Five Greatest Presidents in History of United States
Abraham Lincoln (1861 to 1865)
Abraham Lincoln was a self made man rising from a farming family to become the first Republican president of United States. He will always be remembered as the president who ended slavery in United States and laid the foundation of a multi-cultural pluralistic society we are today.
Moderate Family Background
He was a grass root leader, a self made man with meager education and moderate family background, rises to become the president of one of the largest nations of the world. His presidency did the ground work to make America one of the greatest nations on this planet.
The pluralistic society we are so proud of today was first visualized by Abraham Lincoln, when he preserved the union of states and ended slavery in United States. He played an important role in bring on the Thirteenth Amendment in the Constitution of America that states ‘ Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude except as punishment for the crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist with in the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction’. It was the first declaration by an American president that every human being has dignity and must be treated in a dignified way.
He sow the seeds of making the 20th century an American century though the forward looking acts like –
Homestead Act 1862, which enabled thousands of Americans to buy government owned millions of acres in the west at a very low cost.
Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act 1862, which made provision of government grants for agricultural universities in every state.
Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 & 1864, which granted federal government support to the construction of the United States’ first trans-continental railroad.
National Banking Acts of 1863, 1864 ; 1865, which led the foundation of strong financial system in United States.
George Washington (1789 -1797)
True republican at his core, he visualized what America is today. The Commander in Chief of American forces American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and the head of constitutional convention, he led his people admirably and laid the foundation of this great nation. His greatest gift to mankind is American Constitution in 1787, which set the light of freedom, equality in this world.
After cutting short his education dreams in England like his brothers, George Washington joined the army and rapidly commissioned as lieutenant colonel of newly formed Virginia Regiment. In1758, George Washington resigned from active military and spent the next sixteen years as a planter and politician in Virginia
He was the Commander in Chief of an Army which successfully took on its colonial masters and gave birth to the first truly democratic, liberal and vibrant Nation. His biggest contribution apart from winning the American War of Independence is to establish the precedent that the civilian elected officials, rather than military officers, should possess ultimate authority over the military.
Setting the precedent of leaving the presidency after two terms – Till date he is the only president who won unanimously in 1787 and he repeated the feet again in 1791. His act of relinquishing the Presidency after two terms set the strong footing of democracy in the country which he dreamed with other founding members.
Secondly after becoming the president, he made efforts to reduce distance between the newly formed nation and old colonial rulers by promoting trade and keeping America neutral to any European wars. This policy was never breached till America became the member of NATO in 1949.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 -1945)
He is the only president in history of United States who served more than two terms from 1933-1945. He lifted a nation that is in shambles after the great depression, initiated social security system and finally motivated and led the nation to achieve victory over the most evil force in history of mankind – Nazis. He will always be remembered as the president who won America World War II and laid the foundation of American Century.
He inherited a nation crumbled by the great depression of late 20’s and early 30’s. The spirit of the nation at its lowest ebb as millions across the nation has lost their life long savings in couple of years. Along with millions of homeless, jobless and bankrupt people back home he also witnessed the rise of Fascism in Europe.
He is the third most influential president in history of America because he presided over the tipping point in history of America. An America which is slowly and gradually gaining ground over European powerhouses of the previous century, an American which is finding its rightful place among the world’s leading countries. If he had failed in inspiring the nation to beat Nazis and Fascism in Europe, this world would have been a different place not only for Americans but for whole of human kind.
His biggest legacy apart from winning the World War II is a realization that government should provide a safety net to protect its citizens in need.
During Great Depression he created New Deal to provide relief to unemployed and reform of economic system. Among the reforms the most famous is the Social Security system – revolutionary idea forming the basis of modern societies and Regulation of Wall Street.
Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
Thomas Jefferson was a genius at work and still regarded one of the most learned person to be the president of United States of America. In addition to his career in politics, he managed plantation, and was a fervent horticulturist, agriculturist, architect, etymologist, archaeologist, cryptographer, surveyor, mathematician, paleontologist, inventor, author, lawyer, violinist and founder of the University of Virginia.
Jefferson presidency will be remembered for two distinct achievements – Segregation of religion from state affairs and development of cultural identity.
As a principal author of the Declaration of Freedom (1776) and one of founding member, Jefferson was a firm advocator of separation of church from state affairs. He was the author of Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786), which later became the basis of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States.
Jefferson emphasized on limited government and individual liberty thus sparking the so called ‘American Identity’.
John F Kennedy(1961-63)
John F Kennedy is face of America after World War II, young, vibrant, ambitious and versatile. After graduating from Harvard with distinction, he joined the navy and received bravery medal for saving lives of his crew members.
He will be always remembered for his tragic death but what he did in his short presidency is truly remarkable. He didn’t wilt under the soviet pressure after World War II and encouraged the development of science and technology. It was his pioneering efforts in development of Science and technology which made Unites States today hub of technological advancement and cutting edge thinking.
He also persuaded congress to sanction $22 billion for project Apollo, aimed to land an American citizen on moon.
He was also firm supporter of civil rights movement and favored racial integration in American society. He made serious efforts during his tenure to bring racial harmony and once send federal guards to make sure a black student able to register in university after protests from the whites.
Wikipedia (2006). Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved July 31, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lincoln#Major_presidential_acts
Jerry Rhodes (2000). Professor helps decide who was greatest American president. Retrieved July 31, 2006, from http://www.udel.edu/PR/UpDate/02/2/professor.html