The Great Presidential Races


The election of 1812 consisted of a battle between James
Madison, and De Witt 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 canals
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 election.
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. 1844
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, were 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 candidates.
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
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. 1912
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 of technology.
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, and exchanged.
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. 1964
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
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 111.
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. 


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