*This scenario was greatly updated by the Historical Scenario Commission on July 19, 2017. Version 2.0 can be downloaded here: United States – 1816 v. 2.0
This election takes place a year after the War of 1812, which was touted as an American victory. The sitting president, James Madison, has declined a 3rd term, leaving the election wide open. That is, at least for one party. The Federalists, discredited by an attempt to secede in New England because of their support for British trade, have been reduced to a regional party with no real hope of victory at the national level.
For the Republicans (later called Democratic-Republicans), James Monroe is the heir-apparent of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. However, many Republicans tire of Virginia’s domination of the presidency. Is it fair to have three Virginian president in a row and four out of five presidents? As such, Southerners and some Northerners rally around Georgian William H. Crawford as a more appropriate successor. Originally, Northerners had options in Daniel Tompkins of New York and Simon Snyder, the latter who would have been the first president of German ancestry if he had won. However, Tompkins and Snyder withdrew early in the election process when Monroe and Crawford seemed too dominant.
For Federalists, this now regional party must battle to appeal to voters outside of New England. As such, they find Rufus King of New York to be the best option for success. He he hails from a populous state just outside of New England, and he has prominent relatives to support his candidacy outside of New York.
There is no 3rd party.
This election allows for many what-if scenarios:
- What if Rufus King faced challenged for the Federalist ticket? Could a 34-year old representative (will be 35 before election day), Daniel Webster, bring the party into the 19th century? Can the powerful Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a Virginian, make the party national once again? Can the famed John Jay, who wrote the Federalist Papers with Madison and Hamilton, bring respectability back to the Federalist Party?
- What if Daniel Tompkins and Simon Snyder had not dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination?
- What if the recent heroes of the War of 1812, generals Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison ran for the election, fresh off their new-found popularity?
- What if Speaker of the House Henry Clay ran as the modernizing option for the Republican ticket?
- What if Old Guard Republican John Randolph ran on his radical limited government platform?
- What if the son of former Federalist president John Adams, ambassador and former Federalist John Quincy Adams, ran for president as a Republican?
- What if President Madison ran for a 3rd term?
- What if party leader Thomas Jefferson, a sometime critic of James Monroe, opted to run for a non-consecutive 3rd term at age 73?
- What if DeWitt Clinton, the Federalist’s favorite Republican, ran as a 3rd party?
Feedback is desired.