Election Facts: From 1788 to 1848

Annie69 By Annie69, 19th Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

During America's first four years, Vice Presidents were not elected. They were presidential losers. Read how the election process has evolved over the years.
Reprint of Historically Yours column, Boonville Daily News on November 5, 2014.

Presidential losers

The Constitution does not allow for the election of a Vice President. To paraphrase Article II, Section 3, paragraph 3 of the Constitution, a president shall be elected and the person who comes in second shall be Vice President.

The only year in which there was a presidential election and the year wasn't divisible by 4 was 1789. In the beginning, when the Constitution first took affect, states did not all vote on the same day. The first election was held from Monday, December 15, 1788, to Saturday, January 10, 1789.

The election of 1800 was the first that had to be decided in the House of Representatives. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr each had 73 electoral votes. After seven days, and on the 36th ballot, Jefferson was elected President and Burr became Vice President.

Amendment 12

By the election of 1804, Amendment 12 had been passed and ratified. It allowed for the election of a Vice President.

The election of 1808 is a good example of how far the election process has come. Three men--James Madison, George Clinton, and James Monroe--were all candidates for President AND Vice President. Madison received 122 electoral votes for President and three for Vice President. Clinton received six for President and 113 for Vice President, while Monroe received none for President and three for Vice President. Three other men were on the ballot but James Madison and George Clinton won the election.

In 1824, the House of Representatives had to again decide on the next President. Although it wasn't a tie, none of the candidates had the 131 electoral votes necessary to win the election. According to Amendment 12, the House would chose between the three with the most votes. The House chose Andrew Jackson.

As the concept of "running mates" was still in the future, John C. Calhoun's Vice Presidency was never an issue. Calhoun had received 182 electoral votes and would have served under whichever President the House elected.

In 1836, it was the Vice Presidential candidate that didn't receive enough votes to win the election. It required 148 electoral votes to win and Richard M. Johnson was one short. According to Amendment 12, the Senate had to decide from the two with the most votes. Johnson was chosen over Francis Granger.

Another big change took place in the election of 1848. All states now voted on the same day.

These are just a few election facts from our first 60 years. Many more twists and changes were to follow.


Amendment 12, House Of Representatives, Presidents, Senate, Us Constitution, Vice Presidents

Meet the author

author avatar Annie69
History column appears weekly in local newspaper. Also news, human interest, and pictures. My fiction and poems have appeared in literary anthologies and I've written 3 novels

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author avatar Retired
19th Nov 2014 (#)

Interesting article. As an English person, I find this very enlightening and educational to read. =)

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
19th Nov 2014 (#)

This is an interesting article. It has always seemed to me that the US electoral process was too long and too drawn out - voting in November for a president that took office in January. In all the remainder of the worlds democracies the new office holder takes office the next day. Of course USA has a lot of distance to consider, but even so it is still a long time.

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