He begins the book with then governor of South Carolina, Strom Thurmond on October 7, 1948. Thurmond was the segregationist Dixiecrat candidate for president, and he was railing against President Truman’s civil rights program that included anti-lynching legislation and protection against racial discrimination in hiring. He felt this would undermine the American way of life and stated “there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigra race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.” He was interrupted by cheers and standing ovations, but ultimately he was defeated.
He was not the first, and surely not the last politician to rile up crowds. In August of 2017, white supremacy reared its head again in Charlottesville where twenty-first century klansmen and neo-nazis riled up a group of their followers in support of then Republican candidate Donald Trump. Meacham shared many surprising stories featuring our presidents through the years, but the most important thing to take away is that ultimately our better angels won the battles.
I found the stories interesting, the writing captivating and the message heartening. Thanks Jon, we needed that this week.
Publisher - Random House
Date of Publication - May 8, 2018