Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Franklin Pierce Rising


Perhaps Franklin Pierce will rise from obscurity this election season. He is getting some publicity now. In the June 13, 2008 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, Ruth Walker writes in an article about the "historic" campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton entitled "Not Quite the End of 'History',"
It is a moment to savor in the life of the nation. But is history the facts, the deeds themselves; or the telling of them? Of course they made history, one wants to say; the US presidency is always "historic." Consider Franklin Pierce, the obscure 14th president. Amazon lists a dozen biographies of him, including a new one due out in August, plus two compilations of his papers.
After checking on Amazon.com, it looks to me like the book being published in August is a recycling of a biography for children written by Steven Ferry in 2001, but at least the publisher is optimistic enough to think that children still read books and that they might be interested in history.

Blogger billysumday in his diary had me going for a minute with his parody of a recent John McCain remark. McCain responded to Barack Obama's comment that McCain was running for George W. Bush's third term by saying that Obama was running for Jimmy Carter's second term. Billysumday changed the response to make it Franklin Pierce's second term. The implication is that McCain is old and making outdated references. It may be the case that many young voters are equally unfamiliar with Carter and Pierce.

Finally, in an article about ex-Presidents, Jeremy Lott wrote of Bill Clinton in the blog Politico on May 20, 2008,
He may also be in the same strata as Franklin Pierce, who, though from New Hampshire, was a slavery enthusiast and denounced the Civil War effort to keep the nation united. Pierce died a reclusive alcoholic, a former president scorned even by local schoolchildren, who often threw pebbles at him on the rare occasions he ventured outside.
Little old lady English teacher note: If there are indeed different levels of bad ex-Presidents, then Clinton would be in the same stratum, not the same strata as Pierce, unless it is possible to be so bad as to occupy multiple levels in the hierarchy of former leaders of the free world.

For a nice concise video about Franklin Pierce, check out History.com.

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