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