Little Bits of History

No President Elect

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 1, 2011

December 1, 1824: No candidate for the position of President of the United States is elected by a majority of the voters. In the previous election, a one-party system had been in place. The Federalist Party had dissolved and only the Democratic-Republican Party remained. For this election, that party split into four distinct factions with each offering a candidate for the Presidency. The candidates running for the office were John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, William H. Crawford, and Andrew Jackson.

Jackson won 99 electoral votes by carrying 12 states. He had 151,271 votes or 41.3%. Adams garnered 84 electoral votes, carried 7 states, had 113,122 votes or 30.9%. Crawford managed 41 electoral votes from 2 states and 40,856 votes or 11.2%. Clay brought home 37 electoral votes from 3 states and 47,531 votes or 13%. Since no one had a clear majority of votes by any measure, the Twelfth Amendment to the US Constitution was brought into play. A candidate needed 131 electoral votes to win the election.

Elections in 1796 and 1800 led to some issues with Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the Constitution. So on December 9, 1803 a new Amendment was proposed to clarify election proceedings using the Electoral College. It was ratified on June 15, 1804 and this was the first time it was enacted. The Amendment did not change the composition of the College, but simply rectified issues within in the proceedings. It has been used for every presidential election in the US since 1804.

Since there was no clear winner for the office of President, the election’s outcome was given to the US House of Representatives. They were to choose from only the top three candidates so were to choose between Adams, Crawford, and Jackson. Henry Clay was Speaker of the House and was not included. Henry Clay despised Jackson and spoke openly about the candidate’s lack of credentials. When the vote came in on February 9, 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected taking 13 states on the first ballot. Jackson had 7 states and Crawford took the remaining four. This was shocking to Jackson who, as the numbers above show, had taken more popular votes and more electoral college votes in the general election. There were accusations from the Jackson camp of collusion between Adams and Clay, but an investigation could neither prove nor disprove the allegations.

“All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.” – John Quincy Adams

“All the rights secured to the citizens under the Constitution are worth nothing, and a mere bubble, except guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous Judiciary.” – Andrew Jackson

“Weariness goes more to keep the peace than any other disposition in either party.” – William H. Crawford

“I would rather be right than President.” – Henry Clay

Also on this day:

Not a Hot Line – In 1878, a telephone was first installed in the White House.
Beauty, Wit, Charm – In 1919, Lady Astor became the first woman in the British House of Commons.

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