For this President’s Day, here’s a tale of California’s decisive role in one presidential election.

The 1916 election between Democratic incumbent Woodrow Wilson and Republican challenger Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes was one of the closest in American history. The voters of California would decide the man who would be president and, collectively, those voters were divided.

The election was held in the shadow of war in Europe. President Wilson argued for neutrality. He ran on the slogan: He kept us out of war.” Hughes, former New York Governor, and future Secretary of State and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, had won the Republican nomination as a compromise candidate to unite the moderate and conservative wings of the Republican Party.

With Hughes winning the big electoral vote states of the day in the Northeast and most of the Midwest, the race came down to the 13 Electoral Votes in the Golden State. California’s neighbor to the north, Oregon, had gone for Hughes, the only western state besides South Dakota to do so, and if California joined in, Hughes would be president.

The California vote was extremely close. No one was sure how it would turn out. Of 928,805 votes cast for president, Wilson would win by a mere 3773.

With 266 electoral votes needed to win, Wilson won 30 states and 277 electoral votes. Hughes won 18 states and 254 electoral votes. If 1,887 votes changed sides in California, only two-tenths of one percent of the votes cast, Hughes would have won the state and the electoral vote battle 268 to 264, enough to claim the presidency.

Because of the long count in California and the time difference to the East Coast, it is said Charles Evans Hughes went to bed believing he was the newly elected president. Legend has it when a reporter tried to call Hughes the next morning he was informed, “The president is sleeping.”

The reporter replied, “When he wakes up, tell him he isn’t the president anymore.”

California had spoken.