U.S. President Thomas Jefferson Reelection and Second Term

About the U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, a brief history of his reelection and second presidential term.


3rd President



Reelection: Nov. 13, 1804 . . .

By 1804, the Federalist party had largely collapsed. Its leaders lost credibility as the dire predictions about Jefferson's presidency failed to materialize. But more importantly, the Louisiana Purchase, a successful military venture against the Tripolitan pirates, and Jefferson's egalitarian gestures in the White House had won nationwide approval for the Republican regime. Though he knew that he had no chance of victory, Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina agreed to carry the Federalist standard into the election in order to keep the party together for future battles.

The only real excitement in the campaign was provided when the Republicans dumped Vice-President Burr from their ticket and replaced him with another New Yorker, George Clinton. Burr had destroyed his popularity when he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel that same year, and Jefferson was glad for an excuse to crush a man whom he considered a dangerous rival.

In order to avoid a repeat of an inadvertent deadlock such as had plagued the country in 1800, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution had been adopted, providing that president and vice-president would be elected separately, and 1804 saw the first use of the electoral system that is still in force today. The final result offered no surprises: Jefferson received 162 electoral votes to Pinckney's 14. Pinckney carried only two states, Connecticut and Delaware, both arch-Federalist strongholds.

Second Term: Mar. 4, 1805 . . .

Following his inauguration in the Senate Chamber, an evening ceremony was held honoring Jefferson in the East Room of the Executive Mansion. A large crowd attended the festivities and caused much disorder.

In his two terms as president, Jefferson did not veto a single bill. This record reflects his preference for a strictly limited, caretaking role for the chief executive. Jefferson was the only two-term president in our history who never used his veto power.

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