Thursday, 4 May 2017

President Benjamin Fitzpatrick?

At one point, Senator Benjamin Fitzpatrick, former governor of Alabama....came very close to becoming President of the United States.  So this is the story.

In the long hot summer of 1860....the Democratic Convention was held and turned into a big mess.  The guy who was easily slated to win the nomination....Stephen A. Douglas (Sen, Ill, Democrat).  All he had to do was walk in and hustle up a few oddball representatives at the convention.  The representatives from Alabama and Louisiana?  They said the normal platform which read mostly that slavery was bad and would be dealt with one day....was not acceptable.  You could go back over five decades and find the same wording in every single Democratic platform.  The party intended to do little to nothing about the issue.

So, a fair number of convention members refused to vote for Douglas.  He never got more than 151 votes.  The party went through 57 ballots.  Douglas could not get the nomination.

The Democrats adjourned and left a fury.

They would meet a month later in Baltimore, and run an entirely different convention....refusing to seat some Alabama and Louisiana folks.  This time, Douglas won on the 2nd ballot.

The Vice-President?  Benjamin Fitzpatrick....Senator from Alabama.  At the age of 39, he became Governor of Alabama.  Three years later (after leaving the Governor's position), Fitzpatrick was appointed as temp fill-in for a dead Alabama Senator (serving one year).  Three years later, he filled another temp fill-in for another year in DC as Senator.

So, things were stacked up in 1860 for Douglas to easy win and Fitzpatrick to be his VP.  Because of the break-up of the Democratic Party in this election.....Lincoln beat Douglas, and the rest is history.

If the Democrats had not broken up their vote?  Douglas would have won, but gone on to have Typhoid Fever in 1861, and die in the summer of 1861 from the fever.  Alabama's Fitzpatrick would have assumed the Presidency and likely served out that three-and-a-half years, plus another four (if re-elected).

Rarely does this ever get brought up....but he's about the only Alabamian to ever get that close to the Presidency.