1816 United States presidential election
All 217 electoral votes of the Electoral College
109 electoral votes needed to win
|Turnout||16.9% 23.5 pp|
Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Monroe, burnt orange denotes states won by King. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
The 1816 United States presidential election was the eighth quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Friday, November 1 to Wednesday, December 4, 1816. In the first election following the end of the War of 1812, Democratic-Republican candidate James Monroe defeated Federalist Rufus King. The election was the last in which the Federalist Party fielded a presidential candidate.
As President James Madison chose to retire after serving two terms, the Democratic-Republicans held a congressional nominating caucus in March 1816. With the support of Madison and former President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State Monroe defeated Secretary of War William H. Crawford to win his party's presidential nomination. Governor Daniel D. Tompkins of New York won the Democratic-Republican vice presidential nomination, continuing the party's tradition of balancing a presidential nominee from Virginia with a vice presidential nominee from either New York or New England. The Federalists did not formally nominate a ticket, but Senator King of New York emerged as the de facto Federalist candidate.
The previous four years of American politics were dominated by the effects of the War of 1812. While the war had not ended in victory, the peace concluded in 1815 was satisfactory to the American people, and the Democratic-Republicans received the credit for its conclusion. The Federalists found themselves discredited by their opposition to the war, as well as the secessionist rhetoric from New England embodied by the Hartford Convention. Furthermore, President Madison had succeeded in realizing certain measures favored by the Federalists, including a national bank and protective tariffs. The Federalists had little to campaign on, and King himself held little hope of ending the Democratic-Republican winning streak in presidential elections. Monroe won the Electoral College by the wide margin, carrying 16 of the 19 states.
Democratic-Republican Party nomination
|James Monroe||Daniel D. Tompkins|
|for President||for Vice President|
U.S. Secretary of War
Governor of New York
Withdrew before caucus
Declined to run
James Monroe was the favorite candidate of both former President Jefferson and retiring President Madison. However, Monroe faced stiff competition from Secretary of War William H. Crawford of Georgia. Also, there was widespread sentiment, especially in New York, that it was time to end the Virginia dynasty of presidents, resulting in Daniel D. Tompkins and Simon Snyder, the governors of New York and Pennsylvania respectively, briefly considering running for the nomination. But Monroe's long record of service at home and abroad made him a fitting candidate to succeed Madison. Crawford never formally declared himself a candidate, because he believed that he had little chance against Monroe and feared such a contest might deny him a place in the new cabinet. Tompkins and Snyder realized they had even less chance of beating Monroe to the nomination, and instead positioned themselves to run for the vice-presidency. Still, Crawford's supporters posed a significant challenge to Monroe.
In March 1816, Democratic-Republican congressmen in caucus nominated Monroe for President and Tompkins for Vice President. Monroe defeated Crawford for the nomination by a vote of 65 to 54, while Tompkins defeated Snyder by a wider margin of 85 votes to 30.
|Presidential Ballot||Vice Presidential Ballot|
|James Monroe||65||Daniel D. Tompkins||85|
|William H. Crawford||54||Simon Snyder||30|
Federalist Party candidates
In hopes of uniting with disaffected Democratic-Republicans, as they had in the previous election, the Federalists initially planned to hold their own congressional nominating caucus after that of the Democratic-Republicans. With the end of the war and the nomination of Monroe, the Federalists abandoned their hopes of another fusion ticket, and the demoralized party failed to formally nominate a candidate. Senator Rufus King of New York, who had been the party's 1804 and 1808 vice presidential nominee, and who had been nominated for president by a dissident faction of the party in 1812, eventually emerged as the de facto Federalist candidate. Several Federalists would receive electoral votes for vice president, with former Senator John Eager Howard of Maryland receiving the most votes.
Dispute about Indiana
On February 12, 1817, the House and Senate met in joint session to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President. The count proceeded without incident until the roll came to the last state to be counted, Indiana. At that point, Representative John W. Taylor of New York objected to the counting of Indiana's votes. He argued that Congress had acknowledged the statehood of Indiana in a joint resolution on December 11, 1816, whereas the ballots of the Electoral College had been cast on December 4, 1816. He claimed that at the time of the balloting, there had been merely a Territory of Indiana, not a State of Indiana. Other representatives contradicted Taylor, asserting that the joint resolution merely recognized that Indiana had already joined the Union by forming a state constitution and government on June 29, 1816. These representatives pointed out that both the House and Senate had seated members from Indiana who had been elected prior to the joint resolution, which would have been unconstitutional had Indiana not been a state at the time of their election. Representative Samuel D. Ingham then moved that the question be postponed indefinitely. The House agreed almost unanimously, and the Senate was brought back in to count the electoral votes from Indiana.
When the votes were counted, Monroe had won all but three of the nineteen states. King thought that a Monroe victory was inevitable, and did not seriously contest the election.
Each of the three states that were won by King voted for a different person for Vice President. Massachusetts electors voted for former United States Senator (and future Governor) John Eager Howard of Maryland. Delaware chose a different Marylander, sitting United States Senator Robert Goodloe Harper. Connecticut split its vote between James Ross of Pennsylvania and Chief Justice John Marshall.
Maryland did not choose its electors as a slate; rather, it divided itself into electoral districts, with each district choosing one elector. Three of Maryland's eleven districts were won by Federalist electors. However, these electors did not vote for King or for a Federalist vice president, instead casting blank votes as a protest.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote(a), (b)||Electoral
|Count||Percentage||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Electoral vote(c)|
|James Monroe||Democratic-Republican||Virginia||76,592||68.2%||183||Daniel D. Tompkins||New York||183|
|Rufus King||Federalist||New York||34,740||30.9%||34||John Eager Howard||Maryland||22|
|Robert Goodloe Harper||Maryland||3|
|Needed to win||109||109|
Source (Popular Vote): A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825
(a) Only 10 of the 19 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 Delaware and three Electors from Maryland 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|
- First inauguration of James Monroe
- History of the United States (1789-1849)
- 1816 and 1817 United States House of Representatives elections
- 1816 and 1817 United States Senate elections
- "National General Election VEP Turnout Rates, 1789-Present". United States Election Project. CQ Press.
- William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997
- Deskins, Donald Richard; Walton, Hanes; Puckett, Sherman (2010). Presidential Elections, 1789-2008: County, State, and National Mapping of Election Data. University of Michigan Press. pp. 65–66.
- Sabato, Larry; Ernst, Howard (January 1, 2009). Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections. Infobase Publishing. pp. 304–305.
- "A New Nation Votes".
- U.S. Congressional Documents
- 30 Annals of Cong. 944–949 (1817)
- Act of April 19, 1816, ch. 57, 3 Stat. 289
- Resolution of December 11, 1816, res. 1, 3 Stat. 399
- "Official Name and Status History of the several States and U.S. Territories, an Explanation". The Green Papers. 2001. Retrieved December 18, 2005.
- "A Historical Analysis of the Electoral College". The Green Papers. Retrieved March 20, 2005.
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