The United States presidential election of 1812, the seventh quadrennial American presidential election, was held from Friday, October 30, 1812 to Wednesday, December 2, 1812. Taking place in the shadow of the War of 1812, incumbent Democratic-Republican President James Madison defeated DeWitt Clinton, who drew support from dissident Democratic-Republicans in the North as well as Federalists. It was the first presidential election to be held during a major war involving the United States.
Northern Democratic-Republicans had long been dissatisfied by the Southern dominance of their party, and DeWitt Clinton's uncle, Vice President George Clinton, had unsuccessfully challenged Madison for the party's 1808 presidential nomination. While the May 1812 Democratic-Republican congressional nominating caucus re-nominated Madison, the party's New York caucus, also held in May, nominated Clinton for president. After the United States declared war on the United Kingdom in June 1812, Clinton sought to create a coalition of anti-war Democratic-Republicans and Federalists. With Clinton in the race, the Federalist Party declined to formally put forth a nominee, hoping its members would vote for Clinton, but they did not formally endorse him, fearing that an explicit endorsement of Clinton would hurt the party's fortunes in other races. Federalist Jared Ingersoll of Pennsylvania became Clinton's de facto running mate.
Despite Clinton's success at attracting Federalist support, Madison was re-elected with 50.4 percent of the popular vote to his opponent's 47.6%, making the 1812 election the closest election up to that point in the popular vote. Clinton won the Federalist bastion of New England as well as three Mid-Atlantic states, but Madison dominated the South and took Pennsylvania. Though Madison won a relatively comfortable victory in the electoral vote, this was the most closely contested election held between 1800 and 1824.
|1812 United States presidential election|
All 217 electoral votes of the Electoral College
109 electoral votes needed to win
|Turnout||40.4% 3.6 pp|
Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Madison, burnt orange denotes states won by Clinton. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
Residual military conflict resulting from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe had been steadily worsening throughout James Madison's first term, with the British and the French both ignoring the neutrality rights of the United States at sea by seizing American ships and looking for supposed British deserters in a practice known as impressment. The British provided additional provocations by impressing American seamen, maintaining forts within United States territory in the Northwest, and supporting American Indians at war with the United States in both the Northwest and Southwest.
Meanwhile, expansionists in the south and west of the United States coveted British Canada and Spanish Florida and wanted to use British provocations as a pretext to seize both areas. The pressure steadily built, with the result that the United States declared war on the United Kingdom on June 12, 1812. This occurred after Madison had been nominated by the Democratic-Republicans, but before the Federalists had made their nomination.
|James Madison||Elbridge Gerry|
|for President||for Vice President|
President of the United States
Governor of Massachusetts
Many Democratic-Republicans in the northern states were unhappy over the perceived dominance of the presidency by the state of Virginia (three of the last four Presidents had been Virginians), and they wished instead to nominate one of their own rather than re-nominate Madison. Initially, these hopes were pinned upon Vice President George Clinton, but his poor health and advanced age (72) eliminated his chances. Even before Clinton's death on April 20, 1812, his nephew DeWitt Clinton was considered the preferred candidate to move against Madison by the northern Democratic-Republicans.
Hoping to forestall a serious movement against incumbent President James Madison and a division of the Democratic-Republican Party, some proposed making DeWitt Clinton the nominee for the Vice Presidency, taking over the same office his uncle now held. DeWitt was not opposed to the offer, but preferred to wait until after the conclusion of the New York caucus, which would not be held until after the Congressional Caucus had met, to finalize his decision. Early caucuses were held in the states of Virginia and Pennsylvania, both of which pledged their support to Madison. On May 18 a Democratic-Republican Congressional nominating caucus was held, and James Madison was formally nominated as the candidate of his party, though divisions were quite apparent; only 86 of the 134 Democratic-Republican Senators and Congressmen participated in the caucus. Seeking a northerner for a running mate (and with DeWitt Clinton remaining aloof), the caucus chose New Hampshire Governor John Langdon to balance the ticket. However Langdon declined due to his own advanced age, at the time 70 years. A second caucus nominated Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts for the Vice Presidency even though he was not much younger than Langdon at 68.
When the New York caucus did meet on May 29, it was dominated by anti-war Democratic-Republicans, and nominated DeWitt Clinton for the presidency almost unanimously. Clinton's now open candidacy was opposed by many who, while not friends of James Madison, feared that Clinton was now apt to tear the Democratic-Republican party asunder. The matter of how to conduct his campaign also became a major problem for Clinton, especially with regards to the war with the British after June 12. Many of Clinton's supporters were war-hawks who advocated extreme measures to force the British into negotiations favorable to the United States, while Clinton knew he would have to appeal to Federalists to win, and they were almost wholly opposed to the war.
|Presidential Ballot||Vice Presidential Ballot|
|James Madison||81||John Langdon||64|
|Vice Presidential Ballot|
|for Vice President|
|5th & 11th|
Attorney General of Pennsylvania
(1791–1800 & 1811–1816)
Before Clinton entered the race as an alternative to President Madison, Chief Justice John Marshall was a favorite for the Federalist nomination, a relatively popular figure who could carry much of the Northeast while potentially taking Virginia and North Carolina as well. But with Clinton in the race, the Federalists would no longer be able to count on the electoral votes of New York, possibly throwing the election into the House of Representatives, dominated by Democratic-Republicans, where Madison would almost certainly be elected.
In the face of these facts, the Federalist party considered endorsing Clinton's candidacy for a time, but at their caucus in September it was decided that the party simply would not field a candidate that year and did not endorse Clinton. Though there was much support among the Federalists for Clinton, it was felt that openly endorsing him as the party's choice for president would damage his chances in states where the Federalists remained unpopular and drive away Democratic-Republicans who would normally be supportive of his candidacy. A Federalist caucus in Pennsylvania chose to nominate Jared Ingersoll, the Attorney General of the state, as Clinton's running-mate, a move Clinton decided to support considering the importance of Pennsylvania's electors.
While many Federalists were supportive of DeWitt Clinton's candidacy, others were not so keen, skeptical of Clinton's positions regarding the war and other matters. Rufus King, a former Ambassador and Congressman, had led an effort at the September Caucus to nominate a Federalist ticket for the election that year, though he was ultimately unsuccessful. Still, some wished to enter King's name into the race under the Federalist label, and while very little came of it, it caused problems for the Clinton campaign in two states.
In the case of Virginia, Clinton was rejected entirely by the state Federalist Party, which instead chose to nominate Rufus King for President and William Richardson Davie for Vice President. The ticket would acquire about 27% of the vote in the state. In New York, with the Federalists having gained control of the state legislature that summer, it was planned that the Federalists would nominate a slate pledged to Rufus King now that they had the majority. However, a coalition of Democratic-Republicans and Federalists would defeat the motion and succeed in nominating a slate pledged to Clinton.
The war heavily overshadowed the campaign. Clinton continued his regional campaigning, adopting an anti-war stance in the Northeast (which was most harmed by the war), and a pro-war stance in the South and West. The election ultimately hinged on New York and Pennsylvania, and while Clinton took his home state, he failed to take Pennsylvania and thus lost the election. Though Clinton lost, the election was the best showing for the Federalists since that of Adams, as the party made gains in Congress and kept the presidential election reasonably close. Clintonite Democratic-Republicans in many states refused to work with their Federalist counterparts (notably in Pennsylvania) and Clinton was generally regarded by most as the Federalist candidate, though he was not formally nominated by them. Madison was the first of just four presidents in United States history to win re-election with a lower percentage of the electoral vote than in their prior elections, as Madison won 69.3% of the electoral vote in 1808, but only won 58.7% of the electoral vote in 1812. The other three were Woodrow Wilson in 1916, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 and 1944 and Barack Obama in 2012. Additionally, Madison was the first of only five presidents to win re-election with a smaller percentage of the popular vote than in prior elections, although in 1812, only 6 of the 18 states chose electors by popular vote. The other four are Andrew Jackson in 1832, Grover Cleveland in 1892, Franklin Roosevelt in 1940 and 1944 and Obama in 2012.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote(a), (b)||Electoral
|Count||Percentage||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Electoral vote(c)|
|James Madison (incumbent)||Democratic-Republican||Virginia||140,431||50.4%||128||Elbridge Gerry||Massachusetts||128|
|DeWitt Clinton||Democratic-Republican||New York||132,781||47.6%||89||Jared Ingersoll||Pennsylvania||86|
|Rufus King||Federalist||New York||5,574||2.0%||0||William R. Davie||North Carolina||0|
|Needed to win||109||109|
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 9 of the 18 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 Ohio did not vote.
The split-party ticket of the Federalist DeWitt Clinton and the Democratic-Republican Elbridge Gerry was the result of two Federalist Electors in Gerry's home state of Massachusetts and one in New Hampshire voting for the New England region's favorite.
|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|
In New Jersey, Federalists had just taken over the state legislature and decided to change the method of choosing electors from a general election to appointment by state legislature. Some towns, possibly too far away to get the news, or in open defiance of the switch, held elections anyways. These were not counted nor reported by the newspapers. In the unofficial elections, Madison received 1,672 votes while Clinton only received 2, suggesting these were protest votes (New Jersey was far more competitive than this at the time).
The Twelfth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1811, to March 4, 1813, during the third and fourth years of James Madison's presidency. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Second Census of the United States in 1800. Both chambers had a Democratic-Republican majority.1812 United States presidential election in Connecticut
The 1812 United States presidential election in Connecticut took place between October 30 and December 2, 1812, as part of the 1812 United States presidential election. The state legislature chose nine representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.
During this election, Connecticut cast its nine electoral votes to Independent Democratic Republican and Federalist supported candidate DeWitt Clinton. Nationally, traditional Democratic Republican candidate and incumbent President James Madison won by a narrow margin.1812 United States presidential election in Louisiana
The 1812 United States presidential election in Louisiana took place between October 30 and December 2, 1812, as part of the 1812 United States presidential election. The state legislature chose three representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.
Louisiana, which became the 18th state on April 30, 1812, cast its three electoral votes to Democratic Republican candidate and incumbent President James Madison in the states first presidential election.1812 United States presidential election in New Jersey
The 1812 United States presidential election in New Jersey took place between October 30 and December 2, 1812, as part of the 1812 United States presidential election. The state legislature chose eight representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.
During this election, New Jersey cast its eight electoral votes to Independent Democratic Republican and Federalist supported candidate DeWitt Clinton.1812 United States presidential election in New York
The 1812 United States presidential election in New York took place between October 30 and December 2, 1812, as part of the 1812 United States presidential election. The state legislature chose 29 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.
During this election, New York cast its twenty-nine electoral votes to Independent Democratic Republican and Federalist supported candidate DeWitt Clinton, who was then currently serving as the Mayor of New York City and the Lieutenant Governor of New York.
The election ultimately hinged on both New York and Pennsylvania, and while Clinton was able to take his home state, he failed to take Pennsylvania and thus lost the election to traditional Democratic Republican candidate and incumbent President James Madison won by a narrow margin.1812 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania
The 1812 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania took place as part of the 1812 United States presidential election. Voters chose 25 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.
Pennsylvania voted for the Democratic-Republican candidate, James Madison, over the Federalist candidate, DeWitt Clinton. Madison won Pennsylvania by a margin of 25.2%.1812 United States presidential election in South Carolina
The 1808 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place between October 30 and December 2, 1812, as part of the 1812 United States presidential election. The state legislature chose eleven representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.
During this election, South Carolina cast its 11 electoral votes to Democratic Republican candidate and incumbent President James Madison.1812 United States presidential election in Vermont
The 1812 United States presidential election in Vermont took place between October 30 and December 2, 1812, as part of the 1812 United States presidential election. The state legislature chose eight representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.
During this election, Vermont cast its eight electoral votes to Democratic Republican candidate and incumbent President James Madison. For the second time in the state's history, Vermont became the only state in New England to vote for Madison, as the other four New England states cast their electoral votes for Federalist supported candidate DeWitt Clinton.1812 election
1812 election may refer to:
Louisiana gubernatorial election, 1812
United Kingdom general election, 1812
United States presidential election, 1812
United States House of Representatives elections, 1812 and 1813United States presidential election
The election of president and vice president of the United States is an indirect election in which citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the 50 U.S. states or in Washington, D.C. cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the U.S. Electoral College, known as electors. These electors then in turn cast direct votes, known as electoral votes, for president, and for vice president. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes (at least 270 out of a total of 538, since the Twenty-Third Amendment granted voting rights to citizens of Washington, D.C.) is then elected to that office. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes for President, the House of Representatives chooses the winner; if no one receives an absolute majority of the votes for Vice President, then the Senate chooses the winner.
The Electoral College and its procedure are established in the U.S. Constitution by Article II, Section 1, Clauses 2 and 4; and the Twelfth Amendment (which replaced Clause 3 after its ratification in 1804). Under Clause 2, each of the states casts as many electoral votes as the total number of its Senators and Representatives in Congress, while, per the Twenty-third Amendment ratified in 1961, Washington, D.C. casts the same number of electoral votes as the least-represented state, which is three. Also under Clause 2, the manner for choosing electors is determined by each state legislature, not directly by the federal government. Many state legislatures previously selected their electors directly, but over time all of them switched to using the popular vote to help determine electors, which persists today. Once chosen, electors generally cast their electoral votes for the candidate who won the plurality in their state, but at least 21 states do not have provisions that specifically address this behavior; those who vote in opposition to the plurality are known as "faithless" or "unpledged electors". In modern times, faithless and unpledged electors have not affected the ultimate outcome of an election, so the results can generally be determined based on the state-by-state popular vote.
Presidential elections occur quadrennially with registered voters casting their ballots on Election Day, which since 1845 has been the first Tuesday after November 1. This date coincides with the general elections of various other federal, state, and local races; since local governments are responsible for managing elections, these races typically all appear on one ballot. The Electoral College electors then formally cast their electoral votes on the first Monday after December 12 at their respective state capitals. Congress then certifies the results in early January, and the presidential term begins on Inauguration Day, which since the passage of the Twentieth Amendment has been set at January 20.
The nomination process, consisting of the primary elections and caucuses and the nominating conventions, was not specified in the Constitution, but was developed over time by the states and political parties. These primary elections are generally held between January and June before the general election in November, while the nominating conventions are held in the summer. Though not codified by law, political parties also follow an indirect election process, where voters in the 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories, cast ballots for a slate of delegates to a political party's nominating convention, who then in turn elect their party's presidential nominee. Each party may then choose a vice presidential running mate to join the ticket, which is either determined by choice of the nominee or by a second round of voting. Because of changes to national campaign finance laws since the 1970s regarding the disclosure of contributions for federal campaigns, presidential candidates from the major political parties usually declare their intentions to run as early as the spring of the previous calendar year before the election (almost 18 months before Inauguration Day).
|"Father of the |
|Elections by year|
|Elections by state|
|Primaries and caucuses|
and Popular vote
State results of the 1812 U.S. presidential election