Stevens Beats Buchanan

I was sitting in the Barnes & Noble cafe earlier today, slowly sucking down a Cafe Mocha. My first time in that particular store, and I happened to have a short stack of magazines for browsing. I’d actually gone to find an interior design magazine that had a good color photo of a complementary color scheme. Why? For a project for class, that’s why. I found one pretty easily (but I am horrible at mixing greens and purples) so I decided to sit for a while, read up, and basically do anything but go home and work on homework.

So I picked up a copy of Smithsonian, primarily because I was interested in the cover…the feature article was about “Rescuing Angkor.” Pretty interesting…a lot of nice detail shots. I think this was where Lara Croft went Tomb Raiding, isn’t that correct? I’ll have to check. Anyway, I think a cooler article discussed a lesser known relationship, the one between Thaddeus Stevens and James Buchanan. Who are these guys? Come on, don’t you remember our 15th President? You know, “the one before Abraham Lincoln.” What’s interesting is the fact that these bitter rivals were practically neighbors. The irony.

The author argues that James Buchanan is arguably the worst of all of our Presidents, and perhaps is right. Under his weak leadership, the unity of the nation broke down and lead right into Civil War. It’s interesting to note that Buchanan is responsible for a list of things that contributed to the prevention of war. He did not recall the army from remote outposts in the west to where they were needed for peacekeeping in the east. He sent the navy on an expedition to Paraguay, where they would be out of reach in a time of need. Rather than focus on domestic affairs, he strategized on the process of conquering Cuba.

Thaddeus Stevens is perhaps best known as a defender of human rights, and holds a great share of responsibility in getting the 14th and 15th amendments passed. He was a stout advocate of the belief that slaves should be freed and treated as equals in all respects…recently, a team of student excavators has unearthed what appears to be a secret hiding place for runaway slaves.

Really, this article is worth a look. It’ll even help you brush up on your American history.