Only one presidential election has provoked civil war — at least until now

Mattew Rozsa in Salon:

Before Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in 2020, only one presidential election had resulted in massive violence against the federal government. That of course was the election of 1860, which was as divisive as any in history and plunged the United States into the Civil War. This alone makes it difficult to claim a parallel with the 2020 election, despite Donald Trump’s repeated false assertions that he actually won. To this point, there are no signs of a bloody internecine conflict that ends with at least 620,000 deaths.

So in some ways, Trump’s Big Lie about the 2020 election is not as bad as the lies that caused the Civil War. In other very important ways, however, it’s much worse.

First, though, one must understand the 1860 election, which came at a political moment fraught with danger. Americans were divided as to whether slavery should be allowed into the newly-acquired western territories. Extremists in the South, sensing an opportunity to profit off human bondage in nascent industries, wanted no limits on when, where and how slavery could be expanded. While there were certainly some abolitionists who wanted to entirely eliminate slavery, mainstream “anti-slavery” forces mostly sought a compromise, where slavery would not be allowed to spread outside states where it was already legal.

More here.