#17 — Andrew Johnson. He served as a US Senator and also was governor of Tennessee for two terms. Johnson might not be considered THE worst president ever, but he’s certainly up there. The first president ever to be impeached, the reasons for impeachment are really quite minor in light of the monumental failure historians now see as Johnson’s presidency. Johnson took a 180-degree different approach to Reconstruction than Lincoln had intended. Where Lincoln wanted a moderate, conciliatory approach to reintegrating the southern states and wishes to ensure rights for the freed slaves, Johnson took a much more hardline approach (though he later softened his stance), and he was a huge racist who had no intention to allow freed slaves any rights whatsoever. Some think that had he taken a more progressive approach to the freed slaves, it might have ameliorated the race problem in our country. Besides that far-reaching consequence of his political action (or inaction) even today, he also undermined the office of the President with his political ineptitude and allowed Congress to enjoy a more powerful role through precedents set while he was in office that they enjoyed for the next three decades. So… EE: yes; good: no.
#18 — Ulysses S. Grant. He was a major military player in the Civil War, orchestrating many of the successful Union battles. In 1866, he was named general of the armies, the first person since George Washington to hold that rank. Grant’s presidency was certainly characterized by many positives: his fight to help gain rights for African-Americans, including the passage of the 15th amendment, the positive direction of his Native American policy, and establishing the nation’s first national park stand out as highlights. However, there’s a lot on the negative side: his administration was epically corrupt. He continued Johnson’s “efforts” to diminish the power of the President for his two terms. The numerous scandals and his own political lack of experience, despite being such a strong leader on the military front, rendered his administration pretty much impotent by the middle of his second term. So… EE: yes; good: no.
(Also, a quick shout-out to my friends Amanda and Dave, who earlier tonight as I talked to her was having contractions 4-5 minutes apart and contemplating a trip to the hospital to give birth to their first baby! Good luck you guys!!)