The Election of 1804: Jefferson vs. Pinckney

Hello, and welcome back to another edition of Lace ‘Em Up’s Presidential Election series. Today we will be going over the Election of 1804 as President Thomas Jefferson is looking to become a two termer, but the Federalists are sending in a war hero Charles Pinckney to try and stop him…Who will come out on top? let’s get find out.

Jefferson’s Administration & The Lousiana Purchase

Thomas Jefferson and The Louisiana Purchase 1

Before we get into the election itself, let’s first talk about some of the things that are going on in the country with Thomas Jefferson as the President.

After narrowly squeaking out a victory in the election of 1800, Jefferson and his Democratic-Republicans have begun to dismantle every bit of legislation that the Federalist Party accomplished. At the same token looking to reduce the amount of spending within the government and shrink the size of the military.

Jefferson also managed to reduce the amount of debt within the country and continued to trade with foreign nations most notably France, however, Jefferson would end up breaking one of his biggest promises during his Presidency. This was to limit executive power in the government, and he broke this promise as a result of the Louisiana Purchase.

The Louisiana Purchase as most of you know was the Jefferson Administration’s idea of acquiring land which was under the control of France. After striking a deal with Napolean Bonaparte to get this new territory in exchange for billions of dollars and sending Lewis and Clark to explore the new land, the United States now had territories that would eventually become the states of Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and of course Louisiana.

So needless to say, President Jefferson was hugely popular with many Americans, and he had little opposition when it came to getting the re-nomination by his party but there is one major change when it comes to the Democratic-Republican ticket going into the 1804 election which would be Jefferson’s pick for running mate.

Hamilton’s Death

Hamilton Burr duel

Since the controversial conclusion to the contingent election between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson, Burr has reluctantly been working with Jefferson as his Vice President while at the same time having a deep seeded hatred for Alexander Hamilton. The man who cost him the Presidency due to Hamilton’s persuasion over the House of Representatives.

Hamilton’s life meanwhile hasn’t been so good either with his constant meddling in the previous presidential elections, his affair with Maria Reynolds who was a married woman and the revelation that this affair led to extortion and blackmailing by Maria and her husband has badly damaged Hamilton’s reputation in politics.

Ultimately on July 11th, 1804, Aaron Burr duelled with and killed Alexander Hamilton which not only ended the life of the Federalist Party Founder. It also ended the political career of Aaron Burr who would go to trial for his shooting of Hamilton, but the charges were dropped.

Understandably, Jefferson tried to distance himself from his now former Vice President. Come the 1804 election, Jefferson would choose the former Governor of New York, George Clinton as his new pick for Vice President.

The Federalist Party Ticket

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With John Adams retiring from politics soon after the election of 1800, the overall success of Jefferson’s term in office and the death of Alexander Hamilton made the Federalist Party’s chances of winning this time around look very bleak.

The party nevertheless nominates Charles C. Pinckney as their candidate for President with former New York Senator, Rufus King as his running mate. Pinckney who had run for President in the previous elections was also a former U.S. Ambassador to France and a hero of the Revolutionary War, while Rufus King was a founding father, lawyer and the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain.

The strategy of the Federalist Party in this election is to see if they could gather up some Southern votes with Pinckney as the head of the ticket while at the same time keeping the majority of states, they had won in 1800. On top of that, they’re also criticizing Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territories as unconstitutional and their even bringing up claims that Jefferson was having an affair with a female slave he owned by the name of Sally Hemings.

One other thing to mention is that this is the first Presidential election to occur after the ratification of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution. This means that the old rule of the person coming in second place in a Presidential Election becomes the Vice President is now null and void. Now in all future elections, when people head out to vote they’re casting their ballots for both the President and Vice President on the same ticket.

The Election of 1804: Results


Thomas Jefferson easily won re-election receiving 162 electoral votes, you only needed 89 electoral votes to win this time around, so it’s safe to say that Jefferson won pretty handily.

In terms of the popular vote, Jefferson won 72.8% of the popular vote which is not only the highest amount of the popular vote for a re-elected President but also the highest for a Presidential candidate since the two-party system began.

Charles Pinckney only received 14 electoral votes and 27.2% of the popular vote with Pinckney picking up two states (Connecticut and Delaware). Jefferson was able to pick up 15 states in this election even some Federalist states like New York and Massachusetts.

Jefferson’s 45.6% margin in the popular vote remains the most lopsided in U.S. election history, not only that but he would become the first of two Vice Presidents to be elected and re-elected as President.

Be sure to come back in two weeks for the next Presidential Election, but if you are interested in learning more about U.S. political history on this site, be sure to check the links below to read more about that:

The Election of 1800: Adams vs. Jefferson

The Election Of 1800: Adams Vs. Jefferson | Lace ‘Em Up (

The Election of 1796: The Federalist vs. Democratic Republicans:

The Election Of 1796: The Federalists Vs. Democratic Republicans | Lace ‘Em Up (

The Election of 1792: Washington Wins A Second Term:

The Election Of 1792: Washington Gets A Second Term | Lace ‘Em Up (

The Election of 1788-89: The Election That Started It All:

The Election Of 1788-89: The Election That Started It All | Lace ‘Em Up (

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