Once again, let’s talk about a few points in history that people may not know about. With much of this week’s discussion centered around the presidential primary election, there is, oddly enough, plenty of politics to talk about.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
1877: Rutherford B. Hayes elected
A president elected in March? But how?
This election was so messy, it took four months to sort through and makes the Bush/Gore election debacle look crystal clear.
In the end, Hayes bested New York Gov. Samuel Tilden in the Electoral College 185-184, but Tilden garnered nearly 51% of the popular vote - the only time in U.S. history a candidate had more than 50% of the vote but lost the election.
Adding to the issues were reports on fraudulent ballots - Democratic-printed ballots with the Republican symbol on it to confuse illiterate voters - and an illegal elector in Oregon brought plenty of conspiracy to the whole process.
Also, 20 disputed electoral votes in the south were awarded to Hayes via the Compromise of 1877, which saw federal troops withdraw from southern states just 12 years after the Civil War. Naturally, Tilden and his supporters felt cheated by that decision.
Amid all the turmoil and confusion, Congress formed a 15-member Electoral Commission - consisting of five senators, five representatives and five Supreme Court justices - to ultimately decide the election. Hayes won this vote 8-7.
Next time there is a complaint about how inept today’s election process is, remember this story. It could always be worse.
Inauguration Day: You will notice there is no year attached to this one, and that is because it spans about 140 years.
From George Washington’s second term to the first election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the President of the United States was inaugurated on March 4, as opposed to the Jan. 20 date we have become accustomed to.
A professor of mine once said part of the reason for the later inauguration had to do with the incoming president moving to the nation’s capital, as traveling a great distance via horse-drawn wagon in the middle of January was less than ideal.
However, it is also important to remember that counting all of the ballots cast in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries took an incredibly long time. That date was also an unofficial end date for congressional sessions in the nation’s early days, so it seemed like a fine transitional period.
I just find it interesting to think that a highly significant day for the United States and its people used to be an entirely different day, but a quick crash course in U.S. history will show that a lot of the things we accept as the country’s standards have changed over time.
The nation’s capital used to be a different city, the pledge of allegiance has been tweaked several times in the last 130 years, and the national anthem we all know has only been our official anthem for less than a century - with “America, the Beautiful” and “Hail, Columbia” serving as anthems more or less by default before then.
It’s a nice reminder that very few things are the way it has always been.
1933 - “King Kong” premieres in NYC
Let’s get away from politics for the rest of this, eh?
I think most people are at least familiar with the concept of this movie - the great ape, the Empire State Building, “It was Beauty killed the Beast” and all of that - but this movie and its titular character have had a greater impact and influence on popular culture than you may realize.
In the 1930s, this film was absolutely a benchmark for action movies and special effects. The ape and the other effects are incredibly dated and rudimentary-looking by today’s standards - especially if you’ve recently watched contemporary CGI-driven films like “Avengers: Endgame” - but the movie is still very watchable and enjoyable, in my opinion.
It also sort of created the genre of “monster movies” that was not incredibly prevalent before its release. Sure, there were films like “Nosferatu” and “Frankenstein” before it, but this film served as a blockbuster launch point that spawned 36 Godzilla movies, “Jaws,” “Predator” and dozens of other franchises.
Without question, it is one of the most important films ever made.
Thanks again for letting me nerd out a bit.
Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.