The Troubled Elections of 1796 and 1800

George Washington won the first two U.S. presidential elections without being challenged. When he decided not to run for a third term in 1796, intense rivalries, political disputes, and attempted manipulations of the Electoral College came into play. These factors would again affect the 1800 election, essentially a rematch of 1796, pitting a sitting president, John Adams, against his own vice president, Thomas Jefferson.

Grades 8, 9-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Lesson Plans

The Constitution in Action – Political Parties and Presidential Electors: The Election of 1800

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students in the Early Republic and asks them to engage in the politics of those times. Acting as either Federalists or Republicans, they will be asked to develop strategies for electing their party’s standard bearer as president, using the Constitution’s complex system of presidential electors to their advantage.

The History of Contested Presidential Elections

This lesson looks at the contested presidential elections occurring in 1800, 1824, 1876 and 2000. Using C-SPAN video clips, students will identify how each election was resolved and the consequences of these elections. They will apply this knowledge by describing similarities and differences between these examples and determining what lessons can be learned from these elections.

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Flaws of the Electoral College System

In this activity, students will trace the history of the Electoral College through analysis of primary source documents from the elections of 1789, 1800, 1824, and 1988 to identify four flaws with the system. An examination of proposed and implemented reforms, including the 12th Amendment, will engage students in a discussion of modifying or abolishing the Electoral College.

Grades 10, 11, 12, 8, 9
Voting, Elections, Politics
Primary Sources

The Constitution in Action: The Early Republic

This unit presents students with several such issues faced by Americans in the Early Republic as they tried to interpret and implement the Constitution. Lessons address “Origin of the Bill of Rights,” “Strict v. Loose Construction,” “Who Shapes Foreign Policy?” “State Challenges to Federal Authority: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions,” and “Political Parties and Presidential Electors: The Election of 1800.”