Trump’s incitement, plan to skip inauguration recalls Civil War

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he is not going to attend successor Joe Biden’s upcoming inauguration and the sacking of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob mark a degree of division within the United States not seen because the American Civil War.

The final time a sitting president refused to attend his duly elected successor’s inauguration – a significant ceremonial occasion in US politics that can also be a proper switch of energy – was in 1869. The Civil War had been fought from 1861 to 1865 over ending slavery, and the nation remained deeply divided.

“The similarities in the political trends are really astounding,” mentioned Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science on the University of Houston.

President Andrew Johnson, a divisive determine who like Trump had been impeached by the House however not eliminated by the Senate, didn’t attend the swearing-in of Ulysses S Grant, who was elected in 1868.

Johnson, a southerner who grew to become president when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, had undermined the efforts of the north to enfranchise Blacks and impose anti-slavery governments within the former Confederate states. He attracted fringe teams and created a grievance politics that appealed to these southerners who needed to re-litigate the Civil War.

Seventeenth US President Andrew Johnson, who is taken into account by historians to have been among the many worst presidents in historical past, refused to attend the inauguration of Ulysses S Grant in 1869 [File: AP Photo]

Grant had been the victorious basic of the Union Army that defeated the Confederacy. He, like Biden now, was seen as a unifier who may deliver the nation again along with an emphasis on equity and decency, Rottinghaus advised Al Jazeera.

Grant, who didn’t wish to be related to Johnson, refused to journey in the identical carriage with him from the White House to the Capitol for the inauguration. Instead, Johnson held his personal big rally with supporters on Inauguration Day, which was March 4 again in these days. The twentieth Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1933, moved the presidential inauguration date to January 20.

Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott urged Trump “to reconsider his decision to skip” Biden’s inauguration.

Scott, who was amongst a couple of Republican senators who voted towards certifying Biden’s election win, mentioned he deliberate to attend. “It is an important tradition that demonstrates the peaceful transfer of power to our people and to the world,” he mentioned.

Speaking to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware earlier on Friday, Biden mentioned “it’s a good thing” Trump will skip the inauguration.

Meanwhile, the invasion of the US Capitol on January 6 by a mob of Trump supporters recollects comparable occasions on the state degree within the post-Civil War interval.

Tear fuel is launched right into a crowd throughout clashes with Capitol police as tons of of protesters broke previous safety and compelled a halt to certification of the 2020 US presidential election outcomes [Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

“We have never had this at the seat of our government,” mentioned Jeremi Suri, a professor of historical past on the University of Texas at Austin.

“But we have a long history of mob violence in America. It’s something we don’t like to talk about,” Suri advised Al Jazeera.

Suri likened the invasion of the US Capitol by pro-Trump forces to the “Colfax Massacre” in Louisiana in 1873, when a white militia overthrew a democratically elected governor and killed 100 Black freedmen.

It was the worst episode of racial and political violence within the post-Reconstruction interval after the Civil War and mirrored divisions that led to competing slates of electors being submitted to Congress within the 1876 presidential election.

“It is extremely rare to see a full assault on the Capitol and even more rare to see a president give it steam,” Rottinghaus mentioned. “In fact, we haven’t seen a significant parallel.”

In 1954, Puerto Rican nationalists entered the US Capitol and fired bullets at members of Congress from the customer’s balcony within the House chamber. Five US Representatives had been injured however recovered. The Puerto Ricans had been arrested and imprisoned till 1979.

Bullet holes can nonetheless be seen in a picket desk on the House flooring and bulletproof plating was put in behind all the seats within the 435-member House, giving members a spot to shelter throughout Wednesday’s mob assault.

One latest precursor was when heavily-armed protesters briefly confronted police and entered Michigan’s state capitol in March to protest Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders when the coronavirus pandemic broke out.

There are few different historic comparisons.

The British sacked and burned the US Capitol and the White House in 1814 throughout what is named “The War of 1812” between the newly impartial US and Britain.

In 1998, a lone gunman shot his well past a safety checkpoint on the US Capitol and obtained so far as the doorway to House majority whip’s workplace. The man, later recognized as a schizophrenic, exchanged gunfire with a police officer who was killed however wounded the intruder.

In the September 11, 2001 assaults by al-Qaeda, the US Capitol was evacuated, and senior leaders of the House and Senate had been eliminated to secure rooms after hijacked airplanes hit the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York.

Security was tightened and new underground secure rooms had been constructed to safe leaders within the occasion of one other such emergency.

After this week’s incident on the Capitol, by which 5 individuals died, the US seems diminished in an historic method, Rottinghaus mentioned.

“We look like a third-rate power whose capital is vulnerable and whose democracy is in jeopardy,” he mentioned.