Is the current political rancor the worst our country has ever experienced?
Not by a long shot.
Antebellum America had plenty of violence in the political theater. The following is an excerpt from Joanne B. Freeman's book, The Field of Blood.
On one memorable occasion in Washington in 1857, three nativist gangs -- the Plug Uglies, the Chunkers, and the Rip-Raps -- joined forces to terrorize immigrants casting votes, causing a riot. When the panicked mayor called in the Marines, the three gangs hauled a cannon into play, though they never fired it. By the time the brawl subsided, several people had been killed. State legislatures also erupted into uproars from time to time. In 1857, there was an all out row in the Illinois legislature featuring "considerable wrestling, knocking over chairs, desks, inkstands, men, and things generally." In 1858, state assemblies in both New York and Massachusetts dissolved into fisticuffs. "[T]here was a most heavenly time in the House for an hour or two," gushed a New York Times reporter about the Boston outbreak. It "would have made a sensation even in Congress." The Arkansas House deserves special mention. In 1837, when a representative insulted the Speaker during debate, the Speaker stepped down from his platform, bowie knife in hand, and killed him. Expelled and tried for murder, he was acquitted for excusable homicide and reelected, only to pull his knife on another legislator during debate, though this time the sound of colleagues cocking pistols stopped him cold.
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Truth is...The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind. I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things. I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be. (Jeremiah 17:9-10 The Message)