I like history. It is very interesting to me to learn about how people acted in the past, and how we like to sugar coat, or simply forget about events.
The trial of Charles Guiteau is a prime example of an event that is comic gold, yet is virtually unheard of today.
I believe that it is criminal that our school students are not taught the basics of American History. It is because of this that you get people who spout off that George W. Bush is the worst President of all time... Hardly. It is no secret that I dislike GW Bush. I think that he squandered his presidency, signed away freedom, and failed to prosecute the war correctly. He, however, is not the worst President of all time. Not even close.
That dubious honor goes to James Buchanan.
Buchanan stood idly by and watched the nation fall in to civil war. He did nothing as the "Bleeding Kansas" (though not officially part of the Civil War, these events were the first shooting conflicts between anti-slavery and slavery states) events transpired before his eyes. His lack of action gave the secessionists to think that the Union would do nothing to preserve itself.
Had he responded to the Bleeding Kansas events forcefully and immediately, the Civil War may never have happened. Had he decisively dealt with the secessionists, and let them know that the Union would fight to preserve itself, the South may never have left.
But he did nothing. Bleeding Kansas went unchecked. The secessionists in the South gained power, and left the Union. The horror of slavery consumed the territories of the Kansas-Nebraska act. In armed conflict, 620,000 men lost their lives.
A very very close second worst President is Andrew Johnson.
Johnson took office after the death of Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He was in the group of Republicans who wanted to punish the South following the Civil War. He imposed harsh laws on the South, seeding discontent. He was so intent on punishment, that he ignored the Civil Rights abuses of the newly emancipated blacks. This allowed the former slave holders to impose inhumanly cruel laws on the black community, preventing them from assimilating in to the American culture. Want somebody to blame for the racial tensions in America? Johnson is one to point the finger at.
This is not taught in American schools. So we have people today who scoff at Bush and call him the worst president ever. The media, who surely know better, like this thought because it helps push their socialist agenda.
What spawned this blog post was a conversation that I had. The guy with whom I was talking often makes boneheaded remarks about his taxes (I don't pay taxes. I get money back!), politics (it doesn't affect me, and its BORING), and history (GW Bush is the worst President ever). When I challenge him on these things, most recently that Bush is the worst ever, I get a blank look back and a stupid smile. The man is comfortable in his ignorance. By no means do I consider that he must adopt my position in order to purge himself of his ignorance. Quite the contrary. He does, however, need to display some knowledge of history before he can make the statement that someone is the "worst ever." He has no desire to educate himself on the subject. It is boring. I can guarantee you, if I ask him who was eliminated from American Idol, he would know. If I ask him what Paris Hilton did last night, he would know
We are a nation of idiots.