1804 United States presidential election

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United States presidential election, 1804

← 1800November 2 – December 5, 18041808 →

All 176 electoral votes of the Electoral College
89 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout23.8%[1]Decrease 8.5 pp
 Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800.jpgCharlesCPinckney crop.jpg
NomineeThomas JeffersonCharles C. Pinckney
Home stateVirginiaSouth Carolina
Running mateGeorge ClintonRufus King
Electoral vote16214
States carried152
Popular vote104,11038,919

1804 United States presidential election in New Hampshire1804 United States presidential election in Massachusetts1804 United States presidential election in Rhode Island1804 United States presidential election in Connecticut1804 United States presidential election in New York1804 United States presidential election in Vermont1804 United States presidential election in New Jersey1804 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania1804 United States presidential election in Delaware1804 United States presidential election in Maryland1804 United States presidential election in Virginia1804 United States presidential election in Ohio1804 United States presidential election in Kentucky1804 United States presidential election in Tennessee1804 United States presidential election in North Carolina1804 United States presidential election in South Carolina1804 United States presidential election in GeorgiaElectoralCollege1804.svg
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President before election

Thomas Jefferson

Elected President

Thomas Jefferson

The United States presidential election of 1804 was the fifth quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, November 2, to Wednesday, December 5, 1804. Incumbent Democratic-Republican President Thomas Jefferson defeated Federalist Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina. It was the first presidential election conducted following the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reformed procedures for electing presidents and vice presidents.

Jefferson was re-nominated by his party's congressional nominating caucus without opposition, and the party nominated Governor George Clinton of New York to replace Aaron Burr as Jefferson's running mate. With former President John Adams in retirement, the Federalists turned to Pinckney, a former ambassador and Revolutionary War hero who had been Adams's running mate in the 1800 election.

Though Jefferson had only narrowly defeated Adams in 1800, he was widely popular due to the Louisiana Purchase and a strong economy. He carried almost every state, including most states in the Federalist stronghold of New England. Several states did not hold a popular vote for president, but Jefferson dominated the popular vote in the states that did. Jefferson's 45.6 percentage point victory margin in the popular vote remains the highest victory margin in a presidential election in which there were multiple major party candidates.


Although the presidential election of 1800 was a close one, Jefferson steadily gained popularity during his term. American trade boomed due to the temporary suspension of hostilities during the French Revolutionary Wars in Europe, and the Louisiana Purchase was heralded as a great achievement.


Democratic-Republican Party nomination

Democratic-Republican Party
Democratic-Republican Party Ticket, 1804
Thomas JeffersonGeorge Clinton
for Presidentfor Vice President
Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800.jpg
George Clinton by Ezra Ames.jpg
President of the United States
Governor of New York
(1777–1795 & 1801–1804)

The February 1804 Democratic-Republican congressional nominating caucus selected the ticket. Unlike the previous election, the nominating caucus did not meet in secret. Jefferson's re-nomination was never in any real doubt, with the real issue being seen as who the party would nominate to replace Vice President Aaron Burr, whose relationship with Jefferson had soured. Governor George Clinton of New York was chosen as Jefferson's running mate, continuing the party's tradition of nominating a ticket consisting of a Virginian and a New Yorker.[2]

Vice-presidential candidates


Presidential ballotTotalVice-presidential ballotTotal
Thomas Jefferson108George Clinton67
John Breckinridge20
Levi Lincoln9
John Langdon7
Gideon Granger4
William Maclay1

Federalist Party nomination

Federalist Party
Federalist Party Ticket, 1804
Charles C. PinckneyRufus King
for Presidentfor Vice President
CharlesCPinckney crop.jpg
Rufus King - National Portrait Gallery.JPG
Former U.S. Minister
to France
Former U.S. Minister
to Great Britain


The Federalists did not hold a nominating caucus, but Federalist Congressional leaders informally agreed to nominate a ticket of consisting of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina and former Senator Rufus King of New York.[2] Pinckney's public service during and after the American Revolutionary War had won him national stature, and Federalists hoped that Pinckney would win some Southern votes away from Jefferson, who had dominated the Southern vote in the previous election.[3]

General election

Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton's death in July 1804 following the Burr–Hamilton duel destroyed whatever hope the Federalists had of defeating the popular Jefferson. Leaderless and disorganized, the Federalists failed to attract much support outside of New England. The Federalists attacked the Louisiana Purchase as unconstitutional, criticized Jefferson's gunboat navy, and alleged that Jefferson had fathered children with his slave, Sally Hemings, but the party failed to galvanize opposition to Jefferson. Jefferson's policies of expansionism and reduced government spending were widely popular. Jefferson was aided by an effective Democratic-Republican party organization, which had continued to develop since 1800, especially in the Federalist stronghold of New England.[2]

Jefferson's victory was overwhelming, and he even won most of the states in New England. Pinckney won only two states, Connecticut and Delaware. This was the first election where the Democratic-Republicans won in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. This was the last time that Massachusetts voted for the Democratic-Republicans until 1820, and the last time that New Hampshire and Rhode Island voted for the Democratic-Republicans until 1816.


Presidential candidatePartyHome statePopular vote(a), (b)Electoral
Running mate
CountPercentageVice-presidential candidateHome stateElectoral vote
Thomas Jefferson (incumbent)Democratic-RepublicanVirginia104,11072.8%162George ClintonNew York162
Charles C. PinckneyFederalistSouth Carolina38,91927.2%14Rufus KingNew York14
Needed to win8989

Source (popular vote): U.S. President National Vote. Our Campaigns. (February 10, 2006).
Source (Popular Vote): A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787-1825[4]
Source (electoral vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 30, 2005.

(a)Only 11 of the 17 states chose electors by popular vote.
(b)Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements.

Popular vote
Electoral vote

Electoral college selection

Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage of the winning candidate in each county. Shades of blue are for Jefferson (Democratic-Republican) and shades of yellow are for Pinckney (Federalist).
Method of choosing electorsState(s)
Each elector appointed by state legislatureConnecticut
New York
South Carolina
Each elector chosen by voters statewideNew Hampshire
New Jersey
Rhode Island
State is divided into electoral districts, with one elector chosen per district by the voters of that districtKentucky
North Carolina
  • Two electors chosen by voters statewide
  • One elector chosen per Congressional district in a statewide vote

See also

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