Great Presidential Races (A look at the elections of 1812, 1844, 1912 & 1964)
The election of 1812 consisted of a
battle between James Madison, and DeWitt Clinton. Madison had represented both
Democratic and Republican beliefs, while Clinton was a
James Madison was born in Port
Conway, Va., on March 16, 1751. A Princeton graduate, he
joined the struggle for independence on his return to
Virginia in 1771. He had been an active politician in the 1770's and 1780's.
He was greatly know for championing the Jefferson reform program, and
in the Continental Congress. Madison, in collaboration, had participated
greatly in the, Federalist, a paper who's main purpose was to ratify
the constitution. Madison first became president in 1809, when he bested
Charles C. Pickney. He had led the U.S. in a very unpopular war, in which
the U.S. hadn't been prepared for...the War of 1812.
De Witt Clinton was a Federalist,
who's main purpose of the election was to get the U.S. out
of a war in which he felt was very unnecessary. DeWitt held
every major elective office in New York between 1797 and 1828--assemblyman,
senator, mayor of New York City, lieutenant governor, and
governor. He was a philanthropist and patron of the arts and science and,
as canal commissioner, championed construction of the Erie and Champlain
The method in which these candidates
received nomination was by the Electoral College, or by
King Caucus. The idea of political conventions had not
been present at this time. There were no third-party candidates in this
The major issue of this election was
the War of 1812. The War of 1812, or "Mr. Madison's
War", had been very unpopular among different sections of America.
Mainly the ship owners in New England. The war was supposed to protect.
This war was supposed to help their shipping, but instead, it had kept
them from trading and making money.
The winner of the election of 1812
was James Madison. Madison collected 128 electoral votes,
while Clinton received 89, and the number of "No Votes Cast"
was 1. The Vice-presidential candidate, who won the election was Elbridge
Gerry, who received 131 electoral votes, while Jared Ingersoll received
86. There was no record of the number of popular votes for this election.
My opinion of why Madison had won
the election is because he had led the country into the
War of 1812, and therefore, he should be allowed to fight it.
He was also much more popular than De Witt Clinton. Madison's part in ratifying
the Constitution, and his other early deeds, were also influential
on the voters minds. He also did pretty well during his first term.
The candidates for the election of
1844 were James K. Polk, and Henry Clay. Two very
respectable men, who had great plans for the U.S. Polk represented
the Democratic party, while Clay represented the Whigs.
James Knox Polk was born in
Mecklenburg County, N.C., on November 2, 1795. He
graduated from the University of North Carolina, from which he then moved
to Tennessee, where he became prominent in state politics. He was elected
to the house of representatives in 1825. He was elected Speaker of the
House in 1835. Four years later, he was elected governor of Tennessee, but
was beaten in tries for re-election in 1841, and 1843. Martin Van Buren,
the president prior to the 1844 election, counted on Polk as his running
mate; but when Van Buren's stand on Texas alienated Southern support,
the convention swung to Polk on the Ninth ballot.
Henry Clay, a key figure in U.S.
politics during the first half of the 19th century, was a
master of the art of political compromise. Born in Hanover
County, Va., on April 12, 1777, he studied law in Richmond and moved
to the frontier state of Kentucky in 1797. Clay became more and more important
in Kentucky politics, becoming speaker of the state assembly in 1807,
and winning election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1811. Clay
made his first try for the presidency in 1824. Four men ran, including
Andrew Jackson, who was on the ballot. When no candidate won a majority,
Clay threw his support to John Quincy Adams. Adams won and promptly
named Clay his secretary of state.
The party members won their candidacy by primary. The major
upset of this time happened during the Democratic
convention. Everyone expected Van Buren to be named the
Democratic candidate, but because of Van Buren's stand on
Texas, the nomination went to Polk. This election had no third-party
The major issue of this election was the issue of Texas. Polk
and the Democrats, wanted Texas in the Union. Clay also
wanted Texas, but he was afraid that the acquisition of
Texas would lead to war with Mexico. Clay never made it
clear just where the Whig party stood. The Oregon territory had
also been a big part of this election. Oregon was the name given to all
the land between Alaska and California, west of the Rocky Mountains.
Both Great Britain and the U.S. claimed it. Polk said that the
Oregon territory would be America's, even if it led to
war. The winner of the election was James K. Polk.
He pulled in 170 electoral votes, while Henry Clay
received 105. There is no record of the number of popular
votes for this election.
My opinion of why Polk won this election is because of his
stand on land. He believed greatly in "Manifest
Destiny", and this was very popular at the time.
Clay, and the Whig party never made it clear as to where they stood on
Texas. Perhaps if the voters had known for sure on which side of the line
they stood, this election might have had a different outcome.
The election of 1912 was a three-man race between Theodore
Roosevelt, who was a Progressive, William H. Taft, a
Republican, and Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat. Each one had
their own ideas on how to change America, but only one
would get a chance to do so.
Born in NYC on October in 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was a
Harvard graduate. His interests included ranching,
politics, and writing. Roosevelt was a Republican member
of the New York assembly from 1882-1884. He was an unsuccessful
candidate for mayor of NYC in 1886, but became police commissioner
of NYC in 1895. Roosevelt assumed the job of president in 1901,
after the assassination of McKinley. Theodore Roosevelt embarked mainly
on conserving natural resources. He was very anit-big-buisness.
After his term was up, he was defeated in presidential primary
as a Republican, so he chose to start his own party, known
as the "Progressives". Teddy pulled most of the
votes in election of 1912, but the split between him and
Taft caused Wilson to become president.
Born in Cincinnati on September 15, 1857, William Taft was a
Yale graduate, who went on to serve for the Ohio supreme court from 1890-92. He became the Secretary of war under
President Roosevelt. Taft won the republican nomination over Roosevelt during their
political convention, causing Roosevelt to form Progressive party. Lost election, thus
causing Wilson to become president. Taft had been chosen by Roosevelt essentially to carry
on Roosevelt's progressive policies. In a certain sense he did: he instituted and
completed more antitrust cases than his "trust-busting" predecessor; he
supported the proposed income-tax amendment to the U.S. Constitution; he helped enact a
system of postal savings and a measure, the Mann-Elkins Bill, to regulate the railroads
more effectively; and he backed several social reforms, including an employer's liability
law for work done on government jobs and a mandatory 8-hour day in federal employment.
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in Staunton, Va., on Dec. 28, 1856. He was profoundly
influenced by a devoutly religious household headed by his father, Joseph Ruggles Wilson,
a Presbyterian minister, and his mother, Janet Woodrow Wilson, the daughter of a minister.
Wilson studied at the University of Virginia Law School, briefly practiced law in Atlanta,
and in 1883 entered The Johns Hopkins University for graduate study in political science.
His book, Congressional Government, was published a year before he received his doctoral
degree. Success in New Jersey made him a contender for the Democratic presidential
nomination. Although Wilson entered the 1912 Democratic National Convention a poor second
to Speaker of the House Champ Clark, his strength increased as Clark's faded, and he won
the nomination after 46 ballots. Offering a program of reform that he called the New
Freedom, Wilson ran against a divided Republican party. In November, with only 42 percent
of the popular vote, he won 435 electoral votes to 88 for Progressive candidate Theodore
Roosevelt and 8 for the Republican candidate, President William Howard Taft.
The candidates for this election, excluding Roosevelt, were all elected in a
convention. Because Roosevelt lost his convention, he formed his own party, allowing him a
place on the ballot.
The third party candidate for this election was Theodore Roosevelt. His party, the
Progressives main issue were, they believed that abuses of power by government and
business could be ended (i.e., bribery and corruption), business regulations, importance
The main issues in this election were Big Business abusing powers by monopolizing
others. "Trust Busting" was the major idea of this period. Many felt that
government should get involved to stop power abusing. The idea of regulations, such as the
on the meat packing industry, were very much supported, after being exposed by the
muckrakers of the time.
The winner of this election was Woodrow Wilson. Wilson received a total popular vote
count of 6,286,214, and a total electoral vote count of 435. Roosevelt's popular vote
total was 4,126,020, with an electoral vote count of 88. Finally, Taft's popular vote
accumulations were 3,483,922, and 8 electoral votes.
The main reason Woodrow Wilson won the election in my opinion, was because Roosevelt
took many votes away from Taft. As is in many third-party elections, the number of votes
significantly changes, thus causing some major upsets. Wilson won because congress voted
him in, not because he was elected. If Roosevelt hadn't formed his own party, Taft would
have had a better chance of becoming President of the United States. 1936
The candidates in the election of 1936 were, Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, Alfred
M. Landon, a Republican, and Norman Thomas, a Socialist.
Roosevelt was born on January 30, 1882, at Hyde Park, N.Y., to James Roosevelt. He was
an average student at Harvard University, edited the Harvard Crimson in his senior year,
and after graduation attended Columbia Law School. He dropped out of law school upon
admission to the New York bar and worked for a Wall Street law firm. Franklin married a
distant cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, on March 17, 1905. Her uncle, President Theodore
Roosevelt, gave the bride away. Their children were Anna Eleanor, James, Elliott, Franklin
Delano, Jr., and John; a sixth child died in infancy. The Roosevelt's were active in New
York social circles but at the same time devoted considerable energy to the plight of the
less fortunate. Franklin's handling of small-claims cases in the municipal court system
deepened his concern for the common people. Although a Democrat, he admired the
progressivism of Uncle Teddy and decided early upon a political career.
Alfred Mossman Landon, born in West Middlesex, Pa., on September 9, 1887, was a key
figure in the U.S. Republican party in the 1930s and ran unsuccessfully for president in
1936. "Alf" Landon first entered the national political arena in 1912,
campaigning for Theodore Roosevelt, who was that year the Progressive party candidate for
president. Landon continued to be associated with progressive politics within the
Republican party. In 1932, Landon was elected governor of Kansas, and two years later he
was the only incumbent Republican governor to be reelected in an otherwise Democratic
landslide. This success made Landon a strong candidate to oppose President Franklin D.
Roosevelt in 1936. Although he won 17,000,000 votes, Landon carried only two states, Maine
and Vermont. Following his defeat Landon retired from national politics.
Norman Mattoon Thomas, born in Marion, Ohio, November 20, 1884, was six times an
unsuccessful Socialist Party candidate for president of the United States between 1928 and
1948. A Presbyterian minister in East Harlem's slums, he became a pacifist and opposed
American entry into World War I. In 1917 he helped found what became the American Civil
Liberties Union. Thomas joined the Socialist party in 1918 and became its leader in 1926.
Defending a moderate, non-Marxist brand of socialism, he failed (except in the 1932
election) to halt the decline of his party.
Each candidate in this election, won his nomination via a presidential convention.
The third party candidate, Norman Thomas, was a Socialist. Socialist's believed mainly
in public ownership of the means by which goods and services are produced, distributed,
The main issue of the day for this election was the Great Depression. People were
living in the hardest economic times America had ever seen, and were looking for someone
to get them out of it.
The winner of the election was F.D.R. Roosevelt received a popular vote total of
27,751,597, and an electoral vote total of 523. Landon received 16,679,583 popular votes,
and 8 electoral votes, and Thomas received 884,781 popular votes, and 0 electoral votes.
Why F.D.R. won the election in my opinion is because he was a great president. The
American people loved him, and his style of government. He gained the trust of the
American people, by getting them out of the Great Depression. That is why he was elected
to the presidency more than any other president before his time.
The election of 1964 was a contest between Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat, and Barry M.
Goldwater, a Republican.
Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, near Johnson City, Texas, the eldest son of Sam
Early Johnson, Jr., and Rebekah Baines Johnson. Johnson attended public schools in Johnson
City and received a B.S. degree from Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos.
He then taught for a year in Houston before going to Washington in 1931 as secretary to a
Democratic Texas congressman, Richard M. Kleberg. In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was
elected President. Johnson greatly admired the president, who named him, at age 27, to
head the National Youth Administration in Texas. In 1937, Johnson sought and won a Texas
seat in Congress, where he mastered public works, reclamation, and public power programs.
When war came to Europe he backed Roosevelt's efforts to aid the Allies. During World War
II he served a brief tour of active duty with the U.S. Navy in the Pacific, but returned
to Capitol Hill when Roosevelt recalled members of Congress from active duty. Johnson
continued to support Roosevelt's military and foreign-policy programs. In 1953 he won the
job of Senate Democratic leader. The next year he was easily reelected as senator and
returned to Washington as majority leader, a post he held for the next 6 years despite a
serious heart attack in 1955.
Barry Morris Goldwater, born in Phoenix, Arizona on January 1, 1909, was the
unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate in 1964. Goldwater was elected to the
Senate from Arizona in 1952. A firm conservative, he became a spokesman for right-wing
Republicans in their campaign against big government, advocating instead greater state and
local powers. He vigorously opposed federal welfare appropriations as socialistic and
sought to curb public ownership of utilities. A strong anti-Communist, Goldwater supported
American military intervention in Vietnam and criticized efforts to achieve detente with
the USSR. He was decisively defeated by Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election.
Goldwater served in the Senate until retirement in 1987.
Each candidate won his nomination by a Presidential Convention, with the process of
primary elections. There were no third-party candidates in this election.
The main issue of this election was civil rights. Many people opposed Lyndon B.
Johnson's laws, claiming them to be too "pro-black". Many liberals and blacks
themselves believed that the laws didn't go far enough. Race riots broke out in a number
of cities because of these conflicts.
The winner of the election was Johnson, by a landslide. He brought in a popular vote
total of 43,129,484, and an electoral vote total of 486. Goldwater, on the other hand, won
a popular vote total of 27,178,188, and an electoral vote total of 52.
The reason Johnson won the election of 1964, in my opinion is because of his prior
term. He was able to regain control of the White House, after taking over for the
assassinated John F. Kennedy. It was a time of equality and civil rights, and many people
liked and agreed with where he stood on these issues. 1988
The election of 1988 was a contest between George Bush, and Michael Dukakis. Bush was a
Republican, while Dukakis was a Democrat.
Born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, to Dorothy Walker Bush, daughter of a
wealthy investor, and Prescott Sheldon Bush, a banker and later Republican U.S. senator
from Connecticut, George Bush grew up in the New York City suburb of Greenwich,
Connecticut and attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. During World War II he became
the navy's youngest bomber pilot. Shot down over the Pacific island of Chichi Jima and
rescued by a submarine, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air
Medals. In 1945 he married Barbara Pierce and then matriculated at Yale University, where
he majored in economics, was captain of the baseball team, and graduated with Phi Beta
Kappa honors in 1948.
Michael Stanley Dukakis, born in Brookline, Massachusetts, November 3, 1933, a
three-term governor of Massachusetts, was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1988.
The son of immigrants from Greece, Dukakis graduated from Swarthmore College and Harvard
Law School. He was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1962, serving four terms.
Elected governor of Massachusetts in 1974, Dukakis was denied re-nomination in 1978.
Re-elected in 1982 and 1986, he claimed credit for part of the period's economic
resurgence--the "Massachusetts miracle." The state's economy had soured when he
declined to run again in 1990. Stressing "competence" over "ideology,"
Dukakis campaigned for the presidency in 1988 in a manner that many observers found
uninspiring. He and his running mate, Sen. Lloyd Bensten of Texas, lost to the Republican
team, George Bush and Dan Quayle, by 46% to 54% of the popular vote. After leaving office
as governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis declared that he planned to do some lecturing and
teaching, as well as encouraging young people to enter public service.
Each candidate in this election was elected by the process of primary elections, and
nominated at their Presidential Convention. There were no third-party candidates in this
The main issue of this election was taxes. Bush's promise of "no new taxes"
won over the American public.
Bush won the election with a popular vote total of 48,886,097, and an electoral vote of
426. Dukakis received a popular vote total of 41,809,074, and an electoral vote total of
The reason Bush won the election in my opinion was because of his promise of "no
new taxes." The American people just came off of a "Regan High", with good
economic times. People thought the things would remain like they did during the
"Reagan Era" if they elected Bush.
The most important election in my opinion of all of these was the election of 1812.
America was heading into a war which we weren't prepared for. This was a crucial time for
someone to take the reigns, and lead America into a situation in which we would come out
on top. Madison was the right man for the job, at such a crucial time in American History.