Welcome to America Comes Alive!, a site I created to share little-known stories of America’s past. These stories are about Americans—people just like you—who have made a difference and changed the course of history. Look around the site and find what inspires you.

Our rich history of Election Day has to do with the different ways we have cast our ballots, the way we have received the news, and the way we have celebrated the day.


Hearing the Election News

Today’s voters will hear election results from many sources almost immediately after the polls close:  News organizations will have the information online as it comes in, and radio and television will be announcing the news as it happens.  Facebook and the Twitterverse will be filled with speculation as soon as is conceivably possible.

This wasn’t the case in the 1920s when crowds would gather outside the local newspaper offices to await word.  Few were content to await word at home so they gathered and waited.  The newspapers couldn’t guarantee the timing of any announcement so they developed plans for entertaining the crowds.

Outside the St. Louis newspaper office, the audience was promised movies, including a first-run release, Mutt and Jeff in The Politicians, a Harold Lloyd comedy, a review of current events, a Charlie Chaplin comedy and—this is my favorite–a “never-before-seen-by-the-public” motion picture made by “x-ray process, showing movement of the kneecap, etc.”

Continue reading…


"What can one person do?"
Read some of the stories on this site; you'll see that they revolve around single individuals who worked toward change.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead


vote button
I am often asked whether someone’s vote “really counts because the person lives in a red state ?” The answer is: “Yes! It does.” Americans have both the right and the responsibility to go to the polls on Election Day.  There are many local issues to be decided… Continue reading »

log cabin
As we mark Election Day 2012, it seems a good time to look back at how our traditions have changed over time. Political Campaigns Were Different During the very early elections in this country, candidates did not campaign.  It was considered unseemly to beg for votes. A candidate’s friends and supporters… Continue reading »

Waving Flag
Originally everything was back-timed so that the voting would be completed by the time the Electoral College was to meet on the first Wednesday in December; in 1792 it was specified that the election for presidential electors needed to be held “within 34 days preceding the first Wednesday in December, every fourth year.” In 1844 a bill was introduced (passed… Continue reading »

TVcamera
As we look toward the final debate in this 2012 election season, it’s good to be reminded of how brief the history of presidential debates actually is.  Because the names Lincoln and Douglas can barely be mentioned without an association with debating, one might assume that the practice of holding… Continue reading »

This Day in History

On August 24, 1814 (during the War of 1812), British troops enter Washington, D.C. and set the White House on fire. President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, fled before they arrived. Before leaving, Dolley was able to save a full-length portrait of George Washington that hung on the walls of the White House.

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