So George W. Bush trailed Al Gore by 540,520 votes in the 2000 election, which we all sort of know by now. Gore had 48.4% of the popular votes, and yet Mr. I-Invented-The-Internet wasn’t made president because he lost Florida and thus was 5 Electoral College points behind Bush. Well, no. If Gore’d won his home state, Tennessee, he’d have not needed Florida, but the whole thing boils down to the Electoral College, and how it’s fucked up.
Okay, I’m not going into politics directly today, I’m on a small history kick. Did you know Abraham Lincoln only got 39.8% of the popular vote?
I’ve had people point this out to me as (yet another) reason he sucks, and proof that Lincoln lost the popular election. I finally found the metrics for my rebuttal argument. Stephan Douglas, the Northern Democrat opponent only had 29.5% of the popular vote. Douglas had the next highest vote percentage of that election. After him is Northern Democrat, Breckinridge, with 18.1% and pulling up the rear is Bell the Constitutional Union rep with 12.6%.
Interestingly, the fact that there were two Democrats, Northern and Southern, is probably why the Dems blew out that one. It’s also pretty indicative of a Mason-Dixon bitchfest that has precious little to do with Lincoln at all.
Looking back at our Electoral College debacle of recent memory, I noted that the popular vote figures for the 1860 election exclude South Carolina. Apparently the Electors were chosen by the state legislature rather than by popular vote. Lincoln wasn’t even on the freakin’ ballot in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee or Texas.
Can you even begin to imagine the outcry today if that had happened?
And yet, even without those states, Lincoln won the Electoral College with 180 votes, needing only 152 to win. Those aforementioned states added up to 55 Electoral College votes, which is fairly significant. Stephan Douglas had 12 EC votes, Breckinridge had 72 and Bell had 39.
I hadn’t meant to point out the idiocy of the EC, but it looks like it does that for itself.
Lincoln was elected and South Carolina turned around, said they laughed at our Northern Ancestors, and secede from the United States. Tangentially, South Carolina was the first state to ratify the the Articles of Confederation (our first Constitution).
The outgoing president, Buchanan, played Lame Duck and didn’t do jack until Lincoln stepped up (thanks, asshole, way to work for your fucking country). The Confederacy officially started the war by shelling Fort Sumter. I refuse to call it the ‘South’ in that sense, since Missouri was a slave state, and if you’re going to argue the war was about Slavery, then you have to include the slave states. Missouri and Kansas tried to secede, but couldn’t get the votes right. Then again, if you’re arguing it was about states’ rights (which I do), then it gets more hazy trying to pick a side by geography. I’m just saying.
Oh, do me a favor and look up the Star and Bars to get a good look at what the real Confederate flag looks like. The Confederate Navy Jack (down near the end of the page) remains the one people recognize. Pity.
I’m not the only one who thinks Buchanan (the president before Lincoln) was for crap. C-SPAN and a bunch of historians have all rated him as bottom of the barrel. Example of idiocy? It was Buchanan who denied the legal right of states to secede. He also was the fellow who publicly stated he wouldn’t run for re-election and said he wasn’t going to make waves. Buchanan intended to sit out the crisis by appointing an equal number of appointments from both sides of the, soon to be, Civil War (at the time, they called it the Schism).
I like screwing with my own head, and sometimes y’all reading this have to cope with coming along for the ride.
For Ipstenit’s sake, I’ll mention, in the realm of weird American presidential trivia, that Thomas Jefferson was a Deist and materialist, and once said “I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.” That said, he was a vested Episcopal, that is a lay officer, and attended a church run by fellow with the name of Jospeh Preistly. Priestly was a bit of a heterodox in the Arianism faith. Arianism is special in Christianity in that it believes Jesus is the Divine Son of G-D, created by G-D, and as such the two are not contemporaries, and Jesus is always a lesser divinity than G-D. There’s also a bit that they can’t be contemporaries because Jesus didn’t exist before he was created, whereas G-D’s been around forever. Jefferson, for his own sake, wrote his own bible, called ‘The Life And Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.’ That bible, while based on the Christian gospel, removed spirituality. Strikes me rather as a history book, and I think I’d like to read it as such.
Other Deist presidents include George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, John Tyler and Abraham Lincoln . Zachary Taylor (12) is also solid possibles for Deism. Of the seven, except for Lincoln, they were all from Virginia at a time when the Episcopal Church was the state church. Lots of people try and make a stink about that meaning the fellows were Episcopal, but their own works deny that statement.
Four presidents were without religious affiliation (by that I mean they didn’t go to a church). Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes. Grant was listed as a Methodist in some places.
In case you think the Bushes are the only father/son duet to cause a voting eyebrow raise, remembers the Adams family. John Quincy Adams was the son of John Adams, and lost both the Electoral College and the popular vote. Yeah, and we thought Bush’s win was weird! JQA was made president by the House of Representatives. JQA also had a pet alligator. William Henry Harrison had a pet cow. Millard Fillmore and Chester A. Arthur had no pets.
Harry S. Truman didn’t have a middle name, just the letter S (and often said it didn’t need the period, even though he signed it with one himself). Ulysses S. Grant was born Hiram Ulysses Grant, but his appointment to West Point named him Ulysses Simpson Grant and ended up as the S only at graduation. Theodore Roosevelt hated the nickname Teddy (as well as his childhood nickname of Teddie). Jimmy Carter actually sued people to get on the ballot as Jimmy instead of his legal name, James, because people identified with him as Jimmy.
Andrew Jackson was born somewhere in the Carolinas. The exact state is unknown. The state with the most presidents is Virginia (8), and eight presidents were also born before the US was established, and were born Brits.
Lincoln was the tallest president, at 6’4″, beating Lyndon B. Johnson by an inch. James Madison, at 5’4″, was the shortest, next to the 5’6″ Martin Van Buren and Benjamin Harrison.
FDR was the president for 4,422, and the next set of people were only presidents for 2,922 days (Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton). George Washington served 2,865 days. William Henry Harrison made it 31 (or 32) days, and at the age of 67 was the oldest man elected as US president until Reagan won at age 68. Ironically enough, Harrison was the first president to die in office, and he died because he caught a cold at his inauguration. Harrison gave the longest inauguration speech ever, clocking in at around 2 hours.
Benjamin Harrison (William’s grandson) had his predecessor, Grover Cleveland, hold an umbrella over his head while he gave the longest speech since his grandfather.