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In Case You Were Wondering, George Washington's Election Was Wild

It was a tiny bit, how do you say, rigged?

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1. Only white landowning men could vote.

Okay, you definitely knew this one, but it warrants repeating. Literally no one else could decide who would be president???!!!
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Okay, you definitely knew this one, but it warrants repeating. Literally no one else could decide who would be president???!!!

2. That being said, there wasn't much of a popular vote to begin with.

These days, when we vote in presidential elections, we're voting both for a presidential candidate, and their electors, who will meet during the electoral college to cast their votes. But in the 1788-1789 election, many state legislatures simply chose their electors themselves. Only 1.8% of the population voted in the first election.

3. That's also why Election Day is always held on the first Tuesday after a Monday in November.

Since a large number of eligible voters were farmers, Election Day had to fall after harvest season, but before winter weather made travel impossible. Since most men would have to take a day-long horse or buggy ride to get to their polling site, Tuesday was chosen to give them enough time to celebrate the Biblical Sabbath and sell their crops.
Justin Merriman / Getty Images

Since a large number of eligible voters were farmers, Election Day had to fall after harvest season, but before winter weather made travel impossible. Since most men would have to take a day-long horse or buggy ride to get to their polling site, Tuesday was chosen to give them enough time to celebrate the Biblical Sabbath and sell their crops.

4. George Washington was hoping to retire and had no interest in becoming president.

He had promised the American people he would never seek public office again after 1783. He didn't want to reneg on this promise, and he felt that he was too old to take up the task of running a new country. He only relented and ran for president because of the overwhelming support he received from the American people.
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He had promised the American people he would never seek public office again after 1783. He didn't want to reneg on this promise, and he felt that he was too old to take up the task of running a new country. He only relented and ran for president because of the overwhelming support he received from the American people.

5. Washington is the only American president to ever be elected unanimously.

Out of 11 other candidates in the 1789 election, Washington was the only one to pick up a vote from every elector, earning the maximum of 69 votes to win the presidency.
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Out of 11 other candidates in the 1789 election, Washington was the only one to pick up a vote from every elector, earning the maximum of 69 votes to win the presidency.

6. John Adams was Washington's vice president, but Washington didn't choose him.

Up until 1804, members of the electoral college got to cast two votes. Whoever earned the most votes after the president was selected to be the vice president, a system put in place to dissuade electors from only choosing regional favorites.
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Up until 1804, members of the electoral college got to cast two votes. Whoever earned the most votes after the president was selected to be the vice president, a system put in place to dissuade electors from only choosing regional favorites.

7. Alexander Hamilton, however, did have a role in choosing the vice president.

Hamilton / Via giphy.com

Alexander Hamilton was scared that too close a vote (or an accidental tie!) between Adams and Washington would make a mockery of the new electoral system. He arranged for Adams to lose the vote by less than half of Washington's votes, ensuring that he'd win the Vice Presidency, but not by an overwhelming majority.

8. New York failed to participate in the first election.

Awkwafina / Via giphy.com

New York's legislators were locked in a heated battle between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Unable to reach a decision on which electors to send as representatives, they couldn't participate in the Electoral College.

9. In fact, North Carolina and Rhode Island weren't able to participate in the first election either.

Both states failed to ratify the United States' new constitution, meaning they had no say in the electoral process :'(

10. Americans had to wait two long months after votes were cast to find out if Washington would accept the new position.

Focus / Via giphy.com

Washington had said he wouldn't speak publicly about the presidency until Congress had assembled to tally the votes. However, Congress was delayed by over a month because of inclement weather and crumbling infrastructure.

11. George Washington was sworn into office near Wall Street.

Since New York was the capital of the country at the time, Washington had to travel there to be sworn in at Federal Hall. He was broke when elected and had to borrow 600 pounds for the trip.
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Since New York was the capital of the country at the time, Washington had to travel there to be sworn in at Federal Hall. He was broke when elected and had to borrow 600 pounds for the trip.

12. The first draft of Washington's inaugural speech was 73 pages long.

James Madison advised him to ditch the speech, which involved lengthy legislative proposals and defensive posturing, for a more reserved 8-page speech that you can read here.
U.S. Archives / Via archives.gov

James Madison advised him to ditch the speech, which involved lengthy legislative proposals and defensive posturing, for a more reserved 8-page speech that you can read here.

13. Washington had to walk home from his own inauguration celebration.

Washington's inauguration was such a big deal that people crowded the streets to celebrate, forcing him to exit his carriage and walk home after eight days of travel and meeting constituents.
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Washington's inauguration was such a big deal that people crowded the streets to celebrate, forcing him to exit his carriage and walk home after eight days of travel and meeting constituents.

Here's the deal: Tuesday, Nov. 6 is Election Day, and we want YOU to show up and make your voice heard. Get ready by claiming your 50% off Lyft ride to the polls here!

Kevin Valente / BuzzFeed

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