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1808 United States 1816
United States presidential election, 1812
JamesMadison.jpg DeWittClinton.png
Nominee James Madison DeWitt Clinton
Party Democratic-Republican Federalist
Home state Virginia New York
Running mate Elbridge Gerry Jared Ingersoll
Electoral vote 128 89
States carried 11 7
Popular vote 140,431 132,781
Percentage 50.4% 47.6%
Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Madison, orange denotes states won by Clinton. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Incumbent President
James Madison

The United States presidential election of 1812 took place in the shadow of the War of 1812. It featured an intriguing competition between incumbent Democratic-Republican President James Madison and a dissident Democratic-Republican, DeWitt Clinton, nephew of Madison's late Vice President. The Federalist opposition threw their support behind Clinton. Nonetheless, Madison was re-elected handily.



The spillover from the Napoleonic Wars had been steadily worsening throughout James Madison's first term, with the British and the French both ignoring the United States' neutral rights at sea and seizing American ships. The British provided additional provocations by impressing American seamen, by maintaining forts within United States territory in the Northwest, and by supporting American Indians at war with the United States in both the Northwest and Southwest.

Meanwhile, expansionists in the South and West of the United States coveted both British Canada and Spanish Florida, and wanted to use the provocations as a pretext to seize both areas. The pressure steadily built, and the United States declared war on Great Britain on June 12, 1812. This was after Madison had been nominated by the Democratic-Republicans but before the Federalists had made their nomination, .



Democratic-Republican Party nomination

Democratic-Republican candidates

Candidates gallery

On May 18, a Democratic-Republican Congressional nominating caucus nominated President James Madison of Virginia. Seeking a New Englander for a running mate, the caucus initially chose New Hampshire governor John Langdon to balance the ticket, but after Langdon declined due to his age, a second caucus later nominated Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts for the Vice Presidency, which had been vacant since George Clinton's death a month earlier.

First Caucus Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
James Madison 81 John Langdon 64
Abstaining 1 Elbridge Gerry 16
Scattering 2
Second Caucus Balloting
Vice Presidential Ballot
Elbridge Gerry 74
Scattering 3

Dissident Democratic-Republican nomination

Dissident Democratic-Republican candidate:

Candidates gallery

On May 29, a caucus of dissident Democratic-Republicans in the New York legislature nominated Dewitt Clinton, the nephew of the late Vice President, who had served as Senator and now was Mayor of New York City and Lieutenant Governor of New York. Clinton's campaign tailored their pamphlets and speeches by region. In the Northeast, Clinton was portrayed as the anti-War candidate. Meanwhile, in the South and West, where there were few people opposed to the war, Clinton ran on the basis of a more vigorous prosecution of the war.

In September, after fierce debate, a Federalist nominating caucus in New York City decided to support Clinton as their best chance to defeat the Democratic-Republicans since the "Revolution of 1800". The caucus then picked former United States Attorney Jared Ingersoll of Pennsylvania as his running mate.

General election


Clinton continued his regional campaigning, anti-war in a Northeast most harmed by the war, and pro-war in the South and West. Although the Federalists made gains in Congress and although Clinton did better than any Federalist candidate since Adams, taking New York and New Jersey, Madison still won the Presidency by a comfortable margin. Madison, along with Woodrow Wilson, are the only US Presidents to win re-election with a lower percentage of the electoral vote than in their first election (Madison won 69.3% of the electoral vote in 1808, but only won 58.7% of the electoral vote in 1812)


Presidential Candidate Party Home State Popular Vote(a), (b) Electoral Vote(c)
Count Percentage
James Madison Democratic-Republican Virginia 140,431 50.4% 128
DeWitt Clinton Federalist New York 132,781 47.6% 89
Rufus King Federalist New York 5,574 2.0% 0
Total 278,786 100.0% 217
Needed to win 109

Source (Popular Vote): U.S. President National Vote. Our Campaigns. (February 10, 2006).
Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 30, 2005).

(a) Only 9 of the 18 states chose electors by popular vote.
(b) Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements.
(c) One Elector from Ohio did not vote.

Vice Presidential Candidate Party State Electoral Vote
Elbridge Gerry Democratic-Republican Massachusetts 131
Jared Ingersoll Federalist Pennsylvania 86
Total 217
Needed to win 109

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

Breakdown by ticket

Presidential Candidate Running Mate Electoral Vote
James Madison Elbridge Gerry 128
DeWitt Clinton Jared Ingersoll 86
DeWitt Clinton Elbridge Gerry 3

The split-party ticket of the Federalist DeWitt Clinton and the Democratic-Republican Elbridge Gerry was the result of two Federalist Electors in Gerry's home state of Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire voting for the New England region's favorite.

Electoral college selection

Method of choosing Electors State(s)
Each Elector appointed by state legislature Connecticut
New Jersey
New York
North Carolina
South Carolina
Each Elector chosen by voters statewide New Hampshire
Rhode Island
State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district Kentucky
  • Two Electors chosen by voters statewide
  • One Elector chosen per Congressional district by the voters of that district

See also


External links


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