When Was the First US Presidential Election Ever?

The citizens of the United Sites choose their presidents every four years, just like most democratic countries in the world. Did you ever wonder when wast the first US presidential election ever?

How the US Presidential Election Works?

The US presidential election determines who will serve as president (POTUS) and vice-president of the United States for four years. It is a significant event that celebrates democracy in the world.

results of the 2016 presidential election
The United States Electoral College map showing results of the 2016 presidential election
By Gage – 2012 Electoral College map, CC BY-SA 4.0.

What Day of Week is Election Day in the US?

The elections are held every fourth year on Election Day, which, since 1845, is the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. 

US Elections Eligibility Criteria for the President

Article II of the Constitution and the Amendments established the following eligibility criteria for the president and the vice-president:

A presidential candidate needs to be over 35 years old and to be a citizen of the United States at birth (or to be a citizen at the date of ratification of the Constitution, for the first elections);

They need to have resided in the United States for at least 14 years;

A candidate must not be a candidate for a third term. Since the adoption of the twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution in 1947, a president can only serve two terms.

If the president has taken office following the death or resignation of his predecessor and has served more than two years, he may only appear once.

This Amendment follows the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his fourth term. Until then, all American presidents had respected George Washington’s desire to exercise no more than two terms.

What is the US Election Process Like?

The US presidential election begins with the declaration of the candidates. Each election year, more than half a dozen candidates wish to appear on the list of one of the two major parties, Republican or Democrat.

These candidates begin by campaigning within their party to secure support. They generally sign up during the year before the election and start a multi-month campaign, punctuated by primary elections, which is usually known in March.

Freedmen voting in New Orleans, 1867. One of first US presidential elections.
Freedmen voting in New Orleans, 1867.
By Unknown – 19th century illustration via New York Public Library Digital Collection at [1], Public Domain.

This phase ends with the national convention of their party in the summer. Moreover, they then officially nominate the candidate representing the party.

In the ruling party, the incumbent president is almost always a candidate for his own succession if he has only served one term. If not, his vice-president will usually represent his party.

For example, it was the case with Republican Richard Nixon in 1960 (defeated by John F. Kennedy), Democrat Hubert Humphrey in 1968 (defeated by Richard Nixon), Republican George H.W. Bush in 1988 (elected) or Democrat Al Gore in 2000 (defeated by George W. Bush).

The First-Ever US Presidential Election

The first US presidential election ever began on Monday, December 15th, 1788. The first US Presidential election results ever came out on Saturday, January 10th, 1789.

Depiction of first US presidential elections in Philadelphia by John Lewis Krimmel, 1815
Depiction of election-day activities in Philadelphia by John Lewis Krimmel, 1815.
By John Lewis Krimmel (1787-1821) – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Innotata using CommonsHelper. (Original text: Original publication: Exhibited in 1816. Published in exhibition catalogues dating 1831 and 1843
Immediate source: ExplorePAHistory.com), Public Domain.

Who Won the first US Presidential Election Ever?

George Washington won the first US elections and came into the office on April 30th, 1879.

Before the election, the country did not have a president. Since 1777, the Articles of Confederation had created a function of US president, which was not an executive function back then. 

George Washington was the winner of first US presidential elections.
George Washington was the winner of first US presidential elections.
By Gilbert Stuart – The Athenaeum: Home – info – pic, Public Domain.

When was the US Constitution Adopted?

After the independence of the federation in 1783, the Constitution was adopted in 1787 and entered into effect in 1788, paving the way for the first-ever US presidential election.

The Constitution of the United States did not distinguish the election of the president from that of the vice president before the adoption of the twelfth Amendment in 1804.

Once the candidatures were declared, each elector had two votes. The candidate who came first, if he had obtained an absolute majority (35 electors), became president. The one in the second position became vice-president.

2020 US Presidential Election

The next US presidential election will take place on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020. The political event will be the 59th quadrennial US presidential election.

Currently, there are a few declared candidates for the 2020 presidential election: Donald Trump, Joe Walsh, and Bill Weld.

How the US Presidential Election Impacted Democracy in Europe

The first US presidential election ever had an influence on democracy in Europe, as well.

For Europe and the rest of the world, the first-ever US presidential election is most interesting in the context of foreign policy.

If you want to know more about the history of the US, make sure to check out who was the first president ever to be impeached.