Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr duel

Four of the Most Outlandish Election Days

Tuesday is Election Day. Tabanero Cigars only ventures into particular politics when it directly impacts our industry. For instance the FDA disputed regulations on premium cigars. We will, however, discuss politics in a general way so that we don’t contribute to any controversy. This political season has been contentious and divisive. Is there any controversy about that? If you are on any social media then you have witnessed politics affecting people in a more personal way than any previous time. In ‘real’ life we all have witnessed acts of incivility and even violence. These are trying times indeed.

But is it really uniquely outlandish in American history?

Let’s start in 1800.

Exhibit A
Both Jefferson and Aaron Burr had 73 electoral votes which left the decision in the hands of congress. Alexander Hamilton – you know the guy on the ten dollar bill and the inspiration behind the Broadway musical – campaigned against Aaron Burr. It took the House of Representatives thirty-five ballots to get a majority and thus a winner. Can you imagine the frustration behind that many re-votes? Jefferson was chosen as president and Burr, because he came in second, was the Vice-President.
Burr did not forget the role that Hamilton played in his loss. Their feud simmered for three years until it boiled over into an actual duel. Yes, they had an actual duel. The two choose pistols, faced back to back, paced out the distance, and fired their weapons. Hamilton was shot and killed by Burr, who was the acting Vice-President at the time. Talk about contentious!

Let’s move on to 1824.

Exhibit B

There were four major candidates for president. Andrew Jackson won the popular vote, however, only by approximately forty-thousand votes. He also garnered the most Electoral College votes. No one, not even Jackson, won a majority. Jackson had 99, John Q. Adams had 84, Willian Crawford had 41, and Henry Clay had 37. So once again Congress was called upon to decide. The law only allowed the top three candidates to be considered by congress. So, Henry Clay was removed from consideration. Almost all his supporters supported Adams. As a result, Adams was chosen president and he in turn chose Clay as his secretary of state. Andrew Jackson was furious and claimed that a secret deal was struck between the two. This was never proven, but it motivated Jackson to leave his position as senator and devote his resources to the next election which he won.

The election of 1876 was another Electoral College debacle.

Exhibit C

Samuel Tilden beat Rutherford Hayes in both the popular vote and the Electoral College votes. Four states were dealing with accusations of fraud. So their votes were not counted. Without their votes, Tilden was was one Electoral College vote shy of the needed majority. The law offered no solution. The Democratic and Republican Parties agreed to establish a fifteen member commission consisting of seven Democrats, seven Republicans, and one independent. Which of course meant the independent would be the true deciding vote. The independent was chosen but at the last minute he was called upon by his home state of Illinois to fill a vacant senate position. A new member was chosen, who was a lifelong Republican he rather injudiciously cast all twenty of his ballots for the Republican Hayes who became president.

Finally we move ahead to 1948 and the first true Fake News

Exhibit D

Harry Truman became president after the untimely death of Franklin Roosevelt. He was a democrat who watched the Republicans take both the Senate and The House of Representatives in the mid-term election. He was widely disparaged by the newspapers and his popularity was low. On the night of the election polls were released showing his imminent defeat. The Chicago Daily Tribute was so confident the Truman’s opponent Thomas Dewey was going to win, that they printed the newspaper with the headline Dewey Defeats Truman. The people decided otherwise and Truman won the election giving us a real fake news moment.

Dewey defeats Truman
Dewey defeats Truman

Looking back we realize that there have been contentious moments, divisive decisions, and violent political clashes. America overcame those moments. If we lay aside our differences and choose to embrace each other we will overcome these days too.

Vote Tuesday. Regardless of the outcome Wednesday, regardless of how you voted come down to Tabanero Cigars. Let us sit down together, light up a premium handmade cigar, and work together for our best future.

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