Here we are starting out another new year. I’m just happy we survived 2017 without too much permanent damage or at least damage we can’t undo when sanity finally returns. I’m sure you are like me in thinking that the current Oval Office occupant is the worst in our nation’s history. But maybe he isn’t, at least quite yet. I choose two years from the reference source below at possible proof of that:
1865: An assassination, a racist, a political fracture
Then, five days later, came the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. “Here was the rebellion put down in the field,” Grant later observed, “and starting up in the gutters.” The Great Emancipator and head of the Republican Party was succeeded by Andrew Johnson, a Democrat and an unapologetic racist, throwing American politics into turmoil. The Ku Klux Klan loomed just over the horizon. The events at Appomattox Court House had briefly promised regional harmony, but the radical change in leadership at the White House hinted that the deep fracture between North and South would harden into a permanent feature of our national life, a source of lunacy that bedevils us to the present day.
1968: ‘It’s hard to think of a more chaotic year’
It’s hard to think of a more chaotic year in contemporary American history than 1968. After years of mounting social discord over civil rights, civil liberties, changing codes of behavior and the war in Vietnam, many citizens now firmly believed—be it with hope or dread—that a revolution was nigh. The year began with the Tet Offensive, which convinced many Americans the war was unwinnable, and ended with the presidential election victory of Richard Nixon, a man whose political career had been said to be over just six years before. In between, turbulence reigned.
I don’t think any president really chooses his vice president thinking that he will not survive his term in office. In 1864 Lincoln was looking at the end of the bloody Civil war and chose his running mate to sound the theme of unity when the South returned from their traitorous ways. Little did he know that a few short months later Johnson would be in charge of those times. Despite all the spin that they tried to give me recently at the Johnson Presidential Library in Tennessee Johnson did a terrible job. He basically tried to just do a little slap on the wrist and then return to everything the way it was before Fort Sumpter.
I lived through 1968 so I have a first-hand account of that year. Even though I was a naive twenty-two-year-old trying to just get through college, I knew things were bad. There were riots in many major cities, killings on college campuses and pure havoc at the political conventions that year. Things were bad and it was hard not to notice it.
If you want to feel a little better about today’s world browse through the source list above to see other bad years. Things have been about as bad as now several times in our history and we survived each of those times.