A recent letter had a charming but irrelevant comment about former President Jimmy Carter and how he can rest easy now that President Barack Obama is the worst president.
While I have no quarrel with Obama being far worse than Carter, it is important to place this in historical context.
In most historians' opinion, the worst president was James Buchanan, 1857 to 1861. He proposed invading Cuba to evict the Spanish and create an offshore slave state. He supported slavery in the western territories, which resulted in a split between northern and southern Democrats.
The split paved the way for the nascent Republican Party to win the 1860 election, making Abraham Lincoln president. Buchanan's actions guaranteed the Civil War, which annihilated three-quarters of a million men.
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The next worst was Andrew Johnson, Lincoln's vice president. When Johnson became president after Lincoln's assassination, he oversaw the so-called "reconstruction" of the South, the most discreditable period in American history. He was drunk at Lincoln's second inaugural, a feat it is hard to imagine that even poor Joe Biden could match.
This is academic, but it does illuminate how presidents are elected (or not). Obama was elected because he was black and faced a weak Republican. He was re-elected because right-wing Republicans could not vote for a Mormon. So now we are faced with the daunting prospect of a "second reconstruction."
Let's hope it is not presided over by Biden or Hillary Clinton. I'm not sure the country could stand a repeat of the last one.
Chris D. Clayton
Hilton Head Island