In the United States presidential election of 1808, the Democratic-Republican candidate James Madison defeated Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Madison had served as United States Secretary of State under incumbent Thomas Jefferson, and Pinckney had been the unsuccessful Federalist candidate in the election of 1804.
Sitting Vice President George Clinton, who had served under Thomas Jefferson, was also a candidate for President, garnering six electoral votes from a wing of the Democratic-Republican Party that disapproved of James Madison.
This election was the first of only two instances in American history in which a new President would be selected but the incumbent Vice President would continue to serve. (The re-election of John C. Calhoun in 1828 was the other instance.)
Nominations were done by caucus. With Thomas Jefferson ready to retire, the Democratic-Republican caucus nominated Secretary of State James Madison of Virginia to succeed him. James Monroe was also a candidate for the nomination. Vice President George Clinton was also a candidate for the nomination with support from New York Republicans. The caucus also re-nominated Clinton for a second term as Vice President.
|Presidential Ballot||Vice Presidential Ballot|
|James Madison||83||George Clinton||79|
|James Monroe||3||John Langdon||5|
|George Clinton||3||Henry Dearborn||3|
|! John Q. Adams||1|
The election was marked by opposition to Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, a halt to trade with Europe that disproportionately hurt New England merchants and was perceived as favoring France over Britain. Nonetheless, Jefferson was still very popular with Americans generally and Pinckney was soundly defeated, though not as badly as in 1804. Pinckney carried only a handful of votes outside New England.
Pinckney received all the electoral votes that he had received in 1804, and he also picked up New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and three electoral districts in North Carolina. Except for the North Carolina districts, all of the improvement was in New England.
(a) Only 10 of the 17 states chose electors by popular vote.
(b) Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements.
(c) One Elector from Kentucky did not vote.