Civics

“So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. Show up, dive in, stay at it.”

-Barack Obama

 

 

The President Who Won by a SINGLE Electoral Vote

If you thought the 2000 election was bad–remember hanging chads?–just wait until you hear about this. The 1876 presidential election was the longest election process in our country’s history. It dragged on for four very long months and wasn’t resolved until just two days before the Inauguration. For a country that was still in the reconstruction process, this wasn’t a good thing. Why was the election process so unique? How did our president of the week, Rutherford B. Hayes, come out on top? Why was he the Republicans candidate in the first place? We’ll answer these questions and more.

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The War Hero Tainted by Scandal

“Let Us Have Peace.” Ulysses S. Grant. Most Americans have heard of him. They know he was involved in the Civil War somehow. But they may not know much else. Not only was Ulysses S. Grant involved in the Civil War, but he was also a key player in leading the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy. He was nothing short of an American hero and was a shoe-in for the presidency. In fact, as my favorite presidential documentary stated, had the paparazzi existed back then, no photograph would have been coveted more than his. War heroes were the equivalent of today’s celebrities. And in the 1860s-70s, Grant was as big as they came. Sure he was a star, and hands down the best person to lead the Union in the Civil War. But he had never served as an elected official before and would soon find out it wasn’t the same as serving in the military. In fact, though Grant was considered just as honest as “Honest Abe,” his presidency consisted of numerous scandals that ultimately tainted his reputation. Ulysses S. Grant is our nation’s 18th president, and our president of the week.

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The First President to Be Impeached

“Honest conviction is my courage; the Constitution is my guide.” Andrew Johnson Abraham Lincoln wasn’t supposed to have been the only one assassinated that fateful night at Ford’s Theater. In fact, Andrew Johnson and his wife were offered tickets to sit in Lincoln’s box with him. They turned them down. But John Wilkes-Booth discovered where Johnson was staying that night and hired a hit man to take him out. That hit man, fortunately, chickened out at the last minute, sparing Johnson’s life.   Thus, Andrew Johnson became our country’s 17th president and history was forever changed. To be fair to Johnson, trying to repair our country immediately following the Civil War would have been a huge undertaking for any man. But to follow a man like Abraham Lincoln, well, those were some very large shoes to fill. Frankly, Johnson was never meant to be president, historians say. Johnson would never have been selected as Lincoln’s vice president had anyone been able to predict the future. But, as we’ve seen in the past, and will see again in the future, never under-estimate the power of the office of the vice presidency. You never know what will happen. Andrew Johnson (our president of the […]

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How Abraham Lincoln became America’s Iconic Hero

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”-Abraham Lincoln Thinking about our 16th president (our president of the week) literally gives me goosebumps sometimes. So maybe that makes me a bit of a fanatic. Or maybe I’m just really, really grateful and in awe of what Abraham Lincoln, one of my heroes, did for our country. Not only did he preside over the Civil War, help end slavery and keep our country together, but he is also the ultimate testament of the American dream of rising above your circumstances to do truly great things. All it takes is drive. Lincoln had it in spades. Abraham Lincoln was a giant of a man, both literally (he was our nation’s tallest president at 6’4″) and figuratively. To do what he did is one thing, but during his lifetime he also suffered numerous tragic losses and still came out on top. To me, that is one of the ultimate tests of greatness. Stick with me. I’m going to share details about this man’s life that perhaps you didn’t know, but that help illustrate how he did what he did and why he has […]

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Our Favorite Best Kept Secrets in Washington, D.C.

  If we had a dollar for every time someone asked us what the best places are to visit in Washington, D.C., we’d be rich women. It’s either that, or if friends have visited our nation’s capital before, they will often ask what else they can see besides all the “usual stuff.” If you’re not a Washington, D.C. first timer, you’re probably familiar with all the “must see” sites. There is no shortage of Smithsonian museums, monuments and famous landmarks to see. But if you have plans to go to D.C. again, and are looking for more unique things to see and do, we have some of our favorite best kept secrets in D.C. to share with you. In fact, we’d add these locations to our “must see in D.C.” list any day of the week!

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The Man Some Call the Worst President in History

It’s no surprise that Abraham Lincoln is often ranked the best president in our nation’s history. But did you know there are two presidents who are often ranked neck to neck as the worst? One of them is the guy who assumes the presidency following Lincoln’s assassination. The other guy? Well, he was the president who came immediately before Abraham Lincoln. His name was James Buchanan. And he was so bad that he paved the way for Abraham Lincoln and his historic greatness. So not only is Lincoln a tough act to follow, but as far as history is concerned, he’s a tough act to precede as well. James Buchanan is our “president of the week” and is often ranked as the absolute worst president in our nation’s history. You’re about to find out why.

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The President with the Heartbreaking Past

Franklin Pierce was a Northerner with strong ties to the South. At a time when the country was so divided you could feel it, there couldn’t have been a more perfect candidate for president in 1852. Well, almost perfect anyway. The Democrats went through 49 ballots before they settled on him as their nominee. Yet by the time his first term was over, the country scorned him and his own party rejected him. What went wrong? For starters, to understand what he was dealing with as president, you have to understand the utterly heartbreaking and tragic moment that changed his life forever. And therefore, also his presidency. What happened was so utterly devastating that just weeks later, when Pierce took the oath of office, he refused to swear on the Bible because he thought God was punishing him for his political campaigning. Franklin Pierce is our president of the week. Keep reading and you’ll discover that while his presidency may have been a disaster, it’s hard to blame him for it.

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10 Helpful Things You Didn’t Know Your Congressman Could Do For You

Constituent Services: Your Congressional Office Can Do WHAT?! Turns out, Congressional offices can actually do some really helpful things for you. Once you know what cool things they can provide, you might be calling their offices a little more frequently. Read on…    You may not like ’em (or so say all the polls), but there’s something your Congressman can do for you. Besides write a bill you might support, I mean. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… those Congressional offices can be really useful to you. Yes, you. No matter who you voted for, or whether you voted at all, Congress can actually be helpful. Or at least their staff can be.

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A Forgettable President with a Funny Name

Being in the right place at the right time applies to no one better than it does our 13th president Millard Fillmore. Yep, Millard Fillmore. Quite the name, right? He was also referred to as an “accidental president” and, sadly, one of our most “forgettable.” I’ll let you decide if that label is fair or not. If you’ve never heard of Millard Fillmore, don’t worry, you’re not alone. He’s hardly ever mentioned in history classes anymore and a recent poll showed only 8% of students even knew he was a former president. It’s actually a shame. For a man from such a humble and tragic beginning, that he rose to the top as president is actually quite remarkable. Accidental or not. He’s our president of the week. He may not be our most memorable president but he sure got more than he bargained for when he signed on to be Zachary Taylor’s VP.

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Everything You Need to Know about Your Newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch

Meet your newest United States Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch. He was nominated to fill the spot of Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February 2016. Name: Neil Gorsuch 

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