Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Comparing and Contrasting Presidential Assassinations (Part II)

Guiteau and Czolgosz were captured immediately after they committed their crimes. Both stood trial and pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. They were both found guilty and executed. Guiteau was hanged (363 days after the crime) and Czolgosz (45 days after the crime) was executed by the electric chair. Guiteau’s long time frame between crime and execution was partly due to the fact Garfield lived a long time and Guiteau was very active in his trial (interrupting the proceedings constantly). On the other hand Czolgosz would not even talk with his lawyers. Oswald was caught shortly after his crime and killed two days later by Jack Ruby when he was being transferred to the county jail. Booth was on the run for 11 days before he was tracked down and killed when he refused to surrender.

The assassinations were mostly politically motivated. Booth sympathized with the Southern slavery cause and shortly after the Civil War ended and Lincoln said that slaves should be granted the right to vote, Booth decided to kill Lincoln to stop that action from occurring. Czolgosz was an anarchist who thought McKinley was the enemy of the working class and the ally of oppression. Oswald was a communist who had issues with America and its values. Oswald defected to Russia in 1959 before coming back to the United States in 1961. Only Guiteau murdered for personal reasons. Guiteau sought an ambassadorship to France but his dozens of requests (in person and by mail) to Garfield and Secretary of State James Blaine went unanswered (Blaine finally told him was not qualified and to stop bothering him). Guiteau would later explain that God told him to kill the president. Guiteau was without question delusional.

Chester Arthur and Teddy Roosevelt, who succeeded Garfield and McKinley respectfully, continued the policies of their predecessors. Arthur became Garfield and Roosevelt became McKinley (they both even tried to keep the same cabinet intact). Roosevelt however, created additional progressive policies such as creating National Parks, food and drug protection, an inheritance tax, and railroad regulations. Congress blocked much of what Roosevelt wanted to accomplish and that may explain why he had nearly as many executive actions as every president before him, combined. Andrew Johnson tried to continue the work of Lincoln, but Johnson was a Democrat and he did not earn the respect of the radical Republicans in Congress who wanted revenge on the South. Johnson was blocked every step of the way and barely avoided impeachment for trying to circumvent restrictions placed on the president by Congress. Lyndon Johnson’s administration was vastly different than the Kennedy administration both in foreign and domestic policy. In fact, Kennedy was vastly more conservative than Johnson. Johnson got us involved in Vietnam and domestically he pushed for a massive progressive power grab. The war on poverty became one of the biggest scams in American history. Despite trillions of dollars for welfare programs, poverty rates have remained unchanged for 50 years. Johnson’s Great Society was a power play as was the progressive push by Teddy Roosevelt. Other than Civil Rights reform and continuing the space program, Johnson had an agenda that was vastly different than Kennedy.

The assassination of four American Presidents is important because it changed the course of history and more than likely it changed history for the worse. If the assassinations did not happen, without question Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, and Lyndon Johnson would have never seen the White House. Teddy Roosevelt would more than likely have won the 1904 and 1908 elections. It is distinctly possible that Taft could have won the White House in 1912 and the bigoted Woodrow Wilson would have never seen the White House. As it stood, Roosevelt cost the Republicans the 1912 election by running as a third Party candidate splitting the Republican vote so Wilson could win the election. Eliminating the presidencies of Wilson and LBJ would have been huge. Both were highly progressive and grew the size and scope of government. LBJ created the welfare death spiral that we have been on for 50 years. How much longer can our country go on with our massive federal debt, especially knowing that our unfunded liabilities are almost insurmountable? If Lincoln had not died then the reconstruction period after the Civil War would have more than likely gone much smoother without as much impact from radical Republicans in Congress seeking revenge on the South. Only Arthur actually became a better person once given the power of the Executive office. Arthur grew a backbone and turned his back on the Stalwart faction of the Republican Party led by Roscoe Conkling to be an unlikely but effective leader.

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