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 Posted: Thu Nov 26th, 2009 01:45 pm
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ole
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A new president is elected in early November. He does not become president until his inauguration -- presently January. When Lincoln was elected, his inauguration was March 4. In the interim, he is president-elect.

Coincidently, Lincoln's inauguration marked the end of the 36th congressional session. Most went home on March 5th. The 37th Congress would normally meet the following December.

We're likely all confused about whether Lincoln could have, upon his inauguration, asked the Congress to remain in session. Half of the house of representative's terms expired at the end of that 36th session, and 1/3 of the Senate. I am, at least, unsure of whether he could have legally extended their terms for a special session.

When he called for a special session to convene on July 4th, I'm assuming he allowed time for the states to call for special elections to elect their new congressmen.

Today, given the situation in 1861, we might assume that he'd want a sitting Congress in place to help deal with the secessions. It was not quite so simple.

We see those who insist that Lincoln welcomed the absence of a Congress that might interfere with his intentions to prosecute a war. The way I see it, retaining Congress, if possible, would have signalled an intent to start a war. Upon assuming office, Lincoln was tasked with a very delicate situation. I doubt that a sitting Congress would have helped the situation.

Ole

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