Grateful American® Foundation

December 1 — December 15, 2020

History Matters

Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution grants the House of Representatives with the authority to determine the winner of a presidential election if neither candidate receives a majority of the total electoral votes.

In November 1824, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, and John Quincy Adams, the son of former president, John Adams, were grappling for the presidency. Secretary of State William H. Crawford and Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky were also on the ballot, but to win, one of the candidates had to receive at least 131 of the 261 electoral votes; nobody had managed it; so the House was scheduled to deliberate and decide on December 1, 1824.

Amendment 12 also requires the House to choose the winner based on the three candidates with the most electoral votes. Jackson had 99 electoral and 153,544 popular votes; John Quincy Adams had 84 electoral and 108,740 popular; William H. Crawford had 41, and Henry Clay, with 35 electoral votes, was the “odd man out.” But he and John Quincy Adams were friends; so Clay decided to transfer his support to him, and Adams was elected by the House to be the sixth President on February 9, 1825.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The First Presidential Contest: 1796 and the Founding of American Democracy by Jeffrey L. Pasley.

John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson


Governor William Phips of Britain’s Massachusetts Bay Colony issued the first paper money on December 10, 1690. His decision was based on a loss to the French forces for control of Quebec City. The British and the French angled to dominate the North American colonies, by attacking and looting each other’s outposts. Purloined treasures paid their soldiers, but Phips returned from the Battle of Quebec City empty handed; to avoid a mutiny, he petitioned the General Court of Massachusetts to issue a limited amount of official paper currency, the first paper money in the Western Hemisphere. After a few months, the privilege was rolled back — out of necessity.

Paper currency was not popular with the citizens of the colony; they wanted to return to the coin of the realm. But within a few years, it was back in circulation. To assuage people, it was eventually tied to the price of gold. And so, it would remain–until 1973– when gold backed currency was discontinued and replaced with government backed Federal Reserve Notes.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Everyday Life in Early America by David Freeman Hawke.

The first paper money


American colonists fought the Revolutionary War to gain independence from Great Britain–and then relied, in part– on the English Bill of Rights of 1689 to draft the first 12 Amendments to the Constitution. They were to become the American Bill of Rights. But according to National Constitution Center, “the 12 amendments didn’t all make it through the state ratification process. And in fact, the original First and Second Amendments fell short of approval by enough states to make it into the Constitution.”

That left the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which became the Bill of Rights–ratified by the states on December 15, 1791.

Those Rights protect the freedoms of speech; the press; religion and assembly; the right to bear arms and petition the government. They shield against housing soldiers in civilian homes against unreasonable search and seizure; the issuing of warrants without probable cause; unreasonable search and seizure; the issuing of warrants without probable cause; trial without indictment; double jeopardy; self-incrimination; property seizure excessive bail; excessive fines; cruel and unusual punishment.

The Bill of Rights declares that the rights granted in the Constitution shall not infringe on other rights, and that the Power not granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution belongs to the states or the people.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Origins of the Bill of Rights by Leonard W. Levy.

Signing the Bill of Rights

History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

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