eBook Published – Near Miss: Attempted Assassination of JFK

January 2, 2011

My book has now been ePublished  and so far is available at the following sites.

Check it out, http://tinyurl.com/2432nrz Amazon, and http://tinyurl.com/24jlqrc Barnes and Noble.

If this interests you please consider purchasing it at the low price stated.

It will soon be available at Borders.com and Kobobooks.com

Hillary Clinton and the Super-Delegates

April 23, 2008

Hillary Clinton’s big primary win yesterday in Pennsylvania kept her hopes alive for the Democatic Party nomination. She still trails Barack Obama in pledged delegates, but the gap has been closed. The big question is what impact the so-called “super-delegates” will have on who the final nominee with be. Super-delegates are made up of Democratic Senators, Representatives, party officials, former Presidents, etc. These delegates are not decided or assigned by the primary results. They can vote as they wish. Normally they don’t vote until the convention and there are several hundred of them. (Above: Hillary Clinton after Pennsylvania primary, AP Photo)

Most of all she has demonstrated she can carry the big states like Ohio, New York, Texas, California, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all of which she won the primaries in.

If the goal of the Democratic Party is to win the general election against the strong Republican candidate John McCann, then they need to consider Hillary’s ability to win those states having the most Electoral College Votes. Remember that winning the popular vote has nothing to do with winning the presidency. The candidate winning the majority of Electoral Votes wins. Here is the breakdown of Electoral Votes up for grabs in the large states in the general election:

California – 55
Florida – 27
Michigan – 17
New York – 20
Ohio – 20
Pennsylvania – 21
Texas – 34
Total = 194

You can see that if a candidate can carry all the large states they would be well on the way to reaching the magic number of 270 Electoral Votes needed to win the presidency. This certainly doesn’t dimish the importance of those states having smaller numbers of Electoral Votes because they would have a major impact in a tight election.

The most populous states have the most Electoral Votes because the number of Electors a state has is equal to the number of Senators and Representatives that states sends to Washington as elected officials. The total number of Electoral Votes is 538. A winning candidate in the general election has to win 270 (one more than half).

By winning the primaries in those states with the most Electoral Votes available in the general election Hillary Clinton hopes to be able to convince the unpledged “super-delegates” to support her. If she can do that, she will win the nomination.

Presidential Election of 1876 – Rutherford B. Hayes

January 9, 2008

rutherfordlucyhayes.jpgThe other combatant in the 1876 election was Republican candidate Rutherford Birchard Hayes. He was born in Delaware, Ohio on October 4, 1822. His father died before he was born. An uncle, Sardis Birchard, lived with the family and became his guardian and lifelong father-figure. He was the youngest of four children. Two of his siblings died young. He remained close to his sister, the surviving one. (left: Rutherford and his wife Lucy shortly after their marriage)

Hayes graduated from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio in 1842 at the top of his class. Then he graduated in 2 years from Harvard Law School in 1845. He was admitted to the bar in 1845 and moved to Cincinnati where he practiced law.

On December 30, 1852 he married Lucy Ware Webb. They had eight children, three of which predeceased him.

He had a distinguished military career during the Civil War. Hayes was the only president who was wounded in the war. He was wounded four times. He was promoted to Brigidier General in 1864.

Hayes started his political career as a Whig, but in 1853 joined the Free Soil party as a delegate. While serving in the war he received the Republican nomination to Congress from Cincinnati. He refused all requests to leave the military and actively campaign. Hayes was elected and served from March 4, 1865 to July 20, 1867 when he resigned because his party nominated him for Governor of Ohio. Hayes won the election and served from 1868 to 1872. In 1872 he was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress. He was going to retire from public life, but was drafted by the Republicans in 1875 to run for governor again. He served from January 1876 to March 2, 1877. He received national attention for leading a Republican sweep of an incumbant Democratic Ohio government.

At the Republican national convention in 1876 he was a dark-horse nominee for president. The favorite and front-runner, James Blaine had led the previous six ballots. Hayes was selected as a compromise candidate in order to break the deadlock.

Then came the controversial election where he apparently lost on Election Day to Samuel Tilden. After the disputed Electoral Votes were awarded, Rutherford B. Hayes was named president. It took until a few days before the end of his predecessor’s term on March 3, 1877 for this to be resolved. He was inaugurated publicly on March 5, 1877. Hayes had secretly taken the oath of office on March 3, 1877 in the White House. This was done out of fear that disgruntled Democrats and voters might disrupt the public inauguration. (below: The public inauguration with Hayes on right taking the oath of office)

hayesoath.jpgHe served as the 19th President of the United States from March 3, 1877 to March 4, 1881. Hayes did not seek re-election in 1880. When he accepted his party’s nomination he had pledged to serve only one term. In his inaugural address he proposed the Constitution be amended to have a one-term limit for the presidency combined with an increase in the term to six years. This proposal never went anywhere. His most famous saying was from his inaugural address:

“He serves his party best who serves his country best”

After his presidency he served on the Board of Trustees of Ohio State University. Hayes died of a heart attack in Freemont, Ohio on January 17, 1893.

 This concludes my examination of the election of 1876.

Presidential Election of 1876 – Samuel J. Tilden

January 8, 2008

The main characters involved in the controversial election of 1876 were Samuel Tilden from the Democrats and Rutherford Hayes of the Republicans.

samueltilden.jpgSamuel Tilden and the Democrats won the election on Election Day, but the Electoral Votes from several states were in disute. A one-time Electoral Commission was formed to sort it out. In the end the election was awarded to the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes who became the 19th President of the United States. See my previous posting “Presidential Election of 1876 – The Deal” for the details.

Samuel Jones Tilden (photo to the right) was born at Lebanon, New York on February 9, 1814. He attended Yale University in 1834, but had to quite because of illness. Later he went to the University of the City of New York. He was admitted to the bar in 1841. He became a skilled corporate lawyer. His legal practice, combined with shrewd investments, made him rich. Tilden was a life-long bachelor.

Tilden had an interest in politics  and served in the State Assembly in 1846. In 1848 he participated in the revolt of the “Barnburner” or free-soil faction of the New York Democrats. He was the candidate of the “softshell”, or anti-slavery faction for attorney-general of the State of New York.

During the Civil War, he opposed several of Lincoln’s war measures, but he still gave the Union his strongest support.

Tilden became the chairman of the Democratic state committee in 1866 and soon began a conflict with the notorious “Tweed ring” of New York City. This group of corrupt city officials and politicians was led by William Tweed. (photo to the right) williamtweed.jpg

They had all the judges in their pocket and were gouging taxpayers and the city administration for goods and services. Tilden entered the Assembly in 1872 on a reform platform to clean up the mess. He managed to obtain legal proof of the corrupt practices and had the judges impeached, thus effectively destroying the Tweed ring. William Tweed was charged and eventually was sent to jail. Tilden won national fame for these actions against corruption.

The Democrats nominated him as their candidate for president in 1876. By all appearances he and his party won the Presidency on election day. Disputed electoral votes and procedures effectively robbed him of the Presidency and his political career ended.

In 1878 the New York Tribune newspaper in 1878 published articles accusing him of attempting to purchase the disputed Electoral Votes in the 1876 election. Tilden emphatically denied this charge and appeared voluntarily before a Congressional sub-committee to clear his name. The charges were unsuccessful and proven false.

Samuel J. Tilden lived out the rest of his life at his home, Greystone, near Yonkers, New York. He died a bachelor on August 4, 1886. He once told a close a friend that he had never slept with a woman in his life. His fortune of about $5 million dollars was left to establish and maintain a free public library in New York City. In 1895 the Tilden Trust was combined with the Astor and Lenox libraries to form the present day New York Public Library.

Presidential Election of 1876 – The Deal

January 5, 2008

sjtilden_of_ny.jpgThis was the second closest and most disputed presidential election in American history. Certainly it was the most contentious of 19th century America. The 2000 election of Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Albert (Al) Gore, Jr. stands as the closest and most contentious. Republican Rutherford B. Hayes won the 1876 election over Democrat Samuel J. Tilden, but in the end the election had to be decided by an Electoral Commission. (left: Samuel J. Tilden, Democrat from New York)

On election day, November 7, 1876 Tilden defeated Ohio’s Rutherford Hayes in the popular vote, and had 184 electoral votes to Hayes’s 165, with 20 electoral votes in dispute. A constitutional crisis loomed.

Hayes’s predecessor was Ulysses S. Grant, a Republican, who was finishing out his second term. A weak economy and rampant corruption in his administration had lost support for the Republicans. In fact on December 15, 1875 the House went so far as to overwhelmingly pass a resolution asking Grant not to seek a third term. He had previously denied that he would do so, but he did try later in 1880 to run again.

Republican candidate Rutherford Hayes was nominated on the 7th ballot as a party compromise. He was previously a member of the House of Representives and a governor of his home state of Ohio. He was a reformer who wanted to get rid of corruption and put the federal government on a new path.

The National Greenback Party was formed to advocate the use of greenbacks (paper money not supported by the gold standard). They nominated manufacturer and philanthropist Peter Cooper for president. This party wanted the gold standard abolished and a free supply of paper money used to help the working class.

The Democrats nominated Samuel J. Tilden, the governor of New York, for president. He had become a national figure as a crusading reformer. Tilden stood for an end to corruption, withdrawal of federal troops from the South, tariff reform, a ban on Chinese immigration, and a halt to railroad subsidies.

These were the three main presidential candidates. Of the three, Hayes was the relative unknown. An unusual fact related to campaigning at this time – it was actually considered improper for a candidate to actively pursue the Presidency, neither Tilden or Hayes stumped for votes, that job was left to surrogates. Certainly a far cry from today’s presidential politics.

Election Day, November 7, 1876, Samuel Tilden won 250,000 more popular votes than Hayes. In fact the popular vote really doesn’t have anything to do with the actual election of the President of the United States (see my posting on “How is the President Elected? The Answer May Surprise You” in my blog archives). Far too much emphasis is placed on its importance. Anyway the Republicans refused to concede the election to Tilden disputing the returns from Florida (sound familiar?), Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon.

On December 6, 1876 two competing sets of Electoral Returns were submitted from these states and a constitutional crisis erupted. The constitution provides that if neither candidate has a majority of electoral votes, then the Presidency will be decided by Congress. At the time the Congress was controlled by the Democrats. They could easily have voted to give Tilden the election. To bring order to the process President Grant requested that Congress set up an Electoral Commission. This temporary commission consisted of five members from each of, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court. The political make-up of the members was eight Republicans and seven Democrats. Their assigned task was to sort out the election results.

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley, a Republican member of the Commission, submitted a legal opinion on February 9, 1877 favoring the election of Tilden. Under pressure from fellow Republicans he reversed his decision. The Commission then voted not to examine individual state returns, and awarded Florida’s electoral votes to Hayes. Subsequently on February 16, 23, and 28, 1877, they awarded electoral votes from the other disputed states to Hayes. They declared Hayes as their choice for president. Congress still had ratify the Commission’s findings.

Republicans from Hayes’s home state of Ohio met with Southern Democrats on February 26, 1877. The Southerners agreed to support the election of Hayes with conditions. This was a secret meeting held before the Congressional vote on the Commission’s findings. The deal became known as the Compromise of 1877. Hayes had to promise to withdraw federal troops from the South, appoint a Southerner to his Cabinet, and look into railroad subsidies. He earned the nicknames “Rutherfraud” and “His Fraudulency” for this back-room bargain.

469px-president_rutherford_hayes_1870_-_1880.jpgOn March 2, 1877 Congress voted to ratify the Commission’s findings and officially declared Republican Rutherford B. Hayes (photo to right) as the 19th President of the United States. He was inaugurated three days later. The Democrats and many of the electorate were outraged. Samuel Tilden became, like Al Gore after him in 2001, the almost President.

The final results of the election of 1876 were:

Rutherford B. Hayes, Republican  Electoral Votes 185   Popular Vote 4,034,311 (47.9%)
Samuel J. Tilden, Democratic     Electoral Votes 184   Popular Vote 4,288,546 (51.0%)

In this election year it is always interesting to look back at previous events. More postings to come.

Presidential Primer #3 – Candidate Selection

October 5, 2007


With a serious contender, Hillary Rodham Clinton, running for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party in 2008, the photo above takes on a little more significance. It is the 1984 Democratic Party ticket of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. They were soundly defeated by the Republican ticket of President Ronald Reagan and Vice president George H.W. Bush. How are these candidates selected by each party. Read on and find out. 

A good example of candidate selection for President of the United States is occurring right now. Hopefuls from both the major parties, Republican and Democratic, are announcing their runs and also touring States where Primary Elections will be held starting early in 2008.  The primary elections are used by each party to narrow the field of candidates prior to their conventions.  These conventions are usually held during the summer of election year. Before the primary system candidate selection took place entirely at the convention. Now by the time the convention arrives there is usually a candidate who already has enough delegate votes to win the nomination of the party.  Once he becomes the nominee he then selects a vice presidential running mate which the convention delegates then rubber stamp.

 The party conventions are used to set policy and to rally the party faithful for the election in the fall. The only real intrigue usually occurs when the presidential nominee picks his running mate, the vice presidential candidate.  This person is usually selected for his or her ability to get votes in certain key states or for their experience in areas that the presidential nominee may be lacking.


Above: Geraldine Ferraro, first female vice presidental nominee from a major party.

These “tickets” consisting of the presidential and vice presidential candidate from each party then campaign for votes in the general election held in November.  By law the general election is held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

The president is not elected directly, but rather voters are actually voting for Electors.  These electors represent each party’s candidate. The winning candidate in each state then gets the Electoral votes for that State. Most states have a winner take all rule.  So if the Republicans win Iowa for example with the most Electoral votes, they get all of the votes. Maine and Nebraska are exceptions.  For more on the Electoral System see my earlier post “How is the President of the United States Elected” in the archives where I discuss this at length.

After election day the winning candidate is referred to as the “president-elect”.  In fact he is not officially the “president-elect” under the Constitution until the Electoral Vote is taken and ratified by Congress. The winning set of electors meets in each state capital on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December, shortly after the general election. They cast their votes and they are sent under seal to the Congress which then counts and ratifies the vote. Once that has occurred the winner on the November election is now Constitutionally the “President-Elect” of the United States.

He is finally sworn in as President of the United States for a four year term at noon on January 20th of the year following the election.  That is also the exact time that the sitting President’s term comes to an end.

The next instalment will talk more about the term and perks of the office.

Presidential Primer #1 – Who can be POTUS?

September 27, 2007


With the Presidential election coming up in November 2008 and a myriad of candidates from both parties racing in an attempt to gain that high office it is time for a primer on the Presidency. A sort of everything you ever wanted to know and were afraid to ask series of postings. You might be surprised by some of the interesting facts related to the office of President.  So here is the first of several postings that I hope will be a review for most Americans and an enlightenment for others.

The President of the United States or “POTUS” is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The government of the U.S. is made up of the Legislative Branch, the Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. The President is the head of the Executive Branch.


The White House (Public Domain photo) 

His official residence is the White House in Washington, D.C. the capital of the United States. Within the White House his office is the Oval Office.

Who Can be President?

In the United States a common saying is “anybody can be president if they really want to”.  Sorry to say this is not true.  There is a certain governor in the State of California who would love to be President of the United States, but will never be able to, unless the Constitution is amended.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution states:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office shall not attained the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

What does all this mean? Simply put you have to have been born in the United States. Naturalized citizens need not apply. Arnold I’m sorry but “Terminators” can’t apply. However, it does say that anyone who was a citizen at the time the Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787 is eligible, but I don’t think anyone who fits that bill is still alive. 

Next you must be at least 35 years of age. Finally you must have lived at least 14 years in the United States. It also means that anyone who could become President such as the Vice president or Speaker of the House must meet the same qualifications.

Presidential Factoids:

Youngest man ever elected President – John F. Kennedy, 43 years of age. Elected November 8, 1960. Inaugurated January 20, 1961.
Youngest man to assume the Presidency – Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt at age 42 years when President McKinley was assassinated and later died in 1901.

Oldest man to ever be President – Ronald Reagan, 69 years of age at his inauguration in 1981.

First President to be born in the 20th century – John F. Kennedy, dob. May 29, 1917.

First President to die in office – William Henry Harrison, 9th President. Length of his term 31 days! Died April 4, 1841.
First President to be assassinated – Abraham Lincoln, April 15, 1865. John Wilkes Booth shot him early in his second term.
Youngest President to die in office – President John F. Kennedy at age 46 years, 177 days.

First Vice president to succeed to the Presidency on death of a President – John Tyler on the death of William Henry Harrison.  Yes Tyler was eligible based on the Constitutional criteria to be president.

First (and only) Person of the Roman Catholic faith to be elected President – 35th John F. Kennedy, 1961 – 1963

Longest Serving President – Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1933 – 1945, 12 years. More on this in a later posting.
Shortest Serving President – William Henry Harrison, 31 days. He died of pneumonia that he contracted on his inauguration day. He also gave the longest inauguration speech ever. This was a contributing factor in his illness because it was a very cold day.

Father/Son Presidents – There have been two instances.  First were 2nd President John Adams 1797-1801, son 6th President John Quincy Adams 1825-1829.  More recently 41st President George H.W. Bush 1989-1993, son 43rd President George W. Bush 2001-present.

Family Ties – Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President 1889-1893 was the grandson of William Henry Harrison, 9th President March 4, 1841 to April 4, 1841.

Watch for the next installment where Presidential Powers will be discussed.

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