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United States presidential election, 1836

United States presidential election, 1836

November 3 – December 7, 1836

All 294 electoral votes of the Electoral College
148 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout 57.8% [1]
Nominee Martin Van Buren William H. Harrison Hugh L. White
Party Democratic Whig Whig
Home state New York Ohio Tennessee
Running mate Richard M. Johnson Francis Granger John Tyler
Electoral vote 170 73 26
States carried 15 7 2
Popular vote 764,176 550,816 146,109
Percentage 50.83% 36.63% 9.72%

Nominee Daniel Webster Willie Person Mangum
Party Whig Whig
Home state Massachusetts North Carolina
Running mate Francis Granger John Tyler
Electoral vote 14 11
States carried 1 1
Popular vote 41,201 -
Percentage 2.74% -

Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Van Buren and Johnson or Smith, pale grey-purple denotes those won by Harrison and Granger or Tyler, purple denotes those won by White/Tyler, coral pink denotes those won by Webster/Granger, and bluegrass green denotes those won by Mangum/Tyler. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Andrew Jackson

Elected President

Martin Van Buren

The United States presidential election of 1836 was the 13th quadrennial presidential election, held from Thursday, November 3, to Wednesday, December 7, 1836. As the third consecutive election victory for the Democratic Party, it ushered incumbent Vice-President Martin Van Buren into the White House with 170 electoral votes to 122 electoral votes for William Henry Harrison and other Whigs. The popular vote was closer; Martin Van Buren attracted 764,000 votes to the 738,000 won by the various Whig candidates.

The election of 1836 is principally remembered for three distinctive circumstances. The most important was the strategy of the Whig party in running several presidential candidates simultaneously. No major party before or since ever attempted this. In 1836, the Whigs ran four candidates in different parts of the country in hopes that each would be popular enough to defeat Democrat Martin Van Buren in their respective regions. In that case, it would have been left to the House of Representatives to decide between the competing Whig candidates. This strategy failed: Van Buren won a majority of electoral (and popular) votes and became president. The election of 1836 was also the last until 1988 to result in the elevation of an incumbent vice-president to the nation's highest office through means other than the president's death or resignation, and the only one in which a vice-presidential election was thrown into the United States Senate.


  • Nominations 1
    • Democratic Party nomination 1.1
      • Candidates gallery 1.1.1
    • Whig Party nomination 1.2
      • Candidates gallery 1.2.1
  • General election 2
    • Campaign 2.1
    • Disputes 2.2
    • Results 2.3
  • Results by state 3
    • Breakdown by ticket 3.1
  • Contingent election 4
  • Electoral college selection 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Notes 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • Navigation 10


Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates

Candidates gallery

Incumbent President Andrew Jackson decided to retire after two terms and supported his vice-president, Martin Van Buren, to serve as the next president. Although Southerners disliked the New Yorker Van Buren as well as his intended running mate, Colonel Richard Mentor Johnson of Kentucky, Van Buren secured the nomination at the 1835 Democratic National Convention held in Baltimore, Maryland.

Convention vote
Presidential vote Vice Presidential vote
Martin Van Buren 265 Richard M. Johnson 178
William C. Rives 87

Whig Party nomination

Whig candidates

Candidates gallery

The Whig Party emerged during the 1834 mid-term elections as the chief opposition to the Democratic Party. It absorbed the National Republican Party, the Anti-Masonic Party and remnants of the Federalist Party. Some Southerners who were angered by Jackson's opposition to states' rights, including Sen. John C. Calhoun and the Nullifiers, were temporarily part of the Whig coalition.

Southern Nullifiers placed Tennessee Senator Hugh Lawson White into contention for the presidency in 1834 soon after his break with Jackson. White was a moderate on the states' rights issue, which made him acceptable in the South, but not in the North. The state legislatures of Alabama and Tennessee officially nominated White. By early 1835, Whigs in the North were lining up behind Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster. Both Webster and White used debates in the Senate to establish their positions on the issues of the day, and newspapers nationwide carried the text of their speeches. Beginning at the end of 1835, some Whig state conventions in the North began to shift from Webster to popular former general William Henry Harrison. By the middle of 1836, Harrison had replaced Webster as the Whig nominee in all "free" states except Massachusetts. Harrison also replaced White in four border states. Southern Whigs felt betrayed by Northern Whigs for abandoning White, who was still very popular there.

Unable to agree on a single candidate, the Whigs ended up with two primary tickets: William Henry Harrison for president and Francis Granger for vice-president in the North and the border states, and Hugh Lawson White for president and John Tyler for vice-president in the middle and lower South. In Massachusetts, the ticket was Daniel Webster and Granger. In South Carolina, the ticket was Willie P. Mangum for president and Tyler for vice-president.

General election


Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage of the winning candidate in each county. Shades of blue are for Van Buren (Democratic), shades of red are for Harrison (Whig), shades of yellow are for White (Whig), and shades of orange are for Webster (Whig).

The Whigs attacked Van Buren on all sides, even disrupting the Senate where he presided. Harrison was the most effective of his opponents, but Van Buren's superior party organization carried the day, earning him a majority of the popular vote. Van Buren defeated Harrison by a margin of (51.4%) to (48.6%) in the North, and he defeated White by a similar margin of (50.7%) to (49.3%) in the South.


A dispute similar to that of Indiana in 1817 and Missouri in 1821 arose during the counting of the electoral votes. Michigan only became a state on January 26, 1837, and had cast its electoral votes for president before that date. Anticipating a challenge to the results, Congress resolved on February 4, 1837, that during the counting four days later the final tally would be read twice, once with Michigan and once without Michigan. The counting proceeded in accordance with the resolution. The dispute had no bearing on the final result: either way Van Buren was elected, and either way no candidate had a majority for vice-president.[2]


Virginia's 23 electors were all pledged to Van Buren and his running mate, Richard Mentor Johnson. However, all 23 of them became faithless electors and refused to vote for Johnson. This left Johnson one vote short of the 148-vote majority required to elect him. Under the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Senate decided between the top two vote-getters and chose Johnson over Francis Granger.

Presidential Candidate Party Home State Popular Vote(a) Electoral Vote
Count Percentage
Martin Van Buren Democratic New York 764,176 50.8% 170
William Henry Harrison Whig Ohio 550,816 36.6% 73
Hugh Lawson White Whig Tennessee 146,107 9.7% 26
Daniel Webster Whig Massachusetts 41,201 2.7% 14
Willie Person Mangum Whig North Carolina (b) 11
Other 1,234 0.1% 0
Total 1,503,534 100.0% 294
Needed to win 148

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1836 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 27, 2005). Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 31, 2005).

(a) The popular vote figures exclude South Carolina where the Electors were chosen by the state legislature rather than by popular vote.
(b) Mangum received his electoral votes from South Carolina where the Electors were chosen by the state legislatures rather than by popular vote.

Popular vote
Van Buren
Electoral vote
Van Buren
Vice Presidential Candidate Party State Electoral Vote
Richard Mentor Johnson Democratic Kentucky 147
Francis Granger Whig New York 77
John Tyler Whig Virginia 47
William Smith Democratic South Carolina 23
Total 294
Needed to win 148

Source: Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 31, 2005).

Results by state

Martin Van Buren
William Henry Harrison
Hugh L. White
Daniel Webster
Willie Person Mangum
State Total
State electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
Alabama 7 0001361820,638 55.34 7 no ballots 0004866916,658 44.66 - no ballots no ballots 37,296 AL
Arkansas 3 2,380 64.08 3 no ballots 1,334 35.92 - no ballots no ballots 3,714 AR
Connecticut 8 19,294 50.65 8 18,799 49.35 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 38,093 CT
Delaware 3 4,154 46.70 - 4,736 53.24 3 no ballots no ballots no ballots 8,895 DE
Georgia 11 22,778 48.20 - no ballots 24,481 51.80 11 no ballots no ballots 47,259 GA
Illinois 5 18,369 54.69 5 15,220 45.31 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 33,589 IL
Indiana 9 32,478 44.03 - 41,281 55.97 9 no ballots no ballots no ballots 73,759 IN
Kentucky 15 33,229 47.41 - 36,861 52.59 15 no ballots no ballots no ballots 70,090 KY
Louisiana 5 3,842 51.74 5 no ballots 3,583 48.26 - no ballots no ballots 7,425 LA
Maine 10 22,825 58.92 10 14,803 38.21 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 38,740 ME
Maryland 10 22,267 46.27 - 25,852 53.73 10 no ballots no ballots no ballots 48,119 MD
Massachusetts 14 33,486 44.81 - no ballots no ballots 41,201 55.13 14 no ballots 74,687 MA
Michigan 3 7,122 56.22 3 5,545 43.78 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 12,667 MI
Mississippi 4 10,297 51.28 4 no ballots 9,782 48.72 - no ballots no ballots 20,079 MS
Missouri 4 10,995 59.98 4 no ballots 7,337 40.02 - no ballots no ballots 18,332 MO
New Hampshire 7 18,697 75.01 7 6,228 24.99 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 24,925 NH
New Jersey 8 25,592 49.47 - 26,137 50.53 8 no ballots no ballots no ballots 51,729 NJ
New York 42 166,795 54.63 42 138,548 45.37 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 305,343 NY
North Carolina 15 26,631 53.10 15 no ballots 23,521 46.90 - no ballots no ballots 50,153 NC
Ohio 21 96,238 47.56 - 104,958 51.87 21 no ballots no ballots no ballots 202,333 OH
Pennsylvania 30 91,457 51.18 30 87,235 48.82 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 178,692 PA
Rhode Island 4 2,964 52.24 4 2,710 47.76 - no ballots no ballots no ballots 5,674 RI
South Carolina 11 no popular vote no popular vote no popular vote no popular vote no popular vote 11 - SC
Tennessee 15 26,170 42.08 - no ballots 36,027 57.92 15 no ballots no ballots 62,197 TN
Vermont 7 14,037 40.07 - 20,994 59.93 7 no ballots no ballots no ballots 35,031 VT
Virginia 23 30,556 56.64 23 no ballots 23,384 43.35 - no ballots no ballots 53,940 VA
TOTALS: 294 763,291 50.79 170 549,907 36.59 73 146,107 9.72 26 41,201 2.74 14 - - 11 1,502,811 US
TO WIN: 148

Breakdown by ticket

Presidential Candidate Running Mate Electoral Vote
Martin Van Buren Richard Mentor Johnson 147
William Henry Harrison Francis Granger 63
Hugh Lawson White John Tyler 26
Martin Van Buren William Smith 23
Daniel Webster Francis Granger 14
Willie Person Mangum John Tyler 11
William Henry Harrison John Tyler 10

Contingent election

The Senate was required to choose between Richard Johnson and Francis Granger as the next vice-president. Johnson was elected easily in a single ballot by 33 to 16.

for Richard M. Johnson for Francis Granger

Electoral college selection

Method of choosing Electors State(s)
Each Elector appointed by state legislature South Carolina
Each Elector chosen by voters statewide (all other States)

See also


  1. ^ "Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections". The American Presidency Project.  
  2. ^ United States Congress (1837). Senate Journal. 24th Congress, 2nd Session, February 4. pp. 203–204. Retrieved August 20, 2006. 



  • "A Historical Analysis of the Electoral College". The Green Papers. Retrieved March 20, 2005. 
  • "U.S. President - Whig Nominees 1836". Retrieved March 20, 2008. 
  • How close was the 1836 election? — Michael Sheppard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Presidential Election of 1836: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress


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