…what the F in Florida stands for.
That’s right, ‘effing’ UP the election.
Most will remember the 2000 election with hanging chads, voter confusion, the State Supreme Court, the US Supreme Court, and the final out come of George W. Bush winning the electoral college over Democrat Al (I invented the internet) Gore.
Well, 2012 aside, Floridians have been ‘voter confused’ for over 130 years.
Time warp back to 1876 if you will.
Samuel Tilden, a Democrat from New York was running for the Oval Office against Rutherford B. Hayes, an Ohio Republican.
Tilden won the popular vote. He even had a majority with over 50%, but Hayes wound UP the President in 1877 anyway.
Who do we have to thank?
Well, we can’t leave out South Carolina and Louisiana, they were along for the ride.
But, Florida was the main culprit.
First, a little background. Tilden was a NY prosecutor who nailed the corrupt Boss Tweed. He ran a campaign of reform following the Grant administration, which was filled with corruption like no other.
Hayes, a Union Army Hero, ran a reform campaign as well, but his party affiliation, the same as Grant’s tainted him.
Back in the ‘good old days’, it was considered improper for Presidential candidates to stump for themselves. They didn’t hit the trail, they stayed home, and left the dirty work to surrogates.
And dirty work it was!
Southern Democrats suppressed both black and white Republican votes, using paramilitary groups to scare the hell out of voters. And the Louisville, Kentucky Democrats threw ballot boxes from predominately Republican precincts into the Ohio River.
The Republicans used the Civil War as an issue. It had been over for ten years, according to the Yankees, the South may still differ on that.
After a mud-slinging campaign that makes today’s efforts look tame, Florida with 4 electoral votes, Louisiana with 8, and South Carolina with 7, came UP with issues, problems, voter fraud – of which there was plenty, including phony ballots signed by the wrong official – and both parties decided that their candidate had won.
Florida even sent two delegations to the Electoral College, both Democrat and Republican, and all three states sent both sets of returns.
So, there was a compromise. The three southern states agreed to tilt their votes away from Tilden and toward Hayes if the government would ‘end’ Reconstruction – again, another arguable topic – and withdraw the military from the States in Rebellion. The compromise took not weeks, but months. Drawing dangerously close to the date of inauguration, the Senate and House of Representatives had to act. The country was near rebellion again, and on the heels of the Civil War, Grant had Washington, D.C. surrounded by troops, a shot was fired at Hayes home in Ohio, it was getting ugly.
When the Electoral votes were counted, Hayes had 185, Tilden 184.
Things have changed, the fact that the Electoral votes and the popular votes of South Carolina and Louisiana would have gone Republican at that time makes sense. The state populations included enough freed slaves to make an African-American majority. Back then, most if not all African Americans voted Republican – Lincoln was their liberator, hero, and emancipator, and Lincoln was a Republican.
Once the compromise was reached, the Yankees left the South and turned it over to the Democratic ‘Redeemers’.
Hayes was inaugurated in the Red Room of the White House on Saturday, March 3, 1877, he took the public oath of office on the following Monday, March 5.
So, we have Florida to thank for that one, Florida to thank for the 2000 mess, Florida – don’t screw UP 2012.
Gee, and everyone’s all worried about Ohio!