A Most Contentious Election

In 1824 the United States faced a situation they hadn’t before – or since. No presidential candidate received a majority vote of the electoral college. This triggered the use of the 12th amendment which sets authority on the House of Representatives to choose the president from among the top three candidates from the electoral college.

On February 9, 1825, the U.S. House of Representatives selected John Quincy Adams to be the sixth President of the United States.

The controversy was immediate. Andrew Jackson had received 99 electoral college votes and 153,544 popular votes. John Quincy Adams had received only 84 electoral college votes and 108,740 popular votes. (There were other candidates, but those did not receive anything close to these two.) In essence, the U.S. House of Representatives went against the will of the people and usurped the authority of the electoral college. Both of which it had the constitutional power to do.

It forever crippled the presidency of John Quincy Adams.

A large part of the controversy was that Adams appointed William Clay as his Secretary of State. Clay was the Speaker of the House but had been excluded from the House vote for president because he had also been a candidate for the office. Instead, he wielded his power to support Adams. Many saw this as a Quid Pro Quo move. (However, it should be remembered that Adams and Clay had served on the diplomatic team who presided over the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812. The men were a proven team who worked well together.)

John Quincy Adams – like his father, the 2nd president, John Adams – was staunchly anti-slavery. That didn’t help him with the pro-Jackson element in Congress. He wanted to fund a system of roads and canals to connect the growing nation, but the pro-Jackson people shot that down as exceeding the federal authority. In all, Adams accomplished very little in the four years he served that office. Pitted against Andrew Jackson again in 1828, he was soundly defeated.

But Adams didn’t quit service. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1830 by his home state of Massachusetts. He served there until his death – in the U.S. Capitol Building – in 1848.

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

William Seward, Secretary of State

Known for his purchase of Alaska, an unpopular event in its time, William Seward was also a major player behind the scenes during the Civil War.

Thought to be the leading contender for the presidency in 1860, his anti-slavery speeches caused many in his party to view him as a radical, and so they backed his competition, Abraham Lincoln.

It seems surprising in this day and age of political infighting that President Lincoln would appoint his rival to be Secretary of State, but he did on January 10, 1861.

Like so many of Lincoln’s unconventional moves, this one proved beneficial to the Union. The relationship between Lincoln and Seward was never warm, but they worked well together. The move Lincoln does an excellent job of portraying their relationship and is worth watching for that alone.

The big-picture complexity of the Civil War and the balance of powers internationally is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the history books, but Seward was a bulwark in the administration who helped keep foreign powers out of our internal struggles. The outcome of the war could have been much different without him at Secretary of State.

If you enjoy reading Civil War historical fiction, Smitten Historical Romance has A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart and The Planter’s Daughter by Michelle Shocklee. And look for Michelle’s post Civil War-era novel, The Widow of Rose Hill, releasing in February!

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

WWI – Battle of the Falkland Islands

World War I has become a popular era for historical fiction novels. Smitten Historical Romance has one releasing in June titled Among the Poppies by J’nell Ciesielski. Watch for it!

WWI – The Great War – saw many changes in the way wars were fought with the introduction of airplanes, submarines, and the use of underwater mines. But on December 8, 1914, in the waters around the Falkland Islands off the tip of South America, the last old-fashioned naval battle was waged.

The Germans, fresh off an unexpected naval victory off the coast of Chile where the British fleet received its first defeat in more than a century, approached the Falkland Islands intent on destroying the radio tower there to knock out Brittian’s communication in the South Atlantic.

What they didn’t know was that British reinforcements had arrived before them, re-coaled their ships, and were ready for battle. Instead of a few large, slow British Dreadnoughts, the Germans faced the HMS Inflexible and HMS Invincible,  two swift battlecruisers.

In this final naval battle of just ship against ship, sailor against sailor, the Germans lost four warships and 2,000 sailors. The British lost only 10 sailors and saved their radio communication capability.

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is a forgotten day for most Americans. Why? Probably because it’s not a 3-day weekend nobody knows – and few care about – the origin of. But being the history buffs we are, let’s look deeper into Veterans Day.

Originally called Armistice Day, the first observance was November 11, 1919. It commemorated the first anniversary of the armistice – the unofficial end – that stopped the fighting in World War I. Congress made it an annual observance in 1926 with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

Armistice Day became a national holiday in 1938, differing from Memorial Day in that it honors the living soldiers – as well as the deceased – who have served in times of war and peace. In 1954, after the end of WWII and the Korean War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed the name to Veterans Day to include all veterans.

Note the lack of a possessive apostrophe in the name. That’s because it’s not a day that belongs to veterans. It’s a day to commemorate all veterans.

Oh, and we can thank President Gerald R. Ford that Veterans Day wasn’t made into just another 3-day weekend, another reason to BBQ and party. Congress moved it to the 4th Monday in October in 1971. President Ford, understanding its powerful significance in our history at the end of the Vietnam War, reversed that in 1975. Bless him.

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

Friggatriskaidekaphobia

I’d love to tell you that I can pronounce friggatriskaidekaphobia, but let’s be real. At least I know it means fear of Friday the 13th. Since we’re a history blog, let’s look at why this date is so vilified – and has been for centuries.

Legend has it that Eve handed Adam that dastardly little piece of fruit on Friday the 13th. Well, yeah, that wasn’t a good move, but there was no known calendar when Adam and Eve frolicked in the Garden.

Another legend says that the Temple of Solomon was desecrated on Friday the 13th. Ignore the fact that the calendar of that time was not the same as what we use today, that was a history-changing event.

Many people believe that Jesus was crucified on Friday the 13th. Since that’s Good Friday, I think we can cancel it out. Even if it was on the 13th, let’s agree that having a Savior isn’t a bad thing.

Probably the best-known legend is that the Knights Templar were rounded up by France’s King Philip IV on Friday, October 13, 1307. After being tortured and forced to confess to all sorts of evils, the survivors were burned at the stake. Okay, that one’s in the ghastly column. Egads! That was just 710 years ago today!

Let’s look at some more recent events that happened on Oct. 13ths:

1775 – The Continental Navy began.

1792 – The cornerstone of the White House was laid.

1845 – Texas ratified a state constitution.

1943 – Italy declared war on Germany.

1950 – Jimmy Stewart starred in Harvey. (Disclaimer: This is one of my favorite movies.)

1967 – The American Basketball Assn. debuted.

2010 – Chilean miners were rescued after 69 days underground.

On balance, I’d say there have been more good events than bad events on this day in history … so don’t be afraid to venture forth and enjoy the day!

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon