Theo Lippman Jr.

August 31, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

The sixth was held in 1808. The Democratic-Republican caucus nominated Secretary of State James Madison, President Jefferson's choice, for the top of the ticket and re-nominated Vice President George Clinton.

Leaders of the Federalist Party, still in decline but hoping to exploit one issue, met in secret session and renominated their losing ticket of 1804, Charles C. Pinckney and Rufus King.

The one big issue of the campaign was Madison's support of Jefferson's embargo on American shipping. Business interests, especially in the Northeast, strongly objected.

The policy, which was a response to the warring British and French navies' treatment of neutral ships on the high seas, had failed, and this issue revived Federalists to the point of carrying five New England states.

Though Madison won by 122-47, there was still a two-party system in effect after four straight elections, and signs were that it would continue into a fifth.

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