Historians have often noted that our Founding Fathers didn’t like democracy. Our second president, John Adams, once said, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” Our fourth president, James Madison, wrote, “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

The election of 1876 would prove to be one of the greatest tests of American democracy. Learn about this pivotal moment in American history in this episode of This American President.

A truce – not a compromise, but a chance for high-toned gentlemen to retire gracefully from their very civil declarations of war Thomas Nast. Illus. in: Harper’s Weekly, Feb. 17, 1877, p. 132.

He came from humble beginnings. He was born in a log cabin and had virtually no education. Through hard work, he rose to become a successful businessman. He fell in love and was married for almost 50 years. His life was the epitome of the American dream.
He found his calling in politics. He was known as a man of the people, especially the poor and downtrodden. He identified with them and he consistently fought for their interests. They returned him to office again and again. He was their fighter and their champion. He was also one of the most experienced men to ever become president of the United States.
And yet, Andrew Johnson is universally regarded as one of the worst and most hated presidents in American history. How is this possible? You’ll find out in this episode of This American President.

President Andrew Johnson