Cosa la storia può insegnare a Biden sull'affrontare l'insurrezione nel giorno dell'inaugurazione

Thomas Balcerski insegna storia alla Eastern Connecticut State University. È l'autore di “Amici del seno: Il mondo intimo di James Buchanan e William Rufus King” (la stampa dell'università di Oxford). He tweets @tbalcerski. Le opinioni espresse in questo commento sono le sue. Visualizza più opinione alla CNN.

A gennaio 20, Joe Biden will be inaugurated the next President of the United States. But his Inauguration Day comes amid increased threats from extremists who falsely challenge the legitimacy of his election. Di conseguenza, the President-elect will no longer be taking Amtrak to Washington DC for his ceremony. An inauguration rehearsal scheduled for Sunday has been postponed. And the National Mall is closed through at least next Thursday.

These security measures follow last week’s violent insurrection against the Capitol. Even as the political fallout from the events of January 6 continuesincluding Wednesday’s historic vote by the House of Representatives to impeach Trump for a second timethe sight of thousands of National Guard troops stationed inside the Capitol and across Washington DC points to the continued danger of violence facing the capital.
Thomas Balcerski

tuttavia, America has been here before. The country has faced insurrectionary threats twice following contested presidential elections — a partire dal 1860 per 1861, prior to the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, and from 1876 per 1877, in the lead-up to the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes. In each instance, these threats prompted increased military presence on the day of the incoming Presidentsswearing-in.
These two inaugurations also bookend key chapters in the divisive era of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Just as Lincoln had tried to avert war, Hayes hoped to avoid further conflict with the South and protect the civil rights of African Americans. Though neither administration achieved their stated goals, the newly-elected Presidentscommitments to protecting democracy were worthy aspirations for their timeand our own. Allo stesso modo, Biden’s inauguration will not only fulfill a constitutional obligation, but it will also reinforce Americansresolve that threats of violence will not stop the democratic process from continuing.
In what may be a foreshadowing of what’s to come for Biden, both Lincoln and Hayes faced extremely challenging times as President. But regardless of the challenges that lay ahead, to kowtow to those who would undo the results of an election poses an even greater risk to America. The inauguration of a new Presidentmuch like the American experiment in democracy itselfmust go on.
Let’s take a closer at those two historical inaugurations held despite the threat of violence.

Abraham Lincoln

People gather at the US Capitol on March 4, 1861, the day of Abraham Lincoln's first inauguration.

President Lincoln entered office after seven Southern states had seceded in the wake of the 1860 elezione. Violent threats of all kinds prevailed. One scheme called for abducting Lincoln to achieve more favorable terms to the South, e, failing that, to assassinate him.
More troubling, while Lincoln was traveling from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington DC for his inauguration, detectives learned of an armed mob in Baltimore consisting ofPlug Uglies” — a nativist street gangwho planned to attack the train carrying the President-elect. Out of a concern for safety, Lincoln agreed to bypass a stop in Baltimore.
On the day of Lincoln’s inauguration, Lieutenant General Winfield Scott ordinato the DC militiathe antecedent to today’s National Guardto guard the parade route from the Willard Hotel, where Lincoln was staying, al Campidoglio. Special sapper units proceeded first to clear the route of threats, while cavalry accompanied Lincoln and Buchanan as they rode in an open-air barouche. Snipers watched from rooftops to prevent anyone from approaching too closely.
Lincoln then delivered his inaugural address on the east side of the Capitol. Marked by reconciliation and calls for unity, Lincoln’s speech aimed to keep together the remaining union and prevent civil war from developing as long as possible. Lui concluso: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.
Alla fine, passions did break the fragile union, but they did not prevent the inauguration of a new President or a free and fair election four years later. A month after Lincoln’s inauguration, soldiers arrived to defend the Capitol from the threat of armed invasion and quartered al Campidoglio. The Civil War lasted until 1865, resulting in the death of more than 600,000 Americani.
Yet the words of Lincoln’s first inaugural address — così come his secondecho unto this day.

Rutherford B. Hayes

People gather at the US Capitol on March 4, 1877, for Rutherford B. Hayes' inaugurazione.

Nel 1876, the nation once again endured an extremely close and divisive presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio and Democrat Samuel Tilden of New York. The Republican platform chiamato for the protection of the rights of all citizens, including African Americans in the South, while Tilden corse as a reform candidate largely silent on race relations. Both sides declared victory, but disputed results in Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina and Oregon left Tilden’s count short by one electoral vote.
Threats of violence soon surfaced. In late November 1876, rumors circulated that an ex-Confederate officer threatened to seize the capital with 1,000 uomini. In risposta, President Ulysses S. Grant deployed seven companies of troops to Washington DC. Due giorni dopo, the USS Wyoming appeared in the Potomac River to protect the Anacostia Bridge into Maryland and the Long Bridge into Virginia, while a company of Marines guarded an access point further upriver. fortunatamente, the threat never materialized.
In dicembre, the states submitted their electoral results to Congress. With no certified winner, a gennaio, Congresso established an electoral commission to determine the results. By a strict party vote of eight to seven, the commission selected Hayes in each disputed vote (il Electoral Count Act of 1887 codified new procedures to prevent future deadlocks). At a meeting at the Wormley Hotel, Southern Democrats concordato to a compromise, accepting the results of the commission in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South.
Tuttavia, some Democrats in the House threatened to filibuster the counting of the electoral votes, dragging out the process for several more days. Infine, during the early morning hours of March 2, Democratic Speaker of the House Samuel Randall read a telegram from Tilden expressing his willingness to let the count be completed. Di 4 a.m., Congress had finished counting the votes and Hayes was declared the winner, ending America’s longest election. Not content to wait until Inauguration Day, Hayes was sworn in privately in the Red Room of the White House on March 3.
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Due giorni dopo, in a first, President-elect Hayes iniziò the tradition of going to the White House to ride with the outgoing President to the Capitol, accompanied by the Washington Light Guard and a battery of light artillery. Nel suo discorso inaugurale, Hayes stressed themes of unity and reached out to disaffected voters in the Southern states. Lui chiesto per “forever wipe out in our political affairs the color line and the distinction between North and South.
Yet a month into his presidency, Hayes abided by the terms of the compromise and withdrew the remaining federal troops from the Southern states, leaving the forces of White supremacy to reestablish local control. The result? By the time of Hayes’s death in 1893, widespread disenfranchisement and a legalized system of segregation established the Jim Crow system across the South.
Infatti, the similarities of these long-ago inaugurations to our present moment are striking. But this history also reminds us that threats of violence during times of political transition have not stoppedand should not stopthe inauguration of a new President with a new vision for America, regardless of what comes next.

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