Free Soil Party

How Slim Margins Decide So Many Presidential Elections And Affect American History And Government Policies!

The argument that many ill informed people have is that “voting does not matter”, when just the opposite is true.

As we begin 2017 and the reality of President Trump in 19 days, a look at history tells us clearly how small numbers of votes or percentages of votes make a dramatic difference, as demonstrated in the following elections in American history:

1844– a switch of a few thousand votes in New York would have given the election to Henry Clay, instead of James K. Polk, and the difference was the small third party, the Liberty Party.

1848–a switch of a few thousand votes, again in New York, would have given the election to Lewis Cass, instead of Zachary Taylor, but Free Soil Party nominee, Martin Van Buren, former Democratic President and from New York, won ten percent of the total national vote, and threw the election to Whig candidate Taylor in New York.

1876—the dispute over the contested votes of South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida led to a special Electoral Commission set up, which rewarded all of those three states’ electoral votes to Rutherford B. Hayes, although Democrat Samuel Tilden led nationally by about 250,000 popular votes.

1880–James A. Garfield won the popular vote by the smallest margin ever, about 2,000 votes, and won the big state of New York by only 20,000 votes, in defeating his opponent Winfield Scott Hancock.

1884–Grover Cleveland won his home state of New York by about 1,000 votes, which decided the election, and nationally only by about 57,000 votes over James G. Blaine.

1888–Grover Cleveland won the national popular vote by about 90,000, but lost in close races in his home state of New York and opponent Benjamin Harrison’s home state of Indiana, so lost the Electoral College, as Harrison became President. The Harrison lead in New York was less than 14,000 votes and in Indiana, less than 2,000.

1916—Woodrow Wilson won California by less than 4,000 votes, but enough to elect him to the White House over Republican Charles Evans Hughes.

1948–Harry Truman won three states by less than one percent–Ohio, California and Illinois–over Thomas E. Dewey, and that decided the election.

1960–John F. Kennedy won Illinois by about 8,000 votes; Texas by about 46,000 votes; and Hawaii by under 200 votes, and only had a two tenths of one percentage point popular vote victory nationally, about 112,000 votes, over Richard Nixon.

1976–Jimmy Carter won over Gerald Ford by two percentage points, but a switch of 5,600 votes in Ohio and 3,700 votes in Hawaii would have given the election to Ford.

2000—Al Gore lost Florida by 537 votes, in the final judgment of the Supreme Court, which intervened in the election, and had he won Florida, he would have been elected President, even though he won the national popular vote by about 540,000. Bush also won New Hampshire by only about 7,000 votes, but won the Electoral College 271-266.

2016–Hillary Clinton won the national popular vote by about 2.85 million, but lost the crucial states of Michigan by about 10,000; Wisconsin by about 22,000; and Pennsylvania by about 46,000, to Donald Trump, so together about 79,000 votes decided the Electoral College.

So the idea that voting is not important, does not matter, is proved wrong so many times in American history! Every vote does indeed count, and has long range implications on who sits in the White House, and what policies are pursued, which affect all of us!

Millard Fillmore’s Third Party Candidacy in 1856: Unique In American History In Many Ways!

The 1856 Presidential Election is unique in many ways.

It was the first national campaign of a political party, the Republican Party, which had been founded two years earlier in opposition to slavery and to its expansion.

The Republican Party replaced the moribund Whig Party, and many of the latter’s members had joined the new party. John C. Fremont was its nominee for President, and lost by about 500,000 popular votes margin to Democratic nominee James Buchanan.

The Democratic Party, bitterly divided over slavery, was on its way to a victory in a divided country, but it would be the last Democratic Party victory until Grover Cleveland squeaked out a narrow victory three decades later in 1884. Its nominee was James Buchanan, who won the election with 174 electoral votes to 114 for Fremont.

It was also a time of a “comeback” by the last Whig President, Millard Fillmore, who had succeeded Zachary Taylor upon his death in 1850, and had signed the Compromise of 1850 and opened up relations with the Japanese Kingdom.

Fillmore would go on to win the 8 electoral votes of Maryland, the only electoral votes Fillmore ever won for the Presidency, as he was denied the nomination of his party for a full term in 1852, the last national campaign of the Whigs.

Fillmore became the first of two former Presidents to win electoral votes and states after being President, the other being Theodore Roosevelt on the Progressive (Bull Moose) party line in 1912, when he won six states and 88 electoral votes.

Former President Martin Van Buren had run on a third party, the Free Soil Party of 1848, won ten percent of the popular vote, but won no states or electoral votes.

But Fillmore actually won 21.5 percent of the total national popular vote in 1856, winning about 873,000 total votes, running on the American (Know Nothing) party line, campaigning against Catholic immigration from Germany and Ireland, which would not add to his stature, unfortunately! Ironically, Fillmore was not present at the convention that nominated him, and never actually joined the American Party, but he accepted the nomination, nevertheless, and he ran as a nativist, not good for his historical reputation!

Can Losers Of Presidential Race Come Back To Win? Yes And No!

Now that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has made clear that he will not accept a draft for the Presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, speculation is beginning that former 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney might make himself available.

There is no way that seems possible, as Romney has totally alienated Donald Trump supporters, who would refuse to back him at the convention or in November, but the question arises whether or not losers of Presidential elections actually have been able to come back and be elected President at a later time.

The answer is both Yes and No!

Five times, a Presidential loser has come back to win, as follows:

Thomas Jefferson, lost in 1796 and won in 1800.

Andrew Jackson, lost in 1824 and won in 1828

William Henry Harrison, lost in 1836 and won in 1840

Grover Cleveland, lost in 1888 and won in 1892, only President to win (1884), lose, and then win again.

Richard Nixon, lost in 1960 and won in 1968

However, six other Presidential candidates lost more than once as follows:

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney lost in 1804 and 1808.

Henry Clay lost in 1824, 1832, and 1844.

Martin Van Buren lost in 1840 as a Democrat, after having won in 1836, and then again lost in 1848 as the nominee of the Free Soil Party.

William Jennings Bryan lost in 1896, 1900, and 1908.

Thomas E. Dewey lost in 1944 and 1948.

Adlai Stevenson lost in 1952 and 1956.

Additionally, three third party candidates have lost more than once as follows:

Socialist nominee Eugene Debs lost in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920, a total of five times.

Socialist nominee Norman Thomas lost in 1928, 1932, 1936, 1940, 1944, and 1948, a total of six times.

Reform Party nominee Ross Perot lost in 1992 and 1996, the first time as an Independent.

Front Runners In Delegates At National Conventions Who Failed To Become The Nominee Of Their Party: William Henry Seward, Champ Clark, And Martin Van Buren!

Senator William Henry Seward of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Republican National Convention in 1860, but Abraham Lincoln won the nomination on the 3rd ballot, and went on to become the greatest President in American history!

Speaker of the House Champ Clark of Missouri was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1912, but Woodrow Wilson won the nomination on the 46th ballot, and went on to become one of the most significant President in American history, and took us through World War I.

Former President Martin Van Buren of New York was the front runner in delegates at the Democratic National Convention in 1844, but James K. Polk won the nomination on the 9th ballot, and went on to gain more territory, by peace treaty with Great Britain and war with Mexico, than any President except Thomas Jefferson!

Seward went on to become Lincoln’s and Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State, and helped to prevent Great Britain or France from recognizing the Confederate States of America during the Civil War, and was able to arrange the purchase of Alaska from Czarist Russia in 1867.

Champ Clark remained Speaker of the House, and served eight years, from 1911-1919, one of the longer lasting Speakers in American history, with only five Speakers serving longer than him.

Martin Van Buren could have been the first Grover Cleveland, to have served two non-consecutive terms in the White House, but instead ran for President once again in 1848 as the candidate of the Free Soil Party, and in so doing, undermined the Democratic Party nominee, and helped indirectly to elect Whig nominee Zachary Taylor.  Van Buren became the first former President to run on a third party line, and the Free Soil Party was the first significant third party, winning 10 percent of the national popular vote, and being a forerunner of the modern Republican Party, which formed six years later, in 1854.

A total of  nine times in American history, we have seen the front runner in delegates fail to win the party’s nomination–three times for the Democrats, five times for the Republicans, and once for the Whigs, so if Donald Trump were to be denied the Republican nomination  in 2016, it would be far from unique or unusual!

“Surprise” Presidential Nominees, And Often Winners, In American History

As we are about to enter August, the year before the Presidential Election Of 2016, we find two “surprise” candidates doing very well, if one is to judge by crowds and public opinion polls.

Whether Donald Trump and or Bernie Sanders have a real chance to be the nominees of the Republican and Democratic parties is impossible to know this far ahead.

But in American history, there have been many surprise nominees, and or winners of the Presidency.

The examples of this phenomenon follow—17 Presidents and 6 Presidential nominees in 23 Presidential elections:

In 1844, James K. Polk was nominated by the Democrats on the 9th ballot, and went on to defeat the better known and more famous Henry Clay.

In 1848, Mexican War General Zachary Taylor, with no political experience, and no stands on political issues, was nominated by the Whig Party, and elected over Lewis Cass and Free Soil Party nominee, former President Martin Van Buren.

In 1852, little known Franklin Pierce was nominated by the Democrats on the 49th ballot, and went on to defeat famous Mexican War General Winfield Scott.

In 1860, one term Congressman Abraham Lincoln, not in public office in 12 years, was the choice of the Republican Party, and defeated Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell.

In 1868, Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War Union Army hero, with no political experience, was nominated by the Republicans, and defeated Horatio Seymour.

In 1872, the Democrats and a fringe group known as the “Liberal Republicans” nominated well known journalist Horace Greeley, who had never served in public office, losing to President Grant.

In 1892, former President Grover Cleveland, who had lost reelection in 1888 to Benjamin Harrison, came back and defeated Harrison, becoming the only President to win, lose, and then win, and therefore, being listed as the 22nd and 24th Presidents of the United States.

In 1896, a former Nebraska Congressman, only 36 years old, William Jennings Bryan, inspired the Democratic convention and was nominated for President, but lost to William McKinley.

In 1904, an unknown (except in New York) state court judge, Alton B. Parker, was the Democratic nominee against Theodore Roosevelt, but lost.

In 1912, President of Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson, nominated on the 46th ballot by the Democrats, defeated President William Howard Taft, former President Theodore Roosevelt (running on the Progressive Party line), and Socialist Eugene Debs.

In 1920, an obscure Senator with no special accomplishments or credentials, Warren G. Harding, was nominated by the Republicans, and defeated Democratic nominee James Cox.

In 1924, the Democrats were deadlocked at their convention for 103 ballots, and finally nominated corporate attorney John W. Davis, who lost to President Calvin Coolidge and Progressive Party nominee Robert LaFollette, Sr.

In 1928, the Democrats nominated the first Catholic Presidential candidate, Alfred E. Smith, but he lost to Republican nominee Herbert Hoover.

In 1932, the Democrats nominated Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been judged as having “no particular qualifications” for the Presidency, and he went on to defeat President Herbert Hoover.

In 1940, the Republicans nominated a businessman with no political experience, Wendell Willkie, after he inspired their convention, but he lost to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1948, President Harry Truman shocked the political world by winning a full term over Republican Thomas E. Dewey, States Rights nominee Strom Thurmond, and Progressive Party nominee, former Vice President Henry A. Wallace. He had been shown to be way behind Dewey in every political poll taken that year.

In 1952, a World War II general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, never having been involved in politics, was finally convinced to run for President, and defeated Democratic nominee Adlai E. Stevenson.

IN 1960, the second Catholic nominee for President, John F. Kennedy, was able to overcome the religion barrier, and be elected over Republican Richard Nixon, the well known and experienced Vice President under Eisenhower.

In 1968, former defeated Presidential candidate Richard Nixon came back eight years after having lost, and he won the Presidency over Hubert Humphrey and American Independent Party nominee George Wallace.

In 1976, a one term Governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter, considered unknown to most and given little chance for the Democratic Presidential nomination, surprised everyone and was elected over President Gerald Ford.

In 1980, an aging two time candidate for President, Ronald Reagan, ended up winning the Republican nomination, and was elected over President Carter.

In 1992, despite a sex scandal, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton won the Democratic nomination, and was elected over President George H. W. Bush and Independent nominee Ross Perot, even with Bush having enjoyed a 91 percent public opinion poll rating during the Persian Gulf War 18 months earlier.

In 2008, an African American first term Senator, with an Islamic middle name of Hussein, Barack Obama, overcame former First Lady Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and defeated Republican nominee John McCain for the Presidency.

So anything can happen in 2016, with further coverage of the upcoming election being resumed when the Iowa Caucuses take place on February 1.

Until then, this blogger will focus on the promotion of his new book on Presidential Assassinations and Threats. He will give information on the interviews that he will have on radio, tv/cable, the internet, and print media, so that my readers will have an opportunity to investigate my activities over the next six months.

When he has time, he will look at American political, diplomatic and constitutional history solely, as there is much fascinating material that can and should be discussed and analyzed. It will make a look at the future much more significant, as a result of the historical analysis of the Presidency, elections, political parties, the Congress, and the Supreme Court.

American Presidents And The Institution Of Slavery

Yesterday, the author was watching the reenactment of the funeral of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, on C Span 3–American History TV, and the question has arisen, while watching the event, of the truth about America’s Presidents and the institution of slavery.

It turns out, through further research, that more Presidents than once thought, owned slaves in their lifetime, and that others showed lack of concern about the institution, and compromised on it in their Presidencies.

So it turns out that 12 of the first 18 Presidents owned slaves, including

George Washington
Thomas Jefferson–some expressed discomfort in his writings, but sill benefited from the institution
James Madison—some expressed discomfort in his writings, but still benefited from the institution
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
John Tyler
James K. Polk
Zachary Taylor
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses S. Grant.

Additionally, three Presidents, all Northerners, referred to as “doughfaces”, who went along with the institution through their actions, also supported continuation of slavery, including

Millard Fillmore–the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
Franklin Pierce–the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854
James Buchanan–support of the Dred Scott Supreme Court Case, and the Kansas LeCompton Constitution of 1857

It should be pointed out that Martin Van Buren had a few slaves at one point through family members but not while being President, but defended the institution while in office, and theh later had a change of heart, and ran as the Free Soil Party candidate for President in 1848, at that point opposing slavery,

Also, James Buchanan, technically, owned one slave for a brief period of time through his family, but not while President.

The same holds for Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, ownership of slaves through family at some point, but neither while President. Grant, in particular, felt uncomfortable about the slavery heritage of his wife’s family.

The point is that only THREE Presidents always condemned slavery and worked against it

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Abraham Lincoln

JQ Adams was extremely active against slavery, participating in the Amistad Supreme Court Case of 1839-1841 as one of the lawyers defending the slaves on that slave ship, in their bid for freedom, and sponsoring the move to condemn slavery in the House of Representatives, in his years after the Presidency. While a member of the House from Boston, he was censured for fighting the “gag rule”, which forbade discussion of the institution in House debate from 1836-1844. He also opposed the Mexican War as a war for slavery expansion.

Multiple Time Presidential Nominees Are A Very Select List!

An interesting statistic is how many Presidents have been nominated for President more than twice, as well as whether there were any Presidential nominees who lost the White House, but were nominated more than twice.

The list of Presidents who were nominated more than twice includes:

Thomas Jefferson (1796, 1800, 1804)
Andrew Jackson (1824, 1828, 1832)
Martin Van Buren (including the Free Soil Party nomination in 1848 along with 1836, 1840)
Grover Cleveland (1884, 1888, 1892)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944)
Richard Nixon (1960, 1968, 1972)

The nominees who were chosen more than twice were:

Henry Clay (1824, 1832, 1844)
William Jennings Bryan (1896, 1900, 1908)

As one can see, this is a very short list, indeed!

Presidential Retirement Years And Constructive Post Presidencies

All of our Presidents, except for eight who died in office, have had periods of retirement after their years in the Presidency.

Some have had very short periods of retirement, periods of less than ten years, including George Washington, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, James K, Polk, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Alan Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

So fully half of our Presidents either died in office or had periods of retirement less than ten years.

On the other hand, the following Presidents had particularly long periods of retirement of fifteen or more years: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush.

The following Presidents had between ten and fifteen years of retirement: Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Ronald Reagan.

Bill Clinton has had 13 years out of office, and George W. Bush has had five years out of office at this time.

With the retirement periods of all of these Presidents listed above, the question that arises is which Presidents made major contributions in their post Presidency years.

That list is a short one:

John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
Theodore Roosevelt
William Howard Taft
Herbert Hoover
Richard Nixon
Jimmy Carter
Bill Clinton

Adams served nearly eighteen years in Congress.

Van Buren ran for President on the Free Soil Party line in 1848.

Roosevelt ran for President on the Progressive Party line in 1912, and went on an African safari, and explored the Amazon River basin in Brazil.

Taft served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for nine years.

Hoover wrote books and served as an adviser to President Truman on reorganization of the executive branch of government.

Nixon wrote about ten books and remained an adviser on diplomacy in his nearly twenty years in retirement.

Carter has written nearly twenty books, and engaged in diplomacy, promotion of democracy, fought diseases, and built housing through the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity.

Clinton has done similar good deeds through his Clinton Initiative, and also worked on relief for the Haitian earthquake and the Pacific Tsunami with George H. W. Bush.

The contributions of these former Presidents have had a major impact on America, and are worthy of remembrance!

Six Months To Presidential Election Of 2012: No Signs Of Strong Third Party Movement!

With six months to go to the Presidential Election of 2012, there are no signs of a strong third party movement occurring, which would have any dramatic effect on the election results.

Third parties in the past have had significance in election results, although never able to win the election.

This certainly proved true with the Free Soil Party of 1848, the Progressive Party of 1912, the American Independent Party in 1968, and the Reform Party of 1992.

And even in small ways, as in 2000, the candidacy of Ralph Nader, and even that of Pat Buchanan, had an effect on the race, particularly in Florida.

There is no such danger at this point, and with Mayor Michael Bloomberg making clear he is not running as an Independent, and instead allowing himself to be courted by both the Romney and Obama campaigns, there should be a major sigh of relief in both camps.

Yes, there will be third party candidates, but no one seriously is seen as a major figure, although it sometimes has seemed that Jon Huntsman, the former Utah Governor, might run, and Ron Paul, still technically in the race for the GOP Presidential nomination, has been rumored as a Libertarian Party candidate, as he was in 1988.

But realistically, the most “threatening” possible candidates are two former Governors who were ignored in the Republican race for President: former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Roemer might run as the Reform Party candidate, and Johnson as the Libertarian Party candidate

Virgil Goode, former Republican Congressman from Virginia, might be the Constitution Party candidate; Roseanne Barr, the comedian, might run as the Green Party candidate; and either Buddy Roemer or former Salt Lake City, Utah, Mayor Rocky Anderson might run on the Americans Elect (online nomination) Party, with Anderson also the candidate of the Justice Party.

Of course, there is always the possibility of Ralph Nader or Donald Trump or Jesse Ventura running, as they have often talked about, but with only Nader actually running just about every four years, making him, sadly, a joke at this point, when once he had real credibility.

The point is the likelihood of a third party or independent candidate having any impact on the election is close to zero at this point!

13 Former Presidents And Public Service After The Presidency

With Presidents Day upon us, another interesting point of investigation about the American Presidency is the extent of public service of former Presidents.

The Presidents who remained active public figures after their Presidency, chronologically, were:

President John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), who served as a Congressman from Boston from 1830-1848, dying on the House floor during a debate over expansion of slavery into the territories gained from the Mexican War.

President Martin Van Buren (1837-1841), who after his difficult term in office due to the Panic of 1837, attempted to come back to the Presidency in 1844, failing at that venture, but running as the Presidential candidate of the Free Soil Party in 1848, the forerunner of the Republican Party.

President John Tyler (1841-1845), who renounced his American citizenship, and served for one year in the Confederate Congress before his death in 1862, which was not officially acknowledged by the United States government, due to his treason, as Americans saw it.

President Millard Fillmore (1850-1853), who after completing Zachary Taylor’s unfinished term without much distinction, came back and ran as the Presidential candidate of the American (Know Nothings) Party, an anti immigrant party, in the 1856 Presidential election, winning only Maryland in the Electoral College, and then went back into obscurity.

President Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), who served a few months as US Senator from Tennessee in 1875, serving alongside many of that body who had voted to remove him from office in the Impeachment trial of 1868, but died after those few months in the upper chamber.

President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), who remained active, and ran for President on the third party Progressive Party line in 1912 against his own successor, William Howard Taft, and by running, helped to elect Woodrow Wilson as the next President. He also wrote and made speeches incessantly on every public topic imaginable!

President William Howard Taft (1909-1913), who was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Warren G. Harding in 1921, served nine years, and helped to plan the construction of the Supreme Court Building, which opened five years after he left the Court.

President Herbert Hoover (1929-1933), who served on the Hoover Commission on Organization of the Executive Branch of Government under appointment by President Harry Truman after World War II. Hoover also kept active in writing, and speaking up about public affairs.

President Richard Nixon (1969-1974), stayed active, writing about ten books and doing a lot of traveling around the world, and was an informal adviser to every President after him, including Bill Clinton in whose first term he passed away.

President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981) remained extremely active in his post Presidential years, writing over 20 books, forming the Carter Center to promote peace and diplomacy, and the fight against many diseases, and working for Habitat for Humanity in the construction of housing for the poor. He also had innumerable interviews and constantly spoke his mind on all kinds of domestic and foreign policy issues, and that continues today.

President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) followed in the steps of Jimmy Carter, promoting regular activity through his Clinton Global Initiative, and also promoting earthquake relief in Haiti in 2010 in tandem with President George W. Bush (2001-2009). Also, Clinton was involved in promotion of relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 with former President George H. W. Bush (1989-1993). He also has been interviewed regularly and published many books and articles.

So these are the contributions, after being President, of 13 Presidents, and it is highly likely that President Barack Obama will continue that tradition, leaving office, whether in 2013 or 2017, as one of the youngest retired Presidents in our history as a nation!