First Presidential Concession in 1896 Started Tradition Lasting More than 120 Years

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

The outgoing president has given no indication that he will concede to his Democratic rival and instead continues to hope that the election will actually prove to be his, and his baseless claims regarding voter fraud are proven.

If Trump manages not to provide a formal concession during the remainder of his final two months in the White House, he will have broken a tradition which stretches back more than 120 years.

As noted by the National Geographic, while there had been winners, and of course losers, in presidential elections for a century, it wasn't until defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan wrote to the winner of the 1896 election, Republican William McKinley, that the custom of writing an official concession began.

It was around 11 p.m. on the night of the election that Bryan realized he was going to lose, and chose to send a telegram to McKinley.

"Senator Jones has just informed me that the returns indicate your election, and I hasten to extend my congratulations," he wrote according to transcripts.

"We have submitted the issue to the American people and their will is law."

In his memoirs, Bryan said he was surprised about how well received the letter of congratulations was, given as he saw it was the natural thing to do.

"This exchange of messages was much commented upon at the time, though why it should be considered extraordinary I do not know," Bryan wrote. "We were not fighting each other, but stood as the representatives of different political ideas, between which the people were to choose."

In 1916, Republican Charles Evans Hughes waited nearly two weeks to congratulate incumbent Woodrow Wilson following a tight election which swung to Wilson by just a few thousand votes.

The decisive state of California, which both candidates needed to win, originally declared Hughes had taken it, before a two-day recount was ordered and ruled that Wilson won by around 3,00 votes.

Hughes originally accused his rival of fraud, before eventually announcing: "In the absence of proof of fraud no such cry should be raised to becloud the title of the next President of the United States."

In the wake of Biden's victory, previous concession speeches from John McCain and Al Gore have gone viral as people praise them for their graciousness in defeat.

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A woman signs an 'eviction notice' for President Donald Trump hanging on the security fence that surrounds the White House November 08, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty