Who is David K. Carter?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

May 16, 1860, Chicago, Illinois – Upwards of 40,000 visitors have descended on this upstart of a city. Trains continue to shuttle travelers from the south, east, and west. The Republican Party Convention was just beginning, and thousands of ticket holders flocked into the newly constructed convention center, nicknamed the Wigwam. Precisely at noon, New York Governor Edwin Morgan gaveled the convention into session. After some debate, the first order of business was to reject a motion to require a two-thirds vote for the nomination. This decision made Auburn’s William Seward the favorite to receive the Republican nomination for President of the United States. On the first ballot, Seward was in the lead but failed to gain the needed simple majority. Others garnering support were Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, Edward Bates of Missouri, Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania, and Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. A second ballot ensued, and once again, Seward failed to gain the majority, but Lincoln surprisingly emerged as a strong second. Conversations among the delegates revealed that Lincoln had been the second choice of the vast majority of the delegates, and with a little persuading, he could be their first choice. The third vote was called. Lincoln was 1 ½ votes shy of the nomination. Silence fell over the crowd. Soon David K. Carter of Ohio rose to his feet and proclaimed that Ohio was switching four votes from Salmon P. Chase to Abraham Lincoln. This unlikely act, barely even a footnote in history books, was a turning point in American history.

If you do a simple Google search on David K. Carter, you will likely not find this information. If you add 1860 to the search, you might find it buried in other historical records, and yet, this act of switching four of Ohio’s votes from Governor Chase to Abraham Lincoln changed history. What would the history of our great country be without Abraham Lincoln? We were one intense time of difficulty, requiring a decision that became a turning point, from finding out. (To refresh your memory, in previous weeks, I have used this definition of a crisis, “an intense time of difficulty requiring a decision that will be a turning point.”)

As we go through life, there are times when we are faced with profound decisions. Decisions that determine our future path. Often these decisions come in times of intense difficulty. This is also the time when we may be most likely to react in “safe” mode. It would have been safer for David K. Carter and his three friends to stick with Governor Chase. Certainly safer when he got back home to Ohio. Clark and his colleagues didn’t play it safe; they seized the opportunity and made a decision that was a turning point in the history of our country. We can know a decision has the potential to become a turning point when the stakes are highest, “an intense time of difficulty.” Right now, opportunities are all around us for turning points that will change our lives and perhaps the lives of those around us. Now is the time to hold on to our values and make the decisions that will profoundly change our future. I can’t wait to see the results!

If you would like to hear more about identifying turning points, please join Marisa Norcross and me on Episode 150 of The Next Page podcast.

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