1864 Election

Now that the 2000 vote is settled (ducking), I want to talk about the presidential election 136 years ago.

The country (‘countries’ for you CSA supporters) was in the middle of the Civil War. But we held elections as prescribed by the Constitution. Lincoln won with 212 electoral votes.

Now, except for Texas, Virginia, and Mississippi, all the southern states cast electoral votes. How? Did they actually hold elections as they did in the past? Did “expatriots” of the South living in Union territory cast electoral votes? Were there “underground legislatures” in the South loyal to the Union that submitted electoral votes?

The Confederate states didn’t participate in the 1864 election. Lincoln carried California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin for 212 electoral votes. George McClellan carried Delaware, Kentucky, and New Jersey for 21 electoral votes.

Oh shoot! I just took another look at the site that has the entire history of the presidential elections. Almost every election has a map detailing the electoral votes. But for 1864, they have a copy of the 1868 map, showing Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia not voting because of reconstruction. That’s why I thought that electoral votes had been cast from the South in 1864.


Another anomaly about 1864 was the Republican ticket having a Democrat of all things as the vice-presidential candidate: Andy Johnson.

I don’t think any other major party has ever tried that idea since the 12th Amendment (which put the pres. & VP candidates on the same ticket) was passed.

Lincoln’s second term wound up being served out by a Democrat. No wonder the Republican Congress was bent on impeaching him! They thought the White House belonged to them in that term!

In the 1840 election, the Whigs put John Tyler, who had just switched over to the Whigs on the ticket with William Henry Harrison. After Harrison’s untimely death, Tyler took over and pretty much opposed everything introduced in Congress by the Whig’s most prominent member, Henry Clay.

After Tyler vetoed a national bank bill, Clay formally read Tyler out of the party.

Didn’t Lincoln and Johnson run on a “Union Government” ticket in 1864 - neither Republican nor Democrat?

Yeah, “Union Government” or something like that. You see this “national unity coalition” thing in parliamentary systems sometimes, but 1864 was the only time it was ever tried in the United States. Can you imagine it ever happening here again? I sure can’t. It just doesn’t fit the presidential system.

The reason for the 12th Amendment seems pretty obvious, when you think about it. If the vice-president is of a different party than the president, when things turn ugly he might not shed a tear to see the president’s untimely demise, if you catch my drift . . .

It came out of the John Adams administration when Jefferson was the vice-president and constantly at odds with everyone else in the administration. It did get quite ugly then.

Actually, it was during Jefferson’s presidency. Jefferson’s first VP, Aaron Burr, was the last VP to be the second-place finisher in a presidential race. After that, the presidential and vice-presidential offices were separate votes.

History truly would’ve been different (and more interesting?) if the 2nd place finisher was still awarded the VP-ship. Nixon as Kennedy’s VP: would they have shot Dick first? Dewey as Truman’s?

The 12th amendment virtually guaranteed a long cavalcade of forgettable nobodies as vice president. Who now remembers Hannibal Hamlin? Is it any wonder vice presidents have such an uphill struggle to win the presidency? Just ask Nixon, Humphrey, Mondale, Quayle, and now Gore. There was always the cynical view that lackluster vice presidents are chosen to make the top banana look better by comparison. Agnew and Quayle were insurance against assassination. They had nothing else going for them.

The first two vice presidents, Adams and Jefferson, were giants. The third, Burr, was a psychopath. The 12th amendment changed all that.

Burr wasn’t a psychopath. Alexander Hamilton was the one who challenged Burr to a duel, after all, not the other way around. And the 12th amendment hadn’t even been introduced when Burr ran – he tied Jefferson for the Presidency with 73 electoral votes, throwing it into the House of Representatives. George Clinton, former Governor of New York, became the first Vice President to come after the 12th amendment. He served under Jefferson during his (Jefferson’s) second term and Madison under Madison’s first.

“Insurance against assassination.”

ishmintingas, that would be funny if I didn’t see the boulder-sized nugget of truth in that statement. Never really thought of it that way before.

Whether or not Burr was a psychopath, it’s pretty well accepted that he seriously contemplated treason, secession, and possibly a coup d’etat against the United States.

You’ve obviously never been to Bangor, ME. He’s practically a hero there. A statue in the town square and everything.

My aunt-in-laws have a wall covered with memorial plaques of various persons and places in Maine. One is a depiction of said statue of Hamlin. I made mention of the fact that he didn’t stick around DC while VP, but went back to Maine and served as a private in the Maine Coast Guard. I got silent stares.

George Clinton simultaneously ran for President against Madison, while running for Veep with Madison. No-one seemed to mind.

That’s cuz he had da funk.