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Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Confederate Presidential Electors

One argument in the Section 3 debate is that the presidency was excluded from the list of offices subject to disqualification because presidential electors were included. There is no way, the argument goes, that "loyal" electors would vote for a former Confederate like Jefferson Davis. There are several problems with this claim, but for now let's focus on one. A hard-core Confederate could be a presidential elector so long as he was not covered by Section 3.

Exhibit A: General John B. Gordon. Gordon was one of Lee's most trusted lieutenants at Antietam and Gettysburg. This was impressive given that Gordon had never served in the military or in office before the Civil War. This also meant, though, that Section 3 did not apply to him. In 1868, he was a Democratic presidential elector for Horatio Seymour and cast a vote for Seymour, who won Gordon's home state of Georgia. Seymour was not a Confederate. But Gordon (a vicious racist) would have voted for one if given the chance.

Fortunately, Gordon did not have that option for Jefferson Davis, because Section Three rendered him ineligible for the White House. 

UPDATE: If you look at the other Georgia presidential electors in 1868, several of them were ex-Confederate soldiers. Colonel James D. Waddell and Major J.B. Cumming are two examples.

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on October 17, 2023 at 01:43 PM | Permalink


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