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The Long Count

March 2023
1min read

As the returns came in through the long night of November 7, first The New York Times , then the New York World conceded the presidential election to Charles Evans Hughes, bearing out the odds makers’ 10-to-7 line against the incumbent, Woodrow Wilson. The Far West was yet to be heard from when news of the Times ’s concession interrupted the Wilsons’ game of Twenty Questions in Princeton. “Well,” said the judicious President, “I will not send Mr. Hughes a telegram of congratulations tonight, for things are not settled. …” He proposed to Mrs. Wilson that they have a glass of milk and go to bed. There was nothing to be done for now.

Meanwhile, at the Hotel Astor in New York, the Republican candidate turned in confident that big wins in the East and Middle Atlantic states had won him the Presidency. While both candidates slept, Kansas and Utah tipped toward Wilson, moving the final contest to California, Minnesota, North Dakota, and New Mexico. The electoral vote stood at 251 to 247 for Wilson by midnight of November 8. Hughes led in Southern California, but Wilson took the state, and a victory in New Mexico put him ahead by the evening of the ninth. After attending a baptism at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Williamstown, Massachusetts, the Wilsons returned triumphantly to Washington on the twelfth. A final tally was ready when they reached Union Station: 277 electoral votes to 254, and 9,129,606 popular votes to 8,538,221. On November 22 Hughes cabled his congratulations at last, “a little moth-eaten when it got here,” according to Wilson, “but quite legible.”

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