Lessons on Political Division in Modern America—from 143 Years Ago

C.W. Goodyear is a presidential historian and biographer whose book on President James A. Garfield sheds light on our current political moment.
Lessons on Political Division in Modern America—from 143 Years Ago
Published August 22, 2023

A disputed US presidential election? Narrowly avoided government shutdowns? Divisions over race relations stemming from the legacy of slavery in the United States? These issues were on the minds of Americans in 1880, just as they are in 2023. (Maybe the political division that defines the present age is not as unique as we think!) To discuss the similarities — and stark differences — between the United States of America in 1880 and 2023, we’re joined by C.W. Goodyear. C.W. (“Charlie”) is a writer, author, presidential historian, and biographer whose book is President Garfield: From Radical To Unifier. The presidential biography tells the story of a forgotten, misunderstood President, James A. Garfield, whose assassination just 200 days into his first term has come to overshadow the fascinating life, accomplishments, and failures of the man who became the 20th American president. The presidential biography is also a portrait of an America in flux, where cronyism, nepotism, and bribery dominated national concerns, and a country was attempting (and failing) to navigate the Reconstruction of the South and remedy the recent legacy of chattel slavery in the United States. In this interview, Charlie and Dave explore the life and death of President Garfield, including…

  • The legacy of another “complicated” White man who was, at once, a fervent abolitionist but held “almost genocidal” views of America’s indigenous population
  • If James A. Garfield was indeed the “single greatest intellect” to ever be elected U.S. President
  • How Garfield’s assassination resulted from political rhetoric, and what happened to political discourse, after
C.W. Goodyear is a graduate of Yale University with a degree in Global Affairs. He currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Please rate and review our show on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to help other listeners find our work! Want to get in touch? Leave us a voicemail! Support our partners and affiliates for exclusive discounts:
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