On four prior occasions in American history the country nearly split apart, as seemingly irreconcilable cultural, economic, political, social, geographical, and demographic fault lines opened a path to hatred and violence.
During the Jacksonian Revolution of the 1830s, factions nearly ripped the country apart over whether the East Coast Founders’ establishment of a half-century would relinquish its monopoly of political power to reflect the new demographic realties of an expanding frontier — and its populist champions often deemed unfit for self-governance. For the most part, the Jacksonians won.
Three decades later the nation divided over slavery, prompting the most lethal war in American history to end it and force the defeated Confederate southern states back into the Union.
The Great Depression, and the establishment’s inept responses to it, left a quarter of the country unemployed for nearly a decade — hungry and desperate to expand government even if it entailed curtailing liberty in a way never envisioned by the Founders. The result was eventually the redefinition of freedom as the right of the individual to have his daily needs guaranteed by the state.