Hail To Thee, Polemic! You Kept Us Out of War!


Just to prove that you never know whose toes you're stepping on, Mr. Jayme H. Simoes sent me his 14th President spam this morning. An excerpt:

This week former funny man and radio talk show host Al Franken slammed President George W. Bush along with an unfortunate ancestor of the president saying that Bush the worst president in history, behind Franklin Pierce. Bad timing. This is Franklin Pierce's bicentennial year, and the group organizing the commemoration has a bone to pick with Franken. According to Pierce Bicentennial Commission chair, Jayme H. Simoes, "Mr. Franken may know jokes, but he sure does not know his U.S. history. Pierce was a polemic, but he was far from our worst President. His life paralleled the founding of this nation, and he served as President at a turning point in American history."

The Granite State's biggest Pierce exhibition, "Franklin Pierce: Defining Democracy in America," runs through May 8, 2005 at the Museum of New Hampshire History in Concord. For more details on Franklin Pierce and the Pierce bicentennial, visit the Pierce Bicentennial web page.


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  1. former funny man and radio talk show host Al Franken

    Yeah, it’s kinda sad that he’s chosen to be formerly funny.

  2. Pierce was, amongst other things, a typical 19th century American imperialists (he, though a New Englander, favored purchasing, or if need be conquering, Cuba so as to allow Southerners to expand slavery into another “slave state”). Of course he and Douglas (of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, and Lincoln’s main opponent in the 1860 election) also presided over “bleeding Kansas,” though admittedly it was Douglas’ “popular sovereignty” program that should take the lionshare’s of the blame.

    Anyway, he couldn’t even get the nomination of his own part in 1856, which should tell you how much he was liked. Indeed, he only got the nomination in 1852 by dumb luck (he was a true “dark horse” candidate that year). In his stead the Democrats put their faith in that idiot James Buchanan, whose only claim to fame was that his name was not blackened by the bitter partisanship that marked the Democratic party in the 1850s, since he had been largely overseas as an ambassador during that period.

  3. Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Warren G. Harding scholars rejoice! Thanks to George W. Bush, none of those past worthies comes close to earning the title of “Worst U.S. President.”

  4. He can’t possibly be the worst President if his life “paralleled the founding of this nation” and he served “at a turning point in American history”, can he?

    This appears to be revisionist history by present-day Granite Staters about the only President ever to have been denied re-nomination by his own party. The good citizens of New Hampshire who were Pierce’s contemporaries saw fit to shun him. I believe they may have literally attempted or accomplished and old-fashioned “tar and feathering”.

  5. Apparently James Thurber’s movement to rehabilitate James Polk as a general cut-up and fun guy has worked.

    The trouble, Thurber realized, was that there were no enlivening Polk anecdotes. So Thurber supplied a few, and they have worked.

    Gideon Pillow (Polk’s closest friend) told Polk that Abe Lincoln had called him “bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed.” “You tell Lincoln that I’ve never been so bewildered that I couldn’t tell a shovel from a piece of writing paper,” Polk retorted, thus going down in memorable tale history.

    There is one other, a modest start

  6. New Hampshire’s interest in Pierce is basically that he’s the one President to come from New Hampshire. (I’m a New Hampshire native and resident.) Among New Hampshire political figures, John Hale is much more worthy of remembering.

  7. Oooh, I liked John Hale too, especially in Miracle on 34th St. and on Gilligan’s Island.

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