Worst Presidents: Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)

Serving right after Johnson, he presided over an outbreak of corruption, but had good intentions.

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Slideshow: Worst Presidents

At No. 7, Ulysses S. Grant has risen from No. 2 on the 1948 Schlesinger list probably because of the same revisionist take on Reconstruction that lowered Johnson in the eyes of historians.

Although there is no way to overlook the widespread graft and corruption that occurred on his presidential watch —it was at the time unprecedented in scope— he was in no way a beneficiary of it.

"My failures have been errors of judgment," the popular former Civil War general admitted, "not of intent."

More important, the 18th president now receives plaudits for his aggressive prosecution of the radical reform agenda in the South. His attempts to quash the Ku Klux Klan (suspending habeas corpus in South Carolina and ordering mass arrests) and his support for the Civil Rights Act of 1875 were controversial and may have produced only short-lived gains for African-Americans, but Grant's intentions were laudable and brave. He also worked for the good of American Indians, instituting the reservation system as an imperfect, last-ditch effort to protect them from extinction.

Grant's reputation may continue to rise as a result of sympathetic biographies and studies—and because of a renewed appreciation of his own excellent memoir, considered to be the best ever produced by a former president.