That phrase, “The Worst Insult to the United States in its History,” will mean different things to different people. It’s not my phrase or opinion, but a headline in a New York newspaper from 9 February.

Any idea of what might have transpired for such a headline and newspapers across the United States of America to pick up the story for their readers?

It became not only a national story, but an international scandal with both elected officials and the general public of the United States calling for, actually demanding, an apology for disrespecting and criticizing the President of the United States.

It was a personal letter, and once this letter became public it stirred the fury of the public. I have redacted the country, individual names, and factions in this typing.

“Besides the ingrained and inevitable bluntness with which is repeated all that the press and public opinion in (country redacted) have said about (name redacted), it once more shows what (US President name redacted) is, weak and a bidder for the admiration of the crowd besides being a would-be politician who tries to leave a door open behind himself while keeping on good terms with the (group name redacted) of his party.”

In survey level courses I often present the above with a simple summary that an official from another country in the United States at the time allegedly penned a letter to his friend located in another country where the official referred to the President as being weak. One result was that public outrage with many calling for military action because an official representative of a foreign country insulted the President and thus “We the People.”

I’ll try to clarify the above later when I can create another short break. In the meantime, please think about how a similar occurrence might play out during other periods of US history including the modern age.

Actually this post is somewhat representative of the classroom in that I would close a 50 or 75 minute session with a version of the above, and the following class session would begin with a Socratic styled discussion with the students identifying the event, providing the background and context, and finally looking at the outcome, effects upon other events during the period, and discussing its potential influence on things yet to come.