Considered one of the most important jobs in the world, the position of President has been filled by some amazing men in incredible situations. Here are ten of the greatest feats ever accomplished by someone in the Oval Office:
1. JFK put a man on the Moon
In July 1969, American put the first man on the moon — Neil Armstrong. Though this required an accumulated effort of hundreds of people and a substantial portion of the U.S. economy, the president who gets most of the credit is John F. Kennedy. He was determined that America was going to win the “Space Race” and beat the Soviets to the Moon, and he sold us all on the idea.
2. Nixon opened relations with China
Nixon isn’t remembered as one of the presidents we’re proudest of, but the fact remains that in 1972 he officially reopened negotiations with the most populous country in the world — China — after 25 years of giving each other the silent treatment. There’s a real possibility that this act helped prevent violent confrontation and allowed us to soften up China’s stance on various topics, as well as (for better or worse) entangling our economies together at a major scale.
3. Reagan helped bring down the Iron Curtain
There are plenty of valid complaints about some of Reagan’s actions in office, but he’ll still be remembered as the man who both challenged Gorbachev and negotiated with him during the final years of the Soviet Union. The Soviet satellites did their part from within, with peaceful protests like the Baltic Chain and the “Singing Revolution” and more, but it’s hard to say what might have happened without the Cowboy at the helm of the U.S.
4. FDR rebuilt the economy
Serving in office for more total years than any other president, Franklin D. Roosevelt is generally credited with ending our Great Depression and ushering in a new era of prosperity and social systems with his New Deal. He also guided America through almost all of World War II, one of the darkest times in history.
5. Lincoln kept the country together and helped free the slaves
Abraham Lincoln is honored on the five-dollar bill for a reason; he’s considered the reason there’s still one USA today and not two. He led the nation through the Civil War, which claimed more American lives than any other conflict — and in time he brought about the end of slavery on American soil.
6. Bill Clinton negotiated peace in North Ireland
Most Americans today seem to remember Bill either for his sex scandals or his wife Hillary, but in Ireland he’s considered something of a hero for his part in ending “The Troubles”. Specifically, his work on the phone with both sides helped make the Good Friday Accords of 1998 possible and ended years of painful state violence and terrorism.
7. Teddy Roosevelt’s whole presidency
The big Bull Moose himself has almost too many feats to list. He created the Panama Canal. He also created the first national parks, busted monopolies to encourage the free market, created the FDA to safeguard our food, and negotiated a peaceful conclusion to a war between Japan and Russia. There’s also the time he got shot by an assassin and waved off the doctors so he could finish giving his speech.
8. Eisenhower built the highways and NASA
JFK might have finished the Space Race, but Dwight D. Eisenhower started it in the first place when he founded NASA. He also built the interstate highway system, a vital piece of infrastructure. He also ended Joseph McCarthy’s era of anti-communist paranoia and enforced the end of segregation with the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
9. LBJ went to war against poverty
Lyndon B. Johnson got the office because JFK was assassinated, but he did great things for civil rights and alleviating poverty. He enacted legislation to expand almost every social program and to fight discrimination against immigrants and people of color.
10. George Washington set the standard for everyone else
There wouldn’t be an America, or any other presidents, without George. From leading our war for independence to set the standards of impartial and honest government that every other president had to try to live up to, he broke the mold.