Interesting Scenario with the 1860 Election

The people of the United States have never directly elected the President. Following the November election, an Electoral College composed of electors from each state and the District of Columbia vote in December to pick the new president and vice-president. The number of electors from each state are equal to the state's total number of Senators and Representatives in Congress from the previous term giving for example, Virginia with her 2 congressmen and 13 representatives, a total of 15 electors. The Electoral College is required to have at least one member from no less than 2/3 of the states, present to form a quorum before voting for the winners.

Harold Holzer, in his book "Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861," has posited that following Lincoln's election one of the reasons that he did not make any public statements in regards to secession or action against those states that had already seceded was the concern that if the Border States and the states of the Upper South seceded, there would not be a quorum when the Electoral College met to cast their votes. This of course begs the question which Holzer did not address, constitutionally what would have happened had some or all of the forementioned states seceded and the remaining electors failed to form a quorum?
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
The people of the United States have never directly elected the President. Following the November election, an Electoral College composed of electors from each state and the District of Columbia vote in December to pick the new president and vice-president. The number of electors from each state are equal to the state's total number of Senators and Representatives in Congress from the previous term giving for example, Virginia with her 2 congressmen and 13 representatives, a total of 15 electors. The Electoral College is required to have at least one member from no less than 2/3 of the states, present to form a quorum before voting for the winners.

Harold Holzer, in his book "Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861," has posited that following Lincoln's election one of the reasons that he did not make any public statements in regards to secession or action against those states that had already seceded was the concern that if the Border States and the states of the Upper South seceded, there would not be a quorum when the Electoral College met to cast their votes. This of course begs the question which Holzer did not address, constitutionally what would have happened had some or all of the forementioned states seceded and the remaining electors failed to form a quorum?
I am not a legal scholar but if no president is elected by the Electoral College then the Speaker of the House becomes the President. Obviously the Speaker of the House can only be a temporary president how to proceed now of becomes an issue for the US Supreme Court to address.
Leftyhunter
 

NedBaldwin

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California
The people of the United States have never directly elected the President. Following the November election, an Electoral College composed of electors from each state and the District of Columbia vote in December to pick the new president and vice-president. The number of electors from each state are equal to the state's total number of Senators and Representatives in Congress from the previous term giving for example, Virginia with her 2 congressmen and 13 representatives, a total of 15 electors. The Electoral College is required to have at least one member from no less than 2/3 of the states, present to form a quorum before voting for the winners.

Harold Holzer, in his book "Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861," has posited that following Lincoln's election one of the reasons that he did not make any public statements in regards to secession or action against those states that had already seceded was the concern that if the Border States and the states of the Upper South seceded, there would not be a quorum when the Electoral College met to cast their votes. This of course begs the question which Holzer did not address, constitutionally what would have happened had some or all of the forementioned states seceded and the remaining electors failed to form a quorum?
Meh

requirement is a majority of votes cast. Border states and upper south were not casting votes for him. He could still get a majority of votes cast without those states

the real issue was simply that he wanted the least number of seceded states when he took office
 

hoosier

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I'm not a legal scholar, either, but I tried to interpret what the Constitution says and I came up with a somewhat different interpretation.

My interpretation is that the Constitution does not define a quorum for the Electoral College. Rather, it says that if the vote in the Electoral College does not result in any one candidate receiving a majority, then the House of Representatives must immediately decide upon a winner - but for that purpose, a quorum shall consist of at least one member from two-thirds of the states.

Lincoln may have feared that, in the four-way race, he might not get a majority of the Electoral College votes, which would call for the race to be decided by the House.

There were only 33 states in the Union in 1860, 11 of which eventually seceded. If those 11 and any one other border state had seceded, that would have left fewer than 22 states still in the Union - less than two-thirds of the states, so there would not have been a quorum for the purpose of the House's electing a president.

I don't know what would have happened next.
 

NedBaldwin

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I'm not a legal scholar, either, but I tried to interpret what the Constitution says and I came up with a somewhat different interpretation.

My interpretation is that the Constitution does not define a quorum for the Electoral College. Rather, it says that if the vote in the Electoral College does not result in any one candidate receiving a majority, then the House of Representatives must immediately decide upon a winner - but for that purpose, a quorum shall consist of at least one member from two-thirds of the states.

Lincoln may have feared that, in the four-way race, he might not get a majority of the Electoral College votes, which would call for the race to be decided by the House.

There were only 33 states in the Union in 1860, 11 of which eventually seceded. If those 11 and any one other border state had seceded, that would have left fewer than 22 states still in the Union - less than two-thirds of the states, so there would not have been a quorum for the purpose of the House's electing a president.

I don't know what would have happened next.
Ok this is really fascinating

Yet even if a state claimed to secede, a congressman could show up in Dc
See Aj Hamilton of Texas
So he could cast the vote for texas
and JE bouligny could cast the vote for Louisiana

now the Republicans didn’t control enough state delegations to be able to elect Lincoln of the vote went to the house

The end result might be a Bell presidency
 

leftyhunter

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los angeles ca
Basically @Copperhead-mi has presented us with a realistic hypothetical . Ultimately complex legal questions involving a disputed presidential election get decided by the US Supreme Court. The meaning of the US Constitution is what ever five out of nine Supreme Court Justices say it is.
So therefore we can't really answer @Copperhead-mi question because it's a hypothetical. One can make hypothetical legal arguments to a hypothetical court and it's good practice for future attronies.
Leftyhunter
 

OpnCoronet

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Feb 23, 2010
The people of the United States have never directly elected the President. Following the November election, an Electoral College composed of electors from each state and the District of Columbia vote in December to pick the new president and vice-president. The number of electors from each state are equal to the state's total number of Senators and Representatives in Congress from the previous term giving for example, Virginia with her 2 congressmen and 13 representatives, a total of 15 electors. The Electoral College is required to have at least one member from no less than 2/3 of the states, present to form a quorum before voting for the winners.
Harold Holzer, in his book "Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861," has posited that following Lincoln's election one of the reasons that he did not make any public statements in regards to secession or action against those states that had already seceded was the concern that if the Border States and the states of the Upper South seceded, there would not be a quorum when the Electoral College met to cast their votes. This of course begs the question which Holzer did not address, constitutionally what would have happened had some or all of the forementioned states seceded and the remaining electors failed to form a quorum?




I think 22 states out of 33 is 2/3s of the states of he Union of that time, even without the border states.

The Congress is master of its own house and can change its rules to suit itself or conditions that affect it. It can even change the Constitution if it believes it necessary.

Although electoral questions may have been a part of Lincolns reasons for his silence, it was not , I believe the deciding factor. Lincoln did not want Any States to secede, and before the election no state had. He did not want anything he would say before the election to become fodder for the enemies of the Union to deliberate misconstrue or misinterpret in their efforts to divide the country.
 

ErnieMac

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It is my understanding the the electors of each state met and cast their ballots in early December prior to any secession. The votes were forwarded to Washington and were available for counting. Even though seven states had seceded before the electoral votes were counted in Congress on February 14, 1861, their votes were counted. I do not believe there is a quorum of states required unless no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes and it falls upon Congress to make the choice.
 

Mango Hill

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When did the Electoral College meet to cast their votes for POTUS? If the college met in December, 1860 the only state to secede that month was South Carolina on December 20. The rest of the six cotton states to secede did so before Lincoln took office. If the seven cotton states that seceded before Lincoln's inauguration did not send electors to the Electoral College that would still leave 26 of 33 states to form a quorum (78.7%).
 

Mango Hill

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It is my understanding the the electors of each state met and cast their ballots in early December prior to any secession. The votes were forwarded to Washington and were available for counting. Even though seven states had seceded before the electoral votes were counted in Congress on February 14, 1861, their votes were counted. I do not believe there is a quorum of states required unless no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes and it falls upon Congress to make the choice.

That answers my question. Good job.
 
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