Tuesday, February 4, 2014



New York City (JFK+50) The members of the first College of Electors chose George Washington of Virginia as the 1st President of the United States 225 years ago today, February 4, 1789.

George Washington University
Georgetown, D.C. (2011)
Photo by John White

With each elector having two votes to cast, General Washington received 1 vote from every elector thus making his election unanimous.

The final tally was...

George Washington, Federalist 69
John Adams, Federalist 34
All others 35

Others receiving votes included...

John Jay, Federalist 9
John Rutledge, Federalist 6
John Hancock, Federalist 4
George Clinton, Anti-federalist 3

The electors, who were selected on January 7, 1789, met in their respective states as is required by the United States Constitution.

By the rules of that time, the runner-up became Vice-President.  John Adams, thus, became Vice-President elect.

Adams matched Washington's vote total in only two states, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Electors from eleven states participated in the voting.

Because North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution, those states were not represented while New York did not send their electors.


"The Papers of George Washington,"


Knoxville, Tennessee (JFK+50) The Electoral College has been the subject of much controversy over the years.  There are some, even today, who would argue that it should be abolished.  

If the popular vote had been the sole means of determination of a winner, Tennessee's own Albert Gore, Jr. would have been the 43rd United States President.

So why did our Founding Fathers, who are rightly honored by their descendants today, establish the College in the first place?

According to William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director of the FEC Office of Election Administration, the Founding Fathers realized that the 13 states were...

"jealous of their own rights and powers and suspicious of any central...government."

It was also a factor that people of that day believed political parties to be "downright evil"* and that "gentlemen should not campaign"

*This is partially true today as some Americans tend to believe their own political party is fine, it's just the other one that is 'downright evil.'

So it wasn't that the Founding Fathers thought the people were ignorant, but...

 "feared without sufficient information...(they) would naturally vote for a 'favorite son' from their own...state."

In that case, the state with the larger populations would have a distinct advantage.

The idea of the electoral college was not really new, it can be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire.

Accordingly, ARTICLE II, SECTION I of the United States Constitution sets up an Electoral College with the total number of electors from each state being the total of their number of senators + representatives.

It provides for a winner take all system where the candidate with the majority of the popular vote in a state receives ALL electoral votes of that state.

Further, each elector initially had two votes, one of which had to be for a candidate outside their own state.  

There was no voting put in place for Vice-President, but the runner-up in the electoral vote would become VP.

The votes of the electoral college, meeting separately in each state, were sealed and delivered to the President of the Senate who was to open and read the results to a joint session of Congress.

The "first design," as Mr. Kimberling refers to it, of the Electoral College was in effect for the first four presidential elections.

In 1800, however, there was a TIE between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson forcing the House of Representatives to determine the outcome.

The 12th Amendment** (1804) reduced the vote of each elector to ONE for President and ONE for Vice-President.

Mr. Kimberling tells us that...

"the fundamental workings of the Electoral College...have not (been) further altered since the 12th Amendment."

**Tennessee ratified the 12th Amendment a month after it became law of the land on June 15, 1804.


"The Electoral College," by William C. Kimberling, Deputy Director FEC Office of Election Administration, May 1992.


Tuskegee, Alabama (JFK+50) Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, the acknowledged mother of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, was born here in Tuskegee 101 years ago today, February 4, 1913.

                   Congressional Gold Medal

Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated public bus in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955.

Her arrest set off a bus boycott that led to desegregation of public transportation in the city.

Rosa Parks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a statue in the US Capitol's Statuary Hall.

Upon her death at the age of 92 in 2005, Rosa Parks became the first woman to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda.