John C. Breckinridge

Vice Presidency Has Led To Presidential Nominations Multiple Times Since The 1960s

The Vice Presidency was never good breeding ground for Presidential nominations since the Civil War.

Only John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren and John C. Breckinridge were nominated for President before the Civil War, with all winning the Presidency, except for Breckinridge, who had been Vice President under James Buchanan from 1857-1861, and then nominated by Southern Democrats who refused to accept the official Democratic nominee, Stephen Douglas in 1860.

The only Vice President from 1860 to 1960 who was nominated for President was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s third term Vice President, Henry A. Wallace, who ran as the Progressive Party nominee for President in 1948 against his own successor in the Vice Presidency, President Harry Truman.

But since 1960, six Vice Presidents have run as Presidential candidates, including;

Richard Nixon in 1960 and 1968

Hubert Humphrey in 1968

Gerald Ford in 1976 (who had succeeded Richard Nixon under the 25th Amendment)

Walter Mondale in 1984

George H. W. Bush in 1988

Al Gore in 2000

Nixon and Bush won the Presidency, while Ford lost a full term after finishing the partial term he succeeded to, and Gore won the popular vote, but failed to win the Electoral College.

The point is that Joe Biden would be the 7th Vice President who ran for President after serving as Number 2 in the executive branch.

And Nixon the first time, Mondale, Bush, and Gore all had a jump start on the nomination of their party for the Presidency, with only Humphrey and Ford having major challengers.

So at least by recent history in the past half century plus, being a Vice President gives a leap forward to those who wish to run for President.

The Potential Exists For Youngest President In American History To Be Elected In 2020!

With disillusionment with “the older generation” widespread, the possibility now exists that America could elect a President in 2020 who could be younger than any President in American history.

Theodore Roosevelt succeeded to the Presidency at age 42 years and 10.5 months in 1901, upon the assassination of President William McKinley.

And John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected President, taking the oath of office at age 43 years and 7.5 months in 1961.

We have also had three younger Presidential nominees of a major party who lost their campaigns for the Presidency:

Thomas E. Dewey in the 1944 election, who would have been 42 years and 10 months if he had taken the oath in 1945

John C. Breckinridge in the 1860 election, who would have been 40 years and 1.5 months if he had taken the oath in 1861

William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 and 1900 elections, who would have been 36 years and 11.5 months and 40 years and 11.5 months respectively, if he had taken the oath in 1897 and 1901.

Now, in the upcoming election for President in 2020, there are seven theoretical candidates who would be younger than TR and JFK.

They include:

Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, who would be 42 and three months on Inauguration Day

Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts, who would be 40 and three and a half months on Inauguration Day

Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, who would be 40 and two months on Inauguration Day

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who would be 39 and nine months on Inauguration Day

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is running to be Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, in June 2019, who would be 39 and eight months on Inauguration Day

South Bend, Indiana Mayor (since 2012) Pete Buttigieg, who would be 39 and one day old on Inauguration Day

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has no political experience, who would be 36 and eight months old on Inauguration Day

The odds of any of these seven being the Democratic nominee are very long, and highly unlikely, as four are members of the House of Representatives (and only James A. Garfield was ever elected to the Presidency from the lower house); and two are or will be Mayors, and only Andrew Johnson, in Greeneville, Tennessee; Grover Cleveland, in Buffalo, New York: and Calvin Coolidge in Northampton, Massachusetts were mayors, although Theodore Roosevelt ran for New York City Mayor in 1886, but lost.

Finally, Zuckerberg would only be the second person never in public office after Donald Trump, and seemingly, a real long shot. If Zuckerberg were to become President, he would be the youngest nominee ever, three and a half months younger than William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

Donald Trump One Of The Lowest Popular Vote Percentage Winners In American History, And NOT Due To Strong Third Party Performances!

Donald Trump’s percentage of the popular vote continues to decline, and now makes Trump one of the lowest popular vote percentage winners in American History, and NOT due to strong third party performances.

Right now, Trump has 46.28 percent of the vote and is 2.35 million popular votes behind Hillary Clinton, who has 48.2 percent of the vote.

The only 7 Presidents to have lower percentage are:

John Quincy Adams 1824—30.92

Abraham Lincoln–1860–39.65

Woodrow Wilson–1912–41.84

Bill Clinton–1992–43.01

Richard Nixon–1968–43.42

James Buchanan–1856–45.29

Grover Cleveland–1892–46.02

Before it is all over, Trump is likely to fall lower than Cleveland, and possibly Buchanan, in percentage of the popular vote, when all votes are accounted for.

In each of these seven cases, however, there were more than two strong Presidential candidates, and a third party and twice a fourth party gained electoral votes.

Adams had electoral vote competition from Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and William Crawford in 1824.

Lincoln had electoral vote competition from John C. Breckinridge, John Bell, and Stephen Douglas in 1860

Wilson had electoral vote competition from Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft in 1912.

Clinton had electoral vote competition from George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot in 1992.

Nixon had electoral vote competition from Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace in 1968.

Buchanan had electoral vote competition from John C. Fremont and Millard Fillmore in 1856.

Cleveland had electoral vote competition from Benjamin Harrison and James Weaver in 1892.

However, Trump had no third party competitor who took electoral votes away from him or Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent.

And only Adams ended up second in popular votes with a percentage of the vote lower than Trump.

So Donald Trump cannot claim a popular mandate by any means.

Ten Most Divisive And Polarizing Elections In American History

As we near the end of an extremely divisive and polarizing election, it is a good time to look back and judge what were the ten most divisive and polarizing elections in American history.

Chronologically, they would be the following:

The Election of 1800 between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

The Election of 1828 between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson

The Election of 1860 between Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell

The Election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden

The Election of 1884 between Grover Cleveland and James G. Blaine

The Election of 1896 between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan

The Election of 1912 between Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs

The Election of 1948 between Harry Truman, Thomas E. Dewey, Strom Thurmond, and Henry A. Wallace

The Election of 1968 between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace

The Election of 2000 between George W. Bush, Al Gore, Ralph Nader, and Pat Buchanan

Danger Of Civil Disorder If Donald Trump Refuses To Accept Defeat, Which All Previous Losers Have Accepted With Grace And Dignity!

Throughout American history, there has been great emotions as battles for the Presidency go on, but at the end, when the election is over, the loser has always conceded with grace and dignity.

This includes the John Adams-Thomas Jefferson race in 1800, the first time an incumbent has lost to a challenger.

It includes the John Quincy Adams-Andrew Jackson Presidential races in 1824 and 1828.

It includes the Abraham Lincoln–Stephen Douglas–John C. Breckinridge–John Bell four way race on the eve of the Civil War in 1860.

It includes the hotly contested 1876 Presidential race between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden, resolved by the political deal known as the Compromise of 1877.

It includes the four way contested race of 1912 between Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs.

It includes the upset election victory of Harry Truman against Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.

It includes the John F. Kennedy-Richard Nixon race in 1960, which Nixon thought might have been corrupt, but chose not to challenge.

It also includes the Presidential election of 2000, when Al Gore challenged the results in court, but then was graceful once the Supreme Court intervened in favor of George W. Bush.

And it includes the grace and dignity of John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, when they lost to Barack Obama.

But now, we have had indications that Donald Trump will not concede, and will claim a “rigged” election if he loses, and this will only encourage civil disorder, and the potential for bloodshed and violence, and refusal to allow a peaceful transition to the inauguration and administration of Hillary Clinton.

This is not a laughing matter one iota, and a very worrisome matter!

As We Have Oldest Combination Of Presidential Candidates In History, A Look Back At Three Candidates Younger Than TR And JFK!

At a time when we have the oldest combination of Presidential candidates in history, with Donald Trump being past 70, and Hillary Clinton to be 69 in October, let’s take a look back at three Presidential candidates who lost, but were all younger than Theodore Roosevelt, our youngest President at 42 years and almost eleven months when he succeeded the assassinated President William McKinley in 1901; and these three Presidential candidates also, therefore, younger than John F. Kennedy, our youngest elected President, who took the oath at 43 years and almost eight months.

Our youngest Presidential nominee of a major party in history is William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, a former Congressman, who ran as the Democratic nominee for President in 1896 and 1900, when he was younger than TR or JFK. Bryan was 36 and 40 when he ran his first two of three Presidential races, and had he won, he would have been inaugurated 15 days short of his 37th and 41st birthdays.

Our second youngest Presidential nominee was John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, who was Vice President at age 36 under President James Buchanan from 1857-1861 but was actually 35 at the time of his election. He was the Southern Democratic nominee in 1860 at age 39 although he would have been 40 at the time of the inauguration, running against Republican Abraham Lincoln, Democrat Stephen Douglas, and Constitutional Union nominee John Bell. Breckinridge served in the US House before being Vice President, and later was part of the Confederate government and army during the Civil War, and later served in the US Senate from Kentucky.

Thomas E. Dewey of New York sought the Presidency for the first time in 1940, when he was 38, and serving as Manhattan County District Attorney, but was thought to be too young to be taken seriously. But in 1944, in his first of two Presidential campaigns, when New York Governor, he ran on the Republican Party line against Franklin D. Roosevelt, running for his fourth term as World War II was nearing its last months. Dewey would have been inaugurated about two months short of his 43rd birthday, had he won in 1944, making him about a month younger than TR when he became President.

Dewey was favored in his second round of Presidential candidacy in 1948, when he lost in an upset to Harry Truman, after all public opinion polls projected an easy win but at that point he would have been two months short of 47, at the time of inauguration.

Are We On The Road To A 5th Four Way Presidential Election?

In American history, we have had four Presidential elections in which there were four candidates who gained a substantial percentage of popular votes.

The first time was 1824, with Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay.

The second time was 1860, with Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, John C. Breckinridge, and John Bell.

The third time was 1912, with Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Eugene Debs.

The fourth time was 1948, with Harry Truman, Thomas E. Dewey, Strom Thurmond, and Henry A. Wallace.

The first two times, 1824 and 1860, saw the success of new political parties, the Democrats under Jackson by 1828 and the Republicans under Lincoln in 1860.  The third time brought the success of progressivism at its peak under Wilson with Roosevelt’s indirect contributions, and the fourth insured the forward movement in foreign and domestic policy under Truman.

Now in 2016, we could have four candidates, including Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and potentially Bernie Sanders or Jesse Ventura.  And who can deny that Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney or John Kasich might also be potential candidates?

The first three named above seem almost certain, but there is some speculation that Sanders could run on a independent line, and that Jesse Ventura, the former Governor of Minnesota, might run if Sanders fails to be the Democratic nominee, and decides to avoid an independent run.  If Trump is nominated, the odds of Ryan or Romney or Kasich running as the “Establishment” Republican opponent grows, just as is likely that Trump will run as an independent if he is not the party’s nominee.

Hillary Clinton would win against a split Republican Party, but IF Sanders runs or even Ventura, the potential exists, in a four way race, for anything to happen, including the need to use the 12th Amendment, as occurred in 1824, which would give the Republican nominee the advantage, with the Republican control of the House of Representatives!

Major Historic Splits In Democratic Party

The Democratic Party has existed for 188 years, since the election Of Andrew Jackson in 1828.

In that nearly two centuries, there have been major splits and divisions:

In 1860, the party split, and the Northern Democrats. the official party, nominated Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas for President, while Vice President John C. Breckinridge was the nominee of Southern Democrats.

In 1896,  the “Gold Democrats” refused to back the party nominee, the  “silver tongued orator”, thirty six year old William Jennings Bryan, who promoted “free silver”, and drew support from the rural states in the Midwest and Great Plains and Mountain West, and kept the South loyal to the party.

In 1948, Southern Democrats broke from the convention that nominated Harry Truman for a full term, and ran South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond as the States Rights (Dixiecrats) candidate.

In 1968, Alabama Governor George C. Wallace formed the American Independent Party, and ran against Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey.

Notice that it was the South that caused three of the four splits, with the result being Douglas and Humphrey losing because of the split, while Truman won despite Thurmond’s opposition.

The other time, it was the rural West that revolved against the “Eastern Establishment”, represented by Wall Street, but Bryan, nominated three times for President, was unable to win the Presidency, although he helped to shape the Progressive Era with some of his reform ideas.

 

How Death “Might” Have Affected American History! Eleven Potential “Turning Points”!

Assassinations and assassination attempts, and threats, have affected American History, as is covered in my book, “Assassinations, Threats, And The American Presidency: From Andrew Jackson To Barack Obama”, Rowman Littlefield, August 2015.

But then there are cases, not covered  in my book, of situations that could have occurred and affected American history, that have nothing to do with assassinations.

Witness the following:

In 1857, newly inaugurated President James Buchanan was extremely ill at the time of the inauguration, and almost failed to deliver his Inaugural Address, and was in bed for a few weeks after the inauguration, until he recovered.  It was believed he might have been poisoned by an unsafe water supply at the hotel he stayed at before his inauguration.  Had he died in office, Vice President John C. Breckinridge would have been President, and would have been only 36 years old, the youngest President in American history, and actually elected in November 1856, when he was still 35!

Stephen Douglas, Senator from Illinois, was the Democratic nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1860, a four way race won by Abraham Lincoln, but had Douglas won, he would have died in office three months later, two months after the Civil War had begun, transforming the whole era if that had occurred!

In 1872, Democratic and Liberal Republican Presidential nominee Horace Greeley, who lost the Presidential Election of 1872 to President Ulysses S. Grant, died three weeks after the election, and before the Electoral College met.  What if he had won the election?  It would have meant that Vice Presidential nominee, B. Gratz Brown, Governor of Missouri and, earlier, Senator from Missouri, would have been President!

President Chester Alan Arthur  (1881-1885) succeeded President James A. Garfield after his assassination in September 1881, and finished out the term, but was denied nomination for a full term in 1884, which turned out to be fortunate as Arthur died in 1886, and therefore, would have died in office!

President Grover Cleveland, in his second nonconsecutive term in the White House from 1893-1897, had serious surgery for cancer of the jaw in 1894, done in secret on a boat on the Hudson River, and kept secret until after his death in 1908.  Had he died of cancer, Vice President Adlai Stevenson, the grandfather of Democratic Presidential nominee, Adlai Stevenson II in 1952 and 1956, would have been President!

President William Howard Taft (1909-1913)  saw his Vice President, James Sherman, die in office in October 1912, shortly before the Presidential Election of 1912, which Taft lost, in the worst reelection defeat of any President in American history, winning only two states.  But when the Electoral College met, the name of Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler was substituted to count the electoral votes.  However, there was no provision for a replacement Vice President, so had Taft won, he would have had no Vice President for the entire term of 1913-1917!

President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) had a severe stroke in September 1919, and never fully recovered in his last year and a half in the White House, and his wife ran cabinet meetings in his absence, but had Wilson resigned or died, Vice President Thomas Marshall would have become President!

Franklin D. Roosevelt had Henry A. Wallace, his Secretary of Agriculture, as his third term Vice President from 1941-1945, and had he not been lobbied to replace the unpopular Wallace with Harry Truman for his fourth term run for the Presidency, it would have been Wallace who would have succeeded FDR in the Presidency after 82 days of the fourth term in 1945!

FDR’s Republican opponents in the Presidential Election of 1940 were businessman Wendell Willkie for President, and Oregon Senator Charles McNary for Vice President.  Had they won the White House, the nation would have faced losing both of them in the last year of the term–McNary dying in February 1944, and Willkie in October 1944, an unprecedented situation to have had both the President and Vice President in the same term die in office!  And this would have occurred during the height of the battle to win World War II, a very dangerous time for such an occurrence!

Harry Truman’s Vice President in his full term from 1949-1953 was Alben Barkley, who wished to run for President in 1952, but was pushed aside since he was already in his 70s, and it was felt it was not a good idea to have a President of that age come to office.  It was fortunate that this happened, since Barkley died in April 1956, so would have died in office!

President Gerald Ford replaced Vice President Nelson Rockefeller as his running mate in the 1976 election for Senator Bob Dole, under pressure from conservative Republicans led by Ronald Reagan, and lost the Presidential Election of 1976 to Jimmy Carter.  Had Ford kept Rockefeller on the ticket, some think he would have defeated Carter, and if that was so, then Ford would have lost his Vice President in office, as Rockefeller died in January 1979!

 

21 Significant Speakers Of The House In American History

With the election of Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives this week, it makes one focus on  the 54 House Speakers in American history, and recognition of the fact that twenty one of them were quite significant figures in the American past.

Probably the most prominent of all was one of the earliest Speakers, Henry Clay of Kentucky, who became Speaker as a freshman in 1811, and served three different times as House Speaker, from 1811-1814, 1815-1820, and 1823-1825. a total of more than six and a half years, as Congress did not meet back then for many months in any years, but sixth longest serving.  Clay is considered the most famous Congressional figure in American history in both houses of Congress, and was an unsuccessful Presidential nominee three times, in 1824, 1832, and 1844.  He was a giant figure in American political history and American politics.

John Bell was Speaker in 1834-1835, and was also a Presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party in the Presidential Election of 1860, trying to prevent the Civil War by running as an alternative to the three other candidates that year—Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John C. Breckinridge.  He won three states and 39 electoral votes, carrying Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee in the Electoral College.

James K. Polk became the only Speaker so far to become President of the United States, in the Presidential Election of 1844, after having served as House Speaker from 1835-1839.  He is considered the most successful one term President, deciding due to ill health to refuse to run f0r reelection in 1848, but gaining the whole American Southwest in war with Mexico, and arranging the peaceful acquisition of the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain.  His retirement from the Presidency was the shortest in American history, only 105 days.

Robert M. T. Hunter was the youngest Speaker of the House at the age of 30, serving from 1839-1841, and later as Confederate Secretary of State in 1861-1862 during the Civil War.

Howell Cobb served as Speaker from 1849-1851, being 34 when elected, and served as one of the founders of the Confederate States of America in 1861.

Schuyler Colfax served as Speaker from 1863-1869, and as Vice President in the first term of President Ulysses S. Grant from 1869-1873, being the first of two Speakers to serve in the Vice Presidency, the other being John Nance Garner under Franklin D. Roosevelt.

James G. Blaine served as Speaker from 1869-1875, 10th longest serving with a little over five years, and later was the Republican nominee for President in the Presidential Election of 1884.  He also served as Secretary of State under James A. Garfield, Chester Alan Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison, and was present at the site of the Garfield assassination in 1881.

Thomas B. Reed served as Speaker from 1889-1891 and 1895-1899, and was nicknamed “Czar Reed”, because he wielded great power in the Speakership, which added to the stature and influence of the Speakers after him.

Joseph Cannon served as House Speaker from 1903-1911, added the most power to the Speakership, more than Reed, but then saw a “revolution” of progressive Republicans led by George Norris of Nebraska, which stripped him and future Speakers of the absolute power that Reed and Cannon had waged, and was pushed out of the Speakership when the opposition Democrats won control of the House of Representatives in the midterm elections of 1910.  He was eighth longest serving Speaker, nearly six years, and had a House office building named after him despite his fall from power in 1910.

His successor, Champ Clark, served as House Speaker from 1911-1919, fifth longest serving at seven  years, and nearly won the 1912 Democratic Presidential nomination, but lost to Woodrow Wilson.

Nicholas Longworth served as Speaker from 1925-1931, punished progressive Republicans and restored much of the power of the Speaker under Joseph Cannon, and was married to Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice.  Later, a House office building would be named after him.

John Nance Garner served 15 months as House Speaker from 1931-1933, and then became Vice President under Franklin D. Roosevelt, and served two terms in that office. He became famous for his statement that the Vice Presidency was not worth  “a bucket of warm piss!”  He opposed much of the New Deal, and tried to win the nomination against his boss when FDR sought a third term in 1940.  On his 95th birthday, President John F. Kennedy wished him “Happy Birthday” just hours before his assassination on November 22, 1963. Garner died at age 98 in 1967, the longest lived Vice President or President, and just 15 days before his 99th birthday!

Sam Rayburn was the most prominent, and longest serving Speaker of the House in American history, serving a total of 17 years in three rounds as Speaker, from 1941=1947, 1949-1953, and from 1955 to near the end of 1961, when he died in office.  A House Office Building is named after him, and only he and Henry Clay served three separate terms as Speaker.  He was one of the most prominent members in the entire history of the House of Representatives, engendering great respect and admiration, and served under Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy.

John W. McCormack was the third longest serving House Speaker, a total of nine years from 1962-1971, and served as House Majority Leader all of the years that Sam Rayburn was Speaker.  He presided over the New Frontier and Great Society legislative package under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Carl Albert served as Speaker from 1971-1977, seventh longest serving in the office, and a heartbeat away when Spiro Agnew resigned as Vice President in 1973, until Gerald Ford was confirmed as Vice President under the 25th Amendment in 1973, and again when Ford became President in 1974 until Nelson Rockefeller was confirmed as Vice President at the end of that year.

Thomas “Tip” O’Neill was the second longest serving House Speaker, a total of ten years from 1977-1987, serving under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.  He served the longest consecutive years as Speaker, and was an unabashed liberal, but negotiated a Social Security compromise agreement with Ronald Reagan in 1983, which became the mark of bipartisanship.

Thomas Foley served six years as Speaker from 1989-1995, and became the first Speaker since 1862 to be defeated for his House seat in 1994, retiring him from the House of Representatives, but he served as Ambassador to Japan for President Bill Clinton from 1997-2001.  He was ninth longest serving Speaker.

Newt Gingrich served as Speaker for four years from 1995-1999, having been the leader of the “Republican Revolution”, where the GOP took back control of the House of Representatives after 40 years in “the wilderness”.  Highly controversial and combative, Gingrich led the fight against President Bill Clinton, and moved for his impeachment in 1998, but then was forced out by an internal rebellion in his own party at the end of 1998.  He sought the Presidency in 2012, but fell short of the nomination, and remains an outspoken active commentator on politics.

Dennis Hastert became the longest serving Republican Speaker in American history, serving eight years from 1999-2007, fourth longest serving, seen as non controversial after Gingrich, and being Speaker under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  He became involved in a sex and financial scandal dating back to before he was in Congress, and faces prison time as this article is being written, having pleaded guilty.

Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker, serving four years from 2007-2011, and remains Minority Leader today, and her two Congresses under George W. Bush and Barack Obama accomplished more legislation, particularly under Obama, than any Congress since the 1960s.

John Boehner served almost five years as Speaker from 2011 until this past week, facing highly contentious opponents in his own party, the Tea Party Movement, now known as the Freedom or Liberty Caucus, a group of about 40 Republicans, who made his life miserable, and finally, he resigned, and has handed over authority to Paul Ryan, who was Vice Presidential running mate of Mitt Romney in the Presidential Election of 2012, and had been Chair of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, before becoming Speaker this week.