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The Presidential Election of 1796 was the first contested presidential election of American history; learn about this election from these interesting sources on political history.

When Washington decided to not run for a third term in office, he would unknowingly set the stage for the nation's first two party election. The Election of 1796 would be the test of whether a government by the people, of the people, and for the people could survive such a transition of power peacefully.

This was an election where the two contenders campaigned for the office of the president. A battle that would last through the next Election of 1800. The two main issues of the campaign were, opposing political views of constitutional government and foreign policy.

The Campaign issues of the election were the Jay Treaty and the French RevolutionJohn Adams and his party supported the Jay Treaty. Thomas Jefferson and the Anti Federalists opposed the treaty because it favored the British over the French. This in turn led to the second issue, the French Revolution. The Federalists did not want to support the French because they did not want another costly war with Britain. The Jeffersonian party on the other hand felt that it was the duty of the United States to support the French because of the French assistance during the American Revolution.

The majority of the campaigning took place in the newspapers, broadsides, and other methods of the day. The supporters of these men actually campaigned for their favorites. Adams had won the election by only 3 votes and Thomas Jefferson, who finished second, automatically became vice-president.

The election of 1796 had exposed an inherent flaw in the Electoral College System. The Electors voted on one ballot with two names on it. The candidate, who had the most votes, won the election. The candidate who had the second most votes became the vice president.

For more information on the Election of 1796, look at the following sites.

The Constitution Community Lesson Plan: The Electoral College
This site examines the Electoral College System and the changes implemented in the mid-1800s.

The Elections of 1796 and 1800
This page describes the elections of 1796 and 1800, by showing the campaign issues of each and what each administration accomplished.

The Presidential Election of 1800
This web site examines the political election of 1800. It discusses the political mudslinging of the era.

John Adams Biography
This page is a short biography of John Adams as found on the Chief Executive Web site.