CHICO, Calif. - A president-elect is ready to take the helm, as a sitting president has turned to legal challenges against election night results and voting. Election 2020 has been a contentious and divisive affair.
But apparently, the act of not conceding to a president elect is not an isolated incident. Action News Now caught up with a history professor from Chico State to talk about it.
"Well, this is a very unusual time," said history professor Robert Tinkler.
Action News Now asked Tinkler about the history of the peaceful transition of power in our country.
"It's only been since 1963 that there's been a formal transition process between presidencies. President Ford did it in 1976. President (Jimmy] Carter) did it in 1980. President George Herbert Walker Bush did it in 1992."
"There have definitely been two main instances, I think, where Americans were concerned about an incoming presidency. One was in 1861 right after the election of Abraham Lincoln. Between the time Lincoln was elected and the time he was inaugurated seven states in the deep south declared themselves out of the country. They left the United States simply because of the election of Abraham Lincoln."
Tinkler says after the Civil War there was the election of 1876. Presidential candidates were Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden. On election night in November 1876, neither candidate was willing to concede.
"There was this electoral commission that decided the election. That last vote in the commission about assigning votes took place on February the 28th. The president was inaugurated on March the 4th, so the election wasn't decided until less than a week -- until the new president took over. There were some people who were saying if the election didn't go their way, particularly Democrats, maybe there would be another Civil War."
That did not happen. Just as our country is divided now, that historic moment revealed a fractured nation that survived such a deep division.
Tinkler also tells Action News Now the short transition between president Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush may have been a factor in American readiness for that terrorist attack, according to the 9-11 Commission.
Incidentally, presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Johnson have been the only U.S. presidents who did not attend their successor's inauguration.