Donald Trump isn’t the first

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On March 30, 2023, Orange Florida Man (OFM) was indicted by a Grand Jury in New York. This is an unprecedented as it makes OFM the first former President to be indicted for criminal offenses. However, OFM is not the first President to be held accountable for violating the law.

In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant was pulled over on M. Street in Washington for driving his horse drawn carriage dangerously fast. So fast that it took the police half a block to bring the carriage to a stop. Did President Grant angrily deny he was speeding or accuse the police officer of being part of some radical left-wing conspiracy? Did he try to rile up his supporters to attack the officer or the government? Nope.

Grant knew he was in the wrong and the officer – an African American named William West that – was only doing his duty. Grant was taken down to the station where he was processed. Grant paid the fine of $20 (almost $500 in 2023 dollars). Grant worked hard to ensure that West faced no adverse consequences for doing his duty. As time went on, Grant would talk to West about equestrian matters and West helped investigate and solve the theft of two horses that had been given to Grant as a gift.

In a Texas Law Review article, Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash argued that through his actions, Grant showed that every American up to and including the President was equal before the law. Since that time America has had whole strings of corrupt men who were not held as equal before the law. Maybe, just maybe with this indictment, or indicated as OFM put it, we can start to work back towards Presidents being seen as equal before the law.

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