Election of 1820

Despite the continuation of single party politics, serious issues emerged during the election in 1820. The nation had endured a widespread depression following the Panic of 1819 and the momentous issue of the extension of slavery into the territories was taking center stage. Nevertheless, James Monroe faced no opposition party or candidate in his reelection bid.

According to a popular story of the time, an elector from New Hampshire cast a single ballot for John Quincy Adams to ensure that Washington would be the only president elected unanimously. In truth, that elector, William Plummer of New Hampshire, simply felt that Monroe had been an ineffective president and did not deserve a second term.

Massachusetts had been entitled to 22 electoral votes four years earlier, but cast only 15 in 1820. This diminishing of power was brought about by the Missouri Compromise of that year that had made the region of Maine — long part of the Bay State — a free state to balance the pending admission of slave state Missouri.

Mississippi, Illinois and Alabama also participated in their first presidential election in 1820, but it would be almost 15 years before another state was admitted to the Union.

Election of 1820
Candidates
Party
Electoral
Vote
Popular
Vote
James Monroe (Virginia)
Receiving vice presidential votes:
Daniel Tompkins (New York)
Richard Stockton (N.J.)
Daniel Rodney (Delaware)
Richard G. Harper (Maryland)
Democratic-Republican
231

(218)
(8)
(4)
(1)
*
John Quincy Adams (Mass.)
Richard Rush (Pennsylvania)
Democratic-Republican
1
*
Votes not cast:
Maryland
Pennsylvania
Tennessee


1
1
1

*Popular vote totals were not retained until the Election of 1824.

NOTE: The three uncast electoral ballots were due to the deaths of the electors prior to voting.


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