Tag Archives: Electoral College
At the request of the Senate and H. of Rep. of the US. I transmit to you a copy of an article of amendment proposed by Congress to be added to the constitution of the US.1 respecting the election of President and Vice president to be laid before the legislature of the State over which you preside: and I tender you assurances of my high respect and consideration.
To the Governors of the States, December 13, 1803
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Some semblance of unity amongst the top dogs is very helpful!
In what would become the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, each Elector in the Electoral College would be required to cast one vote for President and another for Vice President. Prior to this, each voted for two persons. The candidate who received the most votes would be President, the second most, Vice-President.
George Washington ran unopposed for President twice, so the Electoral College posed no problem. In 1796, John Adams received the most electoral votes. Thomas Jefferson came in second. This resulted in a President from one political party, the Vice President from another.
The election of 1800 revealed another flaw, when Thomas Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, received an equal number of votes in the Electoral College. The contest then went to the House of Representatives, which voted 36 times before finally awarding the Presidency to Jefferson several months later. The new amendment would keep that from happening again.
Congress approved the 12th amendment, and President Jefferson submitted it to the states’ governors for consideration by their legislatures. The amendment became part of the Constitution on June 15, 1804, when New Hampshire became the 13th of 17 states (3/4 required) to approve it. Two more states followed with their positive votes, making the total 15 of 17 states. Connecticut and Delaware were the only states to vote against it.
“Again, thank you for such an excellent presentation
and a great end to the evening.”
Continuing Education Coordinator, Institute for Executive Development
College of Business and Public Administration, University of Missouri
Mr. Jefferson will end your meeting on a high note!
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
had it [the election of 1800] terminated in the elevation of mr Burr [to the Presidency] … it would have been agreeable to the constitution. no man would more chearfully have submitted than myself … the administration would have been republican, and the chair of the Senate permitting me to be at home 8. months in the year, would on that account have been much more consonant to my real satisfaction. but in the event of an usurpation [Burr’s scheming] I was decidedly with those who were determined not to permit it. because that precedent once set, would be artificially reproduced, & end soon in a dictator.
To Thomas McKean, March 9, 1801
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Gracious leaders can’t always rollover.
Through an oversight, both Jefferson and Aaron Burr, intending to be President and Vice-President following the election of 1800, were tied for the top job in electoral college. It took more than 30 votes in the House of Representatives before Jefferson finally prevailed.
If Burr had won fairly, Jefferson said he would have been happy. The Constitution would have been preserved, the government would be republican (small r), and he could continue to enjoy his very part-time job as Vice President, presiding over the Senate.
Burr had less noble intentions though, hoping to gain the Presidency without having earned it. Thus, Jefferson joined forces against Burr, lest the Presidency descend into a dictatorship.
Jefferson chose the New York Burr to balance his political ticket. That backfired, and Burr’s Vice-Presidency last only four years.