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1789 United States 1796
United States presidential election, 1792
1792
Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington.jpg JohnAdams 2nd US President.jpg
Nominee George Washington John Adams
Party Independent Federalist
Home state Virginia Massachusetts
Electoral vote 132 77
States carried 15
Popular vote 13,332
Percentage 100%
ElectoralCollege1792.svg
Presidential election results map. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Previous President
George Washington
Independent

President-elect
George Washington
Independent

The United States presidential election of 1792 was the second presidential election in the United States, and the first in which each of the original 13 states appointed electors (in addition to newly added states Kentucky and Vermont). It is also the only presidential election that was not held four years after the previous election.

As in 1789, President George Washington ran unopposed for a second term. Under the system in place then and through the election of 1800, each voting elector cast two votes — the recipient of the greatest number of votes was elected President, the second greatest number, Vice President. As with his first term, Washington is considered to have been elected unanimously.

The recipient of 77 electoral votes, Vice President John Adams, finished second in voting and was therefore re-elected Vice President of the United States.

Contents

General election

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The Candidates

Campaign

By this time, a party division had emerged between Federalists led by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, who desired a stronger federal government with a leading role in the economy, and the Democratic-Republicans led by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Representative James Madison, who favored states' rights and opposed Hamilton's economic program; Madison at first was a Federalist until he opposed Hamilton's First Bank of the United States that was formed in 1791, and formed the Democratic-Republican Party with Anti-Federalist Thomas Jefferson in 1792. The elections of 1792 were the first ones to be contested on anything resembling a partisan basis. In most states the congressional elections were recognized in some sense, as Jefferson strategist John Beckley put it, as a “struggle between the Treasury department and the republican interest.” In New York, the race for governor was organized along these lines. The candidates were Chief Justice John Jay, a Hamiltonian, and incumbent George Clinton, who was allied with Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans.

Although Washington had been considering retiring, both sides encouraged him to remain in office to bridge factional differences; Washington was supported by practically all sides throughout his Presidency and gained more popularity with the passage of the Bill of Rights. However, the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists contested the Vice Presidency, with incumbent John Adams as the Federalist nominee and George Clinton as the Democratic-Republican nominee. With some Democratic-Republican electors voting against their nominee George Clinton - voting instead for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr - Adams easily was able to get re-elected Vice President.

Results

The Electoral College chose Washington unanimously. John Adams was again elected Vice President as the runner-up, this time getting the vote of a majority of electors. George Clinton won the votes of only Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, his native New York, and a single elector in Pennsylvania. Thomas Jefferson won the votes of Kentucky, newly separated from Jefferson's home state of Virginia. A single South Carolina elector voted for Aaron Burr.

Only 13,332 popular votes were cast for presidential electors, a record low turnout for a United States presidential election.

Popular vote

Slate Popular Vote(a), (b), (c)
Count Percentage
Federalist electors 9,478 71.1%
Democratic-Republican electors 3,854 28.9%
Total 13,332 100.0%

Source: U.S. President National Vote. Our Campaigns. (February 11, 2006).

(a) Only 6 of the 15 states chose electors by any form of popular vote.
(b) Less than 0.5% of the population voted: the 1790 Census counted a total United States population of 3.9 million with 3.2 million free population and 700 thousand slaves
(c) Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements.

Election

Presidential Candidate Party Home State Popular Vote(a) Electoral Vote(b)
Count Percentage
George Washington Independent Virginia 13,332 100.0% 132
John Adams Federalist Massachusetts 77
George Clinton Democratic-Republican New York 50
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican Virginia 4
Aaron Burr Democratic-Republican New York 1
Total 13,332 100.0% 264
Needed to win 67

Source: Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 30, 2005).

(a) Popular vote figures are suspect because (1) only 6 of the 15 states chose electors by any form of popular vote, (2) pre-Twelfth Amendment electoral vote rules obscure the intentions of the voters, and (3) those states that did choose electors by popular vote often restricted the vote via property requirements.
(b) Two electors from Maryland and one elector from Vermont did not cast votes.

Breakdown by ticket

Presidential Candidate Running Mate Electoral Vote
George Washington John Adams 77
George Washington George Clinton 50
George Washington Thomas Jefferson 4
George Washington Aaron Burr 1

Electoral college selection

Method of choosing Electors State(s)
state is divided into electoral districts, with one elector chosen per district by the voters of that district Kentucky
Virginia
each elector chosen by voters statewide Maryland
Pennsylvania
  • two Congressional districts chose five electors each; the remaining two districts chose three electors each
  • each elector chosen by majority vote of voters in Congressional district
  • if an insufficient number of electors are chosen by majority vote from a Congressional district, remaining electors would be appointed by the state legislature
Massachusetts
  • each elector chosen by majority vote of voters statewide
  • if an insufficient number of electors are chosen by majority vote, runoff is held between the top 2n vote-getters, where n is the number of vacancies remaining
New Hampshire
each elector appointed by the state legislature (all other states)

See also

References

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