than any other president through the acquisition of California and New Mexico as a result of the Mexican-American War. He also claimed Oregon Territory after a treaty with England. He was a key figure in Manifest Destiny. He was also an extremely effective leader during the Mexican-American War. He is considered to be the best one-term president.
10. Dwight Eisenhower
During Eisenhower’s time in office, America experienced a great amount of economic prosperity. Eisenhower also provided crucial leadership during the Cold War.