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|‹ N/A 1792 ›|
|United States Presidential Election of 1788|
|November 1, 1788|
|Nominee||George Washington||Benjamin Franklin||John Adams|
The Election of 1788 was the first quadrennial election to choose the President and Vice President of the United States. In accordance with the new Constitution, the popular vote was held on November 1, 1788, and the Electoral College met in the weeks after to officially select the candidates. The President-Elect would take office on January 1, 1789, and his term considered ended December 31, 1792. All subsequent elections are to take this same format, as would Congressional and Gubernatorial elections, expecting the Electoral College.
In order to ensure the election of George Washington, the Electoral College took on an unusual format where each state had two ballots, informally representing votes for the President and Vice President. The first ballot held only George Washington and Benjamin Franklin; the second ballot featured all other candidates.
The Electoral College selected George Washington as President, receiving 56 first ballot votes, and Benjamin Franklin as Vice President, receiving 13 first ballot votes. John Adams and Robert Morris received 13 second ballot votes each, but it was agreed amongst the competitors and Senators (who voted in the tie-breaker), informally, that Franklin would become Vice President while Adams and Morris would receive Cabinet positions.
The United States prepares to elect its first chief executive officer under the new Constitution. Voters will use the ballot to inform their state's electors on how to cast the vote in the Electoral College, submitting two names, one for President and another for Vice President.
Heading into the election, American citizens and electors are unanimous agreement that Revolutionary War General George Washington should be the inaugural President. The only candidate poised to challenge Washington is 80-year old Benjamin Franklin, who is only running in the name of democracy and has no expectation of winning.
The real race is for runner-up and, thus, the Vice Presidency. The leading candidate is long-time diplomat John Adams, but several candidates are also in the running, including the New Yorkers John Jay and George Clinton (the only anti-Washington candidate). Principal leaders such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson will not be running because the Vice President cannot be from the same state as the President.
Another topic of debate is the potential Cabinet. The Cabinet will be made of three secretaries (State, Treasury, and War) and the Attorney-General who will oversee departments handling foreign affairs, economics, military, and law, respectively. The final member is the Chief of Staff who to oversee day-to-day operations and be a liaison between Cabinet and President. The President appoints all of these positions with approval from the Senate. The President and Vice President also sit on the Cabinet.
The election mostly went as expected although Washington experienced a surprising drop in popularity; however, he maintained a lead the entire campaign while facing a tough race in Pennsylvania with Franklin. Adams remained the popular choice of Vice President, but he struggled to take the lead in any specific state, so electoral math was not in his favor, putting candidates like Jay, Clinton, Robert Morris, and Samuel Adams in competition
Washington received votes from every state but one, easily securing the Presidency with 56 electoral votes while only needing 35.
The runner-up spot was not so easy. John Adams, Franklin, and Morris all tied for second with 13 votes. Ultimately, it was decided that Franklin, having received the most of the popular vote after Washington, would become Vice President, and both Morris and Adams would receive Cabinet positions.