Was George Washington Really Elected President Unanimously?

Annie69 By Annie69, 20th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>History

George Washington was unanimously elected the nation's first President with 69 electoral votes. A review of the Electoral College indicates there should have been 81 votes available. What happened to the missing 12 votes?


The Constitution was approved by the Constitutional Convention in September 1787. Ratification by the required nine states was completed in June 1788 and two more states approved it by the end of July. It was now time to elect the men who would become the nation's first leaders. (North Carolina and Rhode Island rejected the new government and did not ratify the Constitution until after the first election.)

Electoral College

Based on population, each state was allowed so many electors who would vote for the President. Each elector had two votes, one for the President and one for the Vice President. At the time, there was no separate provision for the election of a Vice President. This office would be filled by the man who got the second most votes.

The number of electors per state was as follows:

Connecticut 7
Delaware 3
Georgia 5
Massachusetts 10
Maryland 8
New Hampshire 5
New Jersey 6
New York 8
Pennsylvania 10
South Carolina 7
Virginia 12


As you can see, it should have taken 81 votes to be unanimous, not 69; so why the discrepancy?

The Vote

Two of Maryland's electors didn't vote. One district in Virginia didn't select an elector, while one of its remaining electors didn't vote. New York was supposed to have had eight votes but failed to appoint their electors in time.

This is why only 69 votes were cast instead of the 81 available.

To be entirely accurate, Washington was unanimously elected by those who voted.

(Source: Electoral College Box Scores 1789-1996)


Election Of 1788-1789, Electoral College, George Washington

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 Peter B. Giblett
20th Sep 2015 (#)

Annie, that is interesting, but it could be said that it was unanimous because if you choose not to vote then you have made acceded your view to other voters.

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author avatar Annie69
21st Sep 2015 (#)

I agree, but as a kid in school, I was under the impression there were only 69 votes available. As an adult, I prefer a more complete answer. Thanks for the comment.

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