In the world of political science it is very hard to come to an agreement on anything. In addition to logic and reasoning, opinion plays a huge role in the field. One constant, however, is the agreement that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt are the greatest presidents in American history. Let us review their accomplishments. Note: these are in order of dates served. The Washington Post has a survey of Presidential scholars that ranks the Presidents in order.
George Washington (1789-1797) was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Known as a man of honor and integrity, he was the one person the Continental Congress could agree on to lead. After the war, when he was offered a position as King, he refused it. His allegiance was to our Republic, to our Democracy, and he would not threaten it. His serving two terms went on for around 150 years, until FDR won his third term.
Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) was the President that led the Union in the Civil War. Despite being a man subject to some of the prejudices of his age, he knew that slavery was a moral evil that had to be stopped. Despite losing one of his sons, Willie, Lincoln soldiered on. The Emancipation Proclamation freed all the slaves in the South that the Union conquered over the course of the War, and led to the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, known as the “Slave Amendments.” Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theater shortly after winning his second term by John Wilkes Booth.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) is the only President to serve more than two terms (he was elected to four) and governed during the Great Depression and the Second World War. He created millions of jobs with the New Deal and its programs, the most popular being Social Security, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration, and the Works Progress Administration. The New Deal and the Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech and Worship, Freedom from Want and Fear, showed that FDR was working to expand democracy within the United States. He and Prime Minister Winston Churchill cemented the Atlantic Charter and worked with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to defeat Nazi Germany. In the Pacific, he made strategic alliances with New Zealand and Australia to defeat Imperial Japan. Lastly, he got Stalin and Churchill to sign onto the United Nations, which is the most powerful and inclusive association of nations the world has ever seen.
These three Presidents shaped not just American politics, but the world as a whole. We have a new President now, and it remains to be seen where both Obama and Trump will end up on the Presidential ranking list.