Is This One?

Manus Hand and His Ten Tired Fingers Present...

Dead Presidents On Dead Presidents

Quotations by One Dead President About Another

George Washington
A gentleman whose skill and experience as an officer, would command the approbation of all America and unite the cordial exertions of all the Colonies better than any other person in the union. --John Adams, 1775

He is too illiterate, unread, unlearned for his station and reputation. --John Adams

I have seen him in the days of adversity, in some of the scenes of his deepest distress, and most trying perplexities. I have also attended him in his highest elevation, and most prosperous felicity, with uniform admiration of his wisdom. moderation, and constancy. --John Adams

He errs as other men do, but he errs with integrity.... His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order...and as far as he saw, no judgement was ever sounder. It was slow in operation, being little aided by invention, but sure in conclusion.... He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmest unconcern. Perhaps the stongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed.... His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He was, indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man. --Thomas Jefferson

Insane. --James Monroe (in a rage that he never afterward regretted or disavowed, after Washington recalled him from duty)

A gentleman of one of the first fortunes upon the continent...sacrificing his ease, and hazarding all in the cause of his country. --John Quincy Adams

The mightiest name on earth. On that name an eulogy is expected. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its naked, deathless splendor leave it shining on. --Abraham Lincoln

Well, his monument is still there. --Calvin Coolidge, commenting on a book debunking Washingtonian mythology

There isn't any question about Washington's greatness. If his administration had been a failure, there would have been no United States. A lesser man couldn't have done it.... Washington was both a great administrator and a great leader, a truly great man in every way. --Harry Truman

John Adams
He is distrustful, obstinate, excessively vain, and takes no counsel from anyone.... He is vain, irritable, and a bad calculator of the force and probable effect of the motives which govern men. This is all the ill that can possibly be said of him: he is profound in his views: and accurate in his judgment except when knowledge of the world is necessary to form a judgement.... I like everything about Adams except his politics.... I never felt a diminution of confidence in his integrity, and retained a solid affection for him. --Thomas Jefferson

It's just that he wasn't very special. --Harry Truman

Thomas Jefferson
He is an old friend with whom I have often had occasion to labor on many a knotty problem, and in whose abilities and steadiness I always found great cause to confide. --John Adams, 1784

It is with much reluctance that I am obliged to look upon him as a man whose mind is warped by prejudice and so blinded by ignorance as to be unfit for the office he holds. However wise and scientific as philosopher, as a politician he is a child and a dupe of party. --John Adams, 1797

For a period of fifty years, there has not been an interruption or a diminution of mutual confidence and cordial friendship [between myself and Mr. Jefferson] for a single moment in a single instance.... It may be said of him as has been said of others that he was a "walking library," and what can be said of but few such prodigies, that a Genius of Philosophy ever walked hand in hand with him.... He lives and will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise and good, as a luminary of Science, as a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of humankind. --James Madison, 1826

He was a mixture of profound and sagacious observation, with strong prejudices and irritated passions.... If not an absolute atheist, he had no belief in a future existence. All his ideas of obligation were bounded by the present life. His duties to his neighbor were under no stronger guarantee than the laws of the land and the opinions of the world. The tendency of this condition upon a mind of great compass is to produce insincerity and duplicity, which were his besetting sins through life. --John Quincy Adams

The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of a free society. --Abraham Lincoln

Perhaps the most incapable Executive that ever filled the presidential would be difficult to imagine a man less fit to guide the state with honor and safety through the stormy times that marked the opening of the present century. --Theodore Roosevelt

The next great President, in my view, was Jefferson.... Jefferson was just as important [as Washington and Lincoln] because he was working continuously for the preservation of free government as established by the Constitution. --Harry Truman

An idealist with sense. --Richard Nixon

One of my favorite quotations about age comes from Thomas Jefferson. He said that we should never judge a president by his age, only by his work. And ever since he told me that, I've stopped worrying. And just to show you how youthful I am, I intend to campaign in all 13 states. --Ronald Reagan, 1980

James Madison
[My] pillar of support through life.... I can say conscientiously that I do not know in the world a man of purer integrity, more dispassionate, disinterested, and devoted to genuine Republicanism; nor could I in the whole scope of America and Europe point out an abler head. --Thomas Jefferson, 1812

Despite his unimpressive appearance and manner, he was a brilliant fellow with a crystal-clear mind.... It was just that, when it came time for him to act like an executive, he was like a great many other people; when the time comes to make decisions, they have difficulty doing it. --Harry Truman

James Monroe
If Mr. Monroe should ever fill the Chair of Government, he may (and it is presumed he would be well enough disposed) let the French Minister frame his Speeches.... There is abundant evidence of his being a mere tool in the hands of the French government. --George Washington, 1797

He is a man whose soul might be turned wrong side outwards without discovering a blemish to the world. --Thomas Jefferson, 1786

He was entitled to say [of America], like Augustus Caesar of his imperial city, that he had found her built of brick and left her constructed of marble. --John Quincy Adams, 1831

I consider Monroe a pretty minor president. In spite of the Monroe Doctrine. That's the only important thing he ever did more or less on his own, when you really get down to it. --Harry Truman

John Quincy Adams
Mr. Adams is the most valuable public character we have abroad.... There remains no doubt in my mind that he will prove himself to be the ablest of all our diplomatic corps. --George Washington, 1797

It is said that he is a disgusting man to do business. Coarse, dirty and clownish in his address and stiff and abstracted in his opinions, which are drawn from books exclusively. --William Henry Harrison

Mr. Adams' general personal demeanour was not prepossessing. He was on the contrary quite awkward, but...he was, in a small and agreeable party, one of the most entertaining table companions of his day.... He loved his country, desired to serve it, and was properly conscious of the honor of doing so. --Martin Van Buren

His disposition is as perverse and mulish as that of his father. --James Buchanan

The single really interesting thing about Adams, I'm afraid, is that he was the only son of a president in our history to become president himself.... He was a conscientious and well-meaning man, and I wish I could say more about his achievements.... I just don't think there were any events in Adams' administration that were very interesting. --Harry Truman

Andrew Jackson
I feel much alarmed at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President. He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place. He has had very little respect for laws and constitutions, and is, in fact, an able military chief. His passions are terrible. When I was President of the Senate, he was a Senator, and he could never speak on account of the rashness of his feelings. I have seen him attempt it repeatedly, and as often choke with rage. His passions are, no doubt, cooler now; he has been much tried since I knew him, but he is a dangerous man. --Thomas Jefferson, 1824

A barbarian who could not write a sentence of grammar and hardly could spell his own name.... One of our tribe of great men who turn disease to commodity...he craves the sympathy for sickness as a portion of his glory. --John Quincy Adams

I never knew a man more free from conceit, or one to whom it was a greater extent a pleasure, as well as a recognized duty, to listen patiently to what might be said to him upon any subject under consideration....Neither, I need scarcely say, was he in the habit of talking, much less boasting, of his own achievements. --Martin Van Buren

Jackson is my next choice as a great president after Jefferson, the next president who really did things. --Harry Truman

Martin Van Buren
Fawning civility. Van Buren is, like the Sosie of Moliere's Amphitryon, 'l'ami de tout le monde.' This is perhaps the great secret of his success in public life.... Van Buren's principle is the talisman of democracy, which, so long as this Union lasts, can never fail. --John Quincy Adams, 1836

I believe him not only deserving of my confidence, but the confidence of the Nation.... not only well qualified, but desires to fill the highest office in the gift of the people, who in him will find a true friend and safe repository of their rights and liberty. --Andrew Jackson, 1829

Mr. Van Buren became offended with me at the beginning of my administration because I chose to exercise my own judgment in the selection of my own Cabinet, and would not be controlled by him and suffer him to select it for me. Mr. Van Buren is the most fallen man I have ever known. --James Polk, 1847

I've got to say that our country would have done just as well not to have had Van Buren as president.... My particular reason for not thinking much of him is that he was just too timid and indecisive. I don't know whether or not he even had any personal philosophy on the role of government; I think he was a man who was always worrying about what might happen if he did this or that, and always keeping his ear to the ground to the point where he couldn't act as the chief executive, and for that reason he was just a politician and nothing more, a politian who was out of his depth. --Harry Truman

William Henry Harrison
The greatest beggar and the most troublesome of all the office seekers during my Administration was General Harrison. --John Quincy Adams, 1840

The Republic...may suffer under the present imbecile chief, but the sober second thought of the people will restore it at out next Presidential election. --Andrew Jackson

The President is the most extraordinary man I ever saw. He does not seem to realize the vast importance of his elevation....He is as tickled with the Presidency as is a young woman with a new bonnet. --Martin Van Buren, 1841

It is true, the victory of 1840 did not produce the happy results anticipated; but it is equally true, as we believe, that the unfortunate death of General Harrison was the cause of the failure. It was not the election of General Harrison that was expected to produce happy effects, but the measures to be adopted by his administration. --Abraham Lincoln, 1843

Harrison didn't accomplish a thing during the month he was in office. He made no contribution whatsoever. He had no policy. He didn't know what the government was about, to tell the truth. About the only thing he did during that brief period was see friends and friends of friends, because he was such an easy mark that he couldn't say no to anybody, and everybody and his brother was beseeching him for jobs. --Harry Truman

John Tyler
Tyler is a political sectarian of the slave-driving, Virginian, Jeffersonian school, principled against all improvement, with all the interests and passions and vices of slavery rooted in his moral and political constitution -- he is a slave-monger whost talents are not above mediocrity, and with a spirit incapapable of expansion to the dimensions of the station upon which he has been cast by the hand of Providence. --John Quincy Adams, 1841

A kind and overruling providence has interfered to prolong our glorious Union, ...for surely Tyler...[will] stay the corruptions of this clique who has got into power by deluding the people by the grossest of slanders. --Andrew Jackson, 1841 (on the death of President Harrison)

[Tyler deserves] the lasting gratitude of his country [for] arresting the dominant majority in Congress in their mad career, and saving his country from the domination and political incubus of the money-power in the form of a National Bank. --James Polk, 1841

One of the presidents we could have done without.... There are some things I admire about Tyler, but there were also plenty of things that weren't so admirable.... The reason I have a certain amount of grudging respect for John Tyler is that he knew his own mind and stuck to his decisions. --Harry Truman

James Knox Polk just qualified for an eminent County Court lawyer....He has no wit, no literature, no point of argument, no gracefulness of delivery, no eloquence of language, no philosophy, no pathos, no felicitous impromptus; nothing that can constitute an orator, but confidence, fluency, and labor. --John Quincy Adams, 1834

To extraordinary powers of labor, both mental and physical, he unites that tact and judgement which are requisite to the successful direction of such an office as that of Chief Magistrate of a free people. --Andrew Jackson, 1844

I more than suspect that he is deeply conscious of being in the wrong, -- that he feels the blood of this [the Mexican] war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him.... He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. --Abraham Lincoln, 1848

Polk's appointments all in all are the most damnable set that was ever made by any President since the government was organized.... He has a set of interested parasites about him, who flatter him until he does not know himself. He seems to be acting upon the principle of hanging an old friend for the purpose of making two new ones. --Andrew Johnson

Though in no sense a man of brilliant parts, he may be said to have been a thoroughly representative man of his class, a sturdy, upright, straightforward party man. He believed in the policy for which his party had declared, and he meant, if elected, to carry it out. --Woodrow Wilson, 1902

The next man on my list of great presidents, a man who isn't much thought of these days, is James K. Polk. ....He exercised his powers of the presidency as I think they should be exercised. He was president during the Mexican War, and he was living in an age when the terrible burden of making decisions in a war was entirely in the hands of the president. And when that came about, he decided that that was much more important than going to parties and shaking hands with people. I know exactly how he felt, but in my time there were more able and informed people who were helping the president, and that made a difference. James K. Polk, a great president. Said what he intended to do and did it. --Harry Truman

Zachary Taylor
It did not happen to General Taylor, once in his life, to fight a battle on equal terms, or on terms advantageous to himself -- and yet he was never beaten, and he never retreated.... General Taylor's battles were not distinguished for brilliant military maneuvers; but in all he seems rather to have conquered by the exercise of a sober and steady judgment, coupled with a doffed incapacity to understand that defeat was possible. --Abraham Lincoln, 1850

Zachary Taylor was one of the do-nothing presidents.... When Taylor became president of the United States, I don't think he knew what to do. I can't be charitable and say that he failed to carry out his program; he didn't have any program to carry out, so he couldn't fail because he had no program. He was elected just as a military figure, and he spent his year in office behaving like a retired general.... A president... must have ideas and imagination as to what's needed for the good of the country, and he can create conditions that will make him great, or he can take things as they are and do nothing, like Taylor. Taylor certainly became expert at doing nothing. --Harry Truman

Millard Fillmore
Whether to the nation or to the state, no service can be or ever will be rendered by a more able or a more faithful public servant. --John Quincy Adams, 1843

The long-continued and useful public service and eminent purity of character of the deceased ex-President will be remembered. -- Ulysses Grant, 1874

Mr. Fillmore was...a man more amenable to the control of the leaders of Congress and of his party than the sturdy soldier had been whom he succeeded. --Woodrow Wilson

Another of those detached, do-nothing presidents.... He had no regular viewpoint on anything.... He was a man who changed with the wind, and as president of the United States he didn't do anything that's worth pointing out. --Harry Truman

Franklin Pierce
It is his particular distinction, above all other public men within my knowledge, that he has never had occasion to take a single step backwards. What speech, vote, or sentiment of his whole political career has been inconsistent with the purewst and strictest principles of Jeffersonian Democracy? ... Throughout his life, [he] has proved himself to be particularly unselfish. The offices and honors which other men seek with so much eagerness, have sought him only to be refused.... Indeed, the public character of General Piece is so invulnerable that it has hardle been seriously assaulted. --James Buchanan, 1852

Pierce was...a small politician, of low capacity and mean surroundings, proud to act as the servile tool of men worse than himself but also stronger and abler. He was ever ready to do any work the slavery leaders set him. --Theodore Roosevelt, 1886

Pierce was a nincompoop.... It was Pierce's foolish notion that he could cool down the slavery question and make people forget about it by doing two things: filling his cabinet with people of different viewpoints, and concentrating almost entirely on foreign policy and territorial expansion instead of slavery problems. But the net result was that his cabinet members kept bickering with each other and didn't accomplish much, and Pierce's moves in other directions didn't distract people's attention from the slavery problems for a minute.... Pierce was one of the best-looking men ever in the White House. He was also one of the most vain, which I guess was on account of the fact that he was so good-looking. But though he looked the way people who make movies think a president should look, he didn't pay any more attention to business as president of the United States than the man in the moon, and he really made a mess of things.... Pierce was the best looking President the White House ever had -- but as President he ranks with Buchanan and Calvin Coolidge. --Harry Truman

James Buchanan
Whatever may have been the effect of Mr. Buchanan's elevation to the presidency and of the possession of its overshadowing powers upon himself, he was, assuredly, before that occurrence a cautious, circumspect, and sagacious man. --Martin Van Buren

All his acts and opinions seem to be with a view to his own advancement.... Mr. Buchanan is an able man, but is in small matters without judgment and sometimes acts like an old maid. --James K. Polk

In 1856...I preferred the success of a candidate whose election would prevent or postpone secession, to seeing the country plunged into a war the end of which no man could foretell. With a Democrat elected by the unanimous vote of the Slave States, there could be no pretext for secession for four years.... I therefore voted for James Buchanan as President. --Ulysses Grant, 1885

James Buchanan... hesitated and backtracked and felt that his constitutional prerogative didn't allow him to do things, and he ended up doing absolutely nothing and threw everything into Lincoln's lap. --Harry Truman

Abraham Lincoln
[Lincoln] is to the extent of his limited ability and narrow intelligence the willing instrument [of the Abolitionists] for all the woe which [has] thus far been brought upon the Country and for all the degradation, all the atrocity, all the desolation and ruin. --Franklin Pierce

Lincoln had faith in time, and time has justified his faith. --Benjamin Harrison

Lincoln in his period suspended habeus corpus, allowing military authorities to arrest and try people accused of helping the South or impeding Federal troops, and he did several other things that he had to do in order to save the Union at the time. He dismissed the Circuit Court of Appeals and appointed new judges in the District of Columbia and extended the Supreme Court from seven members to eleven. But all of the former protections were restored when the emergency was over. Abraham Lincoln, a strong executive who saved the government, saved the United States.... My people didn't think much of Lincoln, but I thought he was wonderful. It took me a long time to come to that realization, however, because my family were all against him and all thought it was a fine thing he got assassinated. (Well, that's an exaggeration, but not by much.) I began to feel just the opposite after I'd studied the history of the country and what he did to save the Union. --Harry Truman

Lincoln had a very deep feeling for people, but... he could be tough in a crisis. No one pushed him around. He was a very skillful political operator. --Richard Nixon

Andrew Johnson
Professing to be a Democrat, he has been politically if not personally hostile to me during my whole term [as president]. He is very vindictive and perverse in his temper and conduct. If he had the manliness or independence to manifest his opposition openly, he knows he could not be again elected by his constituents. --James Polk, 1849

No man has a right to judge Andrew Johnson in any respect who has not suffered as much and done as much as he for the Nation's sake. --Abraham Lincoln, 1864

I have never been so tired of anything before as I have been with the political speeches of Mr. Johnson.... I look upon them as a national disgrace. --Ulysses S. Grant

Andrew Johnson wasn't too bad, but he was overwhelmed by a hostile Congress. --Harry Truman

Ulysses S. Grant
He is a scientific Goth, resembling Alaric, destroying the country as he goes and delivering the people over to starvation. Nor does he bury his dead, but leaves them to rot on the battlefield. --John Tyler

I cannot spare this man; he fights. --Abraham Lincoln

Grant has treated me badly; but he was the right man in the right place during the war, and no matter what his faults were or are, the whole world can never write him down. --Andrew Johnson

He has done more than any other President to degrade the character of Cabinet officers by choosing them on the model of the military staff, because of their pleasant personal relation to him and not because of national reputation and the public needs.... His imperturbability is amazing. I am in doubt whether to call it greatness or stupidity. --James A. Garfield, 1874 and 1876

Faithful and fearless as a volunteer soldier, intrepid and invincible as commander-in-chief of the Armies of the Union and confident as President of a reunited and strengthened nation, which his genius has been instrumental in achieving, he has our homage and that of the world; but brilliant as was his public character, we love him all the more for his homelife and homely virtues. --William McKinley, 1897

The honest, simple-hearted soldier had not added prestige to the presidential office. He himself knew that he had failed...that he ought never to have been made President.... He combined great gifts with great mediocrity. --Woodrow Wilson, 1902

Ulysses Simpson Grant's period in office seems to prove the theory that we can coast along for eight years without a president.... Grant's period as president was one of the low points in our history.... I don't think Grant knew very much about what the president's job was except that he was commander in chief of the armed forces. That was the thing, I think, that impressed him more than anything, and he was pretty naïve or ignorant about everything else.... He wasn't even a chief executive; he was another sleepwalker whose administration was even more crooked than Warren Harding's, if that's possible. --Harry Truman

Rutherford B. Hayes
The policy of the President has turned out to be a give-away from the beginning. He has nulled suits, discontinued prosecutions, offered conciliation everywhere in the South, while they have spent their time in whetting their knives for any Republican they could find.... No nickname can be pinned to him. --James Garfield

He was a patriotic citizen, a lover of the flag and of our free institutions, an industrious and conscientious civil officer, a soldier of dauntless courage, a loyal comrade and friend, a sympathetic and helpful neighbor, and the honored head of a happy Christian home. He has steadily grown in the public esteem, and the impartial historian will not fail to recognize the conscientiousness, the manliness, and the courage that so strongly characterized his whole public career. --Benjamin Harrison, 1893

Mr. Hayes had as little political authority as Mr. Johnson had had.... He had no real hold upon the country. His amiable character, his lack of party heat, his conciliatory attitude towards the South alienated rather than atttracted the members of his party in Congress.... The Democrats did not like him because he seemed to them incapable of frank, consistent action. --Woodrow Wilson, 1902

Elected by a fluke and knew it, and he did his level best to do a good job. --Harry Truman

James A. Garfield
I am completely disgusted with Garfield's course....Garfield has shown that he is not possessed of the backbone of an angleworm. --Ulysses S. Grant, 1881

A smooth, ready, pleasant man, not very strong. --Rutherford B. Hayes, 1860s.

There is a great deal of strength in Garfield's life and struggles as a self-made man.... From poverty and obscurity, by labor at all avocations, he became a great scholar, a statesman, a major general, a Senator, a Presidential candidate.... The truth is, no man ever started so low that accomplished so much in all our history. Not Franklin or Lincoln even. --Rutherford Hayes, 1880

He was not executive in his talents -- not original, not firm, not a moral force. He leaned on others -- could not face a frowning world; his habits suffered from Washington life. His course at various times when trouble came betrayed weakness. --Rutherford Hayes, 1883

Who of us, having heard him here or elsewhere, speaking on a question of great national concern, can forget the might and majesty, the force and directness, the grace and beauty of his utterances? ... He did not flash forth as a meteor; he rose with measured and stately step over rough paths and through years of rugged work. --William McKinley, 1886

Chester A. Arthur
Nothing like it ever before in the Executive Mansion -- liquor, snobbery, and worse.... He evidently has no faith in the [civil service] reform, but in deference to public sentiment, he yields so far as to recommend an appropriation of $25,000 to carry it out, and expresses a readiness to do so! --Rutherford Hayes, 1881

A nonentity with side whiskers. --Woodrow Wilson

The only thing that stands out about Arthur is that he took all the wonderful furniture that had been brought to this country by Jefferson, Monroe, and several of the other presidents of that period and sold it in an auction for about $6,500. --Harry Truman

Grover Cleveland
What in the world had Grover Cleveland done? Will you tell me? You give it up? I have been looking for six weeks for a Democrat who could tell me what Cleveland has done for the good of his country and for the benefit of the people, but I have not found him.... He says himself...that two-thirds of his time has been uselessly spent with Democrats who want office.... Now he has been so occupied in that way that he has not done anything else. --William McKinley, 1885

A clear-headed, methodical, unimaginative President.... [who] played a leading and decisive part in the quiet drama of our national life.... In the midst of the shifting scene Mr. Cleveland personally came to seem the only fixed point. He alone stood firm and gave definite utterance to principles intelligible to all. --Woodrow Wilson

He was a great president in his first term; in his second term, he wasn't the same Grover Cleveland he was to begin with. ...Cleveland reestablished the presidency by being not only a chief executive but a leader. --Harry Truman

Benjamin Harrison
Damn the President! He is a cold-blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid old psalm-singing Indianapolis politician. --Theodore Roosevelt, 1890

I tend to pair up Benjamin Harrison and Dwight Eisenhower because they're the two presidents I can think of who most preferred laziness to labor.... There's not much else you can say about Harrison except that he was president of the United States. --Harry Truman

William McKinley
William McKinley has left us a priceless gift in the example of a useful and pure life, in his fidelity to public trusts and in his demonstration of the value of kindly virtues that not only ennoble but lead to success. --Grover Cleveland, 1901

McKinley has a chocolate éclair backbone. --Theodore Roosevelt, 1898

He had such a good heart that the right thing to do always occurred to him. --William H. Taft, 1916

McKinley didn't turn out to be much of a president. --Harry Truman

There have been people who suggest my ideas would take us back to the days of McKinley. Well, what's wrong with that? Under McKinley, we freed Cuba. --Ronald Reagan

Theodore Roosevelt
I am afraid he is too pugnacious... I want peace and I am told that... Theodore is always getting into rows with everybody. --William McKinley, 1897

A megalomaniac.... My judgment is that the view of... Mr. Roosevelt, ascribing an undefined residuum of power to the president is an unsafe doctrine, and that it might lead under emergencies to results of an arbitrary character, doing irremediable injustice to private right. --William H. Taft

Well, the mad Roosevelt has a new achievement to his credit. He succeeded in defeating the party that furnished him a job for nearly all of his manhood days after leaving the ranch, and showed his gratitude for the presidency, at that party's hands. The eminent fakir can now turn to raising hell, his specialty, along other lines. --Warren Harding, 1912

Theodore Roosevelt was always getting himself in hot water by talking before he had to commit himself upon issues not well-defined. --Calvin Coolidge, 1932

In my view, missed being a great president, though only by a narrow margin. The trouble with Teddy Roosevelt is that, though he was the president who finally awakened to the fact that the welfare of the country was wrapped up in... the forests and the mines and the other things the country owned..., he had his troubles with Congress and he had his troubles with the trusts, and he didn't get a heck of a lot done. He finally got to be called a trustbuster, but he didn't bust very many of them. ...He ended up adding up to more talk than achievement. --Harry Truman

William H. Taft
For all [his] gentleness and kindness and generous good nature, there never existed a man who was a better fighter when the need arose.... I do not believe there can be found in the whole country a man so well fitted to be President. He is not only absolutely fearless, absolutely disinterested and upright, but he has the widest acquaintances with the nation's needs without and within and the broadest sympathies with all our citizens. He would be as empathetically a President of the plain people as Lincoln, yet not Lincoln himself would be freer from the least taint of demagogy, the least tendency to arouse or appeal to any class hatred of any kind. --Theodore Roosevelt, 1908

Taft, who is such an admirable fellow, has shown himself such an utterly commonplace leader, good-natured, feebly well-meaning, but with plenty of small motive; and totally unable to grasp or put into execution any great policy.... a flubdub with a streak of the second rate and the common in him.... a fathead and a puzzlewit.... He is evidently a man who takes color from his surroundings. He was an excellent man under me, and close to me.... He has not the slightest idea of what is necessary if this country is to make social and industrial progress. --Theodore Roosevelt

[Taft is] as wise and patient as Abraham Lincoln, as modest and dauntless as Ulysses S. Grant, as temperate and peace-loving as Rutherford B. Hayes, as patriotic and intellectual as James A. Garfield, as courtly and generous as Chester A. Arthur, as learned in the law as Benjamin Harrison, as sympathetic and brave as William McKinley, as progressive as his predecessor. --Warren Harding, 1912

Mr. Taft's service to our country has been of rare distinction and was marked by a purity of patriotism, a lofty disinterestedness, and a devotion to the best interests of the nation that deserve and will ever command the grateful memory of his countrymen. --Herbert Hoover, 1930

A fat, jolly, likeable, mediocre man. --Harry Truman

Woodrow Wilson
A very adroit...(but not forceful) hypocrite.... He has made our statesmanship a thing of empty elocution. He has covered his fear of standing for the right behind a veil of rhetorical phrases. He has wrapped the true heart of the nation in a spangled shroud of rhetoric..... For Heaven's sake never allude to Wilson as an idealist or militaire or altruist. He is a doctrinaire when he can be so with safety to his personal ambition.... He hasn't a touch of idealism in him. His advocacy of the League of Nations no more represents idealism on his part than his advocacy of peace without victory.... He is a silly doctrinaire at times and an utterly selfish and cold-blooded politician always. --Theodore Roosevelt

I regard him as a ruthless hypocrite, and as an opportunist, who has not convictions that he would not barter at once for votes.... He surrenders a conviction, previously expressed, without the slightest hesitation, and never even vouchsafes to the public the arguments upon which he was induced to change his mind. --William Howard Taft, 1916

A clean, learned, honorable, and patriotic man. --Warren Harding, 1912

Three qualities of greatness stood out in Woodrow Wilson. He was a man of staunch morals. He was more than just an idealist; he was the personification of the heritage of idealism of the American people. He brought spiritual concepts to the peace table. He was a born crusader. --Herbert Hoover, 1958

He was a great man, a truly great man.... In many ways Wilson was the greatest of the greats. He was obviously and visibly one of the smartest people in the country and possibly in the world. Wilson had the idea that he was the smartest man in the United States, and... of course people associated with him didn't like that attitude, but it's probably the truth. --Harry Truman

Warren G. Harding
Harding is incapable of thought, because he has nothing to think with. --Woodrow Wilson

He caught the ear of a war-tired world. He called our country back to paths of peace and gladly it came. He beckoned the nations to come and sit in council... He sought for men and nations a peace, the only true and lasting peace, based on justice and right.... So he led the way to the monymental accomplishments of the Washington Conference on Limitation of Armament. --Calvin Coolidge, 1923

He was not a man with either the experience or the intellectual quality that the position [of president] needed. --Herbert Hoover

He voted in a way that he hoped would make him popular with other people in his party even when his personal convictions ran the other way.... --Harry Truman

Calvin Coolidge
He is very self-contained, very simple, very direct and very shrewd in his observations. --William Howard Taft, 1923

[He] was a real conservatice, probably the equal of Benjamin Harrison. --Herbert Hoover

He was quite a character, and there are a lot of funny stories about him, but I guess pretty nearly the only thing I like about him are those stories. Otherwise, his ideas about being president were exactly in the same line as the president who preceded him. He believed that the less a president did, the better it was for the country, and I don't agree with that at all. He sat with his feet in his desk drawer and did nothing. --Harry Truman

You hear a lot of jokes every once in a while about 'Silent Cal Coolidge.' The joke is on the people who make the jokes. Look at his record. He cut the taxes four times. We had probably the greatest growth and prosperity that we've ever known. I have taken heed of that because if he did that by doing nothing, maybe that's the answer. --Ronald Reagan, 1981

Herbert Hoover
I have the feeling that he would rather see a good cause fail than succeed if he were not the head of it. --Woodrow Wilson

The smartest geek I know, --Warren G. Harding

That man has offered me unsolicited advice for six years, all of it bad. --Calvin Coolidge

He is certainly a wonder, and I wish we could make him President of the United States. There could not be a better one. --Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1920

I accuse the [Hoover] administration of being the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all our history. It is an administration that has piled bureau on bureau, commission on commission, and has failed to anticipate the dire needs of and the reduced earning power of the people. --Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932

Franklin D. Roosevelt
A chameleon on plaid. --Herbert Hoover, 1932

Along with currency manipulation, the New Deal introduced to Americans the spectacle of Fascist dictation to business, labor, and agriculture. --Herbert Hoover, 1952

He was a great, great president. He had the ability to make people believe he was right and go along with the things he wanted to do, and he was also very daring in his actions.... As a person, ....I liked him. I liked him a lot. He was a very easy person to like because he was a very, very pleasant man and a great conversationalist, with marvelous flashes of humor in almost everything he said, and he had a personality that made people feel close to him.... He had defects, of course.... For one thing, he was a first-rate executive, never afraid to make those decisions he made, but he wasn't a good administrtator because he just wasn't able to delegate authority to anybody else. He wanted to be in a position where he could say yes or no to everything without anyone's ever arguing with him or questioning him, and of course you can't do that in our system of checks and balances. It goes without saying that I am highly impressed by him for a thousand reasons, but a main reason is that he inherited a situation that was almost as bad as the one that Lincoln had, and he dealt with it. ...I'll be mentioning FDR many times in this book... and saying a lot more about him.... Anybody who's looking for any comments that are less than admiring had better go to the bookstore and see if he can get his money back.... Roosevelt was the man who brought about the recovery from the terrible depression we had in 1929 and 1930 and 1931, and he was the man who persisted in the manner that won the Second World War. Isn't that enough to make us think of him almost as a god? It is in my book. --Harry Truman

With some of Mr. Roosevelt's political acts I could never possibly agree. But I knew him solely in his capacity as leader of a nation at war -- and in that capacity he seemed to me to fulfill all that could possibly be expected of him. --Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1948

Mr. Roosevelt has contributed to the end of capitalism in our own country, although he would probably argue the point at some length. He has done this not through the laws which he sponsored or were passed during his presidency, but rather through the emphasis he put on rights rather than responsibilites. --John F. Kennedy

He was the one person I ever knew, anywhere, who was never afraid.... He was always like a daddy to me. --Lyndon Johnson

Harry Truman
When the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt thrust him suddenly into the Presidency in April of 1945 at one of the most critical moments of our history, he met that moment with courage and vision. His farsighted leadership in the postwar era has helped ever since to preserve peace and freedom in the world. --Richard Nixon

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Why, this fellow don't know any more about politics than a pig knows about Sunday.... A glamorous military hero, glorified by the press.... If Eisenhower should become president, his administration would make Grant's look like a model of perfection. --Harry Truman, 1950

All I'll say now is that when the people elect a man to the presidency who doesn't take care of the job, they've got nobody to blame but themselves.... The trouble with Eisenhower is he's just a coward. He hasn't got any backbone at all.... Ike didn't know anything, and all the time he was in office he didn't learn a thing.... In 1959, when Castro came to power down in Cuba, Ike just sat on his ass and acted like if he didn't notice what was going on down there, why, maybe Castro would go away or something. --Harry Truman

The sturdy and enduring virtues -- honor, courage, integrity, decency, all found eloquent expression in the life of this good man and noble leader. --Lyndon Johnson, 1969

The greatest leader of the atomic age.... A man who ranks among the greatest legendary heroes of this nation.... President Eisenhower's whole life is proof of the stark but simple truth that no one hates war more than one who has seen a lot of it.... [In the Presidency,] he was a far more complex and devious man than most people realized, and in the best sense of those words. Not shackled to a one-track mind, he always applied two, thee, or four lines of reasoning to a single problem and he usually preferred the indirect approach where it would serve him better than the direct attack on a problem. His mind was quick and facile. --Richard Nixon

John F. Kennedy
[Kennedy's] difficulty appears to stem primarily from an inadequate understanding of our American system -- of how it really works, of the psychological, motivational and economic factors that make it ebb and flow. --Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1962

The greatest leader of our time. --Lyndon Johnson

Kennedy concentrated on building up what I characterized as a 'poor mouth' image of America.... He seized on every possible shortcoming and inequity in American life, and promised immediate cure-alls. --Richard Nixon

He leaves little doubt that his idea of the "challenging new world" is one in which the Federal Government will grow bigger and do more and of course spend more.... Under the tousled boyish haircut it is still old Karl Marx. --Ronald Reagan, 1960

Lyndon Johnson
A good man to help out with naval matters. --Franklin Roosevelt

He is a small man. He hasn't got the depth of mind nor the breadth of vision to carry great responsibility.... Johnson is superficial and opportunistic. --Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960

Lyndon Johnson rose above the doubt and fear to hold this Nation on course until we rediscovered our faith in ourselves. --Richard Nixon, 1973

Richard Nixon
I wonder how many people remember our history and realize how close Jefferson came to losing the election in 1800, and how close Aaron Burr came to being our third president, which would have been as bad as electing Richard Nixon today.... You don't set a fox to watching the chickens just because he has a lot of experience in the henhouse... Richard Nixon is a no-good lying bastard. He can lie out of both sides of his mouth at the same time, and if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd lie just to keep his hand in.... [Nixon is] the easiest man to beat. --Harry Truman

A good soldier.... There is no man in the history of America who has had such careful preparation as has... Nixon for carrying out the duties of the Presidency. --Dwight D. Eisenhower

A man of great reading, a man of great intelligence and a man of great decisiveness. --Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1968

He's a conservative... and if he became President, we could expect Republican policy would switch to the right.... He is a filthy, lying son-of-a-bitch, and a very dangerous man. --John F. Kennedy, 1960

I may not know much, but I know chicken shit from chicken salad.... He's like a Spanish horse, who runs faster than anyone for the first nine lengths, and then turns around and runs backwards. You'll see; he'll do something wrong in the end. He always does. --Lyndon Johnson

Gerald Ford
Jerry Ford is so dumb he can't walk and chew gum at the same time.... He's a nice fellow, but he spent too much time playing football without a helmet. --Lyndon Johnson

Ronald Reagan
Reagan is not one that wears well. Reagan on a personal basis, is terrible. He just isn't pleasant to be around. Maybe he's different with others. No, he's just an uncomfortable man to be around...strange. --Richard Nixon, 1972

He was one of the few political leaders I have ever met whose public speeches revealed more than his private communication. --Gerald Ford

Ronald Reagan was an excellent leader of our nation during challenging times at home and abroad. --Gerald Ford