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Truman and Coolidge go up, Jefferson and Jackson go down. How history remembers presidents

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tags: presidential rankings, presidential history



When Harry Truman left office in 1953, he moved back here to his Kansas City-area hometown with the lowest poll numbers in recorded history. People weren’t just mild about Harry, they were downright done with Harry.

But Truman, a master of aphorisms if not the political arts, sometimes comforted himself with a phrase that was as prescient as it was palliative: “Do your best, history will do the rest.”

Truman has indeed done well by history. The 33rd president, once barely possessing the approval of 2 in 5 Americans, today consistently ranks among the top U.S. presidents, his lack of lyrical eloquence now regarded as pure American lack of pretension.

But Truman is not the only chief executive whose fortunes have changed markedly — some dramatically up, some precipitously down — since leaving office.

A generation ago, Dwight D. Eisenhower was regarded as little more than the genial golfer in the White House; today he is considered as formidable a presence as president as he was as the military leader who led the Allies to victory in World War II.

Read entire article at LA Times

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