Craziest Elections Part II: 1860

The 1800s were turbulent time in America, with the nation discovering what it was. It was growing exponentially, assimilating tens of millions of new immigrants. America had captured the imagination of the entire world.

It was also a time of confronting the evil of slavery. The Founders had laid the groundwork, stopping the importation of slaves. But ending the practice of slavery itself would require the right leader, at the right time to see the country safely through to the other side. The election of 1860 was critically important to achieve this worthy goal, with Abraham Lincoln rising to capture the attention of the nation and secure his place in history.

Listen to this segment from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: In this series, we're talking about crazy elections. And one of the more crazy elections happened in the 1800s. They were turbulent. It was an amazing century for the United States. The nation was discovering who it was, what it was. It was growing exponentially. It was assimilating tens of millions of new immigrants, and it was expanding. It was discovering, flexing its muscle. It had captured the imagination of the entire world.

But it was also the time when it was finally forced to confront the evil that it didn't end on its inception. The Founders had laid the groundwork. They stopped the importation of slaves, but the ending of slavery itself had to wait for the right leader at the right time in order to see the country safely through to the other side.

That is why the election of 1860 was so critically important. The two-party system at the time was just comprised of the Democrats and the Whigs. And the sitting Democratic president James Buchanan was so unpopular, that he wasn't even brought up by his party to be nominated to run for reelection.

They made the frontrunner, Democratic Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas. John Breckenridge, the vice president from Kentucky, he was representing the Southern Democratic Party. John Bell from Tennessee was the constitutional Union Whig Party candidate. And then representing a new 4-year-old Republican Party was an awkward, lanky Abraham Lincoln.

Here's the question I ask: Where there Americans in 1860 that were saying, you know, if you vote for Abraham Lincoln, you're just wasting your vote? Or that a vote for Lincoln is actually a vote for Breckenridge? Because Lincoln was the third party candidate in 1860.

And the country was a mess. Many Southern states were already threatening to secede in the lead-up to the election. And one of the things that was well-known in the South about Lincoln was that he hated slavery. And many in the South, especially the deep South, hated him for it.

At the time, Lincoln had no intention of going to war with the South, if elected. Which in part, won him the Republican nomination. But those in the South, they didn't believe him. Lincoln had an interesting strategy for the campaign which was very different from the plan that Douglas had.

VOICE: Photographs played a vital role in the election of Abraham Lincoln as the 16th US president.

In the final weeks of the campaign, instead of giving speeches, Lincoln took every available opportunity to pose for photographers and sculptors. Simultaneously, his old rival Stephen Douglas made the critical mistake of hitting the campaign trail.

In the 1800s, a presidential nominee who actively campaigned was ridiculed for seeming so desperate. And this is exactly how the public reacted to the Douglas whirlwind tour. Lincoln was campaigning just as hard, but not by making visits and giving speeches. Instead, by having his photograph show up everywhere in his place.

GLENN: Actively campaigning was seen as desperate in the 1800s. Oh, if we could only get that desperate part of our country back.

A lot of secession talk from the South. Rumors were swirling and scare tactic rhetoric was abundant, that if Lincoln won, there would be secession in war.

But Lincoln and his team ignored that. He carried the North and did well enough elsewhere to win the presidency by a significant margin, taking the popular vote 39.8 percent to 29.5 percent for Douglas and the electoral vote 180 to 72 over Breckenridge.

But by the time Lincoln was inaugurated, six states had already seceded from the Union. Nine more would follow, as well as the bloodiest war in American history.

Abraham Lincoln was perhaps the man born to see America through its most perilous period. In 1875, Ulysses S. Grant, the two-term president of the United States, about to attempt to become America's first three-term president ignoring the tradition set by George Washington to self-limit to two, Grant himself, despite the terrible economy -- in fact, a three-year depression that had left 3 million Americans unemployed and being bogged down in corruption and scandals, Grant was ready to go for the presidency again, as were his advisers.

But then Congress passed a resolution by a vote of 233 to 18 stating that Washington started the two-term tradition to avoid a dictatorship. And apparently, that helped sway the American public as it turned the tide in the thinking and the plans of Ulysses S. Grant.

In the end, he finally decided against running for a third term. That left the election to the eventual Republican nominee, Ohio governor Rutherford B. Hayes and the Democratic nominee Samuel Tilden, the governor of New York.

After winning the Republican nomination on the seventh ballot, political writer Roy Morris Jr. explained that Hayes...

VOICE: In his acceptance letter to the Republican convention -- nominees didn't appear at the convention in those days -- he promised a return to good honest government, a reform of the civil service system, and an elimination of bribery and corruption in Washington. Compared to the other Republican candidates such as Blaine and Conklin, he was squeaky clean. So was his wife, a tireless temperance crusader known as Lemonade Lucy, for her refusal to serve alcoholic beverages at official state functions.

GLENN: Tilden, on the other hand, presented by newspapermen at the time in a rather unusual way.

VOICE: He was a lifelong bachelor. And during the ensuing campaign, there were several cartoons ran showing him wearing a dress. Which was a not so subtle suggestion that he was gay.

GLENN: Even with the insinuation of Tilden being gay -- keeping in mind this is 1876 and a very different mindset -- still Samuel Tilden won the popular vote for presidency 51-48. Oh, we were such haters. He also won the electoral college vote, 184-165, with 20 electoral votes unresolved. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Yeah, you heard me right. I did just say that: Sam Tilden won both the popular and electoral vote. But we don't have President Sam Tilden anywhere. What happened?

Well, two days before inauguration day, March 2nd, 1877, facing a constitutional crisis the likes of which the nation had never experienced, Congress created a temporary group called the Electoral Commission, which superseded the electoral college. You want to talk about an election being stolen: They wanted to determine what to do with the 20 unresolved, uncommitted electoral votes.

The Democrats threatened to filibuster through Inauguration Day, in order just to get their nominee the necessary votes. But instead, a deal was struck with the Democrats. By the electoral commission, they would accept Republican Rutherford Hayes as president. And in exchange, they would withdraw the northern occupation troops from the South.

This turned out to be a really bad thing because it ended reconstruction, enabled the South to reenact all the laws that were discriminatory against the blacks. So, yes, once again, the Democrats and all the weasely politicians in Washington made a deal that somehow worked out for them, but not so much for the American people.

The 20 unresolved votes all went to Hayes, giving him the closest margin of victory in American history, 185 to 184 electoral votes. It was also the election with the highest percentage of voter turnout in American history. 82 percent. It was also the only time in American history where a candidate received more than 50 percent of the popular vote, but was denied the presidency.

It kind of puts the whole election mess of 2000 into perspective, doesn't it? The elections of 1912, progressive versus progressive. For the first time in American history. And the election of 1948 in the next episode.

On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Just days after Canadian pastor James Coates was released from prison for refusing to bow to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, several police officers showed up at another church to ensure restrictions were being followed. But Polish pastor Artur Pawlowski of the Cave of Adullam Church in Alberta, Canada, knew his rights, telling the cops not to come back until they had a warrant in hand.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere played a video of the interaction.

"Please get out. Please get out of this property immediately. Get out!" Pawlowski can be heard yelling at the six officers who entered his church.

"Out! Out! Out! Get out of this property immediately until you come back with a warrant," he continued. "Go out and don't come back. I don't want to talk to you. You Nazis, Gestapo is not allowed here! ... Nazis are not welcome here! Do not come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don't you dare come back here!"

Watch this clip to see the heated exchange:

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To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.