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1788 Presidential Election


vcczar

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First: Watch or listen to the video I made for this election that I posted in the private message thread. I left out that James Wilson of PA was the only Constitutional Convention delegate to call for a popular vote. I also left out mentioning Patrick Henry and George Mason and their role in opposing the US Constitution. 

Second: I want you to post one question for the other people in this class about the election. You can post several that they can choose from. This question needs not be bound to 1788. The question could be about the 1788 election in regards to 2023, for instance. I'll likely post follow up questions.

Third: The important documents for the election are the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, the latter that is passed following Washington's election. 

Fourth: Fun video for this time. A first-term Washington cabinet meeting, and the largely empty VP position.: 

 

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Q: You spoke about places like Charleston and areas in New England being Pro-Administration, but a large part of the rural areas in the South being Anti-Administration.  Do you think that there is still an urban/rural divide that shows itself in future elections (say for the next 20 years)?  I believe that it certainly shows itself in more modern elections.

Q: Why do you believe Washington mostly excluded Adams from the business of government?  Was it a personality thing (Washington didn't like him)?  Was it because of Washington's interpretation of the Constitution (he didn't see Adams having a role)?  Or was it because Washington felt threatened by Adams (or didn't want Adams to influence his cabinet)?

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Q: It's an interesting contradiction that anti-administrationists were able to win both Senate seats and a majority of House seats in Virginia, while the state overwhelmingly backed pro-administration politicians on the presidential level.

Do you think that's just the result of Washington being a Virginian, making him a kind of favorite son? In other words do you think the support for George Clinton or another anti-admin guy had been higher, if Washington hadn't been a candidate? Or do you think that there were other interests to split the votes so gravely between the various races and pro-administration politicians would have likely won the presidential electors even without Washington being a candidate?

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Q: What was the reason for NC and RI to not ratify the Constitution before the election? Why did Congress decide to hold the election and not wait until all states have ratified the constitution? why did New York not elect their electors?

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19 hours ago, Blockmon said:

Q: why did New York not elect their electors?

 

10 hours ago, Bloot911 said:

Q: New York failed to get their electors appointed in time, had they gotten to cast votes in this election,  who do you think wins their second vote(effectively their VP vote)? 

"Mr. Livingston...WHAT IN HELL GOES ON IN NEW YORK?!"

- John Hancock, 1776

 

Edited by MrPotatoTed
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So question: Why not have constitutional conventions every say 25 years?  I think it could clear alot of problems and you could make it that if your in government currently you cannot serve in the convention.

19 hours ago, Blockmon said:

Q: What was the reason for NC and RI to not ratify the Constitution before the election? Why did Congress decide to hold the election and not wait until all states have ratified the constitution? why did New York not elect their electors?

I think that the government wanted to get established since things were falling apart

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12 hours ago, Bloot911 said:

Q: New York failed to get their electors appointed in time and NC and RI had yet to ratify, had these states gotten to cast votes in this election,  who do you think wins their second vote(effectively their VP vote)? 

I think the VP votes of RI had probably gone to Adams or Jay. NC might have backed George Clinton or some favorite son.

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You mentioned that Washington eventually purges his administration of Jefferson and Madison, does he recognize how this schism lays the groundwork for parties to emerge? Why is it that the President who warned so vociferously against parties forming had a Cabinet that produced the divisions that would form the two major political parties of the era?

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On 6/8/2023 at 7:25 PM, ConservativeElector2 said:

Q: It's an interesting contradiction that anti-administrationists were able to win both Senate seats and a majority of House seats in Virginia, while the state overwhelmingly backed pro-administration politicians on the presidential level.

Do you think that's just the result of Washington being a Virginian, making him a kind of favorite son? In other words do you think the support for George Clinton or another anti-admin guy had been higher, if Washington hadn't been a candidate? Or do you think that there were other interests to split the votes so gravely between the various races and pro-administration politicians would have likely won the presidential electors even without Washington being a candidate?

So I think Washington was always going to be a candidate.  He seemed to downplay his desire to be a leader, but was always encouraged and supported to be a leader.  He was humble, but only to a point.

If, for some reason, something had happened to him (like he got sick and died before 1788), then I think it would an interesting a wide open field.  Clinton was more of an anti-administrationist so it's difficult to say if he would have run for President.  Adams would have for sure, but I think he would have had opposition from the southern states without endorsements from the south.

It very well COULD have gone to the House in the very first election if Washington was not a candidate.  In that case, it's anyone's guess who would win!

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4 minutes ago, matthewyoung123 said:

So I think Washington was always going to be a candidate.  He seemed to downplay his desire to be a leader, but was always encouraged and supported to be a leader.  He was humble, but only to a point.

If, for some reason, something had happened to him (like he got sick and died before 1788), then I think it would an interesting a wide open field.  Clinton was more of an anti-administrationist so it's difficult to say if he would have run for President.  Adams would have for sure, but I think he would have had opposition from the southern states without endorsements from the south.

It very well COULD have gone to the House in the very first election if Washington was not a candidate.  In that case, it's anyone's guess who would win!

I appreciate your response, but am I right, that you are talking about the general election as a whole? What I meant with my question was actually more specifically just on Virginia - based on VA choosing anti-administration policitians in legislative races, I found it astonishing that the state's support on the presidential level almost solely went to pro-administration politicians. So I wondered if the answer to that is just Washington being from Virginia or whether there had been other interests for Virginian electors to vote pro-admin for President and anti-admin on the legislative level. 

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1 hour ago, ConservativeElector2 said:

I appreciate your response, but am I right, that you are talking about the general election as a whole? What I meant with my question was actually more specifically just on Virginia - based on VA choosing anti-administration policitians in legislative races, I found it astonishing that the state's support on the presidential level almost solely went to pro-administration politicians. So I wondered if the answer to that is just Washington being from Virginia or whether there had been other interests for Virginian electors to vote pro-admin for President and anti-admin on the legislative level. 

Yes, the General election.  I wish I had more of an understanding of specific Virginia politics at the time.  My area of knowledge is one state south, NC.  Thanks! 

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17 minutes ago, matthewyoung123 said:

Yes, the General election.  I wish I had more of an understanding of specific Virginia politics at the time.  My area of knowledge is one state south, NC.  Thanks! 

Southern Federalists seemed to be most tied to maintaining trade with England (more money because better commercial country and less hassle if one speaks the language), keeping the voting power and influence with the elites, and maintaining a strong military to stave off anarchy. Once it seemed clear the country had a relatively stable domestic and economic situation, Southern federalist had no reason to switch parties because now they could focus on southern interests since most of the JRs were in the South (outside of NY). Former Southern Federalists are probably the primary influencers as to why Southern state governments were often keeping poor whites out of civic engagement. Poor whites never really had a party until FDR. But to @ConservativeElector2 point. A lot of that Federalist support was because of Washington. Without him the state is split, probably leaning away from Federalists. 

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5 hours ago, ShortKing said:

You mentioned that Washington eventually purges his administration of Jefferson and Madison, does he recognize how this schism lays the groundwork for parties to emerge? Why is it that the President who warned so vociferously against parties forming had a Cabinet that produced the divisions that would form the two major political parties of the era?

I figure he must understand it. He saw it happening and gave his warning against it in his farewell address. Washington imo was an independent in name only and was very much in the side of the federalist, even Jefferson thought he was too. I figure that Hamilton might have been behind some of the firings as well as Washington’s exhaustion from the cabinet  infighting.  

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49 minutes ago, 0ccultist said:

I figure he must understand it. He saw it happening and gave his warning against it in his farewell address. Washington imo was an independent in name only and was very much in the side of the federalist, even Jefferson thought he was too. I figure that Hamilton might have been behind some of the firings as well as Washington’s exhaustion from the cabinet  infighting.  

It is interesting.  V said that perhaps if Washington had been invited back for a 3rd term he would have run if he could be assured of a unanimous victory.  I recently listened to a podcast talking about the 1792 election and it says Washington had to be forced to run then so not sure 1796 would have been different with how tired Washington would have been

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6 hours ago, ShortKing said:

You mentioned that Washington eventually purges his administration of Jefferson and Madison, does he recognize how this schism lays the groundwork for parties to emerge? Why is it that the President who warned so vociferously against parties forming had a Cabinet that produced the divisions that would form the two major political parties of the era?

You've got the order reversed.

It wasn't:
1) Washington warns against party formation
2) Washington then forms cabinet that is bound to lead to party formation.

Rather, it was:
1)  Washington forms a cabinet of some of the most brilliant minds available
2)  These brilliant minds disagree with each other, and sides are taken, leading to the early formation fo parties
3)  Washington sees this happen and warns against it

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On 6/10/2023 at 3:05 PM, Blockmon said:

Q: What was the reason for NC and RI to not ratify the Constitution before the election?

I'm not sure about NC, but RI was notoriously independent-minded. And they probably benefited from having one of the largest ports/harbors on the continent, meaning they profited more from international trade via tariffs than other states under the articles. So a change that would bring everyone under one set of rules would mean they lose their advantage. That plus they were one of the smallest states, so even less of a voice with the "one state veto" rule under the articles.

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On 6/8/2023 at 6:03 PM, matthewyoung123 said:

Q: Why do you believe Washington mostly excluded Adams from the business of government?  Was it a personality thing (Washington didn't like him)?  Was it because of Washington's interpretation of the Constitution (he didn't see Adams having a role)?  Or was it because Washington felt threatened by Adams (or didn't want Adams to influence his cabinet)?

This has to go back to the Conway Cabal, right? Adams initially pushed for Washington to lead but later had doubts as losses piled up. The rest of the MA delegation during the revolution was pushing Gates to be CinC really hard for a while.  Then it likely has to go to "what could Adams really bring to the table?" He was a lawyer/diplomat who had thin skin and never ran anything resembling a government/army/business. I think the personal relationship was the most important aspect though, since VP could've been a Prime Minister of the Senate if there was more of a strategic linkage to the executive branch. Shame really, as the Adams administration really suffered since he had no idea how the government operated when he took over. 

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On 6/10/2023 at 11:35 AM, Imperator Taco Cat said:

It was expected that a new constitutional convention when needed, why didn't this happen?

Q: when would you say a new convention was needed.

 

This was one of the first questions I thought of as well. We know it didn't happen, but I'm curious if any founders did call for a new convention and they just went unanswered by the powers that be. It's especially interesting since after the first 12 amendments, none passed again until after the Civil War. Surely someone was calling for an update before, say, July 4, 1826. I also think it's interesting that after Adams, the anti-Administration/anti-Federalists took charge and then chose to work within the bounds of a government structure they didn't support initially. I wonder what their thinking was there. This is good enough, let's not touch it? We're winning now, clearly the new system works? Just interesting stuff there.

Another thing I'm always curious about but that gets skipped over is those Articles of Confederation years. It's relatively quiet and in history class it's brushed off quickly for all the reasons given about why it didn't work. But is there anything that did work or that the "central" government prior to the Constitution did manage to coordinate at least adequately?

Finally, you said "South Carolina has a lot of issues, historically speaking." How do you really feel about South Carolina?

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5 hours ago, dkh64 said:

This was one of the first questions I thought of as well. We know it didn't happen, but I'm curious if any founders did call for a new convention and they just went unanswered by the powers that be. It's especially interesting since after the first 12 amendments, none passed again until after the Civil War. Surely someone was calling for an update before, say, July 4, 1826. I also think it's interesting that after Adams, the anti-Administration/anti-Federalists took charge and then chose to work within the bounds of a government structure they didn't support initially. I wonder what their thinking was there. This is good enough, let's not touch it? We're winning now, clearly the new system works? Just interesting stuff there.

Another thing I'm always curious about but that gets skipped over is those Articles of Confederation years. It's relatively quiet and in history class it's brushed off quickly for all the reasons given about why it didn't work. But is there anything that did work or that the "central" government prior to the Constitution did manage to coordinate at least adequately?

Finally, you said "South Carolina has a lot of issues, historically speaking." How do you really feel about South Carolina?

I do know that there were proposed amendments before the civil war: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_proposed_amendments_to_the_United_States_Constitution

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