The 4 Strangest Presidential Elections in US History

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The 4 Strangest Presidential Elections in US History

 

The 2016 United States Presidential election has come to a close.  Well, kind of, as a quirk of the US election process the Electoral College still to meet in mid-December to officially elect the president.  But this is not the place to debate if the US election process should be updated or not.  Many people have said that this is the strangest election in US History, however, with over 200 years of electing presidents, some have turned out to be quite odd indeed.  I’ve gone through the records and come up with 4 that were actually the strangest to have occurred.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

First was the election of 1800.  As a point of note at that point each Elector in the Electoral College got 2 votes, there were no party tickets.  Everyone who had a desire to try for the role ran and ran solo.  Whoever got the most votes won the presidency, the second place became the Vice President.  Now there were still parties, and from one party you had Thomas Jefferson run, from that same party you also had Aaron Burr Run and from the opposing party you had John Adams run.  The problem is that Jefferson and Burr tied, with Adams taking third.  Congress was asked to break the tie, but Alexander Hamilton stepping in, not really liking any of the candidates.  He liked Burr the least and was able to convince Congress that they should vote for Jefferson.  It may have taken 35 ballots in a week, but eventually Jefferson was declared the President, Burr would be the Vice President.  As a wrap up to the process in 1804 Burr and Hamilton had a duel that would leave Hamilton dead.

John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams

Then in 1824 there were all sorts of oddities.  First off all four candidates were from the same Democratic-Republican Party.  The problem at the end of the day was that no one won a majority in the Electoral College.  So Congress was again asked to decide the president.  Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay where all in the running, with Andrew Jackson winning the popular vote and the largest number of electors.  However, Henry Clay was the Speaker of the House were the final vote would be.  He talked his backers into switching teams to vote for Adams, who would end up winning.  Clay would be named Secretary of State and Jackson was so upset about the whole deal he declared it was a ‘Corrupt Bargain’ and left his seat in the senate to run as an outsider next time.  He would go on to win that election.

Horace Greely
Horace Greely

Next up is the election of 1872.  Now this is the year that Susan B. Anthony voted illegally and arrested for it.  It is also the year that Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for president and her running mate was the well-known abolitionist Frederick Douglass (the first African American to run for Vice President).  Horace Greely was running against the incumbent William Grant.  Grant was a hero of the Civil War, but was not well liked while in the Oval Office.  Some Republicans broke off and in the end Greely got 44% of the vote and 66 Electoral votes, even though he stopped campaigning a week early to tend to his dying wife.  He himself ended up dying before the Electoral College could meet and his votes were dispersed.  In the end Grant won, but he did attend his rival’s funeral.

Finally we have 1948.  Having taken over as President when FDR died, Harry Truman was running against Governor Thomas Dewey.  Before the election even began the press was saying the Dewey would win.  He had about a 33% approval rating and a member of his own cabinet decided that he would run as a third-party candidate.  Southern democrats didn’t like Truman’s stand on the issue of civil rights and decided to back Strom Thurmond.  The polls released just before the election said that Dewey would win by 5 points and on election day NBC called the race for Dewey.  At 4 am the Secret Service woke the president up to tell him that he had in fact won.  You’ve probably seen the picture of Truman holding up a newspaper reading “Dewey Defeats Truman”.

Truman holding up a newspaper reading “Dewey Defeats Truman”.

 

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