Rolling off the tracks

The tragic, failed Presidency of Franklin Pierce

President Franklin Pierce moved into the White House in the years running up to the Civil War. The nation needed a strong leader. Instead, it got a President who would have been weak in the best of circumstances, but was broken after he and his wife witnessed the death of their young son in a train accident a few months prior to the inauguration.

The Presidential podcast:

James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, guides our exploration of Pierce’s tenure in the White House, between 1853 and 1857; along with Edna Greene Medford, who chairs Howard University’s department of history. They discuss not only the policies that happen on the 14th president’s watch, but also the personal tragedy that unfolds right before he takes office.

Like his predecessors, Pierce supported the alleged rights of slaveowners to own other people.

I’ve been reading a bit about slavery in the past year or two, and it’s giving me fresh appreciation for what a monstrous institution it was.

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