Amendment XII Presidential Election Process (Constitutional by Jared Zacharias

By Jared Zacharias

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Sample text

That system had worked well in 1789 and 1792, when Washington had been elected unanimously, with Adams becoming Vice President. In 1796, the first contested presidential election, the results had been close but clear—Adams received seventy-one electoral votes, Jefferson sixty-eight, Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina fifty-nine, and Burr thirty. Adams became President and Jefferson Vice President, even though they represented opposing political parties. By then, though, it was obvious that the framers of the Constitution had not foreseen the rise of political parties and had underestimated the intensity of partisan feelings.

However, the Twelfth Amendment was eventually ratified to prevent such a situation as happened in the election of 1800 from occurring again. After the Twelfth Amendment was ratified, it was put to the test in the presidential election of 1804 between incumbent president Thomas Jefferson and his challenger Charles Pinckney. Gaye Wilson, a research historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, has lectured and published essays on Thomas Jefferson. B efore the election of 1804, President Thomas Jefferson projected that his party would carry all but four of the 17 states in the fall balloting.

Senate responded to the House’s initiation of an amendment to the Constitution that would change the process for electing the president and vice president by debating a similar proposition. Several members felt that there was a need to delay debate and that this proposed amendment was not necessary nor needed quickly. Still, other members used this debate as an opportunity to discuss the possibility of even eliminating the office of vice president altogether. M r. Dayton moved to strike out all which respected the appointment of a Vice President.

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