When Was the First Presidential Election?

The very first presidential election in the U.S. played a huge part in world history. It was the beginning of a systematic, very organized and highly efficient system in choosing the nation’s president. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and find out when was the first presidential election.

The 1789 U.S. Presidential Election

When was the first presidential election? This significant event started on December 15th in 1788 and ended on January 10th of 1789. It was the very first presidential election in the U.S. that pitted John Adams and George Washington. It happened after the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788. Washington went on to win this event. Aside from Adams, he also defeated other opponents including Connecticut Governor Samuel Huntington, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock and New York Governor George Clinton. Adams went on to become the first ever U.S. Vice President.

Significant Information and Other Details Related to This All-Important Event

In the old system of leadership prior to such an election, there was no chief executive. Instead, the Confederation Congress was mandated to lead the national government as stated in the Articles of Confederation. Various executive departments and a presiding officer were highly important under this kind of government system. Under the terms of this election, the one who earned the most votes automatically won the presidency. On the other hand, the second-placer automatically got the role of vice president.

This kind of electoral system was changed eventually after the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment some time in 1804. Under the new system, an elector must cast separate votes for the positions of vice president and president. Washington easily won this election. Adams grabbed the vice presidency for finishing second.

Overall, twelve candidates qualified for the election. Aside from Washington and Adams, Edward Telfair also competed in this event. He was a former Governor of Georgia. Meanwhile, John Rutledge was former Governor of South Carolina at that time. John Milton also joined the election while holding the position of Georgia Secretary of State. These gentlemen were joined by Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Benjamin Lincoln, New York Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay and Maryland judge Robert H. Harrison. The last candidate was James Armstrong, a renowned politician from Georgia.

Results of the 1789 U.S. Presidential Election

Washington got an electoral vote of 69, while Adams only got 34. Washington received a popular vote of 38,818. The electors represented South Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Hampshire, Georgia and Connecticut.

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  1. Thomas Baird