Election of 1804

Thomas Jefferson was the odds-on favorite to be reelected in 1804, gaining widespread popularity through the Louisiana Purchase, the repeal of the excise tax on whiskey and by standing up to the Barbary pirates. Furthermore, the Federalists were in almost total disarray. The president dropped Aaron Burr as his running mate, perhaps unfairly believing that Burr had tried to steal the presidency from him in 1800. A group of New England Federalists known as the Essex Junto (many lived in Essex County north of Boston) began scheming in advance of the election. The group included many wealthy lawyers and businessmen who feared that the recent Louisiana Purchase would eventually dilute the power and influence of New England. The Junto members came to believe that their only salvation was to remove their states from the Union, but that a secession plan would only work if they could secure the cooperation of New York.

The historical record is somewhat murky, but it appears that Burr was convinced to seek the governorship of New York and, after his election, he was to lead the state out of the Union. Whether or not a real conspiracy existed here is not certain, but Burr did run for office; he was defeated in his run for governor largely through the maneuverings of Alexander Hamilton - one more step in the fatal estrangement between these two figures.

Jefferson easily won reelection. The electoral result was 162 to 14 with the dwindling Federalists taking only Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware.

The Election of 1804
Candidate

Party

Electoral
Vote

Popular
Vote

Thomas Jefferson (VA)
George Clinton (NY)

Democratic-Republican

162

*

C.C. Pinckney (SC)
Rufus King (NY)

Federalist

14

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