By Catherine Ulrich Brakefield
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…”
The Declaration of Independence was formatted in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. The United States of America started with thirteen states: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Little did the world know the magnitude of what a ragged band of minutemen armed with high ideals could accomplish. The Declaration provides Americans with the window of our founding fathers’ determination, hopes, and ideals. The Declaration ends with the words;
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Our Founders incorporated this government, with a prayer on their lips and faith in their hearts that God would honor their requests. Disagreements ping-ponged across the discussion table on how to elect the president of The United States. Some favored a national popular vote, others wanted Congress to elect the president. The compromise arrived at—the popular vote and an Electoral College.
A popular vote coupled with the electors of each state would incorporate the desires of every state. Establishing the Electoral College would prevent larger states from dominating the presidential elections.
The decision of an Electoral College showed wisdom far beyond human comprehension. Each state has as many “electors” in the Electoral College as it has Representatives and Senators in the United States Congress. The district of Columbia has three electors.
The elector's ballots will be certified; however, the votes will not be opened until January 6th. At that time Congress will meet in a joint session at 1 p.m. to tally the votes. The sitting Vice-President presides over the meeting and not the Speaker of the House. The Vice President opens the vote for each state alphabetically. He will pass the votes to four tellers, two from the House and two from the Senate. The Vice President then announces the new President and Vice-President.
even the state returns as a whole. A written objection must be presented and signed by one Representative and one Senator.
The Joint Session recesses and each chamber considers the objection separately but for no more than two hours. Then each Member may speak for five minutes or less. Each house votes on whether to accept the objection. If both chambers agree to the objection, the votes are not counted.
There have been five times in America’s history that a president won the popular vote, however, lost the presidency because of the Electoral College.
Thirteen states eventually mushroomed into fifty states! How could our founding fathers know—or was it the hand of Divine Providence who provided the wisdom needed to instate an Electoral College—for such a time as this?
The founders of the Constitution had no idea what lands would be annexed, what people would occupy those lands, or how their actions would sustain this country through devastating wars and economic hardships. Only God knew.
Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio joined. The Louisiana Purchase of 1803 brought 828,000 square miles of wilderness, rich with natural resources. The stark wilderness evolved into the states of Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and included most of Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Minnesota. Soon Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Michigan, and Florida joined.
The immortal words written in our constitution, some hundred years before, were etched upon every red-blooded American’s heart. Who can forget Sam Houston, Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and the frontiersmen’s determination to stamp out injustice and battle with their last breaths in the battle at the Alamo, wrestling Texas from the dictator of Mexico, Santa Anna? Texas attained its statehood in 1845. With the California gold rush, came a galloping increase in population—and a huge
need for civil government. Californians sought statehood. However, there was a heated debate regarding the slave issue. Eventually, California did acquire statehood under the Compromise of 1850 as a free non-slavery state.
The steadfast valor and faithfulness of Americans seeking God’s guidance as stated in the Constitution’s inequality and their unalienable rights were the cornerstone which had many a senator and congressman wrestling with their conscience on the thresholds of admitting new states—free or slave.
This issue would become the springboard to a civil war that would threaten the United States foundations even after the climax of this devastating war.
In the 1876 election, neither Ohio Republican Governor Rutherford B. Hayes nor New York Democratic Governor Samuel Tilden had the 185 votes needed in the Electoral College required to win because there were contested returns from southern states Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
The election had turned violent in southern states eleven years since the Civil War! Former Confederates and white Democrats attempted and succeeded to suppress Black and Republican voters.
The outgoing Republican administrations in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina sent their Electoral College returns to Congress showing Hayes had won. The incoming Democratic governors sent election results showing a Tilden victory. Republicans in Capitol Hill staunchly refused to count the Democratic returns.
In a heated response, the congressional Democrats challenged the constitutionality of one of the electors from Oregon. Congress had a dilemma on their hands. They faced a constitutional roadblock. The combined twenty votes in the Electoral College from four states were contested, Hayes had 165 votes and Tilden had 184.
Democrats controlled the House and Republicans controlled the Senate. Instead of allowing the House to decide the winner, Congress created the Federal Electoral Commission in January 1877. A bipartisan tribunal made of Senators, Representatives, and Supreme Court Justices. After weeks of testimony and debate, the commission declared Hayes the winner.
By the glow of candlelight, our forefathers battled forgery, greed, and deception to amass the truth as to the election of 1876. Should charges of foreign influences, unconstitutional behavior, late counting or any irregularities arise—they have the right and the duty to object. That is their constitutional right and their Christian duty.
Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address of 1838, rings as true today for America as it did 183 years ago:
“Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well-wisher to his posterity swear by the blood of the Revolution never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and laws let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor — let every man remember that to violate the law is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and his children's liberty…Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’"
Swept into Destiny:A penniless Irish immigrant and a gutsy Southern belle find they are more alike than different.
“…Brakefield writes a story with the same flourish as Margaret Mitchell and Louisa May Alcott… My husband purchased this book for me and I cannot wait to read the three other period books in this series. I would recommend this book to adults and teens who like to read a realistic story about history…” Daniel Lemond
Catherine is an award-winning author of the inspirational historical romances Wilted Dandelions, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny. Her popular Destiny series include: Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz with Destiny.
She has written Images of America; The Lapeer Area, and Images of America; Eastern Lapeer County.
Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books, Baker Books, Revell, CrossRiver Media, and Bethany House Publishers.
She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) President of the Great Lakes Chapter (GLC 2017-2020). Catherine lives with her husband of 45 years, has two adult children, and four grandchildren.
See https://www.CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com for more information about her
books and travels. https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/Electoral-College/#:~:text=After%20the%20experiences%20of%20the,the%20other%20for%20Vice%20President.
Alamo Battle painting Texas State Library N Archieves
The Electoral Commission in session, Washington, D.C., February 16, 1877; from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, March 10, 1877.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (Digital file no. cph 3b43606)
Declaration of Independence, oil on canvas by John Trumbull, 1818; in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C.