The Congressional and Gubernatorial Elections of 1796 were the third quadrennial elections to determine the Senators and Congressmen from each state, as well as every Governor. Congress featured 32 Senators and 106 Congressmen.

Congress of 1796

Foundation of Parties

Again, no member of Congress claimed a political party, but the foundations of parties started to appear. Most Members of Congress supported Washington and, thus, form the beginnings of the Washingtonians, and a small subgroup of Washingtonians known as Hamiltonians emerged as well. The rest of Congress would later be described as Henrians and also featured an extreme subgroup, known as Jeffersonians and led by Pennsylvania Congressman Benjamin Franklin Bache.

Speaker of the House

After the obstructionism of Richard Henry Lee, both factions were willing to compromise on a Speaker who would not use the office's powers so dramatically. The House agreed on former Massachusetts Governor, and three time compromise Presidential candidate, Samuel Adams, who changed the uses of a position to one that tries to keep the House working as efficiently as possible instead of aiding political agendas.

President Pro Tempore of the Senate

The Senate's temporary President seemed more important than ever as he would preside over the Senate more often than usual with a more active Vice President and Jay's possible succession to the Presidency. Recognizing the House's sensibility in compromise, the Senate chose to keep on Oliver Ellsworth for a third term.

Major Legislation

11th Amendment ("Succession Amendment")

In 1798 as President Washington's health declined, debate emerged over exactly what Article 2 meant where it prescribed the Vice President the duty to take office. Some argued that the Vice President became just an acting President or an acting President while a special election was held. To settle the debate, Chief Justice John Adams sent a letter to Speaker Samuel Adams, signed by every Justice, stating that they interpreting the Constitution as meaning that the Vice President would become President for the remainder of the term. Adams and the Court recommended that Congress pass some sort of statement confirming the succession process for the safety of the country. Speaker Adams, becoming the first sitting Speaker to propose a bill, put forth a constitutional amendment clarifying that the Vice President would become President. Although some disagreed with the interpretation, the amendment passed nearly unanimously, many believing it to be a matter of domestic security. The amendment passed just a month before President Washington became the first to die in office.

Hamilton Treaty

After more than ten years of work toward a second treaty with Britain, new Secretary of State Alexander Hamilton finally sealed terms to a treaty that would removal all remaining British military from Mid-Western America and establish reasonable trade terms. The treaty narrowly passed both Houses of Congress due to a Washingtonian majority, though even many Henrians who would have supported the treaty voted against it due to the Jefferson removal.

Gubernatorial Elections

Like the Congress, no Governor adopted a party mantle. Most Southern states, with Virginia as a border, elected Henrians, while Northerners, with Maryland as a border, elected Washingtonians. South Carolina elected the only Washingtonian Southern Governor in Charles Coatesworth Pinckney, and New Hampshire's Josiah Bartlett remained the only abolitionist Governor.

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