1804

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1804

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OVERVIEW

Election Year: 1804

Election Day Date: December 5, 1804 (Electoral College Vote)

Prior to 1845, 34 day period before the first Wednesday of December

Winning Ticket: 

  • President Thomas Jefferson  (61, no denomination) VA, George Clinton (65, Presbyterian) NY, Democratic-Republican 162 92.0%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • Charles Pinckney (58, Episcopalian) SC, Rufus King (49, Episcopalian) NY Federalist 14 8.0%

Electoral Vote:

  • Winner: 162
  • Main Opponent: 14
  • Total/Majority: 176/89

Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters: Pamphlets, party press, Republican militia unit parades, dinners with multiple toasts,

Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes: Twelfth Amendment: Presidential electors now vote specifically for the President and Vice President on separate ballots

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:

Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, Democratic-Republican 1801-1805

Population: 1804: 5,991,000

Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $0.53 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $8.45
GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 6.24 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $88 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $1,411

Number of Daily Newspapers: 1800: 24

Method of Choosing Electors:

Only 11 of the 17 states chose electors by popular vote.
Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements.

  • Electors chosen by state legislature: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, Vermont
  • Electors chosen by voters statewide (General Ticket): New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Massachusetts
  • Electors chosen with popular vote by district: Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee

Method of Choosing Nominees: Democratic Republicans: Congressional Caucus

Federalists: No caucus, no formal candidate

Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries): Taxes were down; national debt was lowered, nation was at peace; military appropriations reduced by a half; Louisiana Purchase

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

Democratic-Republican Party nomination

  • President: Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States from Virginia

Federalist Party nomination

  • President: Charles C. Pinckney, former U.S. Minister to France from South Carolina
  • Vice-President: Former United States Senator Rufus King of New York

Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries): Pinckney rejected a French bribe saying “No! No! No! Not a sixpence” and was linked with the slogan “Millions for Defense, Not one cent for Tribute.”

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Charles Pickney;

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

  • Aaron Burr was not renominated as the Democratic-Republicans, decided to pursue the governorship of New York since George Clinton was not running again, because he was the Democratic-Republican Vice Presidential nominee.
  • Federalists were divided between Alexander Hamilton supported candidate Morgan Lewis and Aaron Burr
  • Lewis won a 58-42% victory
  • July 12, 1804, Alexander Hamilton’s campaign for Morgan Lewis and subsequent correspondence with Burr, prompted a duel between Burr and Hamilton, with Burr killing Hamilton

Conventions/Caucuses (Dates & Locations):

  • Democratic Republican Caucus: February 25, 1804, Washington
  • Federalists: no caucus

Caucuses Turning Points:

Democratic Republican Caucus:

  • 108 Republican Congressmen renominate Jefferson
  • Chose loyal Republican George Clinton from New York for the Vice Presidential nomination

Federalists:

  • Informally agreed to nominate for President Charles C. Pinckney and Rufus King for Vice-President

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

Democratic Republican Nomination

Presidential 1st Ballot

  • Thomas Jefferson 108

Vice Presidential 1st Ballot

  • George Clinton 67
  • John Breckinridge 20
  • Levi Lincoln 9
  • John Langdon 7
  • Gideon Granger 4
  • Samuel Maclay 1

Convention Keynote Speaker:

Nominating Speech Speakers (President):

General Election Controversies/Issues:

  • Jefferson growing popularity during his term
  • American trade boomed because the French Revolutionary Wars in Europe had been temporarily suspended.
  • The Louisiana Purchase

Campaign Innovations (General Election): 

Major Personalities (General Election):  Samuel Harrison Smith, National Intelligencer, William Duane, Aurora

Campaign Tactics:

  • Avoid “self-serving electioneering”; Party workers were in charge of the campaigning worked with partisan presses; work on the campaign through letter writing from behind the scenes

Turning Points (General Election):

  • Federalist planned to cast some of their votes for George Clinton, which would give Clinton the Presidency and Jefferson the Vice Presidency, however, when the Twelfth Amendment was ratified this was an impossibility
  • At the opening of the campaign in the fall, Jefferson already amassed 111 electoral votes, above the majority of 89.
  • Democratic-Republican won electors in Federalist states New Hampshire and Massachusetts
  • Federalists attacked Jefferson’s policies and personally
  • Federalists criticized Jefferson’s defense policy, and argued the Louisiana Purchase was unconstitutional
  • Accused Jefferson of making a slave, Sally Hemings “Black Sal” his concubine, and fathering her children
  • Jefferson remained silent on the charge “the man who fears no truth has nothing to fear from lies.” However, Jefferson denied the charge in letters to friends.
  • Jefferson friends, supporters publicly denied and defended Jefferson from the accusations.

Popular Campaign Slogans:

  • Federalists hail “The Friends of the People – Not their Flatterers”

Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:

  • Thomas Jefferson denounced as a “demagogue” and an infidel

Federalists:

  • Pamphlet 1804 “Observations Upon Certain Passages in Mr. Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, Which Appear to have a Tendency to Subvert Religion and Establish a False Philosophy” (NY, 1804)

Democratic-Republicans:

  • “We enjoyed  peace and respect abroad, happiness and tranquility at home. With many burdens lightened, and no new impositions laid we have yet been enabled … to diminish the public debt.”

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “That they should acquiesce in the will of the great majority is but a reasonable expectation…yet…I am the single object of their accumulated hatred. I do not care for this now…. They can never now excite a pain in mind by anything personal, but I wish to consolidate the nation, and to see these people disarmed either of the wish or the power to injure their country.” Thomas Jefferson, 1803

Further Reading: Dumas Malone’s fourth volume of “Jefferson and His Time”, Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805 (1970)

Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • The first presidential election following the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution
  • Jefferson’s 45.6 percentage point victory margin remains the highest victory margin in a presidential election with multiple major party candidates.

 

CHRONOLOGY

  • December 8, 1801: “President Jefferson delivers his first address to the newly convened seventh Congress of the United States in writing and is read aloud by the House clerk. Expressing his dislike for ceremony, Jefferson establishes the precedent, not broken until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, of not delivering the State of the Union address in person.”
  • February 6, 1802: “Congress recognizes the War with Tripoli, authorizing the arming of merchant ships to ward off attacks.”
  • April 14, 1802: “The naturalization laws of 1798 are repealed. The required length of residency reverts from fourteen years to five years.”
  • August 11, 1802: “The United States and Spain resolve to refer all disputes between the two countries to a special convention at Madrid.”
  • January 11, 1803: “Jefferson appoints James Monroe minister to France and Spain, instructing him to purchase New Orleans and East and West Florida. Napoleon informs U.S. minister in Paris Robert Livingston that France will be willing to sell the entire Louisiana territory, much to his surprise.”
  • April 30, 1803: Louisiana Purchase Treaty: Livingston and Monroe are sent to conclude a treaty for the acquisition of New Orleans, but instead conclude a treaty for the purchase of the entire Louisiana Territory. (“This day marks the official signing of a peace treaty with France and the purchase of Louisiana. The addition of 828,000 square miles of land between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains is purchased from France for approximately $15 million, increasing the national territory by 140 percent.”)
  • August 31, 1803: “Captain Merriweather Lewis, formerly Jefferson’s personal secretary, sets out from Pittsburgh to begin an expedition of the newly acquired western territory of the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis will pick up Captain William Clark to serve as co-leader of the trip early in the next year. Jefferson sponsored the journey out of personal scientific curiosity and concern for the economic and political security of the western United States.”
  • October (18-20) 1803: The Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase treaty by a 24-7 margin.
  • December 9, 1803: Congress passes the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution “requiring electors to vote for President and vice president separately.” (Although House Speaker Nathaniel Macon casts a vote to get the bill over the 2/3 threshold).
  • February 25, 1804: Democratic Republican Caucus convenes in Washington, U.S. Capital. 108 Republican Congressmen renominate Jefferson, and choose loyal Republican George Clinton from New York for the Vice Presidential nomination
  • February 1804: Federalists informally agree to nominate for President Charles C. Pinckney and Rufus King for Vice-President.
  • Federalists accuse Jefferson of making a slave, Sally Hemings “Black Sal” his concubine, and fathering her children. Jefferson remained silent on the charge “the man who fears no truth has nothing to fear from lies.” However, Jefferson denied the charge in letters to friends. Jefferson friends, supporters publicly denied and defended Jefferson from the accusations.
  • Democratic-Republicans do not renominate Aaron Burr
  • March 26, 1804: “Congress passes the Louisiana Territory Act, dividing the Louisiana Purchase into the Territory of Orleans in the south and the district of Louisiana in the north.”
  • April 24-26, 1804: Aaron Burr decides to pursue the governorship of New York since incumbent George Clinton is not running again choosing the Democratic-Republican Vice Presidential nomination; New York Federalists divided between Alexander Hamilton’s candidate Morgan Lewis and Aaron Burr Morgan Lewis wins a 58-42% victory;
  • July 11, 1804: “Alexander Hamilton is fatally wounded in a pistol duel with Aaron Burr.” Alexander Hamilton’s campaign for Morgan Lewis and subsequent correspondence with Burr, prompts a duel between, Burr and Hamilton, with Burr killing Hamilton.
  • September 1804: At the opening of the campaign in the fall, Jefferson already amasses 111 electoral votes, above the majority of 89.
  • Democratic-Republican win electors in Federalist states New Hampshire and Massachusetts
  • September 25, 1804: The requisite thirteen states ratify the Twelfth Amendment  guaranteeing that it would govern the conduct of the election of 1804.
  • December 5, 1804: Presidential Electors cast their votes
  • February 13, 1805: A joint session of Congress counts the Electoral votes. Thomas Jefferson is reelected President, George Clinton is elected Vice President.

 

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