Donald Trump will go down as worst US President in history, historians say

A prominent US historian says Donald Trump will likely go down in history as the worst President the US has ever had. 

In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, Joseph J Ellis - a Yale University historian who's written books on a number of Presidents - said he was already held in low-esteem by his colleagues, and that was before he allegedly incited an insurrection at the US Capitol last week. 

"On several occasions, Trump has suggested that he expects to take his place on the list of former presidents aside Abraham Lincoln, presumably knocking George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and all the others in the top rank down a tick," wrote Ellis. "To put it politely, he needs to adjust his expectations."

There have been a number of serious polls done over the years ranking US Presidents. The Siena College Research Institute does its polling every eight years, most recently in 2018. Trump, in his first appearance in the rankings, came third-to-last, ahead of only James Buchanan - blamed for the US Civil War - and Andrew Johnson, the first US President to be impeached. 

Another 2018 poll, this one conducted by the American Political Science Association, put Trump in last place - after just a year on the job. 

Ellis said a "remarkable consensus" had formed around who the top Presidents of all-time are - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D Roosevelt; and the bottom five - Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson and Warren Harding.

He said it was unlikely Trump wouldn't end up replacing one of them in the bottom. 

"One-term presidents tend to rank low; impeached presidents also suffer in the ratings."

Donald Trump.
Donald Trump. Photo credit: Getty

Trump is the only President in US history to suffer the shame of being impeached twice. 

In comparison, predecessor Barack Obama ranked 17th and eighth in the same two polls.

Ellis said while Trump will probably rank in the middle of the pack in polls of the average voter - 74 million of them did give him the tick in November, after all - historians won't be so kind.

"It's the historians who write the history and therefore will decide how posterity remembers Trump. I suspect the tour guides at Buchanan's National Historic Landmark homeplace, Wheatland, in Pennsylvania, are already celebrating. Their man, they must fondly hope, will never be last again.

"Donald Trump is quite likely to assume the title as the worst president in American history."

Ellis isn't the only one writing off Trump's chances of redemption. Allan Levine, another historian, wrote a column for the Globe and Mail this week coming to much the same conclusion.

"Trump... will be forever relegated to the basement of US presidential rankings. Indeed, if anyone must be smiling down from heaven it has to be James Buchanan, president for one term from 1857 to 1861, who (almost always) has been rated as the worst of the worst in historic presidential rankings... Trump is destined to be ranked as the absolute worst President in American history."

It's not just historians either who think Trump will be remembered as the worst - film star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Trump a Republican, last week called him the "worst President ever"

Newshub was unable to find any high-profile examples of historians ranking Trump the best US President ever.