Presidential Timeline 1787 to 1801

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Presidential Timeline 1787 to 1801

Presidential Timeline

1787 to 1801

The U.S. Constitution requires that the president be chosen by a group of electors, known as the Electoral College. Each state gets a number of electors equal to the number of representatives it has in Congress plus the number of senators from the state. Each state legislature decides how its electors are chosen. In 1788, only 10 of the 13 states participated in Washington's election because Rhode Island and North Carolina had not yet ratified the Constitution, and New York did not choose electors in time. Washington was the unanimous choice of the electors. He remains the only president ever to be the unanimous choice of the Electoral College. John Adams was chosen to be vice president.George Washington and the first Congress had to establish a national government under the new constitution. President Washington created the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of War, and the Office of Attorney General. He chose Thomas Jefferson as secretary of state, Alexander Hamilton as secretary of the treasury, and General Henry Knox as secretary of war. For attorney general, Washington selected Edmund Randolph.

In 1787, 55 delegates from the states met in Philadelphia to change the Articles of Confederation. Instead, they decided to write a new Constitution for the national government. The new United States Constitution set up a federal system, in which powers were divided between the national government and the states. Power in the national government was divided between executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Under the Constitution, the United States was a republic with an elected president instead of a king.

1787 U.S. Constitution signed.

Although George Washington wanted to retire at the end of his first term, he realized that the new nation faced many unresolved issues and needed his leadership. Washington was again unanimously elected president by the Electoral College. John Adams was again elected vice president.

For the first time in American history, candidates ran for office as members of opposing political parties. The Federalist Party nominated Vice President John Adams, while the Democratic-Republican Party supported Thomas Jefferson. John Adams won the election with 71 electoral votes. Jefferson won 68 electoral votes and became vice president.

The election campaign of 1800 differed greatly from the campaigns of today. The candidates did not travel around the country to rally support. Instead they began letter-writing campaigns, sending hundreds of letters to citizens and newspapers to publicize their views.The election of 1800 resulted in a tie in the Electoral College between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, who had been expected to become Jefferson's vice-president. When the Electoral College is tied, the Constitution requires the House of Representatives to pick the president. After 35 votes in the House of Representatives failed to break the tie, Alexander Hamilton persuaded one Federalist voter to withhold his vote for Aaron Burr, and Thomas Jefferson became president. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson became the third President of the United States.

1789 George Washington becomes president.



1792 George Washington is reelected president.

1801 Thomas Jefferson becomes president.

1796 Presidential candidates from rival political partiesfor the first time; John Adams wins the presidency

Dorene Babb

Dorene Babb


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