This Is a Blog: Losers in Brief: Founding Losers

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Losers in Brief: Founding Losers

Special Sneak Preview Edition

After a crazy year off, I’ve decided to bring my snark and swearing to another year of useless presidential trivia and history. This year, it’s the stories of the guys who lost, but never won, presidential elections. These guys may have had success before or after their spectacular losses, but despite their best efforts, they never became president nor vice president.

As a sneak preview, I bring you a very special group of pre-losers. In some of these entries, I will include, amongst the heavy weights, guys who won electoral votes even though they never ran for anything. Elections before the Twelfth Amendment (1804) were very, very different, so none of these guys got anywhere close to the presidency. They did, however, all win an electoral vote, so they count to me.

Every month, I will cover just a couple guys at a time, but this one is particularly long in order to include all the random ass people who got wedged into these early elections.

Election of 1789

The way it used to work is that every elector got two votes. It was sort of assumed one was for president and the other vice president, but they were counted equally. Every elector voted for Washington, but they still had this other vote. Almost half went to John Adams, but the other half went in, well, other directions.

MD Judge Robert Hanson Harrison (6 votes)- Despite being adored by the people of Maryland, he turned down appointments to the Constitutional Convention, the Supreme Court, and chancellor of Maryland. Some guys just don’t want it.

Second Chief Justice John Rutledge (6 votes)- He’s basically the reason slavery lasted so long. Maybe that’s an over-statement, but man, did he love slavery.

John Hancock (4 votes)- No, not Herbie Hancock.

CT Governor Samuel Huntington (2 votes)- He once served as President of the Continental Congress, so that’s like being president, right?

*GA Sec. of State John Milton (2 votes)- Jimmy Carter was not the first Georgia farmer to win electoral votes. This guy was.
*Pictured: I could not find a photo of Senator Milton, so that's John Milton, author of Paradise Lost.

*GA Councilman James Armstrong (1 vote)- Pretty certain that one Georgia elector got confused and wrote down the name of the guy sitting next to him at the time.  
*Pictured: Neil Armstrong

Former Confederation Sec. of War Benjamin Lincoln (1 vote)- Seriously, I think the Georgia electors didn’t quite understand what they were supposed to be doing that day.

*Continental Congressman Edward Telfair (1 vote)- Telfair wasn’t even born in the Western Hemisphere! Seriously guys. Was there no one in Georgia whose job it was to explain that they were choosing a fucking president?
*Pictured: Eddie Van Halen

In 1792, Washington also got every vote, but this time, the other votes only went to guys who would go on to serve in the White House. So moving on...

Election of 1796

When Washington said he wasn’t running for a third term, everyone lost their shit. Jockeying and manipulation turned out a president and VP who fucking hated each other. Additionally, as a result, these guys got themselves some votes:

Envoy to Spain Thomas Pinckney (59 votes)- In the first of many elections Alexander Hamilton failed to fuck with, he tried to get his guys to vote for Pinckney instead of Adams. So his sworn enemy, Thomas Jefferson, became VP, and no one has ever heard of Thomas Pinckney.

MA Governor Samuel Adams (15 votes)- A small faction in Virginia REALLY wanted THIS Adams to be Jefferson’s VP. Fail!

Third Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth (11 votes)- The guys who didn’t get the memo about Pinckney or Sam Adams went for Ellsworth instead.

Supreme Court Justice James Iredell (3 votes)- To make sure Jefferson got the most votes, three NC electors just threw their second vote away.

*MD Senator John Henry (2 votes)- Marylanders have a lot of Maryland pride. Just saying.
*Pictured: Henry Cavill as Superman

NC Governor Samuel Johnston (2 votes)- You would have thought the people of North Carolina would have figured out he didn’t want the job when he was the first man elected President under the Articles of Confederation, and he turned the job down!

Pre-Loser All-Stars

Two men hold the distinction of winning electoral votes in more than one of these cattle auctions.

First Chief Justice John Jay (15 votes-1789, 1796, 1800)- In the election of 1800, the parties picked their candidates and fell into lock step, voting for exactly whom the party said to vote for. One elector saw the inherent problem in this system, and thought to himself, “Hmm, maybe our guy for president should get MORE votes than the guy for VP.” In a moment of wisdom apparently lacking in every other elector, he voted for the old, reliable electoral vote black hole, John Jay. Like Sam Huntington, Jay also served as President of the Continental Congress, so whatever.

Constitution Convention Delegate Charles Cotesworth “C.C.” Pinckney- Tommy Pinckney's older brother C.C. is a much more interesting story. You’ll find out more about him in 2013. See you then!

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