Politico Magazine: "As unbelievable and unprecedented as this year seemed, how wild was it really? Does it come in at No. 1 in the pantheon of American political chaos? Or, alongside the civil wars, assassinations, race riots and Watergates, does it not even rank? We asked some of the nation’s smartest historians to tell us whether 2017 was indeed the craziest year in U.S. political history, and, if not, what year’s got it beat. Here’s what they had to say."
(For quick reference I'm listing only the worse years chosen — sometimes, reluctantly — by these 12 historians; some, such as 1861, are obvious, but others, such as 1920, are good tests of your historical knowledge, before accessing the article, if you're unsure, as to why. I've noted my "worst year" at the end, even though I was cut to the quick, deeply wounded and on the verge of uncontrollable sobbing by Politico's lack of outreach to me.)
1861 (Robert Dallek)
1865 (Ron Chernow)
1919 (Adriane Lentz-Smith)
1861, 1933, 1989, 2001 (H.W. Brands)
1860 (Jacqueline Jones)
1968 (Leo Ribuffo)
1973-1974 (Vanessa Walker)
1968 (David Greenberg)
1920 (Nicole Hemmer)
1861 (Joshua Zeitz)
1890 (Heather Richardson)
And … "in the realm of craziness, 2017 has no contenders" (Jack Rakove)
My choice would be 1876, the presidential year in which Reconstruction's end was foreshadowed (the Compromise of 1877); sociopolitical equality for African-American citizens was ushered out and, soon, Jim Crow was ushered in; the North greedily settled for a return to material over spiritual betterment; the South resettled into a feudal mindset that would abuse, torture and murder literally countless black citizens; and America sold its soul. 1876 mocked the sacrificial carnage of 1861-1865; Radical Republicans threw in the towel of equality for all; Northern capitalists set out concentrating their wealth once the "sentimentality" of sociopolitical reform was brutally dismissed; and Southern "Redeemers," for their own benefit entirely, proceeded to bamboozle poor whites into believing that even poorer blacks were their worst enemy. 1876 was the year of a crossroad: Would white Americans once again seek nothing but self-interest, or would they extend the hand of brotherhood to all? They chose the former, and America's ensuing apartheid would ensure unspeakable misery for millions for decades to come. In fact we're still living with the wretched fallout of 1876.