The 1812 presidential election was tied up with the War of 1812. Leading Democratic-Republicahs in Congress were demanding war with Britain. They became known as the War Hawks. They made it clear to Presidebt Madison that his reenomination would require submitting a war message to Congress. It was America's first war time presidential election. The election began the tradition of reelecting presidents in time of war, although some presidents have been forced not to run for reelection (Truman and Johnson). The weakened Federalist Party decided to support a disident Democratic-Republican--Mayor Dewitt Clinton of New York City. Clinton criticiaed Madison for both declaring war and for not fighting the war hard enough. He also raised the regional issue of another term for a Virginian president. The Federalists achieved their best showing since the "1800 Revolution", but President Madison easily won reelection. And while Clinton carried some major states (New York and New Jersey), Madison carried all of the West and South as well the developing mid-West, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Clinton carried the Northeast. He ammased 128 electoral votes as opposed to Clinton's 89. The Federalists picked up some Congressional seats, most from the northeat which was adversely affected by the war after even a few months.
The 1812 presidential election was tied up with the War of 1812. The United States avoided involvement in the Ruropean wars involved wih both the French Revolution and than Napoleon's empire. Presidents Washington, Adams, and Jefferson understood that involvement of the young republic in European wars could be disasterous. America was, however, not unaffected by the French Revoluntionary and Napoleonic wars. The major problem was that the British and the French both ignored neutral rights. They seized American ships at sea. After Trafalgar (1805) this became a increasingly British problem. And the British not only seized ships, they also impressed American seamen. As most Americans were British subjects before 1783 and spoke English, differentiating between British and Americans was often difficult. Royal Navy officers often claimed that American sailors were really Royal Navy deserters. Further problems resulted from the fact that the British still held forts in western areas around the Great Lakes tht was U.S. territory. Here they developed relations with Native Americans hostile to the United States. Added to these problems, some Americans coveted both Canada and Florida.
Thus sentiment for war increased throughout President Madison's first term. Those advovating war became known as the War Hawks. The War Hawks were all members of Madison's Democratic-Republican Party. Following the policies of his predecesors, President Madison resisted the Congressional War Hawks demands. It should be rembered that after the Washington presidency that the Congress gradually emerged as the dominant branch of government. Nothing shows this better than the Congress's central role in declaring war on Britain--the War of 1812.
The War Hawks in Congress finally succeeded in pushing pushed President Madison into the War of 1812. They threatened to deny him the nomination if he did not submit a war resolution. The Democratic-Republican Congressional nominating caucus nominated President Madison (May 18). Vice President George Clinton had died (April 1812). The Caucus nominated Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts for the Vice Presidenc. Gerry of course is better known to history a the person who formed odd shaped disricts rto help win elections--Gerrymandering..
There was some opposition to Madison in New York. The Democratic-Republicans in New York and the Northeast were not as enthusiastic about the War as the southern and western wing of the party. A group of dissident Democratic-Republicans in the New York ldecided to oppose Madison's reelection. A caucus in the New York state legislature nominated former Senator and current New York Mayor Dewitt Clinton (May 29). He was a nephew of the late Vice President.
After the Democratic-Republicans nominated him, the President submitted a war resolution and Congress voted to declare war on Britain (June 12, 1812).
The now wekened Federalists had not yet nominated their candidate when Congress declared war.
A Federalist nominating caucus met in New York City (September). There was considerable disagreement about who to nominate. Athough some delegated disagree, the cauccus finally voted to support Mayor Clinton. Many did not think a Federalist candidated had much chance of winning. So they settled on Maylor Clinton who as he was from New York City was closer to the Federalists on some issues than President Madison. They also nominated former United States Attorney Jared Ingersoll of Pennsylvania for vice president.
The weakened Federalist Party decided to support a disident Democratic-Republican--Mayor Dewitt Clinton of New York City. Clinton criticiaed Madison for both declaring war and for not fighting the war hard enough. He also raised the regional issue of another term for a Virginian president. Mayor Clinton persued a campaigned that varied regionally. Campaign literature in the northeast portrayed him as opposing war. His literature in the south and west where the War was popular emphasized a need for more effective war leadership.
The Federalists did better in the election than any since the "Revolution of 1800". Ans while Clinton carried some major states (New York and New Jersey), President Madison easily won reelection. Madison carried all of the West and South as well the developing mid-West, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Clinton carried the Northeast. He ammased 128 electoral votes as opposed to Clinton's 89. The Federalists picked up some Congressional seats, most from the northeat which had been adversely affected by the war.
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