Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Wikinfo: U.S. presidential election, 1800

Wikinfo: U.S. presidential election, 1800. This is an entry on this historical event from Wikinfo.

From the site:

The election of 1800 is often considered a realigning election.

The flaws incumbent in the electoral college were brought into full focus in this election. Under the United States Constitution, each presidential elector cast two votes, without distinction as to which was for President or for Vice President. The recipient of the greatest number of votes was elected President, while the Vice Presidency went to the recipient of the second greatest number of votes.

Though incumbent president John Adams was opposed once again by 1796 opponent Thomas Jefferson, it was Jefferson's running mate, Aaron Burr, who caused the nation's first constitutional crisis. Electors, intending to cast their votes for a Jefferson-Burr ticket, each cast their two votes for Jefferson and Burr, giving each of them 73 votes - a tie.

And while it was common knowledge that Jefferson was the candidate for President and Burr for Vice President, the dominant Federalists were loathe to vote for Jefferson, their partisan nemesis. Adding to the situation was that the ever-opportunistic Burr now was in fact vying for the Presidency in his own right.

The election went to the United States House of Representatives, which over the course of the next six days cast a total of 35 ballots, with Thomas Jefferson receiving the votes of 8 state delegations each time - one short of the necessary majority of nine. Finally, a group of Delaware Federalists led by James A. Bayard reasoned that a peaceful transfer of power would require the majority to choose Jefferson, and on February 17, 1801 - just 15 days before inauguration - Thomas Jefferson was elected President on the 36th ballot. 10 state delegations voted for Jefferson and 4 voted for Burr, while two state delegations remained deadlocked.

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