The nation has been transfixed by the attempted putsch carried out by pro-Trump fascists Wednesday. Many stunned commentators, believing in some form of American exceptionalism, reached for comparisons to other, supposedly-backward countries to describe what happened. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic,” said former President George W. Bush.
Yet this is not the first time that an American government has faced an epidemic of right-wing terrorism threatening the very foundation of democracy. The same thing happened during Reconstruction after the Civil War, when President Ulysses S. Grant faced a white supremacist insurrection in the South led by the first Ku Klux Klan.