Wednesday, November 6, 2013


November 6, 2013


Saigon, South Vietnam (JFK+50) 50 years ago today, November 6, 1963, just days after a coup resulted in the overthrow and death of President Ngo Dinh Diem, the leader of the Revolutionary Military Committee, General Duong Van Minh*, took leadership of South Vietnam.

Nguen Ngoc, a Buddhist, became premier, but the Revolutionary committee, led by Minh, held the real power for 3 months.

Duong Van "Big" Minh (1916-2001) was born in French Indochina to a wealthy landlord.  He served in the French army in WWII and led in the overthrow of South Vietnamese president Diem in 1963. 

Big Minh remained in power only 3 months.  His nickname came from the fact that at 6 feet, 198 pounds, Big Minh was larger than the average Vietnamese.

Duong Van Minh 
April 28, 1975


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) With the nation sharply divided over the issue of slavery, Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was elected the 16th President of the United States 153 years ago today, November 6, 1860.

Mr. Lincoln, the 1st Republican to win the presidency, pledged to end the spread of slavery into the western territories. The party, which had been organized in 1854, promised, however, not to interfere with slavery in the states.

The Republicans also promised to enact a protective tariff, provide federal aid for internal improvements as well as a transcontinental railroad and free homesteads.

President-elect Lincoln carried the North and the West, but did not win a single state in the South.  Lincoln's name did not even appear on the ballot south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Abraham Lincoln Impersonator 
Knoxville, Tennessee
Photo by John White (2010)

The final electoral count was:

Abraham Lincoln (R) 180
John C. Breckinridge (SD) 72
John Bell (CU) 39
Stephen A. Douglas (ND) 12

The Democrats, divided over the slavery question, had split into two factions.

The northern Democrats, led by Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, supported popular sovereignty or the right of the people of each territory make their own choice on slavery by popular vote.

The southern Democrats, led by John C. Breckinridge of South Carolina, demanded enforcement of the Dred Scott Decision by which the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were not citizens of the United States.

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled also that slaves were property and therefore "Congress may not deprive any person of the right to take property into federal territories."

A 3rd party, the Constitutional Union Party, attempted to avoid disunion over the slavery issue and ran John Bell of Tennessee.

Lincoln's election was the "last straw" for many Southerners and in December 1860 the state of South Carolina seceded from the Union followed by 6 other southern states. 

By the spring of 1861, civil war was on the horizon.


"American History," by Irving L. Gordon, Second Edition, Amsco School Publications, Inc., New York, 1996.