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1824 Presidential Elections - History

1824 Presidential Elections - History

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1824 Election Results Jackson vs Adams VS

The campaign to succeed Monroe as President began early, with many different candidates being suggested. It soon came down to four viable candidates: William Crawford, Secretary of Treasury, John Q. Adams, Henry Clay, and General Andrew Jackson. Crawford was the first to be an official candidate, being selected by the caucus of Republican Congressmen. Being chosen by a caucus actually hurt Crawford's chances, when he became identified with a system of selection that was out of favor. Each of those nominated represented a different geographic part of the country. As had become common in Presidential campaigns, the newspapers of the time wrote very favorable items about those they supported.
Conversely, newspapers attacked those they opposed with venom. They made fun of how poorly Adams dressed and his "English" wife. They called Clay "a drunkard and gambler." They charged that Crawford had done unlawful acts while in office, and accused Jackson of murder.

It became clear that no candidate received the majority of either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was in the clear lead, with 99 electoral votes and 152,901 popular votes. Adams had 84 electoral votes and 11,023 popular votes. Crawford was a poor third, and Clay brought up the rear.

As no candidate received 50% of the electoral votes, under the provisions of the twelfth amendment to the constitution, the House voted for the President. Each state had one vote, and only the top three vote recipients participated. Clay who came in fourth could not compete. Clay believed that Adams was the best qualified to be President. He did not think that Jackson's success as a general meant he was ready for the Presidency and thus supported Adams. Adams laters selected Clay to be his Secretary of State, thus opening the way for charges that it was a "corrupt bargain."

State results in 1824

Popular Results in 1824

AdamsJacksonClayCrawfordTotal Votes
New Hampshire9,38993.600006436.410,032
New Jersey8,30941.910,33352.1001,196619,838
North Carolina0020,231560015,62243.335,853
Rhode Island2,14491,500002,3448.54,488

United States presidential election of 1828

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United States presidential election of 1828, American presidential election held in 1828, in which Democrat Andrew Jackson defeated National Republican John Quincy Adams .

The results of the 1828 U.S. presidential election are provided in the table.

American presidential election, 1828
presidential candidate political party electoral votes popular votes
Source: United States Office of the Federal Register.
Andrew Jackson Democratic 178 647,286
John Quincy Adams National Republican 83 508,064

Presidential election goes to the House of Representatives

As no presidential candidate had received a majority of the total electoral votes in the election of 1824, Congress decides to turn over the presidential election to the House of Representatives, as dictated by the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In the November 1824 election, 131 electoral votes, just over half of the 261 total, were necessary to elect a candidate president. Although it had no bearing on the outcome of the election, popular votes were counted for the first time in this election. On December 1, 1824, the results were announced. Andrew Jackson of Tennessee won 99 electoral and 153,544 popular votes John Quincy Adams—the son of John Adams, the second president of the United States—received 84 electoral and 108,740 popular votes Secretary of State William H. Crawford, who had suffered a stroke before the election, received 41 electoral votes and Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky won 37 electoral votes.

As dictated by the Constitution, the election was then turned over to the House of Representatives. The 12th Amendment states that if no electoral majority is won, only the three candidates who receive the most popular votes will be considered in the House. Representative Henry Clay, who was disqualified from the House vote as a fourth-place candidate, agreed to use his influence to have John Quincy Adams elected. Clay and Adams were both members of a loose coalition in Congress that by 1828 became known as the National Republicans, while Jackson’s supporters were later organized into the Democratic Party.

23d. The 1824 Election and the "Corrupt Bargain"

Henry Clay was thrice a candidate for the Presidency and the chief architect of the Compromise of 1850 which moved slavery to the forefront of Congressional debates.

The 1824 presidential election marked the final collapse of the Republican-Federalist political framework. For the first time no candidate ran as a Federalist, while five significant candidates competed as Democratic-Republicans. Clearly, no party system functioned in 1824. The official candidate of the Democratic-Republicans to replace Monroe was William H. Crawford , the secretary of the treasury. A caucus of Republicans in Congress had selected him, but this backing by party insiders turned out to be a liability as other candidates called for a more open process for selecting candidates.

The outcome of the very close election surprised political leaders. The winner in the all-important Electoral College was Andrew Jackson, the hero of the War of 1812, with ninety-nine votes. He was followed by John Quincy Adams , the son of the second president and Monroe's secretary of state, who secured eighty-four votes. Meanwhile Crawford trailed well behind with just forty-one votes. Although Jackson seemed to have won a narrow victory, receiving 43 percent of the popular vote versus just 30 percent for Adams, he would not be seated as the country's sixth president. Because nobody had received a majority of votes in the electoral college, the House of Representatives had to choose between the top two candidates.

After losing the Presidency to Andrew Jackson in 1828, John Quincy Adams was elected to the House of Representatives where he served until his death in 1848.

Henry Clay, the speaker of the House of Representatives, now held a decisive position. As a presidential candidate himself in 1824 (he finished fourth in the electoral college), Clay had led some of the strongest attacks against Jackson. Rather than see the nation's top office go to a man he detested, the Kentuckian Clay forged an Ohio Valley-New England coalition that secured the White House for John Quincy Adams. In return Adams named Clay as his secretary of state, a position that had been the stepping-stone to the presidency for the previous four executives.

This arrangement, however, hardly proved beneficial for either Adams or Clay. Denounced immediately as a " corrupt bargain " by supporters of Jackson, the antagonistic presidential race of 1828 began practically before Adams even took office. To Jacksonians the Adams-Clay alliance symbolized a corrupt system where elite insiders pursued their own interests without heeding the will of the people.

The Jacksonians , of course, overstated their case after all, Jackson fell far short of a majority in the general vote in 1824. Nevertheless, when the Adams administration continued to favor a strong federal role in economic development, Jacksonians denounced their political enemies as using government favors to reward their friends and economic elites. By contrast, Jackson presented himself as a champion of the common man and by doing so furthered the democratization of American politics.

Think 2020 Is Bad? The Election of 1824 Was the Closest in U.S. History

Perhaps the 2020 election could be classified as one of the tightest races in American history with results not even determined more than 48 hours after Election Day. Politicians and historians, however, point to previous elections, where the chase was even more competitive and exhausting. And 1824 was the craziest of all.

The hunt for 270 Electoral College votes to secure a White House win for the 2020 presidential race has been wired with suspense and has put pollsters under extra scrutiny, as state and national polls paved the path for a Joe Biden landslide. But voters haven’t seen the results yet, as margins between President Donald Trump and Biden remain razor-thin with four of the uncalled states posting the former vice-president hovering leads around one percent.

Perhaps the 2020 election could be classified as one of the tightest races in American history with results not even determined more than 48 hours after Election Day. Politicians and historians, however, point to previous elections, where the chase was even more competitive and exhausting.

What could be tighter than the 2020 presidential election?

After “the Era of Good Feelings”

Despite the search for unity, four candidates emerged in the election of 1824: John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson and William H. Crawford.

While Adams and Crawford built a bubbling feud within the Democratic-Republican Party, even though they served together on President James Monroe’s Cabinet, Jackson, a “military commander,” became the candidate who resisted traditional politicians, emphasizing that he would nix any “corrupt” aristocrats if he were to become president.

The tight election results swirled vexation among voters, as well as within the candidates themselves, as no presidential candidate grappled a majority of the number of electoral votes needed to secure a spot in the White House. At the time, a candidate needed 131 electoral votes -- slightly more than half of the total Electoral College votes, which was 261.

It wasn’t until Dec. 1, 1824 that the results were announced. Jackson led in terms of electoral votes and in the popular vote, earning 99 votes with about 41 percent of the popular vote, with Adams trailing behind at 84 votes and about 31 percent of the popular vote, followed by Crawford, who battled a stroke prior to the election, at 41 votes and 11 percent of the popular vote and Clay with 37 votes.

While Adams earned a victory in New England, Jackson and Adams split the mid-Atlantic states. Jackson and Clay also divided the Western states, and Jackson and Crawford saw a bridge in the South, confirming the candidates’ regional support.

With no apparent electoral win, Congress pushed the election to the House of Representatives to determine the final results, as guided by the 12th Amendment.

The amendment states that in the event of no electoral majority, the three leading popular vote candidates would be considered at the House-level.

Clay -- who rallied less than 13 percent of the popular vote -- was disqualified from the race, as he was the fourth-ranking candidate.

A motion was set in place by the Kentucky legislature to Clay, who served for Kentucky as the speaker of the House, to give him the state’s delegate vote support. But rather than welcoming the support, he encouraged the legislature to back Adams’ candidacy. Both Clay and Adams embraced a “loose coalition” in Congress that years later surfaced as the National Republicans.

Clay’s widespread support helped Adams’ presidential candidacy, with the House delivering a win for him on Feb. 9, 1825 -- nearly three months after Election Day. Clay was then appointed as Secretary of State under his administration.

But Clay’s sudden support for Adams and top cabinet position angered Jackson, as the defeated candidate dubbed the exchange as their “corrupt bargain.”

After Adams served in the White House for four years, he experienced a brutal loss by Jackson, when he lost more than twice as many electoral college votes as Jackson.

The election of 1824 served as a period of division within the country, as the presidential candidates and their supporters rebalanced ideology and political values. With such a tight race among four candidates, it took a long time for Americans to recover from the political heat intertwined between the candidates, which translated onto their supporters.

Fast forward nearly two centuries, and America is seeing a similar divide now. The election results between Trump and Biden will not grant one of them a clear landslide, but instead show a clear disunity in a country, as battleground states show margins that are so close that the president has requested a recount in one of them.

Like 1824, tight election results indicate an apparent separation in America that could take decades to end.


1824: John Quincy Adams Edit

The 1824 presidential election, held on October 26, 1824, was the first election in American history in which the popular vote mattered, as 18 states chose presidential electors by popular vote (six states still left the choice up to their state legislatures). When the final votes were tallied in those 18 states on December 1, Andrew Jackson polled 152,901 popular votes to John Quincy Adams's 114,023 Henry Clay won 47,217, and William H. Crawford won 46,979. The electoral college returns, however, gave Jackson only 99 votes, 32 fewer than he needed for a majority of the total votes cast. Adams won 84 electoral votes followed by 41 for Crawford, and 37 for Clay when the Electoral College met on December 1, 1824. [13] All four candidates in the election identified with the Democratic-Republican Party.

As no candidate secured the required number of votes (131 total) from the Electoral College, the election was decided by the House of Representatives under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution. As the 12th Amendment states the top three candidates in the electoral vote are candidates in the contingent election, this meant Henry Clay, who finished fourth, was eliminated. As Speaker of the House, however, Clay was still the most important player in determining the outcome of the election.

The contingent election was held on February 9, 1825, with each state having one vote, as determined by the wishes of the majority of each state's congressional representatives. Adams narrowly emerged as the winner, with majorities of the Representatives from 13 out of 24 states voting in his favor. Most of Clay's supporters, joined by several old Federalists, switched their votes to Adams in enough states to give him the election. Soon after his inauguration as President, Adams appointed Henry Clay as his secretary of state. [13] This result became a source of great bitterness for Jackson and his supporters, who proclaimed the election of Adams a "corrupt bargain," and were inspired to create the Democratic Party. [14] [15]

1876: Rutherford B. Hayes Edit

The 1876 presidential election, held on November 7, 1876, was one of the most contentious and controversial presidential elections in American history. The result of the election remains among the most disputed ever, although there is no question that Democrat Samuel J. Tilden of New York outpolled Ohio's Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in the popular vote, with Tilden winning 4,288,546 votes and Hayes winning 4,034,311. Tilden was, and remains, the only candidate in American history who lost a presidential election despite receiving a majority (not just a plurality) of the popular vote. [16]

After a first count of votes, Tilden won 184 electoral votes to Hayes' 165, with 20 votes unresolved. These 20 electoral votes were in dispute in four states: in the case of Florida (4 votes), Louisiana (8 votes), and South Carolina (7 votes), each party reported its candidate had won the state, while in Oregon one elector was declared illegal (as an "elected or appointed official") and replaced. The question of who should have been awarded these 20 electoral votes is at the heart of the ongoing debate about the election of 1876.

The 15-man Electoral Commission was formed on January 29, 1877 to debate about the 20 electoral votes that were in dispute. The voter returns accepted by the Commission put Hayes' margin of victory in Oregon at 1,057 votes, Florida at 922 votes, Louisiana at 4,807 votes, and South Carolina at 889 votes the closest popular vote margin in a decisive state in U.S. history until the presidential election of 2000. On March 2, an informal deal was struck to resolve the dispute: the Compromise of 1877, which awarded all 20 of the disputed electoral votes to Hayes. In return for the Democrats' acquiescence in Hayes' election (who agreed to serve only one four-year term as President and not to seek re-election), the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction. The Compromise effectively ceded power in the Southern states to the Democratic Redeemers, who went on to pursue their agenda of returning the South to a political economy resembling that of its pre-war condition, including the disenfranchisement of black voters and setting the groundwork for what would be known as the Jim Crow era. [17] [18]

1888: Benjamin Harrison Edit

In the 1888 election, held on November 6, 1888, Grover Cleveland of New York, the incumbent president and a Democrat, tried to secure a second term against the Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison, a former U.S. Senator from Indiana. The economy was prosperous and the nation was at peace, but although Cleveland received 5,534,488 popular votes against 5,443,892 votes for Harrison, a 90,596 vote lead, he lost in the Electoral College. Harrison won 233 electoral votes, Cleveland only 168.

Tariff policy was the principal issue in the election. Harrison took the side of industrialists and factory workers who wanted to keep tariffs high, while Cleveland strenuously denounced high tariffs as unfair to consumers. His opposition to Civil War pensions and inflated currency also made enemies among veterans and farmers. On the other hand, he held a strong hand in the South and border states, and appealed to former Republican Mugwumps.

Harrison swept almost the entire North and Midwest states, losing the popular vote only in Connecticut (by 336 votes) and New Jersey (by 7,148 votes), and narrowly carried the swing states of New York (by 14,373 votes) and Indiana (by 2,348 votes) (Cleveland and Harrison's respective home states) by a margin of 1% or less to achieve a majority of the electoral vote (New York with 36 electoral votes and Indiana with 15 electoral votes). Unlike the election of 1884, the power of the Tammany Hall political machine in New York City helped deny Cleveland the 36 electoral votes of his home state. [19] [20]

Cleveland would later successfully seek a second term in the 1892 presidential election, becoming the only president in US history to serve two non-consecutive terms.

2000: George W. Bush Edit

The 2000 presidential election, held on November 7, 2000, pitted Republican candidate George W. Bush (the incumbent governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush) against Democratic candidate Al Gore (the former vice president of the United States under Bill Clinton). Despite Gore having received 543,895 more votes (a lead of 0.51 percent of all votes cast), the Electoral College chose Bush as president by a vote of 271 to 266. [21]

Vice President Gore secured the Democratic nomination with relative ease. Bush was seen as the early favorite for the Republican nomination, and despite a contentious primary battle with Senator John McCain and other candidates, secured the nomination by Super Tuesday. Many third-party candidates also ran, most prominently Ralph Nader. Bush chose former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney as his running mate, and Gore chose Senator Joe Lieberman as his. Both major-party candidates focused primarily on domestic issues, such as the budget, tax relief, and reforms for federal social-insurance programs, though foreign policy was not ignored. [22]

The result of the election hinged on voting in Florida, where Bush's narrow margin of victory of just 537 votes out of almost six million votes cast on election night triggered a mandatory recount. Litigation in select counties started additional recounts, and this litigation ultimately reached the United States Supreme Court. The Court's contentious decision in Bush v. Gore, announced on December 12, 2000, ended the recounts, effectively awarding Florida's 25 Electoral College votes to Bush and granting him the victory. Later studies have reached conflicting opinions on who would have won the recount had it been allowed to proceed. [23] Nationwide, George Bush received 50,456,002 votes (47.87%) and Gore received 50,999,897 (48.38%). [21]

2016: Donald Trump Edit

The 2016 presidential election, held on November 8, 2016, featured Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (former U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and First Lady to President Bill Clinton) and Republican nominee Donald Trump, a businessman (owner of the Trump Organization) [24] [25] from New York City. Both nominees had turbulent journeys in primary races, [26] [27] and were seen unfavorably by the general public. [28] The election saw multiple third-party candidates, [29] and there were over a million write-in votes cast. [30]

During the 2016 election, "pre-election polls fueled high-profile predictions that Hillary Clinton's likelihood of winning the presidency was about 90 percent, with estimates ranging from 71 to over 99 percent." [31] National polls were generally accurate, showing a Clinton lead of about 3% in the national popular vote (she ultimately won the two-party national popular vote by 2.2%). [31] State-level polls "showed a competitive, uncertain contest . but clearly under-estimated Trump's support in the Upper Midwest." [31] Trump exceeded expectations on Election Day by winning the traditionally Democratic Rust Belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by narrow margins. [32] Clinton recorded large margins in large states such as California, Illinois, and New York, winning California by a margin of nearly 4.3 million votes, while coming closer to winning Texas, Arizona, and Georgia than any Democratic nominee since the turn of the millennium, but still losing by a significant margin. [33] Clinton also won the Democratic medium-sized states such as Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington with vast margins. Clinton managed to edge out Trump in Virginia, a swing state where her running mate Tim Kaine had served as Governor. Trump also won the traditional bellwether state of Florida, as well as the recent battleground state of North Carolina, further contributing to the electoral flip of the popular vote. Trump won by a large margin in Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee.

When the Electoral College cast its votes on December 19, 2016, [34] Trump received 304 votes to Clinton's 227 with seven electors defecting to other choices, the most faithless electors (2 from Trump, 5 from Clinton) in any presidential election in over a hundred years. Clinton had nonetheless received almost three million more votes (65,853,514 − 62,984,828 = 2,868,686) in the general election than Trump, giving Clinton a popular vote lead of 2.1% over Trump. [35]

During his first meeting with Congressional leaders after the election, Trump used the occasion "to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority". [36] [37] Trump repeated this debunked claim in a meeting with members of Congress in 2017, [36] in a speech in April 2018, [38] and in a television interview in June 2019. [39]

In the 1960 United States presidential election, Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy defeated Republican candidate Richard Nixon, winning 303 Electoral College votes to Nixon's 219. Kennedy is generally considered to have won the popular vote as well, by a narrow margin of 0.17 percent (the second narrowest winning margin ever, after the 1880 election), but based on the unusual nature of the election in Alabama, political journalists John Fund and Sean Trende later argued that Nixon actually won the popular vote. [41] [42]

The controversy stemmed from the fact that ballots in Alabama listed the individual electors pledged to the candidates, rather than a single slate of electors for each candidate as in all the other states. There were 11 Republican electors pledged to Nixon, 6 unpledged Democratic electors, and 5 Democratic electors pledged to Kennedy, from which each voter could choose up to 11. [43] Consequently, there are multiple possible ways to calculate the popular vote that each candidate received.

Historian and Kennedy associate Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. wrote that, "It is impossible to determine what Kennedy's popular vote in Alabama was" and under one hypothesized scenario "Nixon would have won the popular vote by 58,000". [44] The 15 Electoral College vote for Democrat Byrd – who was not a candidate nor did he campaign – provide the fodder for arguing with regard to various scenarios. According to political scientist Steven Schier, "If one divides the Alabama Democratic votes proportionately between the Kennedy and Byrd slates, Nixon ekes out a 50,000 vote popular plurality" this margin of 0.07 percent would have been the narrowest margin ever in a presidential election, with no impact on the Electoral College results. [45] [46] The Congressional Quarterly calculated the popular vote in this manner at the time of the 1960 election. [41]

In the event, the state's electoral votes were awarded to the Democratic slate, of which the six unpledged electors cast their votes for non-candidate Harry F. Byrd as a protest against Kennedy's support for civil rights, while the other five electors voted for Kennedy.

Nthe 1824 presidential election, andrew jackson came in first in the popular vote but second in the electoral vote. came in first in both the popular vote and the electoral vote. came in second in the popular vote but first in the electoral vote. came in second in both the popular vote and the electoral vote.

Explanation:John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824 by garnering more electoral votes through the House of Representatives, even though Jackson originally received more popular and electoral votes.

All 3 of them ran but John Quincy Adams won

John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824 by garnering more electoral votes through the House of Representatives, even though Jackson originally received more popular and electoral votes. But John Quincy Adams became president

All 3 of them ran but John Quincy Adams won, so the one that is not true would be C) Andrew Jackson won.

By The Way, John Quincy Adams was elected by the House of Representatives after Andrew Jackson won the most popular and electoral votes but failed to receive a majority.

Election Day

In that era, candidates didn't campaign for themselves. Campaigning was left to managers and surrogates, and throughout the year various partisans spoke and wrote in favor of the candidates.

When the votes were tallied from across the nation, Jackson had won a plurality of the popular as well as the electoral vote. In the electoral college tabulations, Adams came in second, Crawford was third, and Clay was fourth.

While Jackson won the popular vote that was counted, some states at that time picked electors in the state legislature and didn't tally a popular vote for president.

Tally of the 1824 Electoral College Vote

The Electoral College is one of the more difficult parts of the American electoral process to understand. While election of the president and vice-president was provided for in Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2, 3, and 4 of the U.S. Constitution, the process today has moved substantially away from the framers' original intent. Over the years a combination of several factors has influenced the Electoral College and the electoral process. These include key presidential elections such as the ones between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in 1796 and 1800, the development of the political party system, and the passage of the 12th Amendment.

The framers of the Constitution considered the election of the president and vice-president to be a major issue, and most were apprehensive about the obvious options. Election of the president by Congress would upset the balance of power between the executive and the legislative branches, while election by the people might not put the best person in the office. Many believed that Americans were too spread out and thus unable to be adequately informed to make such an important decision.

Alexander Hamilton drafted the compromise that was to be included in the Constitution. Under this system, when a citizen voted in the presidential election, he was actually casting a vote to choose a presidential elector. In theory, a citizen's vote is cast the same way today. Hamilton's plan included eight major points.

  1. Each state would be allocated a number of electors equal to the sum of its senators and members of the House of Representatives.
  2. State legislatures would decide the methods for choosing electors in their respective states.
  3. Electors would meet in their own states, each casting two votes on one ballot, each vote for a different candidate for president.
  4. The president of the Senate would open and count the electoral votes before a joint session of Congress.
  5. The candidate who received the largest number of electoral votes, which was also the majority of the Electoral College, would become president.
  6. The candidate who received the second largest number of votes would become vice-president.
  7. In the case of a tie between candidates that also constituted a majority of the electoral votes, the House would choose the president from among them. If no person had a majority of the electoral votes, then the House would choose the president from among the five highest candidates on the list. Voting would be by state a majority of the states would be needed for a choice to be made.
  8. The vice-president would always be the person having the largest number of votes after the president. In the case of a tie between two or more, the Senate would choose from them.

The original Electoral College plan worked successfully for the two times that George Washington was elected president. However, a major flaw became apparent after the election of 1796. According to the Constitution each elector cast only one ballot with two names on it. John Adams, a Federalist, received the largest number of votes. Thomas Jefferson, the Democratic Republican, lost to Adams by three votes and became vice-president. The framers were not in favor of political parties and had made no mention of them in the Constitution. Yet here were a president and vice-president from different parties, and Adams and Jefferson were strongly opposed on many major issues including states' rights, the power and size of the national government, and tariffs. The outcome of the election of 1796 would influence the way electors would be chosen as well as how they would vote in future elections.

In the election of 1800 John Adams, the incumbent, again faced Thomas Jefferson. This time the Democratic Republican electors were urged to vote the party ticket, that is, Thomas Jefferson for president and Aaron Burr for vice-president. Seventy-three electors did just that, resulting in a tie for president between Jefferson and Burr. Under the Constitution, the vote moved to the House where Federalists desiring to embarrass Jefferson voted for Burr, forcing the ballot 35 times over six days. Finally, Alexander Hamilton reluctantly supported Jefferson and the tie was broken.

The election of 1800 had several lasting effects on the Electoral College system. It was the first time that a two-candidate ticket was promoted by a party, as well as the beginning of the practice of nominating electors who pledged to automatically vote the party ticket. This new development was directly opposed to the framers' original version of the electors as "free agents'" or informed, respectable, independent citizens from each state. By 1804, the 12th Amendment was passed, making up for the weakness in the original Clause 3. Never again would such a tie be possible, as separate ballots would now be cast for president and vice-president.

The Election of 1824 and the featured document, Tally of the 1824 Electoral College Vote, bring to light two important points about the electoral system, one of them constitutional and the other born of the political party system. The election of 1824 had several candidates as serious contenders. The official Republican candidate, William H. Crawford of Georgia, was nominated by a caucus, a private meeting of party leaders, but he lacked the backing of much of the party. Challenging Crawford and bucking the caucus nominating method, were Republicans Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, Henry Clay of Kentucky, and John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts. Nomination by the caucus had been under fire for years as being undemocratic, and the issue reached its peak by 1824. (Today most states use direct primaries to nominate candidates while a small number still use nominating conventions.)

With so many candidates in the election of 1824, it's not surprising that no candidate received a majority of votes in the Electoral College. Andrew Jackson had a plurality of both the popular vote (40.3%) and the Electoral College vote, but he did not hold the constitutional requirement of a majority of the electoral votes. For the first time, the presidential election vote proceeded to the House of Representatives. There, John Quincy Adams was chosen primarily because Henry Clay, never a Jackson supporter, placed his support behind Adams. Jackson was outraged after Adams appointed Clay secretary of state, and he proclaimed it a "corrupt bargain." While he was never able to prove any actual bribery or corruption occurred, the accusation endured and influenced the next election, as well as Clay's political career.

Today most Americans perceive the Electoral College as a formality necessitated by the Constitution. Electors meet in their states on the Monday after the second Wednesday in December and cast their votes just as they did in 1824. The votes are sealed and sent by registered mail to Washington, D.C., where they are opened and counted before a joint session of Congress when they convene in January. In recent history rarely has an elector failed to vote automatically for the candidate winning his or her state's popular votes. In 1976 a Republican elector in Washington voted for Ronald Reagan instead of Gerald Ford, the Republican Party's candidate. In 1972, a Republican from Virginia voted for the Libertarian candidate rather than the Republican, Richard Nixon.

There are critics today who point to several remaining flaws in the Electoral College system. The most obvious of these is the risk that the popular vote winner will not receive the majority of votes in the Electoral College. The winner-take-all feature of the system makes this a possibility it has happened five times in our history: 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016. Another point of criticism is that the electoral vote distribution is not proportional to the popular vote distribution because of the automatic two votes per state provision. If you contrast the number of electoral votes per person in California and Alaska, this point is clear. "Faithless electors," as described earlier in the 1972 and 1976 examples, are also a flaw according to opponents. Yet never has a broken pledge affected the outcome of an election. Finally, critics highlight as unfair the provisions calling for choice by the House or the Senate in the case of a tie or lack of majority. Voting by state gives small states the same weight as large states, and if a state's representatives were divided, its vote could be relinquished. Additionally, a strong third party candidate could make it difficult for any candidate to earn a majority.

Different opponents and critics of the present system have developed various alternatives over the years, beginning after the election of 1796 when Adams defeated Jefferson by three electoral votes. Since that time more than five hundred constitutional amendments to reform the Electoral College have been introduced to Congress, more amendments than for any other constitutional issue. In May, 2001, there were three amendments pending in Congress, as well as two bills proposing commissions to study the Electoral College.

Proponents of the Electoral College claim that critics exaggerate the risks in our present system, pointing to the very small number of occasions where their concerns have come to fruition. Only two elections in our history were ever decided in the House and none since 1825. The Electoral College system also reduces the possibility of voter fraud in a direct national election votes could be bought anywhere, even in heavily concentrated Democratic or Republican states where under the present system, few would bother to attempt such a thing. In addition, while small states may be overrepresented under the present system, under any other alternatives smaller states would virtually be ignored. Most importantly, supporters of the Electoral College would add that it is a tried and true system, one that is efficient, identifies a winner quickly, and avoids recounts. For these reasons, Americans would be foolish to risk experimenting with a new one.

Citizens and lawmakers have been generating ideas and engaging in debates about the Electoral College for two centuries, with the most recent resurgence occurring after the election of 2000. The question is whether this pattern will continue, or can lawmakers craft a clear and compelling plan that will generate the kind of political and public support necessary to affect a constitutional amendment. History has demonstrated that it is more realistic to expect the present system to endure, as each reform idea works to the advantage or disadvantage of a different interested and vocal group.

The Federal Register's Electoral College web page is an additional resource for more detailed information regarding the functions of the Electoral College and presidential election statistics from 1789 through 2000.


League of Women Voters. Choosing the President: A Citizen's Guide to the Electoral Process. New York: Lyons & Burford, 1992.

McClenaghan, W. A. Magruder's American Government. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall School Group, 1997.

Pessen, E. Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press, 1978.

Viola, H. J. Why We Remember United States History. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley, 1998.

The Documents

Tally of the 1824 Electoral College Vote
National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the House of Representatives
Record Group 233
National Archives Identifier 306207

Article Citation

This article was written by Mary Frances Greene, a teacher at Marie Murphy School, Avoca District 37, Wilmette, IL.

1824 Presidential Elections - History

For the nation’s overwrought nervous system, the 2020 presidential campaign was akin to a punitive marathon. And now the finish line has been moved back.

In most presidential elections, the results have become clear within hours of the polls closing, the losers graciously concede, the winners thank everyone and then celebrate, and the public accepts the results long before the Electoral College formalizes them in December.

That obviously hasn’t been the case in 2020.

Ballots are still in question, legal challenges are underway, and it’s not clear yet when the outcome in the race between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden is going to be resolved once and for all.

But no matter what happens, this election is unlikely to approach a record for the longest wait between an Election Day and a final determination of the outcome.

Here are three cases from the Electoral Hall of Fame. (Not included is the election of 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, which Jefferson won and led to the duel in which Alexander Hamilton was killed. The voting itself took place under different rules and occurred over a six-month period.)

1824: 71 days between end of voting and decision

Balloting ended on Dec. 1 without a winner. The top vote-getters were war hero Andrew Jackson John Quincy Adams, son of the second president William H. Crawford and Henry Clay, who years later would utter the famous phrase, “I’d rather be right than president” in defending his pro-abolitionist views.

No candidate obtained an electoral majority, so the election went to the House of Representatives, which had to choose among the top three. That eliminated Clay, and Crawford had suffered a stroke.

That left Jackson and Adams, and even though Jackson had won a plurality in the election, on Feb. 9, 1825, the House made the Adams family the nation’s first father-son presidential team.

1876: 115 days between end of voting and decision

This centennial year election would be the reigning wait-time champion.

Democrat Samuel J. Tilden defeated Republican nominee Rutherford B. Hayes by more than 250,000 votes, or by three percentage points, a clear majority in the popular vote. But Tilden came up one vote short of electoral majority, with 184 out of the 369 total. Hayes received 165 electoral votes, but the remaining 20, among three Southern states, remained in dispute.

It was not a civil dispute. Republicans accused Democrats of using force and intimidation to keep Black people from voting. Democrats alleged that Republicans dumped ballot boxes into bodies of water and smeared ink on ballots to make them illegible, according to G. Terry Madonna, the veteran political analyst at Franklin and Marshall College.

After the Civil War, profound divisions persisted between the North and South. Southerners wanted an end to Reconstruction and the presence of federal troops, and this ended up being Hayes' serpentine path to the presidency.

To resolve the election impasse, Congress created a commission in January 1877 that included House members, senators, and Supreme Court justices.

But as so often happens in politics the real action was in the back room. In the end Republicans agreed to remove the federal troops from the South, in effect ending reconstruction, and Democrats promised to respect the the rights of Black Americans, as history.com noted. In return, Hayes would become president.

The deal, which became known as the Compromise of 1877, was sealed on March 2, and Hayes was very quietly inaugurated on Saturday night, March 5.

Incidentally, one of the three states in dispute was Florida, which was at the epicenter of an election crisis 124 years later.

2000: 36 days between end of voting and decision

The election came down to Florida, and the networks projected that George W. Bush was going to win the state narrowly and the presidency. So Vice President Al Gore called his rival to say he would concede.

But then updated vote counts tightened the margin, and Gore called Bush back to say never mind. Bush, who had prepared his victory speech, was nonplussed.

Bush: “Let me make sure I understand. You’re calling me back to retract your concession?"

Gore: “You don’t have to get snippy about this.”

Bush was declared the winner by 537 votes in Florida, where his brother Jeb was governor. Gore demanded a recount and litigation followed, and the nation was introduced to the concept of the “hanging chad.”

Some Florida counties used ballots with perforated squares next to candidates' names that voters were to puncture. A machine then would read the holes.

The problem: Some of the chads were left hanging, and how to count a ballot with hanging chads became a critical issue in the litigation that dragged on for weeks. At one point, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, then head of the Democratic National Committee, took some heat from party leaders for telling Gore to drop it and move on.

After the Supreme Court ordered a halt to the recounts, Gore conceded on Dec. 13, even though he had won the popular vote.

No waiting

Although the nation has experienced other extraordinarily close presidential elections, Americans historically have accepted the outcomes. “It’s unusual globally,” said David Barker, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.

In 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy defeated Republican Richard M. Nixon by a nanometer-thin margin. Nixon, however, declined to challenge the election.

In all, five presidents actually lost the popular vote.

The most recent case in point was 2016, in which Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton outpolled Trump.

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