President Trump focused on his own hardships since taking office during his commencement address Wednesday at the United States Coast Guard Academy, saying, "No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly."
History is very long, and despite Trump's "surety," from the Roman Emperor Caracalla, who was fatally stabbed by one of his soldiers while urinating along a roadside, to Nelson Mandela, who was labeled a terrorist and spent 27 years in prison, the past is replete with stories of politicians who had it rougher than Trump.
But, perhaps the president meant to say he was being treated more unfairly than any politician in U.S. history. But even by that standard, most would agree the following American leaders and lawmakers had it worse than Trump.
The first Republican president has Trump beat for two big reasons. First, states began to secede before Lincoln even took office just based on what they knew about his attitudes toward slavery. And while Alec Baldwin's impression of Trump may not be terribly flattering, an actor who didn't like Lincoln took things a bit further and put a bullet in his head.
John F. Kennedy
Many of JFK's critics thought he was unfit for office simply because he was a Catholic. "Faced with the election of a Catholic our culture is at stake,” said the Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale who was widely known for his book, The Power of Positive Thinking. Later, a young Communist angered by Kennedy's Cuba policies shot the president with an Italian rifle (sorry Oliver Stone fans, that's what happened).
John W. Stevens
A North Carolina tobacco trader who served in the Confederate army, Stevens became a Republican after the Civil War. He helped organize blacks and they, in turn, helped elect him to the state Senate. This didn't go over well with some of the locals. Stevens was ostracized, denied credit and was even accused of murdering his mother. In 1870, Stevens was stabbed and strangled after being ambushed by more than a dozen members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Hiram Revels was the first African-American to serve in the U.S. Senate. After his election to the Senate in 1870 by the Mississippi state legislature, southern Democrats tried to bar Revels from serving on the grounds that he did not become a U.S. citizen until the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868 (the Constitution requires someone be a citizen for nine years before being eligible to serve in the Senate).
Like Revels, Barack Obama's opponents questioned his citizenship in an effort to deny his pioneering role in U.S. history. Despite being derided as a socialist who "pals around with terrorists" — some went so far as to label him the "Antichrist" — during the 2008 campaign, Obama went on to become America's first black president. Yet, some critics tried to question his legitimacy with a conspiracy theory that he was not born in the United States. Even after producing his birth certificate, these "birthers" refused to believe the president was an American. One prominent American, in particular, helped fuel the conspiracy (hint: his name rhymes with grump).
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2012
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