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The Way We Were: Presidential Transition in a Divided United States

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

By Ian Irvine   December 2016

After November elections, the new US President is installed in January—but before the Constitutional Amendment of 1933 the transition lasted until March. In the past this long interregnum could prove fateful when the country was ill at ease. On 6th November 1860, Abraham Lincoln (below) was elected president, the candidate of the Republican Party (founded in 1854), which opposed slavery in new states. His election caused immediate uproar in the Southern slave-owning states and threats of secession. Meanwhile President James Buchanan, a Democrat, remained in the…

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