The Archive

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Franklin Delano Roosevelt - #1 President?

If you missed the last post, catch up here:
I have decided to begin by reviewing the ranking of a couple presidents.
When you're ready, let's hit the jump.

The first president I am looking at is Franklin Roosevelt (FDR), who the British poll placed at #1. This placement is not unusual. As you can see on Wikipedia (at this link), he has been named #1 six times. However, closer examination reveals that the other five have all been awarded by the same organization, Siena College. Outside of their polls, either Lincoln or Washington has always been ranked first.

Until now.

It actually makes sense, I find, that the British would identify FDR as the top President. Although the U.S. did not join World War II until late 1941 (despite Churchill's wishes), the Lend-Lease program was of great assistance to the British in the years prior. Of course, it doesn't immediately follow that because a Roosevelt program helped the British, that he should be named the best president in U.S. history. However, the survey named FDR the top president in foreign policy leadership, defined by the USPC in the question, "was the president an effective leader in promoting US foreign policy interests and upholding national security?" Given the assistance the Roosevelt administration gave to the British during World War II, before and after the mutual declarations of war by Germany and the U.S., it makes sense that a British poll would consider winning World War II the strongest foreign policy achievement by any U.S. president.

FDR was also named number 1 in Vision and Agenda Setting as well as Domestic Policy. While there is some controversy in the United States as to the nature of FDR's domestic agenda, it should be expected for there to be less controversy about it in the U.K.

Overall, considering that FDR was ranked first in both domestic and foreign policy, it is no surprise that he achieved the number 1 ranking. Trying to put myself as best I can in the shoes of a British scholar, even a British scholar of the American presidency, I can understand the ranking. Although, as you might have surmised by this point, I would not have Roosevelt quite so high. Since I am only trying to analyze (or analyse, if we're getting in the British spirit) the survey in and of itself, however, it should be for the best that I stop there.

Look for another president on Friday, and then a wrap up on Monday.

No comments: