The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

James Buchanan was the worst President the USA has ever had.

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/10/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,461 times Debate No: 34659
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




James Buchanan was horrible president. Seriously. Nothing was good about the man besides that his name sounds kinda cool. Who wants to debate?


I accept. As per general stipulations on the site, Pro will be burdened with outlining and defending a case in support of the resolution whereas I, as Con, will hold the task of refuting or calling seriously into question Pro's conclusion.

Under this specific resolution that will most likely mean presenting a counter-contender in Buchanan's place for the title of "worst President". Seeing as I haven't given the concept much thought yet I'll elect to wait and present my counter in my opening.

For now I'll simply accept and let Pro present his arguments.
Debate Round No. 1


James Buchanan was the worst president because while the union was crumbling apart and dying, he simply sat back in his white house chair and relaxed carelessly. He left everything that he didn't do for his successor, the great Lincoln, to do. Buchanan made a huge mess of mistakes and presidential failures, leaving Lincoln to come in with the mop and broom to save the day. Below I will list some additional failures of Mr. Buchanan:

-Was very indecisive. One might say, "Wishy-Washy".
-He was constantly insulted and mocked by media, being called a "dandy" for rumors of being a homosexual. (By the way, I'm not saying that being a homosexual, if he was, is a reason why he was bad. I'm just listing the reasons.)
-Was not happy being President at all, he practically hated his job.

Finally, James did practically nothing while the North and South were readying themselves for a civil war. He did not help either side or go against either side. He just "chillaxed."


1) Indecision. Pro claimed Buchanan was indecisive. I humbly request examples/documentary evidence to support this claim.

2) Homosexuality. Pro points out that Buchanan was mocked by the media for allegedly being a homosexual. I request that my opponent provide reason why (a) being mocked or (b) being homosexual is any reason in support of Buchanan being the worst President in history.

3) Happiness. Pro argues that Buchanan didn't like his job and was rather unhappy. I ask why that makes him a bad President (know that Lincoln was famous for his depression and Taft hated his time in the Presidency),

4) Civil War. Pro's last point claims that Buchanan did nothing to stop the Civil War. I ask him what exactly could have been done. I would argue that the Civil War was necessitated by sectional differences in the places of economics and social policy.
Debate Round No. 2


1) Indecision. Buchanan had the burdens of keeping the whole nation together but never even thought about making a decision about it. An example:

"Slavery made the presidency an incredibly difficult task in the mid-19th century. The debate over it disrupted American society. In this volatile atmosphere, strong presidential leadership might have saved the nation from civil war if it had been exercised early and firmly enough to warn off radicals on both sides. By refusing to take a firm stand on either side of the slavery issue, Buchanan failed to resolve the question, leaving his nation's gravest crisis to his successor."

I got that from a website. You'll see the source at the bottom of my rebuttal.

2) My only point on the homosexuality thing was that it gave him a bad reputation by a lot of people. I'm not saying that being homosexual is a bad thing, but back then, people got judged for being out of the ordinary, and homosexuality was definitely considered out of the ordinary, especially in the 19th century. That caused many media sources and just normal Americans to judge or mock him, causing his reputation to plummet. Now, this could've made him worse at being president because of pressure, and because he felt lack of support and belief in him, he may have felt uneasy about making good decisions, or even any decisions at all. Poor James.

3) James Buchanan did dislike his presidency. That may be a poor argument in some aspects, but he had a different view on how he would act in his presidency because of his disliking of it. Taft, however, managed to at least do some good things as president. We remember Taft as neither bad or good, but rather "okay". Buchanan dealt with the disliking by literally doing nothing good.
And I believe that Lincoln struggled with bouts of depression as a young man, as in before he became president. As far as I know, Lincoln liked his job.

4) I can agree with you about how you said the civil war was necessitated by sectional differences. However, Buchanan could have easily helped with that. He could have at least tried to make agreements with both sides on their issues and hopefully keep the union alive. But, nope!

I am excited for your rebuttal.

Oh yeah, here's mah source:


1) Pro's own source doesn't support his claim. Pro argues that Buchanan "never even thought about" making decisions (against unsourced). Pro's source contradicts his own claim in contention 4 (refer below). The entire point made by Pro's source is that Buchanan's indecision laid the grounds for the Civil War. But since Pro argues in contention 4 that the Civil War was necessitated by sectional difference, this point falls flat by Pro's own admission.

2) It's unclear where the impact of Pro's point here lies. His only contention seems to be that Buchanan was mocked in the media. The connexion between this mocking (and the subsequent damage to reputation) has only been thinly examined by Pro. He is, absolutely, engaging in empty theorization. It would be akin to someone arguing that President Obama was a bad President because Fox News' badgering of him made him so. I see no reason to take this contention seriously unless Pro can provide a documentary connexion between Buchanan's media treatment and his actions as President.

3) There are a few points here. (A) Pro hasn't pointed to (or argued in favor of) any impact of Buchanan's dislike of his position. (B) Pro hasn't shown why Buchanan didn't like his position in the first place. (C) Con's example of Taft goes against his case by showing that disliking the position doesn't necessitate executing its functions poorly. This goes back to Pro's lack of any shown impact of Buchanan's dislike. (D) Lincoln's depression while in office is well documented. [] This again hurts Pro's case by destroying any necessary connexion Pro relies on to connect Buchanan's negative feelings and his treatment of his position.

4) Pro fully acknowledged that the Civil War couldn't have been stopped ("I agree....the civil war was necessitated by sectional differences."). He then adds the comment that Buchanan could have done things to keep the union alive. Of course these two statements are mutually incompatible. If a Civil War was necessarily going to break out than none of the "agreements" Pro points to (actually he pointed to nothing-- I implore Pro to provide possible "agreements" or actions Buchanan could have forwarded to stop the [admittedly] necessary war) have any impact.
Debate Round No. 3


1) I have used more than one source, that's just the only one I remembered to list. Plus, the civil war had more than one cause, so therefore I am not going against myself. I don't see you arguing why Buchanan was good or why he wasn't the worst. You're just trying to get me stumped.

2) Oh wow, I have so much to say. Instead of countering your points, I'll just show some examples of Buchanan's horrible reputation. "His portrait had to be removed from the Capitol to keep vandals from damaging it, and posters captioned "Judas" depicted him with his neck in a hangman's noose." I'll leave the source for that at the bottom (It's from the same website as my first source. Hooray!)

3) (A) It's known that James had horrible depression. There's a myth (I think) that he tried to hang himself as a youngster, giving him a permanent neck injury. (B) I can't find any direct evidence of his disliking of his presidency, but I did find this quote, which he said to Abraham Lincoln as he was leaving the White House, "If you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed." That at least shows that James was very excited and happy to leave the presidency behind him. (C) I was saying that Taft did not like his presidency but still managed to do at least a decent job of it. Buchanan disliked his presidency and made a mess of it. (D) That's a good little tidbit of trvia. Thanks for that. But I still don't get why other presidents being depressed made Buchanan do a better job. That doesn't make any sense at all.

4) What I meant by keeping the union alive was keeping it strong and more prepared for war. (So not a literal meaning of alive, but the sort of form people use for something like happy, or ready).

So, um.........................It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a source!

Oh wait, nevermind. IT'S SUPER SOURCE!!!


1) First, Pro mentions other sources but fails to provide them. But even if he did there wouldn't be any point because Pro explicitly stated that the Civil War was *necessitated* and that Buchanan couldn't have stopped it. Second, Pro tries to fly past the impact of me pointing this out. Given that his claim here was that Buchanan's failure to stop the Civil War was a point against him, and I showed that since he admitted himself that there wasn't anything that could be done, his contention fails. I'm not trying to stump Pro, he simply doesn't understand what his admittance that he couldn't stop it in R3 means.

2) Pro again completely misses the point of my counter. Instead of responding and showing why his point has real impact, Pro throws out examples of people not liking Buchanan. I asked Pro to show why this stood as a contention against his actions as President and he failed to respond. I can show examples of people treating Bush II [] and Obama [] in similar ways but that wouldn't say anything of their actions.

3) Ugh. I showed that Taft and Lincoln disliked the Presidency and suffered through depression respectively to show why those facts BY THEMSELVES didn't mean anything, not to stand as a point of affirmation in favor of Buchanan. Pro has consistently failed to provide warrant for the impact of his claims against Buchanan's ACTIONS as President.

4) Pro alters his claim to argue that he meant that Buchanan didn't do enough to prepare the U.S. for the Civil War. I ask how he failed to do this. Given that we're approaching the last round of debate it seems odd that he would bring this up now.
Debate Round No. 4


1) I'm sorry, but all the sources I've used were listed. Honestly. All the other ones came from my nerdiness of presidents from books I've read and by other means. (Sorry I can't provide the books. Lol.) I am getting really tired of you countering every single thing I say, instead of actually making a good enough use of time by showing examples of how Buchanan was not the worst. So, because of that, I will be making my FINAL, OFFICIAL, beliefs and statements under each of these little number guys. For the bajilionth time, I think Buchanan could have urged to form agreements or treaties between the North and South. I am NOT saying that the war could have been stopped. I am simply just saying that Buchanan could have at least tried to make the civil war end up less vicious and violent as it was (over or about 620,000 deaths), but he didn't.

2) Umm...people not liking their president is a huge impact on their legacy. People didn't really like Bush, now people rank him among the worst. However, I've never heard of images of Bush or Obama being hanged on a noose and being called Judas. So, that point draws Buchanan to almost complete hate by his people. That results to him being carried down as, well, horrible. And about Bush and Obama, I know that doesn't say anything about their actions; but it does for Buchanan, because he was too "chicken" to actually do something productive amongst the pressure. We can all think of good things that Bush or Obama have done. Plus your source is called zombie time. Are you sure that is trust-worthy?

3) Umm, I'm pretty sure I addressed that in the paragraph above ^.

4) Umm, I think I addressed that in paragraph 1. Lol. Two pointless numbers.



1) Pro has continued to make ambiguous claims regarding what could have been done but has absolutely failed to show an impact. For instance, what kind of agreements, how he could have lowered the amounts of casualties, how it could have been made less violent. Given the fact that the war did not start until his successor took office, I fail to see where Pro could have been going with this. And unfortunately, given the fact that the debate has now ended, Pro wasted four rounds without answering this crucial problem.

2) Pro continues to do the same thing here that he's done regarding this point throughout the debate. That is, he has completely failed to tell us how unpopularity has any impact on the actions of Buchanan as such. My examples of Bush and Obama being lambasted by detractors does nothing to show that they are or were bad Presidents by themselves. My opponent's burden of proof calls for more than just showing that people didn't like him. Rather, Pro must show what actions Buchanan took that *justified* such opinions. Opinion itself is little more than an argument from popularity.

3) Pro drops his third contention. I invite readers to read his last paragraph to decide if he actually did respond to the 'depression' point. Pro argued in this point that Buchanan was among the worst *because* he disliked his position. My examples from Taft and Lincoln serve to refute the necessary connexion that Pro argued for. Even if it doesn't stand as a point in affirmation of Buchanan (which I never claimed), it does stand to refute Pro's lack of any and all other supporting evidence.

4) Legitimately responded to in C1.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by bubbatheclown 3 years ago
Worst President: Andrew Jackson
Competing for second Place: Obama/Carter
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Fictional_Truths1 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Con successfully rebutted all of Pros points, Pros own source contradicted him.
Vote Placed by johnlubba 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Well that was quite an enjoyable read and I'd like to commend both debaters for their contribution, However I have to decide a winner based on the content of the debate, as I have no interest in this subject you can be rest assured I viewed this debate as neutral to begin with.....I feel that Pro did not fulfil his burden of proof in showing that Buchanan was the worst president ever and the points he put forward were not really enough convince me he was either, Con on the other hand gave valid rebuttals to all of con's contentions. Arguments to Con and Conduct to Pro for at least being a little humorous in the debate.My conclusion is that I am not convinced James Buchanan is the worst president ever going on the content of this debate. It would be wrong of me to conclude that.