Historical Statistics of the United States, 1789-1945

By United States. Bureau Of The Census | Go to book overview

Chapter P. Government. (Series P 1-277)

Elections and Politics: Series P 1-61

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND VETOES (P 1-39)

P 1-26. Methods of electing presidential electors, 1788-1836. Source: Paullin, Charles O., Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, Carnegie Institution of Washington and American Geographical Society of New York, 1932, p. 89. The electors, now elected by popular vote in all States, are selected, according to the Constitution, "in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct." The development of political-party direction of the electoral college was not anticipated in the Constitution, and during the early years of the republic, electors were chosen in the several States by a number of different devices. The principal devices were: Election by the State legislature itself in some States, by State electors popularly chosen to elect presidential electors, and by direct popular vote for the electors. With few exceptions, presidential electors have been elected by popular vote since 1828. The legislature of South Carolina, however, continued to elect presidential electors until 1860.

P 27-31. Electoral and popular vote for President, by political party, 1789-1944. Source: The following references were employed individually and also in combination. Where sources differed, figures were selected by the Bureau of the Census staff. U. S. Congress, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Platforms of the Two Great Political Parties, 1932 to 1944, pp. 437-447; Prufer, Julius F. , and Folmesbee, Stanley J., American Political Parties and Presidential Elections, McKinley Publishing Company, Philadelphia, 1928; Paullin, Charles O., Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, Carnegie Institution of Washington and American Geographical Society of New York, 1932, pp. 88-104; Bureau of the Census, Vote Cast in Presidential and Congressional Elections, 1928-1944; U. S. Congress, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Elections, issues for elections of 1928-1944.

The election of the President of the United States is provided for in the Constitution, article II, section 1, through the establishment of an electoral college in each State, for each Presidential election. The method of casting the electoral vote was modified in 1804 by the adoption of the 12th amendment to the Constitution. The number of electors, and therefore of electoral votes, is "equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress." Because of the varied practices in choosing electors in earlier years, the record of popular votes is inadequate to explain the elections until after 1824.

In four elections the entire electoral vote of certain States remained uncast: (1) 1872—The vote of Arkansas was rejected, the count of the popular vote in Louisiana was disputed, and the votes of both sets of electors were rejected by Congress; (2) 1868—No vote in Mississippi, Texas, and Virginia because these States had not been "readmitted" to the Union; (3) 1864—No vote in secession States: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia; (4) 1789—No New York electoral vote because the legislature failed to agree on electors. See also text of series P 50-56, below.

P 32-39. Number of Congressional bills vetoed, 1789-1946. Sources: U. S. Congress, Calendars of the United States House of Representatives and History of Legislation, final edition, 79th Congress, pp. 96-98, 303-308; U. S. Congress, Senate Library, Veto Messages . . . 1889-1944; U. S. Congress, House of Representatives, Report on Pocket Veto, 70th Congress, 2d Session, Doc. No. 493; U. S. Congress, Veto Messages . . ., 49th Congress, 2d Session, Miscellaneous Document No. 53.

The Constitution provides, article I, section 7, that no legislative bill may become law until approved by the President or, if disapproved and returned to the House of its origin, it is repassed in each House by a two-thirds vote. A bill may also become law if the President fails to return it to the House of its origin within 10 days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him. If the Congress adjourns within the interval of 10 days, a bill disapproved by the executive does not become law and is said to be "pocket vetoed."


CONGRESSIONAL ACTIVITY AND PARTY AFFILIATIONS (P 40-56)

P 40-49. Congressional bills, acts and resolutions, 1789-1946. Sources: U. S. Congress, Calendars of the United States House of Representatives and History of Legislation, final edition, 79th Congress, pp. 303-309; also the following typewritten tabulations furnished by Library of Congress, LegislatiVe Reference Service: "Number of Laws Enacted by Congress Since 1789 (Revised to Jan. 1947)"; "Total Number of Bills and Resolutions Introduced in Congress, 1st to 76th Congresses"; "Number of Laws Passed by Congress, 1933 (March 9)-1944 (through March 22)." Some measure of the activities of the United States Congress can be gained from the number of bills and resolutions which have been introduced in Congress and from the number of public and private laws which have been passed. The abrupt reduction in the number of private bills enacted into law beginning with the 60th Congress was the result of combining many private bills, particularly pension bills, into omnibus enactments.

P 50-56. Political party affiliations in Congress and the Presidency, 1789-1946. Sourse: For 1st to 74th Congresses, typewritten tabulation from Library of Congress, Legislative Reference Service, "Political Trends—Both Houses of Congress—1789- 1944", based on Encyclopedia Americana, 1936 ed., vol. 7, pp. 516- 518 (1st to 69th Congresses), and Bruce, Harold R., American Parties and Politics, 3d ed., Henry Holt and Co., New York, 1936, pp. 174-179 (70th to 74th Congresses); for 75th to 79th Congresses, see Congressional Directory. For party affiliation of the President (series P 56), see U. S. Congress, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Platforms of the Two Great Political Parties, 1932 to 1944, pp. 435-436. It is generally recognized today that popular government operates only through the agency of organized political parties. During the early development of the United States, party alignments and the function of political parties were neither fully appreciated nor provided for. During the formative period party alignments developed, but designations for the different groups were not firmly fixed.

In the classification by party in series P 50-56, the titles of parties during early years have been-so designated as to be recognizable in the records of the periods concerned and also to show the thread of continuity which tends to run from early alignments into the present two-party system. Inasmuch as the party of Thomas Jefferson (generally known at the time as the Republican party) has with a considerable measure of continuity survived to the present time as the Democratic party, the name later accepted by the Jeffersonian Republicans of "Democratic Republican" is used in the tables to avoid any confusion of the early Jeffersonian Republican with the present-day Republican party. Opposed to the early Republican party was the Federalist party which was dominant in the first national administration and which, with interruptions, can be traced tenuously by elements of popular sup

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