The history of American Presidency is not all colorful, and is tainted with black spots throughout the length of time. Ranging from mild scandals like Jimmy Carter kissing Queen Elizabeth II on the cheek, without the knowledge that the Queen in Britain cannot be kissed; to some highly offensive scandals like the ‘Watergate,’ there has never been scarcity of surprises coming from the White House. Listed below are the top 10 scandalous Presidents of America, two of whom even faced impeachment for their misdemeanor.
10. Grover Cleveland (1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897):
A scandal that probably secured Cleveland’s victory during his first electoral campaign went something like this – “Ma, Ma, where is Pa? Gone to the White House, Ha, ha, ha.” It is a widely known fact that when Grover Cleveland was running for the president’s post for the first time during 1884, it was revealed that he had fathered an illegitimate child. He paid for the upbringing of the child and sent him to an orphanage where he was not allowed to meet his mother. He accepted the charges and won the election.
9. Andrew Jackson (1829 to 1837):
Before Andrew Jackson got elected as the president, he got married to Rachel Donelson in 1971. At the time of their marriage she was not legally divorced to her first husband, and Jackson had to wait till 1974 to be legally married to Rachel. And, even though this event had taken place 30 years before Jackson fought the elections, the episode was used to defame him and his family. It is believed that these allegations eventually became the cause of Rachel’s untimely death.
8. Ulysses S Grant (1869 to 1877):
A president whose tenure was rife with scandals, Ulysses was caught in the ‘Credit Mobilizer of America Scandal’. Although the roots of this sandal lay in the reins of the times of President Andrew Johnson, it came into full bloom when, during the electoral campaign for the upcoming president, congressmen were sold shares of the Credit Mobilizer of America Company that funded the Union Pacific Railroad. Later, they also applied for subsidies and grants that were ultimately pocketed by them.
7. Woodrow Wilson (1913 to 1921):
The scandal around the name of Woodrow Wilson was not really a scandal of sorts, but the incident wasn’t able to find compliance with the social setup of that time. His first wife, Ellen Louise Axson died in August, and soon after he started dating Edith Galt; they got married the next spring. But, according to people, this affair was on while his first wife was still alive, and many even claimed that Woodrow got his wife murdered in order to get married to Galt.
6. Warren G. Harding (1921 to 1923):
Caught in paradoxical scandals, Warren was mostly blamed for appointing his friends and family members to the most important administrative posts soon after his election as president. He never made any private gain in any ways from the illicit activities of these people, and yet, he never denied that they were causing mischief with the politics of the state. The major fault of this scandalous political figure was that he was unable to take timely action against such perpetrators.
5. James Garfield (March 1881 to September 1881)
Although it is believed that James Garfield was never explicitly involved in any scandal, during the last six months of his tenure as president, before his assassination, his name did prop up in the Star Route Scandal. At that time, postal services to the west were in control of the private sector, which gave postal officials low bid, but when the congressmen put these to the government, they quoted higher prices, and pocketed the surplus money.
4. Thomas Jefferson (1801 to 1809):
During his first term, President Thomas Jefferson was accused of having an affair with his slave Sally Hemming. In the proceeding decade after his wife died, he is believed to have fathered six children with Sally. The case was hyped in the media, with this daughter Martha denying all reports, but DNA tests confirmed that Thomas was the real father of all six children.
3. Bill Clinton (1993 to 2001):
The second President in the history of America to be impeached, Bill Clinton was rather put to embarrassment due to his silly affair with one of the staff interns at the White House, Monica Lewinsky. The affair was hyped by the media, and disgraced America throughout the world. And, even though the President was later acquitted of any crime, the episode earned him impeachment and a never-ending scandalous status.
2. Ronald Reagan (1981 to 1989):
It was during the tenure of Ronald Reagan that the famous Iran-Contra scandal took place. The administration prepared a plan to sell arms to Iran and also invest money in the activities of the Contras in Nicaragua. This was done in expectation that American hostages would be released and also the Contras would organize a guerrilla war against the Sandinista government. The planning failed miserably, and tainted the name of President Reagan for a lifetime.
1. Richard Nixon (1969 to 1974):
The “Watergate” was probably the most widely held contemptuous scandal in the history of American Presidency. It all began when five members from the re-elected campaign of President Richard Nixon broke into the Democratic headquarters in Washington D.C. and were later given protection from the government. President Richard did everything in his power to bury the charges against these five members, and this further created suspicion in the minds of his cabinet and the general public.