The first concession of the president in 1896 established a tradition of more than 120 years.


As the country enters the third day since the day Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 elections, Donald Trump has still not congratulated his rival on the victory decided by the American people.

The outgoing president has not hinted that he will yield to his Democratic rival and instead continues to hope that the election will indeed prove to be his, and his unsubstantiated claims about electoral fraud have been proven.

Should Trump fail to make a formal concession in the remaining two months of his last term in the White House, he will have broken with a tradition that goes back more than 120 years.

As the National Geographic noted, while there have been winners and, of course, losers in presidential elections for a century, it was only when defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan wrote to the winner of the 1896 election, Republican William McKinley, that the custom of writing a formal concession began.

It was not until about 11 p.m. on election night that Bryan realized that he would lose and decided to send a telegram to McKinley.

“Senator Jones has just informed me that the response indicates your election, and I hurry to congratulate you,” he wrote in the transcript.

“We have brought the matter before the American people, and their will is law.”

In his memoirs, Bryan said he was surprised at how well the letter of congratulations was received because he believed it was the natural thing to do.

“This exchange of messages was much commented upon at the time, although I do not know why it should be considered exceptional,” Bryan wrote. “We did not fight each other, but stood as representatives of different political ideas, between which the people had to choose.

In 1916, Republican Charles Evans Hughes waited nearly two weeks to congratulate incumbent Woodrow Wilson after a close election that won Wilson only a few thousand votes.

The deciding state of California, which both candidates needed to win, originally declared that Hughes had won the election before a two-day recount was ordered and decided that Wilson had won by about 3,00 votes.

Hughes originally accused his rival of fraud before finally announcing it: “In the absence of evidence of fraud, no such outcry should be raised to obscure the title of the next president of the United States.

After Biden’s victory, the earlier concession speeches by John McCain and Al Gore, praising them for their mercy in defeat, spread like wildfire.


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