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Where would Jefferson Davis fit in your rankings?

Asked by Anonymous

deadpresidents:

He wouldn’t. Although he was an American President, he wasn’t a President of the United States, and that’s the position that I am ranking. It’s hard enough trying to compare the Presidents of the United States to each other because the office has evolved so much over 225 years that it’s been in existence. The changes in the Presidency and the vastly different things that the various Presidents have faced over the past two-and-a-quarter centuries is one of the reasons why I actually don’t like ranking them.

To be honest, I don’t think there is any good way to compare and contrast the Presidents which allows all 43 of them to be accurately or fairly ranked. Any set of Presidential rankings is almost purely subjective. Obviously, it’s easy to say that, for example, Franklin D. Roosevelt was a better President than Millard Fillmore. But where it gets difficult is trying to decide if Fillmore was worse than Franklin Pierce, or if George Washington was better than Abraham Lincoln. There isn’t any hard data that can help with that decision. Every Presidency is different — not just the problems or issues that they face every day, but the actual job itself has constantly been changing since April 30, 1789.  At times, trying to rank the Presidents can feel like trying to rank 43 men who had 43 different jobs.  In fact, I almost ended up putting 44 spots in the ranking — it’s well-known that Obama is the 44th President, but only 43 men have held the office since Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms. Every time surveys or rankings of Presidents have been done — including in my 2012 rankings — Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms were considered as one as if they had been a normal two-term Presidents. But I actually considered ranking those two non-consecutive terms separately because they are actually drastically different — if Cleveland had been a one-term President, he’d actually be ranked higher.  I ended up ranking his terms as the 22nd and 24th President together, as I did in 2012, but that’s just another example of the difficulties and frustrations that come along with trying to rank all of the Presidents.

Back to Jefferson Davis, I include him in discussions as an “American President” because he was the President of a significant amount of the American population and Commander-in-Chief of American troops during wartime. When I include him in things that I write or discussions about American Presidents, it’s because he is an historically important figure who should be a part of the debate. Plus, the Confederate Presidency and Confederate Constitution were very similar to the U.S. Presidency and U.S. Constitution, so it’s not a huge leap. However, he’s not included in my Presidential Rankings because there are enough differences between the U.S. Presidency and Confederate Presidency to warrant his exclusion, as well as the fact that Davis was the only Confederate President so there’s not even another CSA President to compare him with.