Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pointless Presidential Pfacts #36 - "Clinton, the Politician not the Musician and the VPOTUS not the POTUS"

George Clinton, not the American singer and songwriter of the late-20th and early-21st Centuries, but the American soldier and politician of the late-18th and early-19th Centuries. He is in no way related to the 42nd President of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton. This Clinton is originally from New York and became the State's first governor in 1777 and serving for 18 years. He served another 3 years as New York Governor from 1801 to 1804. He was elected vice president twice, once in 1804 with President Thomas Jefferson and again with Secretary of State James Madison in 1808. Vice President Clinton's reelection in 1808 was the first reelection of a vice president since Vice President John Adams came in second to President George Washington a second time in 1792 and the first for a Democratic-Republican. But 1804 wasn't the first time he'd have votes cast for him in the Electoral College.

George Clinton. 4th VPOTUS. Democratic-Republican. New Yorker.

Clinton received Electoral College votes in the Presidential Elections of 1792 and 1796. In 1792 he was competing for the second place finish to a unanimously reelected George Washington in the pre-12th Amendment days. The person with the second most number of votes, but still a majority, would be the vice president of the United States. John Adams was reelected vice president in that election.

In the 1796 election President Washington made it clear he would not seek or accept the nomination for a third term as president of the United States. Factions within the federal government were forming. It was the first partisan election for the presidency. While Washington had no party affiliation, by the end of his time as head of the Executive Branch the Federalists (a strong federal government) were dominant in the administration, his supporters lined up behind two-term Vice President Adams. South Carolinian Thomas Pinckney was the Federalist's next most favored member and hoped Pinckney would be Adams' vice president. The opposition party, the anti-Federalists that became Thomas Jefferson's Republican Party, or sometimes known as the Democratic-Republican Party, and they liked Clinton fourth out of a bunch of white males. But the ones that matter, first place was Jefferson and second place was fellow New Yorker Aaron Burr, the Democratic-Republicans' desired presidential ticket. Well in pre-12th Amendment America there are no tickets. The man with a majority of Electoral College votes was Vice President Adams and when he counted the votes in a Joint-Session of Congress, he got to announce his own win. The man with the second most number of votes became the vice president and it wasn't the Federalist's pick in Pinckney but rather their main opponent since the Federalists came into existence but Jefferson himself.

The term from 1797 to 1801 will be the first of two times the POTUS and VPOTUS are of different parties and ideologies. The next time would be the Union Party ticket of Republican President Abraham Lincoln and Democratic Military Governor of Tennessee Andrew Johnson in 1864 which would only last from March 4, 1865 to April 15, 1865. But back in the election of 1800, a rematch of the 1796 election, but no Clinton even considered. Thomas Pinckney was out and in his place was his older brother Charles as the Federalists desired choice for the second place finisher to what would hopefully be President Adams' reelection, but it was not. Jefferson tied for first place Burr, the Democratic-Republican's choice to finish second to Jefferson. The electors of the Electoral College don't distinguish between president and vice president until after the passage of the 12th Amendment in 1804. So since there is a tie, the House of Representatives must decide and on the 36th ballot settle on the more popular personality of Jefferson over President Aaron Burr.

For President Jefferson's reelection in 1804, the party decided not to renominate the answer to this next question, which vice president of the United States shot Alexander Hamilton? And he shot him during an election year. Interesting that a question can be phrased "which vice president of the United States shot...?" and there's more than one question so there's more than one VPOTUS that shot someone and be the 200th Anniversary vice presidential winner to Burr's 1800 win. Whereas the Federalists nominated their failed hopeful-vice president choice elder brother Pinckney for the presidency on the Federalist Party's first Presidential ticket in the first presidential election post-12th Amendment. New Yorker Rufus King the party's first vice presidential nominee. Jefferson wins reelection and Clinton finally gets enough votes to be the 4th VPOTUS and the first to replace a sitting vice president.

The duel. 1804.

President Jefferson after 8 years as POTUS follows in the footsteps of two-term President Washington and does not seek another four year term, or rather a third term. The Democratic-Republicans choose Secretary of State James Madison to be their party's nominee and renominate Clinton as vice president. In fact, Secretary Madison is the only new face in the 1808 election. The Federalist's renominate that losing ticket of Pinckney and King. However there were six New York electors that went against the State and flipped their votes in opposition to Madison. Even then 3 votes went to Madison for Clinton's vice president and the remaining 3 voters couldn't even vote Madison vice president and instead chose James Monroe. While New York's other 13 electors cast for the Madison/Clinton ticket and easy win for the Democratic-Republican Party.

Clinton became the first vice president to serve with two different presidents. So far there has only been one other twice elected VPOTUS and that's John C. Calhoun, President John Quincy Adams' only and President Andrew Jackson's first of two. Calhoun would also be the first to resign the vice presidency and, so far, that only other fellow wouldn't resign until 1973. Calhoun resigned to serve in the Senate and not as that legislative body's head, whereas Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned for criminal charges from his days as Maryland's governor.

And back two hundred and one years ago, Clinton's firsts didn't stop there. In 1812 on April 20th, Clinton died becoming the first vice president to die while in office. Ever since then, New Yorkers have celebrated his death by lighting up the marijuana. Although that may only be a rumor, but a reason to enjoy 4/20 this year. While this Clinton's name wouldn't appear on the 1812 ballot, his nephew's would. DeWitt Clinton would be nominated by a small portion of Democratic-Republicans in opposition to President Madison. The Federalist Party supported Clinton's nomination. But President Madison won reelection and the man who's name is associated with Gerrymandering (Congressional redistricting to favor political parties), Elbridge Gerry from Massachusetts became the 5th VPOTUS and by 1814 the second to die in office.

1812 political cartoon on Gerrymandering. Which has nothing to do with Clinton...really (v)pointless (vice)presidential (v)pfact.

Five more vice presidents would follow Clinton and Gerry and die in office. William King would be the first to be sworn-in on foreign soil in present day U.S.-isn't-supposed-to-like-Cuba but returned and died on April 18, 1853. The shortest vice presidential term after John Tyler and Andrew Johnson. He served as Franklin Pierce's number 2, but was rumored to be romantically connected to future president and former Secretary of State James Buchanan, first bachelor presidential candidate and until Grover Cleveland's marriage to Francis Folsom in his first term, the only bachelor president. I have no idea if they're gay, I have a hard time figuring out if present day males are gay. But good for them if they were. President Ulysses S. Grant's second vice president, Henry Wilson would die in 1875. Cleveland's first vice president, Thomas Hendricks died in the first year of the administration. William McKinley's first term vice president, Garret Hobart would die in 1899 and the vacant spot on the bottom of the GOP ticket would be the best place for the popular and do-gooding New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt. The vice presidency would shut him up they said. Mark Hanna knew better. And the last vice president to die in office was back 101 years ago, 100 years after Clinton's death in office. Fellow New Yorker James S. Sherman, the nation's 27th VPOTUS and Taft's only vice president, Sherman was the first vice president to be renominated and win since Calhoun in 1824 and 1828. Sherman died a few days before election day in 1912 but Nicholas Butler received the vice presidential votes the Taft/Sherman ticket won, which was third place to Progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson and in second place, formerly part of the Republican Party, the Progressive Party's Theodore Roosevelt came in second.

James (my middle name could sell books) Schoolcraft Sherman. 27th VPOTUS. Republican. New Yorker.

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