Author

Sheila Lynch

Date of Award

1998

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Leadership Studies

Abstract

The topic of this paper is entitled "The Three Worst Presidents of the United States". The method that I used to complete this paper is historical analysis. I have used a variety of literature sources to make decisions concerning this project. Leadership literature was utilized to determine and support the variables to be used to select the presidents. Historical literature was used to research the chosen presidents.

As mentioned above, historical failures are very useful teaching tools. In the context of this paper, historical failures will be referred to as the major failings or corruption in which the chosen presidents were involved in during their presidential term. The principles of failure and corruption will be further explained and discussed in the variable section of this paper. I hope that the three chosen Presidents will offer further insight into both leadership and the responsibility of the presidency. I believe that this paper will help to draw the conclusion that lacking both a vision and the ability to bring about positive change directly effect a president's performance. Without both, a deficiency of motivation exists. Thereupon, the president is setting himself up for failure or involvement in corruption. In determining the three worst Presidents of the United States, specific criteria or variables were needed in order to make accurate decisions. The variables that have been chosen are relative to the topic of leadership, therefore a clear connection between leadership abilities and political figures can be drawn. The variables that I have developed are as follows:

1. The president must have showed a lack of vision throughout his term in office.

2. The president must have displayed a lack of ability to bring about positive change throughout his term in office.

3. The president in some way must have been linked to a failure or scandal at some time during his term in office.

This paper has made an attempt to identify the three worst presidents of the United States. In doing so, this research will benefit the further study of leadership. Historical leaders are important in the study of leadership. Not only can leadership scholars reflect upon their leadership styles, but they can also analyze the outcome of the situation. By doing this scholars learn where and when certain leadership styles and techniques are effective. While positive historical results are useful, negative outcomes also teach leadership scholars great lessons. Hence, this paper teaches us a great deal concerning political leadership. Grant, Taft, and Coolidge stand as prime examples of poor and ineffective leaders.

With Grant we see that his inability to focus on bringing about change to a nation in transition, led him to lose sight of the needs of the American public. Rather than engaging his administration in a vision that foresaw changes for the black population and the area of civil service, he and his staff became involved in an array of scandals.

Taft's incapability to express his own conservative views to the American public during his campaign proved to be his greatest downfall. This was fully illustrated when Taft sided with the Conservative Republicans in the Payne-Aldrich Tariff situation. His inability to continue the progressive movement caused the Republican Party to split, leading to the eventual fall of the party in the executive branch.

Coolidge's lack of communication with the American people and his unresponsiveness to the tumbling economy caused future problems. Coolidge did not deal with the low farm prices, the large income gap, the high tariffs, and the tax issue. Hence, these problems proceeded to grow in a downward spiral. His lack of motivation led to the eventual outbreak of the Great Depression.

In conclusion, these three presidents all share a common bond. They each lacked a vision, were unable to bring about positive change, and became involved in corruption and failure. Hence, we learn through this study that a leader's involvement in corruption and failure is a result of their inability to carry out a vision and positive change. By studying the three worst presidents of the United States, we learn an important lesson. The lesson learned can simply be stated, vision and change are essential aspects of leadership.

Share

COinS