The United States Presidential Election, 1788 was the 1st quadrennial presidential election. It took place from November 4, 1788 to December 7, 1788. It was the first American Presidential Election under the new United States Constitution, which was signed by America's founding father. In this election, John Jay won against Thomas Jefferson and would serve two-terms as the first President of the United States of America under the new Constitution. 

It was decided by Congress, in order to compromise with state electors and the popular vote, that a president could run for as many terms for presidency as he or she wanted as long as the popular vote did not rise more than 5% from the last election. Example, if President A wins by 52% in his 1st term but in his 2nd term wins by 58% he loses his eligibility for another term. If President A wins by 52% in his 1st term and wins by 53% in his second term he is still allowed to run for office until he goes up 5% from his previous election. 

The main issues of this election was the ratification of the United States Constitution and the difference between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. 

November 4 – December 7, 1788


Turnout: 0.2%'


John Jay1

Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800)


John Jay

Thomas Jefferson




Home state

New York


Running mate

Thomas Pinckney

Aaron Burr

Electoral vote



States carried



Popular vote






Electoral Vote 1788

Electoral Vote 1788


Due to his enormous popularity, General George Washington was on heavy pressure to run for office. He decided months before the primary elections that he would not run for office because "family time was missing during the years of the war and must be repaired." (Washington, 1788)

Federalist Candidates

John Adams

John Jay

John Rutledge 

John Hancock 

Samuel Huntington 

Benjamin Lincoln 

Anti-Federalist Candidates 

George Clinton

Democratic-Republican Candidates 

Thomas Jefferson 

Samuel Huntington 

General Election 

The Anti-Federalist Party was denied access to the ballot because George Clinton sustained from the primary election, due to being the only candidate for that party, they were not represented at all. Some from George Clinton's home state of New York were angry at this because they felt the Federalist forced George Clinton to sustain and many in the country protested by sustaining to vote until he was on the ballot. Clinton was never put on the ballot, as a result, the turnout was at an all time low of 0.2%. 

The results were tallied and finalized on January 10, 1789 (almost one month after voting). John Jay beat Thomas Jefferson with a voting difference of 2,784. 

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