I heard the comment that Joe Biden would replace Jimmy Carter as our worst President. I have to stick up for Carter – we had extreme inflation on his watch, and the Iranians took over the embassy – but his accomplishments are insignificant compared to James Buchanan. In Buchanan’s single term. He came in as “Ten Cent Jimmy” – believing that ten cents was adequate pay for a day’s work. He enforced the Fugitive Slave Act. He tried to bring Kansas into the Union as a slave state. Before he was replaced by Lincoln, 7 states had seceded.
Buchanan retired to Wheatland, secure in his belief that posterity would vindicate his decisions. It never did – though Secession is more associated with Lincoln than Buchanon. Admitted, I voted for Carter, but in my analysis Buchanan owns the title as America’s worst President.
And Buchanan has some runners-up that may keep Carter out of second or third place in the “Worst President” race. Referred to as “His Accidency,” John Tyler was the nation’s first vice-president to move into the presidency when the President (William Henry Harrison) died of pneumonia. He ran for VP as a Whig, and as President, the Whigs tried to impeach him.
We call George Washington the Father of His Country – though Tyler’s record of fathering 15 children may put him in second position there. After the presidency, he was elected to the Confederate Congress, but died before being installed.
Jimmy Carter banned hard liquor from the White House – John Tyler kept two barrels of whiskey on hand. Buchanan, as a Senator, bought 10 gallons of whisky each week from Jacob Baer. Some scholars have suggested that his whisky (and wine) habits influenced sending federal troops west for the Utah war (aka Buchanan’s Blunder).
Replacing Buchanan as the nation’s worst president is going to take some effort. I guess getting 8 states to secede would do it, but it seems a pretty high bar.