This is the latest of the deep-dive videos that I've been making for my YouTube channel since last summer, and the first that qualifies as a true biography. I did an article earlier this week with a little bit of the making-of, behind-the-scenes of this video.
Franklin Pierce, the 14th President of the United States, is one of the most obscure chief executives, and whenever historians can't resist playing the game of "ranking" Presidents, Pierce usually winds up within a few rungs of the bottom. His one term from 1853 to 1857 was a series of disastrous failures, and most historians blame him, not unreasonably so, for exacerbating the divisions that broke into the open in the Civil War only four years after he left office. I find a lot more interest in the stories of bad and failed Presidents than I do the good ones. There's very little material available on Pierce that goes beyond the perfunctory, capsule-summary level. There's a need for a deeper understanding of him.
In this video, I explain Pierce's origins, his stellar family and educational credentials, and why he should have been one of the great Presidents--the fact that he was not makes his failures even more egregious. I also try to put Pierce in a generational context, which few historians do at the surface level. Once the generation that fomented and solidified the gains of the American Revolution died off and left the political scene in the 1830s, political power in the U.S. passed into the hands of a generation of career politicians who simply were not up to the task of dealing with the terrible issue of slavery. Franklin Pierce was an exemplar of that failed generation. Some of my conclusions in this regard may be controversial, but I stand by them.
I hope you have a chance to take a look at the Franklin Pierce video. It's long, but it's my sincere hope that everyone who watches it learns something they didn't know before. As long as people keep watching these videos, I'll keep making them.
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