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Two presidents, one conflict

Saturday, 8 October, 2011

According to the interpretation of history provided by the public schools, two people served as President of the United States during the American Civil War. I assume, perhaps improperly, one of these people was Abraham Lincoln.

I have had occasion to present the question to persons affiliated with educational institutions around here and they either giggle or deny it. Without regard to their lack of interest in the question, eleventh-grade-level U.S.-History students are asked this question explicitly on tests.

The nature of my seeing, en masse, public-school exams must remain a secret to those who do not know me in actual, meat-space life.

This shall be something of a live blog as I attempt to work out who these two people may be. My primary resource for this exercise shall be the Wikipedia. If you have no faith in Wikipedia, you have no faith in your fellow man. I am sorry for your predicament.

According to the mob-edited page the American Civil War  commenced April 12, 1861 and formally ended April 9, 1865. Various surrenders and abatement were made through November 5 that year due largely to the communication issues of the time. Not being a CW buff, I did not know the final Confederate contingent surrendered to Great Britain.

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated April 15, 1865. In a previous era, and with an air of poetry, Lincoln was regarded as the last casualty of the Civil War. From the moment of Lincoln’s demise until March 4, 1869, Andrew Johnson served as the President.

On August 20, 1866 President Johnson issued a Proclamation—Declaring that Peace, Order, Tranquillity, and Civil Authority Now Exists in and Throughout the Whole of the United States of America. Alas, Lincoln and Johnson together are never an A, B, C or D.

By any plausible standard these two men were the only persons who served as President of the United States during an period which may be defined as the American Civil War.

If you count the (not entirely accurate) secession of South Carolina on December 24 1860 and the declaration of the Confederacy on the following February 4th, both events occurring after Lincoln’s election but before he assumed the Presidency, James Buchanan, Jr. could be the other President.

Professional educators occasionally read this thing. Which is the answer you are trained to anticipate?

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One Comment
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