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>> AMERICA BY THE MID-1800s WAS TRIPLE ITS ORIGINAL SIZE, THANKS TO BOLD AND CONTROVERSIAL DECISIONS BY PRESIDENTS SUCH AS JEFFERSON, JACKSON, AND POLK BUT WITH NEW TERRITORY CAME OLD CONFRONTATIONS. SLAVERY, THE QUESTION THAT HAD BEEN AVOIDED SINCE THE COUNTRY’S BIRTH, NOW HAD TO BE ANSWERED SOME LEADERS PINNED THEIR HOPES ON COMPROMISE, UNTIL ONE USED THE PRESIDENCY TO DEFEND FREEDOM AND THE UNION AT ANY COST IT IS THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT THAT MOST EMBODIES THE HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IT’S A POSITION INVESTED WITH GREAT POWER, THAT IS DEFINED BY CHALLENGES AND CRISES, BY THE BURDEN OF THE PAST AND VISIONS OF THE FUTURE AND BY THE PERSONALITIES OF THE 43 MEN WHO HAVE BECOME PRESIDENT A STORY OF AMERICA CAN BE TOLD THROUGH THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE PRESIDENTS 1849, ZACHARY TAYLOR, SON OF A FRONTIER PLANTER, WAS DOING WELL FOR HIMSELF. HE’D TAKEN 300 ACRES OF KENTUCKY LAND AND TURNED IT INTO ASSETS IN THREE STATES, WORTH $120,000, SIX MILLION IN TODAY’S MONEY HE’D HELPED HIS COUNTRY EXPAND, TOO. AS A GENERAL IN THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR, HE’D BEAT BACK THOUSANDS OF MEXICAN FORCES, IN THE PROCESS EARNING AMERICA MORE THAN HALF A MILLION SQUARE MILES OF NEW TERRITORY AND NOW THE MAN NICKNAMED “OLD ROUGH AND READY” WAS THE 12th PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES >> ZACHARY TAYLOR IS NOT COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS, IN THAT HE WAS A MILITARY HERO LIKE ANDREW JACKSON, BUT HE WAS ALSO ONE OF THE LARGEST SLAVEHOLDERS IN THE COUNTRY, WHICH MADE HIM ACCEPTABLE TO THE SOUTH. SO THE COMBINATION OF SLAVEHOLDER AND POPULAR HERO MADE HIM IRRESISTIBLE >> BUT TAYLOR HAD NEVER HELD POLITICAL OFFICE, AND HIS OFFICIAL VIEWS ON SLAVERY AND THE GROWING DISCORD BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH WERE UNKNOWN >> TAYLOR WAS A MYSTERY IN A CERTAIN WAY. THE WORST THING ABOUT HIM IS THAT HE NEVER VOTED IN HIS LIFE UNTIL HE RAN FOR PRESIDENT. SO I DON’T THINK THERE WAS ENOUGH OF A TALE OR RECORD TO SUGGEST WHICH WAY HE WOULD HAVE GONE >> THE 64-YEAR-OLD GENERAL HAD BEEN ELECTED WITH JUST 47% OF THE POPULAR VOTE, AND ALL EYES WERE ON HIM WITH THE COUNTRY IN A PRECARIOUS POSITION >> THE NATION WAS IN A SERIOUS CRISIS OVER THE QUESTION OF WHETHER SLAVERY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO EXPAND WESTWARD INTO THE AREAS THAT HAD JUST BEEN OBTAINED FROM MEXICO IN THE MEXICAN WAR. THERE WERE VARIOUS PROPOSALS PUT FORWARD, BUT NONE HAD ENOUGH SUPPORT TO GARNER A MAJORITY. AND SOUTHERNERS WERE THREATENING THAT IF THEY DIDN’T GET PROTECTION FOR SLAVERY IN THE WEST, THEY WOULD SECEDE FROM THE UNION >> THE ISSUE OF SLAVERY WAS A CAN THAT HAD BEEN KICKED DOWN THE ROAD BY THE COUNTRY’S LEADERS SINCE THE FOUNDING FATHERS, BUT NOW THE FUTURE OF SLAVERY WAS DIRECTLY TIED TO THE RECENT SPOILS OF WAR– PRESENT-DAY NEW MEXICO, ARIZONA, UTAH, NEVADA, AND CALIFORNIA >> IF YOU OPEN UP A NEW TERRITORY AND SLAVEHOLDERS ARE ABLE TO BRING A HUGE LABOR FORCE WITH THEM INTO A RICH LAND NOT PUT TO COMMERCIAL AGRICULTURAL USE, THE SLAVEHOLDERS HAVE A HUGE ADVANTAGE OVER JUST A SINGLE GUY WITH HIS FAMILY SHOWING UP AND TRYING TO CARVE A FARM OUT OF IT >> SOUTHERNERS WERE TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE NORTH, WHOSE INDUSTRIAL ADVANCES WERE BECOMING MORE PRODUCTIVE AND MORE LUCRATIVE >> IN THE NORTH, THERE WERE FACTORIES. THERE WAS INDUSTRY THE DIFFERENCE THAT POLARIZED NORTH AND SOUTH WAS THE CONVICTION WHICH HAD BEEN GROWING FOR ALMOST 30 OR 40 YEARS, THAT IN THE NORTH, THE ECONOMIC SYSTEM WAS THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE, THAT THAT WAS THE NORMAL EXPRESSION OF HUMAN SOCIETY >> TAYLOR, A STRONG NATIONALIST, WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THE STABILITY OF THE UNION IF THE SLAVERY DEBATE CONTINUED TO SEEP INTO THE NEW TERRITORIES, SO HE MADE A BOLD STATEMENT >> HE SAYS BRING CALIFORNIA INTO THE UNION AS A FREE STATE. THERE ARE ABOUT 100,000 PEOPLE THERE AND THEN ADMIT NEW MEXICO, WHICH WILL COME IN WITHOUT SLAVERY, ‘CAUSE THE PEOPLE OF NEW MEXICO DON’T WANT SLAVERY >> SLAVEHOLDERS THOUGHT THEY WOULD HAVE HIS SUPPORT TO MOVE SLAVERY WESTWARD, BUT ZACHARY TAYLOR HAD NO INTEREST IN MOVING SLAVERY WESTWARD. HE THOUGHT THAT THIS ISSUE WAS DANGEROUS, AND SO HE STOOD WITH NORTHERNERS

>> SOUTHERNERS WERE INCENSED, FEELING BETRAYED BY A FELLOW SLAVEHOLDER, AND SOUTH CAROLINA THREATENED TO SECEDE THE PRESIDENT WAS ENRAGED >> WHAT’S INTERESTING ABOUT TAYLOR IS NOT ONLY IS HE A SLAVEHOLDER, BUT HE IS VERY PRO-UNION. SO HE ACTUALLY COMES OUT WITH A STATEMENT SAYING THAT HE WOULD HANG ANYONE WHO TRIES TO SEPARATE THE UNION >> THAT IS WHAT ANDREW JACKSON SAID WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA TRIES TO NULLIFY A FEDERAL TARIFF JACKSON SAYS, “I’LL PERSONALLY HANG THE GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA.” TAYLOR IS THAT KIND OF GENERAL >> AS MORE SOUTHERN STATES MADE MOVES TO SECEDE, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SAW AN OPPORTUNITY TO SEIZE POWER AWAY FROM THE PRESIDENT, PROPOSING AN ALTERNATE PLAN KNOWN AS THE COMPROMISE OF 1850 >> THE COMPROMISE OF 1850 IS EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS. EACH SIDE GAVE A LITTLE. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO PUT THE LID ON EVERYTHING IT WAS SUPPOSED TO ARREST FURTHER AGITATION OF SLAVERY >> CALIFORNIA WOULD COME IN AS A FREE STATE. THE OTHER TERRITORIES IN THE WEST WOULD BE ORGANIZED WITHOUT ANY RESTRICTION ON SLAVERY. THERE WOULD BE OTHER COMPONENTS– A STRONGER FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW, THE BARRING OF THE SLAVE TRADE IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA >> PRESIDENT TAYLOR WAS ADAMANTLY OPPOSED TO THE MEASURE, EVEN THOUGH HIS OWN VICE PRESIDENT, MILLARD FILLMORE, THOUGHT COMPROMISE WOULD STAVE OFF FURTHER CONFLICT >> VICE PRESIDENT FILLMORE TELLS TAYLOR THAT IF IT COMES TO THE SENATE AND THERE’S A TIE VOTE, FILLMORE WILL BREAK THE TIE IN FAVOR OF THE COMPROMISE. SO HERE YOU HAVE A VICE PRESIDENT WHO HAS TOLD HIS OWN PRESIDENT, “I’M GOING TO VOTE AGAINST THE WAY YOU WANT ME TO VOTE TO BREAK A TIE IN THE SENATE.” >> BUT THE OLD GENERAL STUCK TO HIS GUNS, THREATENING TO VETO THE LEGISLATION IF IT PASSED >> I THINK TAYLOR WAS THE ONE PRESIDENT OF THE 1850s WHO COULD HAVE CHANGED THE TUMBLING EVENTS THAT LEAD TO THE CIVIL WAR TAYLOR HAD THE GUTS AND THE FORESIGHT TO STAND UP TO PROSLAVERY DEMANDS AND TELL THE SOUTH, “WE WILL RESPECT YOUR INSTITUTIONS, BUT DON’T THINK YOU’RE GONNA MOVE INTO THE WEST, ‘CAUSE YOU’RE NOT.” >> JULY 4, 1850, TAYLOR ATTENDED WASHINGTON, D.C.’s INDEPENDENCE DAY CEREMONY AT THE PARTIALLY COMPLETED WASHINGTON MONUMENT THE CAPITAL WAS JUST A SERIES OF LOOSELY CONNECTED DISTRICTS AND STILL HAD PRIMITIVE WATER AND SEWER SYSTEMS. THE PREVIOUS SUMMER, A CHOLERA OUTBREAK HAD KILLED HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE RESIDENTS WERE STILL WARNED TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT EATING RAW FRUITS AND VEGETABLES BUT THE STURDY PRESIDENT, FAMED FOR HIS IRON CONSTITUTION, REGULARLY IGNORED THOSE WARNINGS >> THE STORY IS, THAT WHEN HE RETURNED TO THE WHITE HOUSE, HE ATE LARGE AMOUNTS OF RAW CHERRIES AND DRANK ICED MILK AND CAME DOWN WITH SOME KIND OF STOMACH AILMENT, AND HE DIED FIVE DAYS LATER >> TAYLOR WAS THE SECOND PRESIDENT, AFTER WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, TO DIE IN OFFICE THE TOUGH GENERAL’S PASSING JUST 16 MONTHS INTO HIS TERM SHOCKED AMERICANS, ESPECIALLY HIS VICE PRESIDENT, 50-YEAR-OLD MILLARD FILLMORE >> HE WAS AN UPSTATE NEW YORK STATE POLITICIAN, AND FILLMORE UNQUESTIONABLY WAS QUIET, HE WAS UNQUESTIONABLY MODEST, AND HE WAS UNQUESTIONABLY MEDIOCRE >> HE IS A MAN WHO–A KIND OF SELF-MADE MAN LIVING ABOVE HIS SOCIAL STATUS, ALWAYS KIND OF WORRIED ABOUT PEOPLE WILL DISCOVER THAT HE’S REALLY KIND OF A PRETENDER. HE’S IMMACULATELY DRESSED, BECAUSE IF YOU’RE IMMACULATELY DRESSED, THEN PEOPLE WON’T DOUBT THAT YOU BELONG AT THE PARTY >> THE 13th PRESIDENT’S POOR BACKGROUND GAVE HIM A FIXATION WITH IMPROVEMENT. ONCE IN THE EXECUTIVE MANSION, HE INSISTED ON A NEW BATHTUB, A STOVE, AND THE MODERN EQUIVALENT OF $58,000 FOR THE FIRST PERMANENT WHITE HOUSE LIBRARY >> BUT AT THE SAME TIME, HE HAS SOME FORESIGHT. HE IS A BIG SUPPORTER OF THE TELEGRAPH THE INSTANTANEOUS CONNECTION BETWEEN ONE PART OF THE COUNTRY AND ANOTHER WAS A STUNNING ACHIEVEMENT OF SCIENCE, AND IT’S SOMETHING THAT WAS EMBRACED BY FILLMORE >> ONE THING FILLMORE DIDN’T EMBRACE WAS TAYLOR’S CABINET HIS FIRST ACTION AS PRESIDENT WAS TO TAKE REVENGE ON THE MEN WHO HE BLAMED FOR CONVINCING TAYLOR TO REJECT THE COMPROMISE OF 1850, WHICH FILLMORE SUPPORTED >> FILLMORE IS DEEPLY INSECURE HE’S NOT PARTICULARLY WELL-EDUCATED, HE’S VERY UNSOPHISTICATED, AND LIKE MOST VICE PRESIDENTS, HE’S IGNORED AND SO HE’S ANGRY AT TAYLOR, HE’S ANGRY AT THE CABINET, AND HE FIRES EVERY ONE OF HIS CABINET MEMBERS >> MILLARD FILLMORE DIDN’T CARE HE WANTED A COMPROMISE. HE WAS WILLING TO SIGN ANYTHING PUT IN FRONT OF HIM >> FILLMORE SIGNED THE COMPROMISE, BELIEVING THAT IT

WOULD CREATE THE MIDDLE GROUND NEEDED TO PREVENT THE NATION FROM TEARING APART, BUT THE RESULT LEFT BOTH SLAVE OWNERS AND ABOLITIONISTS FURIOUS >> THIS ALIENATES A LOT OF THE WHIG SUPPORTERS FROM THE NORTH, BECAUSE IT’S SEEN AS GIVING A LOT OF CONCESSIONS TO THE SOUTH THE SOUTH SEES THE COMPROMISE OF 1850 AS GIVING CONCESSIONS TO THE NORTH. NO ONE’S REALLY HAPPY >> SOUTHERNERS WERE ANGRY THAT CALIFORNIA ENTERED THE UNION AS A FREE STATE, AND NORTHERNERS WERE OUTRAGED OVER THE FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW THAT REQUIRED U.S MARSHALS TO CAPTURE ESCAPED SLAVES AND RETURN THEM TO THE SOUTH. BEYOND FEDERAL MARSHALS, BOUNTY-HUNTING SLAVE CATCHERS ALSO BEGAN SNATCHING UP BLACK MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN WHETHER THEY WERE FORMER SLAVES OR NOT FOR ABOLITIONISTS AND MANY TENTATIVE FILLMORE SUPPORTERS, IT WAS THE LAST STRAW >> FILLMORE COMPLETELY COLLAPSES OVER THE FUGITIVE SLAVE LAW, BECOMES OBSESSED WITH IT THIS BECOMES WHAT HIS ADMINISTRATION FOCUSES ON >> YOU SEE A PICTURE OF HIM AS HE BECOMES PRESIDENT, HE AGES THE WAY MOST OF THE PEOPLE WHO’VE TAKEN ON THAT OFFICE DO BUT IN FILLMORE’S CASE, HE ADDS A LOT OF WEIGHT. IT LOOKS LIKE HE JUST BECOMES TOTALLY BURDENED >> FILLMORE WOULD BE THE LAST MEMBER OF THE WHIG PARTY TO HOLD THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT JUST AS JOHN TYLER WAS SNUBBED AFTER HE SUCCEEDED WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON, THE WHIGS REFUSED TO NOMINATE FILLMORE TO RUN FOR A SECOND TERM IN 1852 >> MILLARD FILLMORE IS A PUNCH LINE TODAY, BUT IF YOU TOOK MILLARD FILLMORE OUT OF HISTORY, AMERICA WOULD BE A VERY DIFFERENT PLACE >> MILLARD FILLMORE IS IMPORTANT, BECAUSE IF ZACHARY TAYLOR HAD BEEN PRESIDENT, HE PROBABLY WOULD HAVE REFUSED TO SIGN MANY OF THE PRO-SOUTHERN MEASURES OF THE COMPROMISE OF 1850 >> BY THE 1852 ELECTION, AMERICA DESPERATELY NEEDED AN ACCOMPLISHED LEADER TO NAVIGATE THE ESCALATING CONFLICT INSTEAD, THE PEOPLE VOTED IN A LITTLE-KNOWN, AMIABLE DEMOCRAT NAMED FRANKLIN PIERCE, AND A CRUEL TWIST OF FATE WOULD SEND HIS PRESIDENCY SPIRALING DANGEROUSLY OUT OF CONTROL AND PUSH THE COUNTRY INEXORABLY TOWARDS WAR >> 1852, THE UNITED STATES WERE ANYTHING BUT UNITED. THE MORAL QUESTION OF SLAVERY PENETRATED EVERY MAJOR ACTION BY THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS AND WAS RIPPLING THROUGH A POLARIZED SOCIETY. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE PUBLISHED UNCLE TOM’S CABIN, AN ANTISLAVERY SENSATION THAT BECAME THE FIRST NOVEL TO SELL OVER A MILLION COPIES AT THE SAME TIME, HARRIET TUBMAN, A CONDUCTOR ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, HAD A $40,000 BOUNTY ON HER HEAD, MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS TODAY. AMIDST THESE SHARP DIVISIONS, THE DEMOCRATS PUT FORWARD A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DESIGNED TO APPEASE BOTH SIDES, FRANKLIN PIERCE, A NORTHERNER AND FORMER REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE WHO SUPPORTED THE SOUTH’S LEGAL RIGHT TO OWN SLAVES >> TO ME, THE SINGLE MOST FASCINATING PRESIDENT OF ALL IS FRANKLIN PIERCE. AND HE, IN A WAY, WAS THE BOY WHO HAD EVERYTHING. HE WAS THE SON OF A REVOLUTIONARY WAR HERO, GENERAL BENJAMIN PIERCE, WHO HAD KNOWN WASHINGTON, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY WAS A GOOD FRIEND OF ANDREW JACKSON >> THE HANDSOME AND CHARISMATIC 48-YEAR-OLD ACHIEVED A LIFELONG DREAM IN BEING ELECTED THE 14th PRESIDENT, BUT TWO MONTHS BEFORE HIS INAUGURATION, TRAGEDY STRUCK THE YOUNG LEADER >> THEY WERE IN A RAILROAD CAR– PRESIDENT-ELECT, HIS WIFE, THE SON BENNY, AND AT LEAST 15 OR 20 OTHER PEOPLE. AN AXLE BROKE. THE CAR ROLLED OVER AN EMBANKMENT AND CRASHED DOWN AT THE BOTTOM OF A DITCH. THERE WAS ONLY ONE PERSON KILLED, AND IT WAS THE 11-YEAR-OLD BOY, BENJAMIN PIERCE. AND THAT IS HOW PIERCE BEGAN HIS PRESIDENCY >> I THINK HIS PERSONAL LIFE DEVASTATED HIM AS A PRESIDENT I DON’T THINK THERE’S ANY QUESTION OF THAT. BY THE TIME HE CAME TO THE OFFICE, HE WAS A MAN SHATTERED. HE WAS A DRUNK IN THE WHITE HOUSE >> PEOPLE AT THE TIME SAID THAT THEY DIDN’T THINK HE WAS PAYING ATTENTION AT THE CABINET MEETINGS. HE WAS JUST HUGELY DEPRESSED. HE WAS, I THINK IT’S PRETTY SAFE TO SAY, AS PRETTY CLOSE TO DYSFUNCTIONAL AS IT WAS POSSIBLE TO BE >> PIERCE TRIED TO FIND SOLACE IN HIS WORK, BUT THE EXECUTIVE MANSION BECAME A MISERABLE PLACE

>> HIS WIFE BLAMES HER HUSBAND’S POLITICAL CAREER AND DESIRE FOR POLITICAL FAME. THEY MOVE INTO THE WHITE HOUSE JUST A FEW WEEKS AFTER THIS HORRIBLE ACCIDENT HAS TAKEN PLACE. MRS. PIERCE NEVER RECOVERS. SHE’S IN MOURNING FOR THE ENTIRE ADMINISTRATION >> DURING PIERCE’S TERM, THE WHITE HOUSE WAS FREQUENTLY TRAMPLED AND DIRTY, SO CONGRESS GAVE THE EQUIVALENT OF NEARLY A MILLION DOLLARS FOR UPGRADES AND RENOVATIONS: A BATHTUB WITH HOT AND COLD RUNNING WATER; A SCREEN OF GLASS AND BRONZE FOR THE FRONT ENTRANCE; AND A BRAND-NEW CONSERVATORY WITH FRUIT TREES, FERNS, AND FRESH FLOWERS TO BRIGHTEN UP THE GROUNDS AS THE WHITE HOUSE WAS GETTING ITS FACE-LIFT, CONGRESS WAS PLANNING A MAJOR UPGRADE FOR THE NATION [TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS] A TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD >> WHAT HAPPENS, THOUGH, THAT REALLY DESTROYS PIERCE’S ADMINISTRATION AND PUTS THE COUNTRY CLOSER TO THE CIVIL WAR IS THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD, WHERE WOULD IT START, AND WHERE WOULD IT END ON THE PACIFIC COAST >> THE DECISION ON WHICH ROUTE THE RAILROAD WOULD TAKE ACROSS THE COUNTRY WOULD BECOME DIVIDED ALONG PRO- AND ANTISLAVERY LINES >> SENATOR STEPHEN DOUGLAS, WHO CHAIRED THE TERRITORIES COMMITTEE, WAS A SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS, AND HE WANTED THE RAILROAD TO GO FROM CHICAGO OUT TO SAN FRANCISCO. SOUTHERNERS WANTED THE RAILROAD TO GO FROM ATLANTA OUT TO LOS ANGELES >> A NORTHERN ROUTE WOULD RUN THROUGH THE TERRITORIES OF KANSAS AND NEBRASKA. SOUTHERN LEADERS AGREED TO THE ROUTE ONLY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN AGREEMENT THAT THE PRESENCE OF SLAVERY WOULD BE DETERMINED BY SETTLERS IN THE AREAS AND NOT BY THE GOVERNMENT >> AND HE SELLS THIS IDEA TO PIERCE, BUT THE ONLY WAY IT CAN WORK IS HE HAS TO GET SOUTHERN SUPPORT TO GET RID OF THE MISSOURI LINE, THE SOUTHERN BORDER OF MISSOURI MAKING THE DIVISION BETWEEN SLAVE TERRITORY AND FREE TERRITORY. AND SO BY ELIMINATING THE MISSOURI LINE, HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHAT’S GOING TO BE A FREE STATE AND WHAT’S GOING TO BE A SLAVE STATE? >> THAT, IN THE COMMON UNDERSTANDING OF THE CAUSE OF THE CIVIL WAR, WAS A PIVOTAL MOMENT, BECAUSE IT REOPENED THE ENTIRE QUESTION WHICH PEOPLE THOUGHT HAD BEEN SETTLED, OF WHETHER SLAVERY WOULD EXPAND INTO THE WEST. PRESIDENT PIERCE COULD’VE STOPPED ALL THAT, AND HE DIDN’T >> SENATOR DOUGLAS INTRODUCED THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT, WHICH PIERCE SIGNED IN MAY OF 1854 IT WAS A DECISION THAT WOULD DOOM HIS PRESIDENCY [GUNFIRE] >> THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT ALLOWS A VOTE OF THE SETTLERS TO DETERMINE WHETHER IT’S GOING TO BE A FREE STATE OR A SLAVE STATE. WHAT HAPPENS IN KANSAS IS THAT ALL THESE DIFFERENT GROUPS RUSH IN AND TRY TO ESTABLISH A MAJORITY OF EITHER FREE SOILERS–PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT SLAVERY–OR PEOPLE WHO ARE PROSLAVERY, AND IT IGNITES ALMOST A CIVIL WAR WITHIN THE STATE >> OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS, NEWSPAPERS REPORTED THE CHAOS OF WHAT THEY CALLED “BLEEDING KANSAS,” AND SOME 55 PEOPLE WERE KILLED. WELL-KNOWN ABOLITIONIST JOHN BROWN AND HIS SONS HACKED FIVE PROSLAVERY MEN TO DEATH WITH SWORDS >> PIERCE STOOD BY AS KANSAS BECAME A HOTBED OF TERROR AND TRAGEDY OVER THIS QUESTION OF WHETHER KANSAS WOULD BECOME A FREE OR A SLAVE STATE >> HIS ACCEPTANCE OF THE KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT WAS A DISASTER BEYOND ALMOST ANY KIND OF PROPORTIONS >> THE INTENSITY OF THE FEELINGS AND VIOLENCE WERE SHOCKING PRESIDENT PIERCE DID NOTHING, STATING THAT THE PROBLEMS IN KANSAS WERE “BEYOND THE SPHERE OF THE ACTION OF THE EXECUTIVE.” >> PIERCE WAS PROBABLY THE SINGLE MOST-HATED PRESIDENT IN HIS OWN LIFETIME UP TO THAT TIME. NOT ONLY WAS HE HATED IN THE NORTH FOR BEING A COMPLETE SELLOUT TO THE SOUTHERN INTERESTS, BUT HE WAS HELD IN CONTEMPT BY THE SOUTH FOR NOT SUPPORTING THEM ENOUGH >> THE PRESIDENT, WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE THE ONE WHO REPRESENTS THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE, FOUND THAT THERE WAS NO COUNTRY AS A WHOLE TO REPRESENT THERE WERE THESE TWO DIFFERENT SECTIONS, AND TO TRY TO SOMEHOW PULL THEM TOGETHER WOULD HAVE BEEN BEYOND THE CAPACITY OF ANY INDIVIDUAL >> PIERCE WAS SO UNPOPULAR AT THE END OF HIS TERM THAT, LIKE FILLMORE BEFORE HIM, THE DEMOCRATS REFUSED TO RENOMINATE HIM. PIERCE’S WEAK LEADERSHIP DIDN’T JUST WRECK HIS POLITICAL CAREER. IT HAD ENFLAMED THE CONFLICT BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH, AND THE NEXT PRESIDENT WOULD DO NOTHING TO STOP IT

>> 1856. AS FRANKLIN PIERCE’S PRESIDENCY WAS FADING, POLITICAL PARTIES WERE DISINTEGRATING, JUST LIKE THE NATION THE WHIGS WERE IN DISARRAY, WITH A NORTHERN, ANTISLAVERY FACTION DESERTING TO FORM A NEW PARTY, THE REPUBLICANS. SLAVERY ONCE AGAIN DOMINATED THE ELECTION, WITH REPUBLICANS RALLYING AGAINST ANY SLAVERY EXPANSION, WHILE DEMOCRATS, WHOSE MOTTO WAS “ANYBODY BUT PIERCE,” REFUSED TO NOMINATE THEIR OWN PRESIDENT. THE “ANYBODY” THEY CHOSE WAS JAMES BUCHANAN, A DULL POLITICIAN WHO SEEMED LIKELY TO OFFEND THE FEWEST VOTERS >> JAMES BUCHANAN WAS A DEMOCRAT FROM PENNSYLVANIA, BUT HE SYMPATHIZED WITH THE SOUTHERNERS AND SLAVERY. HE THOUGHT THAT THE SLAVEHOLDING SOUTHERNERS WHO WANTED TO SECEDE HAD NO RIGHT TO SECEDE, BUT THEY WERE MORE SINNED AGAINST THAN SINNING HE THOUGHT THAT NORTHERNERS OUGHT TO COMPROMISE WITH THEM >> THE DEMOCRATIC STRATEGY WORKED. BUCHANAN WALKED AWAY WITH ALL THE SOUTHERN STATES AND FOUR NORTHERN, JUST ENOUGH TO WIN. HE DIDN’T HAVE AN OVERWHELMING MANDATE, BUT THE 65-YEAR-OLD BUCHANAN DID HAVE THE QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME THE 15th PRESIDENT >> HE’D BEEN SECRETARY OF STATE HE’D BEEN IN CONGRESS. IN FACT, HE’D SPENT THE PREVIOUS FOUR YEARS BEFORE HIS ELECTION IN 1856 AS AMERICAN MINISTER TO GREAT BRITAIN >> BUCHANAN WAS APPARENTLY INSUFFERABLE. ANDREW JACKSON HATED HIM SO MUCH THAT HE SENT HIM AS FAR AWAY FROM WASHINGTON AS HE COULD >> NOW THE FUSSY, UNIMAGINATIVE MAN WAS AT THE CENTER OF A POLITICAL MAELSTROM. THE FORMER LAWYER BELIEVED THE PRESIDENT AND ALL GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON RESTRAINT, AN APPROACH THAT BLED INTO HIS INAUGURAL ADDRESS >> BUCHANAN GETS UP AT HIS INAUGURAL AND SAYS THAT THE PROBLEM OF SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES IS A JUDICIAL QUESTION. WHICH HE SAYS, “THE COURT WILL DECIDE IT, AND WE WILL HAPPILY OBEY WHATEVER THE COURT DECIDES.” >> THE SUPREME COURT HAD BEEN DELIBERATING OVER A CASE THAT WAS AS CONTROVERSIAL AS ROE VERSUS WADE OR THE 2000 BUSH-GORE ELECTION DECISION, A LAWSUIT FROM SLAVE DRED SCOTT >> THE DRED SCOTT CASE REPRESENTED AN ATTEMPT BY THE JUDICIAL BRANCH TO RESOLVE A CONFLICT THAT CLEARLY THE FIRST TWO BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO RESOLVE THE PRESIDENCY, THE LEGISLATURE HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT SLAVERY, AND SO THE JUDICIARY, THE SUPREME COURT STEPPED IN >> DRED SCOTT SUED FOR HIS FREEDOM, BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN LIVING WITH HIS MASTER IN FREE TERRITORIES IN THE NORTH THE SUPREME COURT RULED AGAINST HIM, DECIDING HE WAS A POSSESSION WITH NO LEGAL STANDING >> THEY RULED THAT IN FACT, HE WAS NOT A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES, MEANING NO BLACK PERSON COULD BE A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES, THEREFORE BLACKS WERE PROPERTY. THEY WERE NO DIFFERENT FROM A PIECE OF LAND, A PIECE OF FURNITURE. AND BUCHANAN TOOK THE ONLY POSITION A FUSSY PENNSYLVANIA LAWYER COULD POSSIBLY TAKE, WHICH IS THAT’S THE LAW. THAT SETTLES IT IT’S OVER >> BUCHANAN THOUGHT THE DEBATE OVER SLAVERY HAD BEEN SETTLED THERE WAS NO LEGAL PRECEDENT FOR COUNTERACTING A SUPREME COURT RULING, EVEN IF BUCHANAN HAD WANTED TO, AND HE DIDN’T >> HE’S ANOTHER CASE OF SOMEONE WHO STOOD BY WHILE THE CAR WAS GOING TOWARD THE CLIFF AND OVER THE CLIFF >> THE 1850s WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT IF YOU WOULD HAVE HAD PRESIDENTS WHO WERE LEADERS, WHO WERE NOT WILLING TO GIVE EVERYTHING TO SLAVERY AND NOTHING TO FREEDOM. WHAT IF BUCHANAN HAD A BACKBONE? BUT HE DIDN’T, AND THAT’S THE PROBLEM >> BY THE END OF HIS TERM, BUCHANAN WAS DELIGHTED TO TURN OVER THE REINS TO HIS SUCCESSOR >> HE SAYS TO LINCOLN, WHEN THEY’RE GOING TO THE INAUGURATION, “IF YOU’RE AS HAPPY COMING INTO THIS OFFICE AS I AM LEAVING IT, YOU’RE THE HAPPIEST MAN IN THE WORLD.” >> A VIRTUAL UNKNOWN BEFORE HIS ELECTION, ABRAHAM LINCOLN HAD RISEN FROM HUMBLE ORIGINS >> LINCOLN WAS BORN IN A LOG CABIN. LINCOLN WAS BORN IN POVERTY, BUT IT WAS SOMETHING THAT HE WAS NOT PARTICULARLY PROUD OF. HE DID NOT TALK ABOUT IT. HE CERTAINLY DIDN’T TRY TO MAKE IT A SELLING POINT >> HE ALSO HAD LITTLE POLITICAL EXPERIENCE. HE HAD SERVED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IN THE 1840s, BUT WAS DEFEATED AFTER ONLY A SINGLE TERM WHEN HE WAS ONE OF A FEW TO OPPOSE THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR >> VERY HARD TO IMAGINE ANYBODY WITH LESS ADMINISTRATIVE EXPERIENCE THAN LINCOLN. HE’D MANAGED A LAW OFFICE WITH ABOUT THREE CLERKS, AND THAT WAS IT

>> I THINK THE REPUBLICAN PARTY GRAVITATED TOWARD LINCOLN IN 1860, ONE, BECAUSE HE WAS SOMEWHAT OF A MORE MODERATE POLITICIAN. LINCOLN ALSO HAD THE ADVANTAGE OF COMING FROM THE MIDWEST, AND THE REPUBLICAN PARTY REALLY HAD THEIR EYE ON CAPTURING THE MIDWEST IN THE PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST >> NOVEMBER, 1860, ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY, PEOPLE TREKKED TO THE BALLOT BOX. IN ONE OF THE LARGEST ELECTORAL TURNOUTS UP TO THAT POINT, 81% OF ALL ELIGIBLE VOTERS CAST THEIR VOTES IN THE 20TH CENTURY, MOST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS WOULD FAIL TO DRAW MORE THAN 65%. LINCOLN SWEPT THE ENTIRE NORTH, FROM NEW ENGLAND TO THE UPPER MIDWEST, BUT DIDN’T RECEIVE A SINGLE POPULAR VOTE FROM NINE SOUTHERN STATES. HE SQUEAKED INTO OFFICE AS THE 16th PRESIDENT, BUT HIS VICTORY PROVED TO BE THE DEATH KNELL FOR THE UNION >> PEOPLE SAYING, “JUST YOUR ELECTION ALONE IS EVIDENCE THAT THE NORTH HAS BROKEN THE BARGAIN ON WHICH IT SHARES THE INTEREST OF ALL THE STATES.” THE NORTH HAS USED ITS POPULATION GROWTH TO ARROGANTLY SAY, “WE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR OPINIONS.” >> THERE’S NO QUESTION THAT IT WAS THE ELECTION OF LINCOLN AND THE FACT THAT LINCOLN WOULD NOT ALLOW FOR THE EXPANSION OF SLAVERY THAT FIRST LED SOUTH CAROLINA TO SECEDE ONE MONTH AFTER LINCOLN WAS ELECTED >> SOUTH CAROLINA SECEDED IN DECEMBER OF 1860. SIX MORE SOUTHERN STATES WOULD FOLLOW BEFORE LINCOLN EVEN TOOK THE OATH OF OFFICE IN MARCH OF 1861. THE NATION WAS OFFICIALLY DIVIDED >> SO LINCOLN LOOKS AROUND, AND HE SAYS, WE HAVE INHERITED THE WORLD’S GREATEST DEMOCRACY THE MONARCHIES OF THE WORLD ARE LOOKING TO SEE IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A GREAT DEMOCRACY TO SURVIVE. IF WE START BREAKING APART, IT’S NOT JUST THE UNITED STATES THAT’S GONNA SUFFER IT’S GOING TO BE THE COURSE OF DEMOCRACY AROUND THE WORLD >> LINCOLN WAS OVERWHELMED BY HIS EARLY DAYS IN THE WHITE HOUSE. THERE WAS A CONSTANT PARADE OF OFFICE SEEKERS, AND HE HAD ONLY TWO SECRETARIES TO HELP HIM HANDLE ALL THE BUSINESS HIS WORK CONSUMED HIM, USUALLY STARTING AS EARLY AS 6:00 IN THE MORNING AND LASTING PAST 11:00 AT NIGHT, WITH A RARE BREAK FOR A MEAL OR FRESH AIR THE BUSY NEW PRESIDENT WOULD TABLE ANY DECISIVE ACTION REGARDING SECESSION >> HE SAID IMMEDIATELY HE WAS NOT RECOGNIZING THIS NEW EMERGING CONFEDERACY AS A LEGITIMATE NATION OR REAL OPPONENT. IT WAS A REVOLT AMONG DISSATISFIED PEOPLE. THIS WAS LINCOLN’S PUTTING HIS BIG TOE INTO THE WATER OF EXECUTIVE POWER FOR THE FIRST TIME, BUT HE HAD SUCH A BIG FOOT, IT MADE AN ENORMOUS SPLASH >> THERE’S A COMPANY OF UNION SOLDIERS THAT OCCUPY FORT SUMTER IN APRIL, 1861. AND WITHIN A MONTH OF LINCOLN TAKING OFFICE, IF HE TRIES TO RESUPPLY THE SOLDIERS IN FORT SUMTER, WELL, HOW IS HE GONNA DO IT? PEOPLE OF SOUTH CAROLINA CLAIM, “WELL, THIS IS OUR PROPERTY NOW.” >> LINCOLN DIDN’T BACK DOWN, BUT HE ALSO DIDN’T ENGAGE HE OPTED TO SEND PROVISIONS, NOT REINFORCEMENTS, PUTTING THE DECISION TO FIRE THE FIRST SHOT ON THE SECESSIONISTS AND THEIR PRESIDENT, JEFFERSON DAVIS DAVIS DIDN’T HESITATE, CONSIDERING THE MOVE AN ACT OF WAR >> SO AT THAT POINT, JEFFERSON DAVIS DEMANDS THAT THE SOLDIERS WHO ARE IN FORT SUMTER SURRENDER. THEY REFUSE TO SURRENDER, AND AT THAT POINT, CONFEDERATE TROOPS FIRE ON FORT SUMTER >> LINCOLN COULD NOW CLAIM WAR HAD BEEN FORCED UPON HIM BUT TO WIN THE WAR AND KEEP THE UNION TOGETHER, HE WOULD DISCARD INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND LIBERTIES, AN EXERCISE OF UNPRECEDENTED EXECUTIVE POWER >> MAY, 1861, MARYLAND, A BORDER STATE, WAS TORN BETWEEN UNIONISTS AND SOUTHERN SYMPATHIZERS. BALTIMORE WAS A CITY IN FEAR. ARMED TROOPS MARCHED THE STREETS, TELEGRAPHS WERE CENSORED, NEWSPAPERS SHUT DOWN, AND THE CITY’S LEADERS, INCLUDING THE GRANDSON OF THE MAN WHO WROTE THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER, WERE THROWN INTO MILITARY PRISONS. THE MAN BEHIND THIS REIGN OF TERROR WAS ABRAHAM LINCOLN. HE KNEW THAT IF MARYLAND JOINED THE CONFEDERACY, WASHINGTON, D.C., WOULD BE CUT OFF FROM THE NORTH. HE WOULD DO ANYTHING NECESSARY TO STOP IT >> ONE OF LINCOLN’S MOST IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PRESIDENCY, IF NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT, IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF A WAR POWERS NOTION OF THE PRESIDENCY >> HE SUSPENDED THE WRIT

OF HABEAS CORPUS. SO HE WAS TRYING TO ISOLATE, QUARANTINE THE DIE-HARD REBELS FROM ALL THEIR SOURCES OF SUPPORT AND SMOTHER THE REBELLION [EXPLOSIONS] >> EVER SINCE HOSTILITIES HAD BEGUN A MONTH EARLIER, THE PRESIDENT HAD BEEN VIGOROUSLY EXERCISING HIS ROLE AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF >> AFTER FORT SUMTER, LINCOLN TOOK ON THE FIRST OF HIS SERIES OF EXTRAORDINARY EXECUTIVE POWERS. HE CALLED UP THE MILITIA, HE CALLED FOR 75,000 TROOPS, AND HE IMPOSED A BLOCKADE ON SOUTHERN PORTS, AND HE DID ALL OF THE ABOVE WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF CONGRESS, WHICH WAS IN RECESS. UNHEARD OF >> HIS STRONG-ARM TACTICS PREVENTED LEADERS IN MARYLAND FROM VOTING TO JOIN THE 11 STATES OF THE CONFEDERACY IN SEPTEMBER OF 1861 BUT SOME FELT HE HAD JEOPARDIZED THE CONSTITUTION >> HE’S CONDEMNED FOR SUSPENDING THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS. THE CONSTITUTION SAYS THAT ONE OF THE TWO TIMES YOU CAN SUSPEND THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS IS DURING A REBELLION >> THE SUPREME COURT DEMANDS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PRODUCE A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN JUST IGNORES THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES. IT WAS VERY DARING AND VERY POLITICALLY ASTUTE >> THE COURT WAS NOT THE ONLY BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT THAT FELL UNDER THE SWAY OF THE MAN IN THE EXECUTIVE OFFICE. CONGRESS, NOW REPRESENTING ONLY PRO-UNION STATES, PASSED BILLS THAT RETROACTIVELY SUPPORTED MILITARY ACTIONS, LIKE THE BLOCKADE OF THE SOUTH, THAT LINCOLN HAD TAKEN MONTHS EARLIER >> LINCOLN EMBODIES THE TERM COMMANDER IN CHIEF, EVEN THOUGH HE HAD LESS MILITARY EXPERIENCE AND KNOWLEDGE THAN JUST ABOUT ANYBODY WHO’S EVER HAD TO PRACTICALLY USE THAT ROLE HE CAME TO IT WITH THE BRIEFEST OF EXPERIENCES IN UNIFORM, A MEMBER OF A VOLUNTEER COMPANY IN AN INDIAN WAR IN THE 1830s >> WHEN LINCOLN BECOMES PRESIDENT, HE REALLY KNOWS NEXT TO NOTHING ABOUT MILITARY AFFAIRS, AND SUDDENLY HE HAS TO SKETCH OUT, HE HAS TO RESPOND TO A NUMBER OF CRISES THAT FORCED HIM TO DEFINE, TO ARTICULATE THIS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF JOB >> WE DON’T REALIZE THAT HE WAS THE ONE WHO REALLY LEARNED HOW TO USE THE TELEGRAPH IN REAL TIME, COMMUNICATING WITH HIS FIELD OFFICERS. HE KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON. IT CHANGED THE WHOLE WAY THE PRESIDENT WOULD BE AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN A WAR >> LINCOLN WAS SO CONSUMED WITH HIS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE NATION THAT, WHEN HIS SON WILLIE DIED FROM TYPHOID FEVER, IT BARELY SEEMED TO REGISTER WHERE ONE OF HIS PREDECESSORS, FRANKLIN PIERCE, HAD BEEN BROKEN BY TRAGEDY, LINCOLN APPEARED UNAFFECTED >> YOU WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN FROM LINCOLN’S DAY-TO-DAY CONDUCT OF BUSINESS IN THE WHITE HOUSE IN FEBRUARY AND MARCH OF 1862 THAT ANYTHING IN THE NATURE OF A PERSONAL CRISIS HAD HAPPENED TO HIM. BUT PRIVATELY? PRIVATELY, LINCOLN WAS CRUSHED BY THE DEATH OF WILLIE >> LINCOLN WORKED CEASELESSLY AND COULD OFTEN BE FOUND PACING THE HALLS OF THE WHITE HOUSE WELL AFTER MIDNIGHT. BUT HE FOUND LITTLE IMPEDIMENT FROM CONGRESS. WITH THE SOUTHERN STATES OUT, THERE WAS LITTLE OPPOSITION, WHICH HELPED HIM ACCOMPLISH A WIDE-RANGING DOMESTIC AGENDA AT THE SAME TIME HE WAS CONDUCTING A WAR >> THE HOMESTEAD ACT OPENS UP THE MIDWEST TO SETTLEMENT THE LAND GRANT COLLEGE ACT INTRODUCES A PUBLIC COMPONENT TO HIGHER EDUCATION FOR THE FIRST TIME. THE PACIFIC RAILWAY ACT PROVIDES THE INFRASTRUCTURE FOR THE TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD SO ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENED IN THE 37th CONGRESS IT’S A VERY ACTIVE CONGRESS >> BUT PERHAPS LINCOLN’S MOST PROFOUND ACHIEVEMENT AND HIS GREATEST LEGACY WAS THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION >> ONE OF LINCOLN’S GREATEST ATTRIBUTES WAS HIS SENSE OF TIMING. WITH SLAVERY, HE HESITATED BECAUSE HE WANTED TO KEEP THE SUPPORT OF PEOPLE WHO HAD DIFFERENT KINDS OF FEELINGS ABOUT SLAVERY, SO HE HESITATED TO FREE THE SLAVES >> BUT JUST LIKE ANY SMART PERSON, HE READS MORE, HE LEARNS MORE, HE’S OPEN-MINDED, AND HE REALIZES THE TIME HAS COME TO END SLAVERY. HE CHANGES HIS MIND >> AND IN SOME MEASURE, LINCOLN ENCAPSULATES WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COUNTRY. LINCOLN BELIEVED THAT SLAVERY WAS WRONG, HE SAID, HIS ENTIRE ADULT LIFE. AND MANY, MANY PEOPLE GRAPPLED WITH THAT AS A MORAL ISSUE >> KNOWING HOW SENSITIVE THE TOPIC WAS, HE DIDN’T RISK ANY WRANGLING IN CONGRESS ONCE AGAIN, LINCOLN ACTED UNILATERALLY >> WHEN HE ISSUES THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION ON JANUARY 1, 1863, HE DOESN’T ACTUALLY HAVE ANY CIVIL AUTHORITY TO EMANCIPATE SLAVES AS PRESIDENT. BUT HE DOES– OR AT LEAST CLAIMS AUTHORITY– TO DO SO AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF, AS A WARTIME NECESSITY >> PEOPLE SAY NOW IT HAD NO EFFECT. I DON’T AGREE. FOR THE

NEXT YEAR AND A HALF OR TWO YEARS, WHENEVER A UNION ARMY ADVANCED IN THE CONFEDERATE SOUTH, SLAVES WERE FREED IN THEIR WAKE >> BUT AS LINCOLN FREED THE SLAVES, THE NORTHERN WAR EFFORT WAS FLOUNDERING. WITH UNION CASUALTIES AT NEARLY 100,000, LINCOLN WAS IN DESPERATE NEED OF BETTER MILITARY LEADERS >> THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT LINCOLN FACED WITH GENERALS IS THAT THEY LOST WHEN THEY SHOULD HAVE WON. I MEAN, LINCOLN REALLY THOUGHT THIS WOULD BE A 90-DAY WAR. SO LINCOLN HAD TO LOOK FOR FRESH BLOOD >> LINCOLN REMOVED GENERAL GEORGE McCLELLAN, AND AS HE STRUGGLED TO FIND AN ADEQUATE REPLACEMENT OVER THE COMING MONTHS, AN EMBOLDENED ROBERT E LEE, THE HEAD SOUTHERN GENERAL, DECIDED TO INVADE THE NORTH– THE PLACE, GETTYSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA [GUNFIRE ECHOES] HIS MISCALCULATION RESULTED IN THE WORST DEFEAT FOR THE SOUTH SINCE THE WAR BEGAN, 28,000 CASUALTIES IN 3 DAYS THE WORDS LINCOLN WROTE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THAT NORTHERN VICTORY MADE THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG IMMORTAL >> IN ADDITION TO HIS POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENTS, HE IS THE GREATEST PRESIDENTIAL WRITER AND POSSIBLY THE GREATEST WRITER IN AMERICAN HISTORY >> THE WHOLE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS IS SOME 250 WORDS. IT TAKES THREE MINUTES TO READ LINCOLN UNDERSTOOD THE VALUE OF GETTING YOUR MESSAGE OUT IN A VERY FEW WORDS >> THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS WAS THE POETIC ACCOMPANIMENT THAT COMMITTED THE COUNTRY TO IMPROVING ITSELF, TO COMPLETING UNFINISHED WORK BASED ON THE SACRIFICES OF THOSE WHO WERE FIGHTING TO RESTORE THE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY >> GETTYSBURG WAS A TURNING POINT, NOT ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR THE SOUTH, BUT AS A STAGE WHERE LINCOLN PRESENTED A NEW VISION OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AS THE DEFENDER OF LIBERTY FOR ALL >> IN 1864, THE CIVIL WAR ENTERED ITS FOURTH BLOOD-DRENCHED YEAR LINCOLN’S NEW TOP GENERAL WAS ULYSSES S. GRANT, NICKNAMED “THE BUTCHER” BECAUSE OF HIS DOGGED PURSUIT OF THE ENEMY AT A TREMENDOUS COST TO HIS OWN MEN. THE WARTIME PRESIDENT’S POPULARITY EBBED. IN THE ELECTION THAT YEAR, HE RAN AGAINST A BITTER ENEMY, GEORGE McCLELLAN, THE GENERAL HE HAD FIRED TWO YEARS BEFORE AND WHO NOW PROMISED TO END THE WAR IMMEDIATELY >> IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR, IT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN UNTHINKABLE FOR LINCOLN TO SAY, “OKAY, WE’RE SIMPLY GONNA POSTPONE THE ELECTION,” BUT HE RESISTED THE TEMPTATION, BECAUSE HE BELIEVED THAT THINGS THAT MAKES DEMOCRACY WORK IS THAT WE HOLD ELECTIONS, EVEN WHEN THE ELECTIONS ARE DIFFICULT >> LINCOLN COULD NOW MAKE THE ARGUMENT THAT IT WOULD BE UNWISE TO CHANGE HORSES MIDSTREAM, THE HORSE BEING LINCOLN AND THE STREAM THE CIVIL WAR ITSELF >> LINCOLN HAD THIS IDEA OF RECHRISTENING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AS THE UNION PARTY. HE WANTS THE EMBLEM OF A UNIFIED, SINGLE PARTY. HE SENT HIS VICE PRESIDENT PACKING AND ALLOWED THE CONVENTION TO CHOOSE A DEMOCRAT AS HIS RUNNING MATE TO GIVE SUBSTANCE TO THE IDEA OF A UNION PARTY COALITION, AND THAT WAS ANDREW JOHNSON OF TENNESSEE >> SO ELECTION OF 1864, LINCOLN WINS, BUT LINCOLN WINS NO LARGER PERCENTAGE OF THE VOTE IN THE NORTH IN 1864 THAN HE HAD IN 1860. AFTER ALL THOSE INCREDIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS, AFTER THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS, AFTER THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, OVER 40% OF WHITE NORTHERNERS SAY NO. SO I THINK THERE’S AN IMPORTANT LESSON, IS THAT WE LOOK BACK ON THESE PRESIDENTS, AND THEY WEREN’T ALWAYS MONUMENTS >> OVER THE NEXT FIVE MONTHS, THE WAR DREW TO A CLOSE STARVED, OUTMANNED, AND OUTGUNNED, THE SOUTH FELL THE TREATY OF SURRENDER WOULD EVENTUALLY BE SIGNED BY GENERALS ULYSSES S. GRANT AND ROBERT E. LEE AT APPOMATTOX COURTHOUSE IN VIRGINIA AS THE WAR WAS STILL CONCLUDING, LINCOLN HELD HIS SECOND INAUGURAL >> THE AMAZING THING ABOUT LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL IS THAT IT WAS NOT CELEBRATORY IT WAS NOT A VICTORY STATEMENT HE STOOD UP THERE AND DELIVERED A LECTURE IN WHICH HE SAID, “WE’RE ALL EQUALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS MORTAL SIN THAT WE ALLOWED TO FESTER IN OUR COUNTRY FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.” >> BUT THERE WAS ALSO ANOTHER ISSUE. WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN? THERE WERE 400,000 AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE TIME OF THE FOUNDING. AT THE TIME OF

THE CIVIL WAR, IT HAD GROWN TO 4 MILLION. BY THAT TIME, FOR ANY OBJECTIVE OBSERVER, IT WAS CLEAR THAT THESE PEOPLE WERE GOING TO HAVE MANY OF THE RIGHTS THAT WHITES WOULD HAVE >> FOR AN ANGRY YOUNG CONFEDERATE SYMPATHIZER NAMED JOHN WILKES BOOTH, THE END OF SLAVERY AND LINCOLN’S VICTORY WERE UNACCEPTABLE >> HE NOT ONLY ATTENDS THE INAUGURATION; HE’S ACTUALLY IN THE ROTUNDA OF THE CAPITOL EARLIER WHEN LINCOLN WALKS THROUGH, AND MORE THAN ONE OBSERVER SEES HIM GLARING AT ABRAHAM LINCOLN ALMOST THREATENINGLY, AND MORE THAN ONE PERSON SAYS THIS GUY HAS TO BE WATCHED >> APRIL 14, 1865 [GUNSHOT] A SHOT RANG OUT IN FORD’S THEATRE. THE PRESIDENT SLUMPED FORWARD. BY SUNRISE THE NEXT DAY, ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS DEAD, AND THE FINAL CHAPTER OF THE CIVIL WAR– THE RECONSTRUCTION OF A NATION– WOULD BE WRITTEN WITHOUT HIM >> I MEAN, IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE I MEAN, HERE’S A COUNTRY THAT HAS JUST GONE THROUGH PERPETUAL CRISIS AND LOSS. THE COUNTRY LOST THE EQUIVALENT OF TODAY OF SIX MILLION PEOPLE OVER THE PRECEDING FOUR YEARS. AND NOW YOU HAVE THE PRESIDENT, WHO HAS SEEN YOU THROUGH ALL OF THAT, SENSELESSLY GUNNED DOWN >> LINCOLN WOULD BE REMEMBERED FOR MANY THINGS, BUT HE WAS ALSO NOW THE FIRST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY TO BE ASSASSINATED. AND WHILE HE CLEARLY ENVISIONED MERCY FOR THE SOUTH, HE LEFT BEHIND NO DETAILED ROADMAP FOR THE NATION’S REUNIFICATION >> LINCOLN HAD A PLAN FOR RECONSTRUCTION, BUT HE DIDN’T GET A CHANCE TO CARRY ANY OF IT OUT. ALL OF IT IS VERY SPECULATIVE >> PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT SHARE ONE GRAVE SHORTCOMING THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE IMMORTAL, AND THEY DID NOT PREPARE THEIR VICE PRESIDENTS TO TAKE OVER HARRY TRUMAN KNEW VERY LITTLE WHEN HE CAME INTO OFFICE, BECAUSE F.D.R. DIDN’T CONFIDE IN HIM, AND ANDREW JOHNSON CAME INTO THE PRESIDENCY COMPLETELY UNPREPARED IN TERMS OF KNOWING WHERE THE ADMINISTRATION WAS AND WHAT IT WAS PLANNING TO DO >> WITHOUT A HINT AT WHAT LINCOLN’S PLANS FOR RECONSTRUCTING AMERICA WOULD BE, THE COUNTRY WAS LEFT IN SHOCK AS THE VIRTUAL UNKNOWN VICE PRESIDENT, ANDREW JOHNSON, ASSUMED POWER. BUT ONE THING WAS CERTAIN. HIS IMPRINT ON THE PRESIDENCY WAS SOLIDIFIED >> THE WINNING OF THAT WAR WAS SUCH A BIG POLITICAL ACHIEVEMENT THAT HE HAD TO REALLY REWIRE THE SYSTEM, AND HE BECAME A FAR MORE IMPORTANT PRESIDENT THAN ANY PRESIDENT BEFORE HIM, PROBABLY INCLUDING WASHINGTON, WHO WAS HIS HERO >> LINCOLN CHANGED THE OFFICE FOREVER. HE SHOWED THAT ONE PERSON COULD MEET THE EMERGENCY BY USING EMERGENCY POWERS DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS ARE DOING WHAT LINCOLN DID, WHETHER IT’S FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT AND RALLYING THE COUNTRY FOR THE NEW DEAL, RICHARD NIXON SENDING MORE TROOPS TO VIETNAM >> WITH ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THERE’S A GENERAL IMPRESSION THAT ONLY WHEN HE WAS KILLED DID PEOPLE APPRECIATE WHAT THEY HAD HAD AMONG THEM. BUT, IN FACT, PUBLICATIONS LIKE HARPER’S WEEKLY, WHICH WAS PROBABLY THE MOST POPULAR PERIODICAL IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE UNITED STATES DURING THE CIVIL WAR, SAID THAT HE WOULD GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE GREATEST PRESIDENT THE UNITED STATES HAD EVER HAD >> AMERICA WAS ABOUT TO EMBARK ON A NEW, UNPRECEDENTED TASK, THE RECONSTRUCTION OF A FRACTURED NATION, BUT THE NEXT PRESIDENT, ANDREW JOHNSON, WAS NOT A HEALER, HE WAS A BRAWLER, AND HIS TWO-FISTED APPROACH TO THE LEADERSHIP WOULD TAKE A TERRIBLE TOLL ON THE NATION AND THE PRESIDENCY

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