Presidents in the History Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2083 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: American History

¶ … presidents in the history of the United States, including a ranking of choices in order from one through five in a descending order of importance. There have been many memorable and excellent presidents in United States history. Picking five as the very best is a difficult and demanding problem, but five presidents do stand out above the rest in their spirit, their personal qualities, their crisis management skills, and their overall effect on our nation.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. FDR is the number one American president for a number of reasons, and perhaps the most compelling is the number of other presidents who admired him. From Ronald Regan to Lyndon Johnson, many presidents admired FDR, and hoped to emulate him in their own administrations (Rejai, Phillips & Mason, 1993, p. 27). So many other presidents admired him not only because he was the longest serving president with four terms (term limits were established after his death), but because he accomplished so much during his presidency, and was faced with so many critical and momentous problems.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Term Paper on Presidents in the History of the United Assignment

FDR came into office at the height of the Great Depression, and his first 100 days in office were devoted to finding ways to conquer the depression, unemployment, and the banking problems. He created the New Deal, which got people back to work in a variety of government-sponsored programs, such as the WPA. Some of the projects were massive, like Hoover Dam, and employed workers for years. Roosevelt appointed the first woman to a cabinet post, Frances Perkins, and he dealt with the very real crisis of world war after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He also was instrumental in the experimentation that led to the discovery and creation of the Atomic Bomb that ultimately was used by Harry Truman to end the war in the Pacific with Japan. Roosevelt was a great president because he was a great and dynamic leader who was not afraid to try new and innovative ways of conquering problems. He created Social Security, and helped a nation get back on its' feet after the longest depression in its' history. Roosevelt dealt with numerous crises, and he always managed to come out on top. He was an extremely popular president, and he was the president who created "Fireside Chats," weekly radio addresses that are still used by presidents today.

Number Two: President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was also a much-admired president, and he too handled difficulties in the nation with wit and a sense of purpose. One presidential historian notes, "That Lincoln was one of the great American presidents is now the standard view" (Bursey, 1988, p. 67). Lincoln's greatness stems from a variety of reasons and influences. First, Lincoln was a self-made man with little formal education. He came from a poor family, and often struggled with poverty during his career as a lawyer. Lincoln faced a variety of crises throughout his presidency, and he managed to handle almost all of them effectively and with great understanding. He was leading a newly formed political party, and he had to deal with the secession and looming threat of Civil War when he took office. He also faced a cabinet crisis, a hostile press, and a disorganized Congress (Bursey, 1988, p. 73). He believed in the Union, and felt it was his duty to save it. He also abhorred slavery, but that was not his main influence in declaring war when the South attacked the Union held Fort Sumter. He wrote of the break between North and South, "It presents the question, whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration, according to organic law,... can always... break up their Government, and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth'" (Bursey, 1988, pg. 74). The president reacted quickly with emergency powers when Fort Sumter was attacked, and while he came under criticism from a variety of sources, his policies ultimately helped preserve the Union, although at the great cost of lives in the Civil War. One historian writes, "The burdens he bore during the Civil War were far heavier than those of most American Presidents, yet he carried out his responsibilities with remarkable patience and determination" (Boller, 1996, p. 126). Lincoln's problems were complex, and so were his solutions. That he was intelligent enough to understand the complexities and deal with them are only one reason Lincoln was a great and enduring president. He was also a great orator, and writer (the Gettysburg Address is still considered one of the finest speeches in history), and he was a decisive leader. Lincoln was a self-made man, and still serves as an inspiration to anyone who hopes to someday rise to the status of leader of the country.

Number Three: President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was an outstanding president because he served at a time when the office was still being constructed and created, and because he was a well-educated and astute man who understood a variety of issues, from domestic to foreign, with alacrity and wit. Jefferson was more than simply an American president. He was a founding father of the country who helped draft the Declaration of Independence, which he always felt was his greatest achievement. He could see the importance of exploration and discovery, and funded the Lewis and Clark expedition so America could learn what was beyond the Mississippi River and what they had gained with the Louisiana Purchase Jefferson had made from France.

Jefferson's presidency was a model of diplomacy and intellect, and Jefferson managed to do many great things while he was president, aside from adding the biggest amount of territory the union would ever gain. One historian says Jefferson's presidency was a "pioneering effort in erecting a working model of presidential leadership characterized by persuasion and the cultivation of influence'" (Spragens, 1988, pg. 39). Most of all, Jefferson believed in freedom and democracy, and his presidency illustrated his beliefs. He did not accomplish everything he set out to accomplish during his eight years as president, but during his administration, the country grew from a relatively separatist nation to a world power. He was a man who had a local vision that grew to a national vision that created a much larger nation with many more prospects for world trade and domination. He championed a minimal government, and many experts and historians have called him the "father of American political democracy'" (Ryan, 1995, p. 39). He also championed an informal government, and felt the Federal government had already grown too big when he took office in 1800. He was a man of vision, and a great leader who helped create our modern government.

Number Four: President John F. Kennedy. JFK was a great president because of his dynamic leadership, and his acumen in dealing with sticky situations, such as the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy was the first president to be born in the 20th century, and he wanted to create a "new frontier" in American politics and dealings with the world. He was also a visionary who saw man walking on the moon by 1970, and equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their race or gender. Kennedy had to deal with a country in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, and he often attempted to make peace with the country, even as he had to deal with Soviet missiles in Cuba. One historian said of him, "but he never gave up his hope that with patience and determination he could make progress toward a better understanding between the two nations. As he told Khrushchev: 'The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step'" (Boller, 1996, pg. 303). Kennedy was a diplomat, but he was also a dynamic leader who brought a breath of fresh air to the White House, and he attempted to bring a new social order to America that included the poverty stricken and the races who had long been subjugated. He also advocated the study of science and technology. One writer notes, "In March 1962, the president submitted a reorganization plan to Congress that established a new Office of Science and Technology" (Hart, 1995, p. 96). Kennedy had vision, and he backed it up with funding and incentives so that entities such as NASA actually could create a program that would put a man on the moon by 1969.

Kennedy died too young, and it is difficult to think of what he could have accomplished had he lived. He continued the space program, began the civil rights movement, and may have even kept the country out of Vietnam if he had lived. He was a great and dynamic president, and is often one of the first mentioned in the top five best presidents our nation has known.

Number Five: President Theodore Roosevelt. Theodore Roosevelt does not come into everyone's mind as one of the finest presidents, even though his ruddy face does adorn Mt. Rushmore. However, Teddy Roosevelt… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Presidents in the History.  (2004, October 24).  Retrieved April 11, 2021, from

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"Presidents in the History."  24 October 2004.  Web.  11 April 2021. <>.

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"Presidents in the History."  October 24, 2004.  Accessed April 11, 2021.