Thursday, September 13, 2007

September 13, 1788:

The First Presidential Election Scheduled

Technically, the US Constitution was adopted when the ninth state to ratify it, New Hampshire, did so on June 21, 1788. However, the new union wouldn't really have hung together unless Virginia had approved it, which it did four days later.

These events inspired the Confederation Congress to pass an Election Ordinance on September 13, which provided for the selection of presidential electors in the states on January 7, 1789, and set February 4 as the day they would cast their ballots. Thus the first presidential election was set in motion on this day 219 years ago. Everyone was certain that George Washington would take the prize.

According to the web site "The Papers of George Washington," maintained by the University of Virginia, "The Constitution left it up to each state to choose the manner in which their Electors were chosen (Article II, section 1). North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution and had no Electors in the election of 1789. The New York legislature was unable to pass an election act in time to choose its allotted 8 Electors, failed to appoint any by 7 January, and cast no electoral votes on 4 February. A total of 69 Electors voted in the first Presidential Election (2 Electors in Maryland, and 1 in Virginia failed to cast ballots).

"Each elector had two votes, at least one of which had to be cast for a person outside their state. The votes were to be forwarded to Congress, where they would be counted in the presence of the Senators and Representatives. The person with the most votes would be President; the one finishing second in the balloting would be Vice President. Congress convened in New York on 4 March 1789; quorums were achieved in the House and Senate on 1 and 6 April 1789, respectively. Congress confirmed the results of the first presidential election (see below) when it officially counted the ballots on 6 April 1789.

"Vice President John Adams assumed his duties as president of the Senate on 21 April and George Washington was inaugurated as President of the United States on 30 April 1789."

No comments: