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INV-23772 JAMES BUCHANAN Autograph Letter Signed. Wheatland, near Lancaster [Pennsylvania], January 28, 1852. 1 p., 8 x 10 in. 1852-01-28

“By adopting the rule, it was believed that a majority of the Delegates representing Democratic States could be secured in favor of the nominee. Besides, the Southern States will doubtless adhere to it [the two-thirds rule] with her tenacity, as it gives them the power of preventing the nomination of any individual obnoxious to themselves...”

The future president writes to fellow Pennsylvania Democrat Andrew H. Reeder, about the possibility of repealing their party’s rule for nominating presidential candidates. The rule, adapted in 1832 at the first Democratic Party convention, required a two-thirds supermajority to nominate a presidential and vice-presidential candidate. Buchanan correctly predicts the rule will stay in force to maintain heavy Southern influence over the nominating process. This, like the three-fifths rule of the U.S. Constitution, was a crucial factor allowing the South to protect slavery.

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