Description

    During the controversial 1824 presidential election, Governor Wolcott gives his opinion on the electoral college

    [1824 Presidential Election] Oliver Wolcott, Jr. Letter Signed Twice as Governor of Connecticut Imparting Advice Regarding the Electoral College, with a lengthy postscript in his hand. Three pages, 7.75" x 9.75", New Haven, May 19, 1824. Addressed to Judge Ogden Edwards of the First Circuit, Wooster carefully expresses his opinion regarding conflicting resolutions passed by the New York State Senate and House of Representatives on the Electoral Bills. In part:

    "Personally I have no doubt, that a choice of Electors by the People, is most conformable to the Constitution of the United States, and that unnecessary restraints upon the Election franchise, are the most dangerous errors which Legislators can commit.

    If the Electors are chosen by the People, I have but little doubt that they will concur in giving an united and effective vote for the State of New York. It may, and probably now is altogether uncertain upon whom
    [Andrew Jackson or John Quincy Adams] the votes will fall; but the People will tranquilly acquiesce in any decision made by persons chosen by themselves: they will not be equally submissive to decisions made by Electors appointed in any other manner. In so great a State as New York, dangerous and permanent factions may be created which may occasion much trouble of paralyze the Government."

    Edwards had written to Wolcott by request of New York Governor Joseph Yates. Wolcott is careful in his language and explicit that it be clear that his advice is given only by request. He insists, "no use shall be made of this letter unless at the desire of Governor Yates, and before the knowledge that I have communicated any opinion, is made known by you, to any other person whatever."

    Wolcott adds the following cryptic postscript, signing the letter a second time: "Mr. Edwards informs me that I misapprehended his meaning when I wrote the first part of this letter & that he intended merely to convey the idea that my opinion would be acceptable to Governor Yates." Although the letter is formally addressed to Edwards, the postscript suggests that the true recipient was likely Governor Yates himself.

    New York would maintain its practice of allowing their state legislature to choose its electors for the 1824 election. This would no doubt contribute to the controversial results of the hotly contested race between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. Although Jackson won the popular vote, he did not receive the necessary 131 electoral votes to constitute a majority. John Quincy Adams would eventually win the race after the presidential election was passed to the US House of Representatives. Unlike New York, Electors of the state of Connecticut were chosen by popular vote statewide.

    The letter has uneven toning with light chipping to the second page.


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    October, 2010
    14th-15th Thursday-Friday
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