United States presidential election, 1808
|Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Madison, burnt orange denotes states won by Pinckney, light green denotes states won by Clinton. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.|
The United States presidential election of 1808 was the sixth quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, November 4, to Wednesday, December 7, 1808. The Democratic-Republican candidate James Madison defeated Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney decisively. Madison was serving as United States Secretary of State under incumbent Thomas Jefferson, and Pinckney had been the unsuccessful Federalist candidate in the election of 1804.
Madison's strongest challenge came from members of his own party. Sitting Vice President George Clinton and former Ambassador James Monroe both challenged Madison for leadership of the party prior to the general election. Clinton received six electoral votes in the general election, all from New York.
This election was the first of only two instances in American history in which a new President would be selected but the incumbent Vice President would continue to serve. (The re-election of John C. Calhoun in 1828 was the other instance.)
Democratic-Republican Party nomination
- James Madison (Virginia), Secretary of State
- James Monroe (Virginia), Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom
- George Clinton (New York), Vice President of the United States
- George Clinton (New York), Vice President of the United States
- Henry Dearborn (Maine), Secretary of War
- John Quincy Adams (Massachusetts), United States Senator
Nominations for the 1808 presidential election were made by congressional caucuses. With Thomas Jefferson ready to retire, supporters of Secretary of State James Madison of Virginia worked carefully to ensure that Madison would succeed Jefferson. Madison's primary competition came from former Ambassador James Monroe of Virginia and Vice President George Clinton. Monroe was supported by a group known as the tertium quids, who supported a weak central government and were dissatisfied by the Louisiana Purchase and the Compact of 1802. Clinton's support came from Northern Democratic-Republicans who disapproved of the Embargo Act (which they saw as potentially leading towards war with Great Britain) and who sought to end the Virginia Dynasty. The Congressional caucus chose Madison as its candidate for president and Clinton as its candidate for vice president.
Many supporters of Monroe and Clinton refused to accept the result of the caucus. Monroe was nominated by a group of Virginia Democratic-Republicans, and although he did not actively try to defeat Madison, he also refused to withdraw from the race. Clinton was also supported by a group of New York Democratic-Republicans for president even as he remained the party's official vice presidential candidate.
|Presidential Ballot||Total||Vice Presidential Ballot||Total|
|James Madison||83||George Clinton||79|
|James Monroe||3||John Langdon||5|
|George Clinton||3||Henry Dearborn||3|
|John Quincy Adams||1|
Federalist Party nomination
- Former U.S. Minister to France
Charles C. Pinckney
The election was marked by opposition to Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, a halt to trade with Europe that disproportionately hurt New England merchants and was perceived as favoring France over Britain. Nonetheless, Jefferson was still very popular with Americans generally and Pinckney was soundly defeated, though not as badly as in 1804. Pinckney received few electoral votes outside of New England.
Pinckney retained the electoral votes of the two states that he carried in 1804 (Connecticut and Delaware), and he also picked up New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and three electoral districts in North Carolina besides the two electoral districts in Maryland that he carried earlier. Except for the North Carolina districts, all of the improvement was in New England.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote(a), (b)|| Electoral
|Count||Pct||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Elect. vote(c)|
|James Madison||Democratic-Republican||Virginia||124,732||64.7%||122||George Clinton(Incumbent)||New York||113|
|John Langdon||New Hampshire||9|
|Charles Cotesworth Pinckney||Federalist||South Carolina||62,431||32.4%||47||Rufus King||New York||47|
|George Clinton||Democratic-Republican||New York||—||—||6||James Madison||Virginia||3|
|Needed to win||88||88|
Source (Popular Vote): U.S. President National Vote. Our Campaigns. (February 10, 2006).
Source (Popular Vote): A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825
Source (Electoral Vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 30, 2005.
(a) Only 10 of the 17 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 Kentucky did not vote.
Electoral college selection
|Method of choosing electors||State(s)|
|Each Elector appointed by state legislature|| Connecticut|
|Each Elector chosen by voters statewide|| New Hampshire|
|State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district|| Kentucky|
- History of the United States (1789–1849)
- United States House of Representatives elections, 1808
- First inauguration of James Madison
- Sabato, Larry; Ernst, Howard (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections. Infobase Publishing. pp. 302–304.
- Ammon, Harry (1963). "James Monroe and the Election of 1808 in Virginia". The William and Mary Quarterly. 20 (1): 33–56. JSTOR 1921354.
- Kaminski, John P. (1993). George Clinton: Yeoman Politician of the New Republic. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 281–288. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
- Brant, Irving, "Election of 1808" in Arthur Meier Schlesinger and Fred L. Israel, eds. History of American presidential elections, 1789-1968: Volume 1 (1971) pp 185-249
- Carson, David A. "Quiddism and the Reluctant Candidacy of James Monroe in the Election of 1808," Mid-America 1988 70(2): 79–89
- Election of 1808 in Counting the Votes
- Presidential Election of 1808: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress
- "A Historical Analysis of the Electoral College". The Green Papers. Retrieved March 20, 2005.
- A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns, 1787-1825