Free Press in the United States

William Lloyd Garrison’s opening editorial in THE LIBERATOR, January 1, 1831

During my recent tour for the purpose of exciting the minds of the people by a series of discourses on the subject of slavery, every place that I visited gave fresh evidence of the fact, that a greater revolution in public sentiment was to be effected in the free states — and particularly in New-England — than at the south. I found contempt more bitter, opposition more active, detraction more relentless, prejudice more stubborn, and apathy more frozen, than among slave owners themselves. Of course, there were individual exceptions to the contrary. This state of things afflicted, but did not dishearten me. I determined, at every hazard, to lift up the standard of emancipation in the eyes of the nation, within sight of Bunker Hill and in the birth place of liberty. That standard is now unfurled; and long may it float, unhurt by the spoliations of time or the missiles of a desperate foe — yea, till every chain be broken, and every bondman set free! Let southern oppressors tremble — let their secret abettors tremble — let their northern apologists tremble — let all the enemies of the persecuted blacks tremble.

I deem the publication of my original Prospectus unnecessary, as it has obtained a wide circulation. The principles therein inculcated will be steadily pursued in this paper, excepting that I shall not array myself as the political partisan of any man. In defending the great cause of human rights, I wish to derive the assistance of all religions and of all parties.

Assenting to the “self-evident truth” maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights — among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population. In Park-street Church, on the Fourth of July, 1829, in an address on slavery, I unreflectingly assented to the popluar but pernicious doctrine of gradual abolition. I seize this opportunity to make a full and unequivocal recantation, and thus publicly to ask pardon of my God, of my country, and of my brethren the poor slaves, for having uttered a sentiment so full of timidity, injustice and absurdity. A similar recantation, from my pen, was published in the Genius of Universal Emancipation at Baltimore, in September, 1829. My consicence in now satisfied.

I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.

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The free press is not the enemy of the people but rather the enemy of tyrants!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We Have History~ The Free Press

Things the current administration needs to know:
The Trial of John Peter Zenger
On April 16th, 1735, the New York Supreme Court met in the second floor courtroom of New York City Hall. After attorneys James Alexander and William Smith, who were also Popular Party members, had attempted to represent John Peter Zenger at his trial, the Court decided to disbar both of them. The court did this because it was known that no attorney in the Province of New York would be as bold in the defense of John Peter Zenger as Alexander and Smith. A man named John Chambers was then assigned as a counsel for Zenger and entered a plea of not guilty. Chambers was a young man with little law experience in law. He was also complementary of Governor William Cosby’s administration.

Alexander and Smith searched for the most experienced trial attorney in the colonies and selected a man by the name Andrew Hamilton. A resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he was no relation to Alexander Hamilton and was born in Scotland in 1656. Hamilton was the Attorney General of Pennsylvania from 1717 through 1726 and became Recorder of Philadelphia in 1727. Later, he would go on to become the Speaker of the Assembly from 1729 to 1739.

After John Peter Zenger had languished in jail for an entire year, his trial began on August 4, 1735 inside a small court room in the New York City Hall. The Attorney General opened the case, saying that the defendant had pleaded not guilty to printing and publishing a false, scandalous, and seditious libel against Governor Cosby. Chief Justice DeLancey then said to the jury, “The laws in my opinion are very clear; they cannot be admitted to justify a libel.” When Andrew Hamilton spoke, he was made famous for arguing that “the truth is a defense against libel.” When the jury withdrew to deliberate, DeLancey was drawn into an argument with Hamilton, perhaps reflecting that Hamilton’s argument had some merit. When the jury returned, the Clerk asked whether they agreed on a verdict and whether John Peter Zenger was guilty of printing and publishing libels. The jury’s foreman, Thomas Hunt, replied, “Yes, the verdict is ‘Not Guilty’.”

The monumental trial of John Peter Zenger took place on the historic site where Federal Hall National Memorial now stands. The case inspired the entire city and helped to further the cause for freedom that led to revolution, forty years later. The John Peter Zenger trial would lead the way for the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Another socialist we need today

Eugene V. Debs Biography
Biographical Information
Born: Nov. 5,1855, in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Died: Oct. 20,1926, Lindlahr Sanitarium, Elmhurst, Illinois. Buried in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Education: Attended Terre Haute Public schools, dropping out of high school at age of 14 to take job as painter in railroad yards. In 1870 became fireman on railroad. In his spare time, he went to night classes at a local business college.
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Timeline
September 1874 — At his mother’s insistence he gave up job as railroad fireman and went to work in wholesale grocery firm of Hulman & Cox as a billing clerk. February 27, 1875 — Became charter member and secretary of Vigo Lodge, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. He continued work at Hulman & Cox and used his salary to help the fledgling local union and conducted its work at night. Later the same year he became president of Occidental Literary Club of Terre Haute. Brought famous personages to Terre Haute including Col. Robert Ingersoll, James Whitcomb Riley, Susan B. Anthony and many others.
1878 — Made assistant editor of national Brotherhood of Locomotive Fireman’s Magazine.
1879 — Elected to first of two terms as City Clerk of Terre Haute on Democrat ticket.
1880 — Named Grand Secretary of Brotherhood of Railway Firemen and editor of the Magazine.
1884 — Elected state representative to the Indiana General Assembly as a Democrat representing Terre Haute and Vigo County. Served in 1885.
June 9, 1885 — Married to Kate Metzel whom he loved and cherished until his death. They had no children.
1890 — Built and moved into his beautiful Terre Haute home at 451 North Eighth Street, which is now a National Historic Landmark of the National Parks Department of the Department of Interior of the United States; an official historic site of the State of Indiana and is now the Debs Museum.
1891 — Announced his retirement from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen as its Grand Secretary.
1892 — Convention of Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen prevailed on him to retain editorship of Magazine.
June 1893 — Organized in Chicago first industrial union in United States, the American Railway Union.
April 1894 — The American Railway Union struck Great Northern Railway. Not a wheel moved on Great Northern and at end of 18 days, the railway granted demands of union.
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The Charter for the American Railway Union, Established June 20, 1893
May 11, 1894 — Pullman Boycott and strike at Chicago began.
July 23, 1894 — Debs and leaders of ARU jailed
May, 1895 — Debs and leaders of ARU sent to jail for contempt of court in connection with Pullman strike. Finished sentences
Nov. 22, 1895. Given triumphal welcome by thousands on his arrival in Chicago, from Woodstock, Ill. jail where sentence was served.
1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1920 — Ran as candidate of Socialist Party for President of the United States in some of the most dynamic campaigning ever seen in the United States. Made his greatest showing in campaign of 1908 which featured the RED SPECIAL train which went to every section of the country.
1907-1912 — Named Associate Editor of the Appeal to Reason published in Girard, Kan. He was paid the then fabulous salary of $100 per week. The weekly magazine achieved a circulation of several hundred thousand due to the powerful writing of Debs. The bound files of the Appeal to Reason for the years of 1907 to 1914 are part of the library in the Debs home.
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Eugene V. Debs circa 1920
1916 — Ran for Congress in his home district in Terre Haute on the Socialist ticket and was defeated.
June 16, 1918 — Debs made his famous anti-war speech in Canton, Ohio, protesting World War I which was raging in Europe. For this speech he was arrested and convicted in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio under the war-time espionage law. He was his own attorney and his appeal to the jury and his statement to the court before sentencing, are regarded as two of the great classic statements ever made in a court of law. He was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.
April 12, 1919 — Debs began serving his sentence in Moundsville, W. Va. State prison and was transferred to Atlanta, Ga. Federal prison two months later. His humility and friendliness and his assistance to all won him the respect and admiration of the most hardened convicts.
1920 — For the fifth and last time, while a prisoner at Atlanta, he was nominated to run for president on the Socialist party ticket. Conducting his campaign from inside the prison, he was given nearly a million votes but was defeated by the Republican, Warren G. Harding. On Christmas Day, 1921 President Harding released Debs from prison, commuting his sentence to time served.
Dec. 28, 1921 — Debs arrived home in Terre Haute from prison and was given a tremendous welcome by thousand of Terre Hauteans. Debs spent his remaining days trying to recover his health which was severely undermined by prison confinement. He made several speeches, wrote many articles and finally in 1926 went to Lindlahr sanitarium just outside of Chicago.
Oct. 20, 1926 — Eugene V. Debs died in Lindlahr sanitarium. His body was brought back to Terre Haute where it lay in state in the Terre Haute Central Labor Temple. Great men and women from the world came over to Terre Haute for his funeral which was conducted by Norman Thomas from the front porch of the Debs home. ThIrty-eight years later, Thomas returned to Terre Haute to dedicate the Debs home as a memorial to the great humanitarian. Debs was cremated and his ashes were interred in Highland Lawn cemetery, Terre Haute, with only a simple marker. Ten years later his beloved wife, Kate, was buried beside him. Over the years, hundreds have journeyed to his grave to pay tribute to this great man whose many reforms have now become a part of the American way of life. There is hardly any American alive today, rich or poor, whose life has not been touched in some beneficent way by the influence of Eugene Victor Debs.
“Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. I would have you make up your minds there is nothing that you cannot do for yourselves.”— from an address on Industrial Unionism delivered at Grand Central Palace. New York City, Dec. 18,1905.

The Kind of Woman We Need Today

The story of the Rebel Girl
Benjamin Silverman chronicles the radical legacy of IWW leader Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

August 7, 2012
“FOR PEACE and socialism is in the hearts, in the minds, on the lips of millions around the world…The ‘sun of tomorrow’ shines upon us. The future is ours.”

So said one of the giants of American radicalism, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, in a May Day speech in 1941. Flynn dedicated her life to the struggles of the working class through its highest and lowest points. She breathed class struggle and spoke of revolution for nearly 60 years, and her legacy is worthy of the highest admiration.

Born to poor Irish immigrants in 1890 in New Hampshire, she could claim proudly, “There had been an uprising in each generation in Ireland [against British rule], and forefathers of mine were reputed to be in every one of them.”

Her father, Thomas Flynn, educated her and her siblings in the meaning of her Irish heritage and the politics of liberation. “When one understood British imperialism, it was an open window to all imperialism,” wrote Flynn. “As children, we came to hate unjust wars, which took the land and rights away from other peoples.”

Now living in the South Bronx, her father drifted to socialist politics and brought young Elizabeth with him. Recounting what her father taught her, Elizabeth said, “Scientific socialism made clear that it was not a poor man’s fault if he is out of work…and you were not a ‘failure’ because you did not climb to riches on the backs of your fellow man.”

Thomas Flynn–who ran for the New York State Assembly on the Socialist ticket in 1918–later became overbearing and eventually jealous of his daughter’s popularity in the labor movement. But looking back, Elizabeth still felt that “[o]ur father’s methods were not entirely correct, but his purpose was clear, not to allow his children to be ‘educated’ against the interests of the working class.”

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FLYNN WOULD begin to develop politically on her own, devouring socialist novels like Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward and William Morris’ News From Nowhere, along with the works of Peter Kropotkin and August Bebel. It was the latter’s book Woman Under Socialism that she used as a basis for her first public speech and lecture on “What Socialism Will Do For Women,” which she gave at age 15.

A lifelong advocate for birth control access and a fighter for women’s rights, she said looking back on those times, writing in her autobiography Rebel Girl:

Fathers and husbands collected women’s wages, sometimes right at the company door. Women did not have a legal right to their own earnings…Equal opportunity, equal pay and the right to be organized were the crying needs of women wage-earner then and unfortunately still now.

This teenage agitator become a hit among working men and women, and a target for sexist ire from the snobbish New York Times, which commented after her first of many arrests in 1906, “Miss Flynn, who will graduate school in two years and whose shoe tops…show below her skirts [i.e., she dressed immodestly], tells us what to think, which is just what she thinks.”

A Broadway producer wanted to offer her a career as an actress due to her clear oratory talents, which she refused, saying, “I don’t want to be an actress! I want to speak my own words.”

Flynn began to speak across the country on behalf of the Socialist Party and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, often referred to as the “Wobblies”). She joined the IWW’s Mixed Local No. 179 in 1906, a year after the IWW’s founding.

During her long train trips to labor struggles and speaking engagements, she said she “fell in love with [this] country, its rivers, prairies, forests, mountains…I felt then, as I do now, it’s a rich and fertile land, capable of satisfying all the needs of its people. It could be a paradise on earth if it belonged to the people, not to a small owning class.”

Now, as a “professional revolutionist” with the IWW, she became a close collaborator with socialist Eugene Debs and IWW leaders Vincent St. John, Mother Jones and Joe Hill, the rebel songwriter. Flynn became a close friend of legendary Irish socialist James Connolly, who would be executed by the British in 1916 for his part in leading the Dublin Easter Rising against imperial rule, and helped him organize the Irish Socialist Federation.

One of her most important political relationships was with IWW leader and organizer William “Big Bill” Haywood. Flynn recalled some years later how Bill said in a speech, “‘I’m a two-gun man from the West, you know.’ And while the audience waited breathlessly, he pulled his union card from one pocket and his Socialist card from the other.”

Though the two would have a major political falling out some years later over the direction of the IWW, Flynn and Haywood worked closely together in a number of the IWW’s most historic struggles.

They worked together organizing agricultural workers in the West and lumber workers in the Pacific Northwest, and at countless freedom of speech fights all over the country. They were part of the 1913 silk strike in Paterson, N.J.; massive textile strikes in Lowell and New Bedford, Mass., and the great “Bread and Roses” strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Mass.

Flynn was arrested for one trumped-up charge or another at just about all of these occasions. Her son Fred boasted many years later that he had been arrested twice, once in Missoula and a second time in Spokane–before he was even born.

During the Lawrence “Bread and Roses” strike, Flynn and Haywood worked hard to educate the mostly immigrant textile workers of, as Flynn put it:

their power, as workers, as the producers of all wealth, as the creators of profit. We talked of “solidarity,” a beautiful word in all languages. We said firmly, “You work together for the boss. You can stand together to fight for yourselves!” We ridiculed the police and militia. “Can they weave cloth with soldiers’ bayonets or policemen’s club?”

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THIS WAS the Wobblies’ great strength–the ability to relate and speak to people on their own terms, to point out to workers what they already knew in their guts, that the whole system is stacked against them and the only chance they’ve got is to band together, into “One Big Union.”

These were the high points of the early IWW, but they didn’t last. While the key to the IWW’s success was organizing among the unskilled workers who the American Federation of Labor refused to organize, some of their own policies diminished their ability to hold the group together.

For instance, the IWW refused to sign contracts over wages, benefits and working conditions because this, IWW leaders believed, represented a compromise with the bosses. Without contracts, the IWW failed to consolidate many of the gains it made during the brave workers’ struggles it led. In many cases, when IWW organizers left town, the local organizations fell apart.

The IWW also argued that the key to transforming society was organizing the majority of workers into “One Big Union,” which would be the framework for a new socialist society. The final blow to capitalism would come through a mass general strike that would paralyze the economy and force the bosses to give industry over to the working class. As a result, the IWW didn’t participate in politics–leaving this important arena of struggle to the Socialist Party, which was dominated by a conservative wing.

Reflecting many years later, Flynn said that “possibly a permanent industrial union movement could have been built a quarter century earlier than the CIO. But our incurable ‘infantile leftism’ blinded us.” By the beginning of the First World War, the IWW had been weakened by splits, factionalism and an unwillingness to tackle explicitly political issues.

And this was just before its greatest challenge. With the entry of the U.S. into the First World War, a wave of government-backed mob violence spread across the country. Pacifists, certain Christian sects, German immigrants, socialists and especially Wobblies were attacked, brutalized, tarred and feathered, and sometimes lynched.

During the Red Scare, socialists and communists, anarchists, Wobblies, unionists and other radicals were attacked, their halls ransacked and their members arrested. Many were rounded up in the Palmer Raids, named after Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, and deported under the auspices of the Espionage and Sedition Acts.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn took it upon herself at this time to struggle for the freedom all of these “class war prisoners.” She said, “We planned to work for the release of all [labor] and political prisoners…the imprisoned comrades, of whatever persuasions, were a bond of unity.”

She became a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a principal activist within the International Labor Defense (ILD), which formed in 1925.

“One of our first undertakings was to publicize the facts of each case,” explained Flynn. “We organized outside correspondents to write to the prisoners. Through these channels, we soon became very familiar with the conditions inside the gray, forbidding walls of federal penitentiaries.”

Flynn helped win the release of those who participated in the Green Corn Rebellion, a revolt of poor Oklahoma farmers against the draft, fought for the freedom of many imprisoned Wobblies and antiwar activists, and was heavily involved in the campaign to save Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti from execution.

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HER POLITICAL activities in the 1920s were cut short by illness, and she spent the better part of a decade ill and inactive. When she finally re-entered her lifelong work as a revolutionist, it was to join the Communist Party (CP)–an organization she had already moved close to through her work with the ILD.

Flynn joined the Communist Party in 1936, was elected to the national committee two years later and became national chairperson in 1961. By this point, the U.S. Communist Party, like all those around the world, had become a creature of the new ruling bureaucracy in Russia, led by Joseph Stalin, and so it followed the dictates from Russia, even when this meant opposing struggle.

Flynn followed the CP line through its many appalling twists and turns, including the Stalin-Hitler Pact, and then support for the Second World War, revelations by Khrushchev of the extent of Stalin’s murderous crimes, and the Russian suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

But this period in her life shouldn’t overshadow Flynn’s record of militancy and courage in the cause of the labor movement, for which she faced police violence and was thrown in jail countless times for her beliefs and even served two years behind bars in the late 1950s as a victim of McCarthyism.

In a world of “great men” she was a proud, working-class, Irish woman who stood with her shoulders square and spoke with an impassioned voice that was eloquent, yet relatable; inspiring, but not condescending; and militant to the core.

When Elizabeth Gurley Flynn went to see the great IWW songwriter Joe Hill in Salt Lake City while he was awaiting execution for a crime he didn’t commit, Joe dedicated a song to Flynn called “The Rebel Girl”:

Yes, her hands may be harden’d from labor
And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating
That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling
When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl.
For the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

And this is exactly how Elizabeth Gurley Flynn deserves to be remembered.

A Call to Give Thanks

By the President of the United States of AmericaAbraham Lincoln
A ProclamationThe year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 3d day of October, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

 

The Election of 1860

Woman making American Flag

Election day took place on Tuesday, November 6, 1860. In one of the strangest and most critical elections in the history of the United States, Republican Abraham Lincoln won the presidency, beating Democrat Stephen A Douglas, Southern Democrat John Breckenridge, and Constitutional Unionist Edward Everett. There are 6,498,243 people registered to vote, accounting for 20.7% of the total population. Women could not vote, thus excluding almost half of the population. Male slaves and the majority of free black men were also excluded as were most all Native Americans. Many states also required a man to own property in order to register to vote. Of the men eligible to vote, about 81.2% actually did, the second highest percentage of voter turnout in American history. At this time a little over a third of the total population live in the New England states, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania combined.

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Lincoln received 1,865,908 votes, 39.8% of those cast. He carried 18 states, including California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Stephen Douglas received 1,380,202 votes, 29.5% of the those cast but he won only the state of Missouri.

John Breckenridge received 848,019 votes, 18.1% of those cast. He carried 11 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

Edward Everett received 590,901 votes, 12.6% of those cast and carried the states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

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Regional differences, particularly over the expansion or limitation of slavery and the question of states rights, are extremely divisive. The divisions are evident in the results: Lincoln won all the Northern states; Breckenridge won the deep South and the slave-holding states of Maryland and Delaware; Lincoln won no Southern states; the other candidates won no Northen states.

In the Electoral College, based upon state results, Lincoln had 180 votes, Breckenridge 72 votes, Bell 39 votes and Douglas only 12.

Of the Congressional races, once South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860 and other Southern states followed, newly elected Congressmen and Senators never took their seats in the new Congress and most Southern members left Washington. By April, 1861, the shooting had begun.

1856 Election

Woman making American Flag

Election day took place on Tuesday, November 4, 1856. The Democrat James Buchanan won the presidency, defeating Republican candidate James C Fremont and Whig-American candidate and former President Millard Fillmore. [The Whig-American Party was a combination of remaining Whigs with two small third parties.] There were 5,135,114 people eligible to vote, accounting for only 18.0% of the total population. Women could not vote, thus excluding almost half of the population. Male slaves and the majority of free black men were also excluded as were most all Native Americans. Many states also required a man to own property in order to register to vote. Of the men eligible to vote, about 78.9% actually did.

Fremont received 1,340,668 votes, 33.1% of those cast. He carried 11 states, including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Fillmore received 872,703 votes, 21.5% of those cast. He carried the state of Maryland.

Buchanan received 1,835,140 votes, 45.4% of those cast. He carried the other 19 states.

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There were close contests in four states. In Iowa Fremont won 48.8% of the vote and carried the state because Fillmore received 10.5% of the vote which hurt Buchanan. However, Buchanan won California with 48.4% of the vote, Illinois with 44.0% of the vote, and New Jersey with 47.2% of the vote because Fillmore won 32.8% of the vote in California, 15.7% in Illinois and 24.3% in New Jersey, thus hurting Fremont in those states, proving that third parties can and do make a difference.

Real and divisive issues included the expansion of slavery, the bloodshed in Kansas, the validity of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and enforcement of the Fugitive Slave act of 1850. Democrats attacked the new Republican Party as “Black Republicans” saying they wanted to curtail or, worse yet, abolish slavery and involve free black people in American society, particularly by allowing inter-racial marriage which was a trumped-up charge. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass criticized the Republicans for failing to take a strong stand on behalf of black people. The Democratic governor of Virginia claimed that “If Fremont is elected, there will be a revolution.” Northern businessmen feared that the Republicans would have an adverse affect on the economy so they contributed large amounts of money to the Democrats.

“The Black Republicans must be, as they can be with justice, boldly assailed as disunionists, and this charge must be reiterated again and again.” ~ Democratic candidate James Buchanan

“Nothing is clearer in the history of our institutions than the design of the nation, in asserting its own independence and freedom, to avoid giving countenance to the Extension of Slavery. The influence of the small but compact and powerful class of men interested in Slavery, who command one section of the country and wield a vast political control as a consequence in the other, is now directed to turn back this impulse of the Revolution and reverse its principles.” ~ Republican candidate John C Fremont

“We Fremonters of this town have not one dollar where the Fillmoreans and Buchaneers have ten each.” ~ New York newspaper editor Horace Greeley

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Based upon the states carried by each candidate, in the Electoral College Buchanan received 174 electoral votes, Fremont received 114 electoral votes, and Fillmore received 8 electoral votes. In Congressional races, the Democrats won 50 additional seats in the Hose of Representatives while the Republicans gained 7 additional seats in the Senate. This would be the last presidential election the Democrats will win until 1884.

The Election of 1852

Woman making American Flag

Election day took place on Tuesday, November 2, 1852. The Democrat Franklin Pierce won the presidency, beating the Whig candidate Winfield Scott and Free Soil candidate John Hale. There were 4,539,713 people registered to vote, accounting for only 18.2% of the total population. Women could not vote, thus excluding almost half of the population. Male slaves and the majority of free black men were also excluded as were most all Native Americans. Many states also required a man to own property in order to register to vote. Of the men eligible to vote, about 69.6% actually did so.

Winfield Scott received 1,386,942 votes, 43.9% of those cast. However, he carried only Kentucky, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Vermont.

Franklin Pierce received 1,607,510 votes, 50.8% of those cast. He carried the 27 other states but by narrow margins in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Ohio. In Ohio he won by only 47.8% of the votes because the Free Soil Party with its anti-slavery platform won 9.0% of the vote, thereby costing Scott the state and its 23 votes in the Electoral College.

John Hale received 155,799 votes. The Free Soil Party did well in Massachusetts (22.2% of the vote), Vermont (19.6%), Wisconsin (13.6%) and New Hampshire (13.0%) with a respectable showing in Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island (all Northern states).

Several smaller third parties won a combined total of 11,480 votes.

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The Democrats called Winfield Scott “Fuss ‘n Feathers,” a prima donna with a penchant for fancy uniforms resulting in a “Reign of Epaulets” and described him as “weak, conceited, foolish, a blustering disciple of gunpowder” and hostile to immigrants.

The Whigs labeled Franklin Pierce “the Fainting General” [like Scott he had commanded troops in war against Mexico, 1846 to 48]. They posed the question “Who is Franklin Pierce?” to suggest he was an unknown with not proven track record of political service. They attacked the Democratic Party as “the do-nothing school of politicians” who were not interested in American free workers, concerned first and foremost with the propertied interests of the South.

Real issues concerned the Compromise of 1850 and enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act. These matters in particular helped to make this the last election in which the Whig Party participated as it floundered and dissolved with Southern Whigs joining the pro-slavery Democratic Party and Northern Whigs either joining a third party movement or, like Attorney Abraham Lincoln in Illinois, joining the new Republican Party.

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The publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin in 2 volume book form in March of the year added fuel to the fiery debate about slavery. Also the year saw the death of two major political figures– Henry Clay of Kentucky on June 29th and Daniel Webster of Massachusetts on October 24th, nine days before the election.

Based on the states carried, Pierce received 254 votes in the Electoral College while Scott received only 42. Additionally, the Democrats won 3 additional seats in the Senate and an additional 19 in the House of Representatives.

The fate of the Whig Party in 1852 and the four following years causes me to wonder if this year and the next four will see a similar dissolution of the Republican Party. Could it be that the current Republican candidate has headed the party of Lincoln into a train wreck?

This Election Year

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Of the political writing abounding right now, this is among the very best which I have seen:

TRUMP, THE WORST OF AMERICA

By Charles M Blow

New York Times, October 17, 2016

Donald Trump has virtually stopped trying to win this election by any conventional metric and is instead stacking logs of grievance on the funeral pyre with the great anticipation of setting it ablaze if current polls turn out to be predictive.

There is something calamitous in the air that surrounds the campaign, a hostile fatalism that bespeaks a man convinced that the end is near and aiming his anger at all within reach.

As his path to victory grows narrower, his desperation grows more pronounced.

Last week a steady stream of women stepped forward to accuse Trump of some form of sexual assault, abuse or inappropriate behavior. Trump’s response has been marked by a stunning lack of grace and dignity, let alone contrition or empathy, a response much like the man himself.

Instead, he is doubling down on sexism.

On Thursday, Trump said of the People magazine reporter who accused him of forcibly kissing her: “Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

He said on Friday of the woman accusing him of groping her on an airplane: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.

He also said of Clinton, “When she walked in front of me, believe me, I wasn’t impressed.”

His response to these charges has been surprisingly — and perhaps, revealingly — callow. He has mocked, whined, chided, bemoaned and belittled. It’s as if the man is on a mission to demonstrate to voters the staggering magnitude of his social vulgarity and emotional ineptitude. He has dispensed with all semblances of wanting to appear presidential and embraced what seems to be most natural to him: acting like a pig.

Furthermore, everything is rigged against him, from the media to the election itself. He’s threatening to sue The New York Times. He says he and Clinton should take a drug test before the next debate.

These are the ravings of a lunatic.

Trump is back to carelessly shooting off his mouth and recklessly shooting himself in the foot.

It is sad, really, but for him I have no sympathy. He has spent this entire election attacking anyone and everyone whom he felt it would be politically advantageous to attack. Trump, now that you’re under attack, you want to cry woe-is-me and have people commiserate. Slim chance, big guy.

The coarseness of your character has been put on full display, and now the electorate has come to cash the check you wrote.

 

Trump now looks like a madman from Mad Men, a throwback to when his particular privileges had more perks and were considered less repugnant. He looks pathetic.

He is a ball of contradictions that together form a bully, a man who has built a menacing wall around the hollow of his self. He is brash to mask his fragility.

But in a way, Trump was authentically made in America.

America has a habit of romanticizing the playboy as much as the cowboy, but there is often something untoward about the playboy, unseemly, predatory and broken

For years, Trump built a reputation on shuffling through women, treating his exploits with jocularity and having too much of America smiling in amusement at the bad boy antics.

But he’s not a kid; he’s a cad.

And he seems constitutionally incapable of processing the idea that wealth is not completely immunizing, that some rules are universally applicable, that common decency is required of more than just “common” folks. He seems genuinely offended that he should be held to the same standards of truth, decorum and even law as those less well off.

Trump is in fact the logical extension of toxic masculinity and ambient misogyny. He is the logical extension of rampant racism. He is the logical extension of wealth worship. He is the logical extension of pervasive anti-intellectualism.

Trump is the logical extension of the worst of America.

With him you get a man who believes himself superior in every way: through the gift of fortune and the happenstance of chromosomes. He believes the rules simply don’t apply. Not rules that govern the sovereignty of another’s body, not rules that dictate decorousness.

And the Republican Party was just the right place for him to park himself.

When you have a political party that takes as its mission to prevent government from working instead of to make government work, a party that conflates the ill effects of a changing economy with the changing complexion of the country and is still struck by fever over the election of President Obama, Trump is a natural, predictable endpoint.

Furthermore, Trump is what happens when you wear your Christian conservative values like a cardigan to conveniently slip off when the heat rises.

Trump is fundamentally altering American politics — coarsening them, corrupting them, cratering them. And America, particularly conservative America, has only itself to blame.

Republicans sowed intolerance and in its shadow, Trump sprang up like toxic fungi.

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The Tyrant at the Gates

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Trump, the tyrant at the gates

“Do you remember, your President Nixon? / Do you remember, the bills you have to pay / or even yesterday?” — David Bowie “Young Americans,” March 1975

It was an extraordinary thing to behold. A candidate for a major American political party stood on the stage at an American university during a televised debate and threatened to jail his opponent if he won the presidency.

This is what Third World despots do before their countries spiral into civil war. As an electoral gambit, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump asked voters to endorse his political vendetta by promising that a guilty verdict for his Democratic opponent will be baked into whatever investigation his attorney general and special prosecutor hired to do the actual dirty work come up with.

It was a monumental display of his ignorance of U.S. history or the constitutional limits on presidential power. It was also a peek into what Mr. Trump’s governing style would be if ever given the opportunity to run our democracy into the ground as efficiently as the casinos and other businesses he’s failed at over the decades. He’s an autocrat unmoored from any sense of constitutional reality or history.

With morally dubious enablers like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani cheering him on, Donald Trump would transform the Oval Office into a venue for score-settling that wouldn’t stop with jailing Hillary Clinton.

Is there any doubt that the birther fever he has temporarily set aside would return, backed by the full fury of presidential authority? Within minutes of being sworn in, Donald Trump will order his Justice Department to begin scouring the academic and personal records of his predecessor for proof that he was the undercover Muslim operative born in Kenya the vindictive new president always believed him to be.

The autocratic style that has made him a terrible businessman, but a successful reality TV star, was on full display over a weekend that would have shattered a more conventional candidate’s sanity and political career. Mr. Trump’s use of four women from the Clintons’ past as stage props to highlight their exploitation of women was so grotesque and hypocritical that it was impossible to come up with a precedent in American history.

Even before the 11-year-old tape of Donald Trump’s sexual assault braggadocio became the weekend’s big story, the candidate had already declared his independence from any notion of judicial fairness on Friday by relitigating the 1989 Central Park Five case when he pronounced the exonerated men guilty as originally charged.

Though the five men received a settlement from New York City for $41 million for convictions that sent them to jail for as long as 12 years when they were teenagers for a brutal gang rape they did not commit, Mr. Trump still refuses to be swayed by the confession of the actual rapist or the DNA evidence. He stands by his original full-page ad in New York newspapers calling for the restoration of the death penalty so that it could be used on the five teenagers who were coerced by the police into the confessions despite the lack of physical evidence.

Mr. Trump has proved himself impervious to facts and laws that don’t fit his preconceived notion of justice. For him, justice is merely an extension of a brutal, all-encompassing will to power. The law is nothing more than what he says it is and the U.S. Constitution merely a wish list of conventional legal niceties he’s free to ignore.

As Donald Trump glowered and paced the stage Sunday night looking for any advantage over a foe he senses has already beaten him, the only thing he felt he could reasonably offer the American people in exchange for their precious votes was the promise of a return to the days when President Richard Nixon used government agencies to pursue vendettas. His was a promise to jail Hillary Clinton by hook or crook. It is morally indistinguishable from his insistence that the Central Park Five are guilty despite the evidence.

The scary thing is that such perversions of justice and blatant abuses of power do appeal to a segment of voters nostalgic for the kind of leadership Mr. Trump is willing to offer.

There are Americans who want to be ruled by a democratically elected despot who will patrol Washington on their behalf, rounding up and jailing those they believe once mocked and marginalized them. These are the people Donald Trump is depending on to turn out on Nov. 8 in sufficient numbers to plunge us into the Dark Ages.