1792

THEO LIPPMAN JR.

August 25, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election. (Reading time 50 seconds.)

The 2nd was held in 1792. No one doubted that George Washington would be re-elected, if he chose to run. He preferred to retire, but was convinced that the growth of parties in his first term imperiled the young republic's experiment.

No one was sure what the result would be if the competing Federalists and Democratic-Republicans fought over the office. Washington was affiliated with the former. Leaders of the latter group, including Thomas Jefferson, urged the president's re-election. Washington ran and got every electoral vote possible.

But party conflict in the century ahead was foreshadowed by the contest for vice president. Democratic-Republicans who endorsed Washington sought to dump Vice President John Adams and replace him with one of their own, New York Gov. George Clinton. Had they won all the delegates in one state they expected to be strong -- Pennsylvania -- they would have succeeded. But they didn't. Adams survived, poised to run for president himself in four years.

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