The new 2017 C Span Presidential survey, the third in a series with earlier surveys in 2000 and 2009, reveals a lot about how scholars evaluate Presidents and their performances in office.
The survey is based on 91 Presidential historians judging our Presidents on ten categories, and adding up points to rank the Chief Executives.
What stands out as glaring is that two Presidents with earlier higher ratings have dropped dramatically, as a result of recent research.
Woodrow Wilson’s racism and civil liberties abuses in office have dropped him from 6 to 9 to 11, but with his overall performance still seen as significant enough to be in the top quarter of our 44 Presidents.
Andrew Jackson has dropped from 13 and 13 to 18, and is now behind other 19th century Presidents, including James Monroe, James K. Polk, and James Madison, who he used to be above, and that is clearly due to his anti abolitionist viewpoint and defense of slavery; his native American policy (Trail of Tears); and his destruction of the Second National Bank (causing the Panic of 1837).
One might argue that we should not judge Presidents by our own time and changing views, but it is clear historians do precisely that.