Chapter One: The First Ballot
My first timeline about 1836, an often forgettable but interesting timeline about a pretty wacky Election. I'm busy with school, but I'll try to update regularly. Enjoy!

The Election of 1836 goes down in history as one of the most fascinating, yet confusing, elections in American history. It directly led to the passing of the 13th Amendment, solidified the Whigs as a serious contender to the Democratic Party, and gave us the only President to not serve for a full term without dying in office. Such an influential election was decided by a mere hundred votes in Pennsylvania, giving the state's electoral votes to former Senator William Henry Harrison. And so, to the House the Election went. The Democrats were confident, as they had a majority in the Senate and a majority of state delegations (14 out of 26). One man, however, stood in their way: John Caldwell Calhoun, former Vice President. He went around, trying to convince southern Representatives to abandon Van Buren, and instead vote White, portraying Van Buren as a "Rich, Yankee, New York Elite, with ties to Abolitionism." He didn't convince much, but he convinced enough.

The Whigs never intended to win the Contingent Election, and no one was prepared for what the 1837 Contingent Election had in store.

Maine (Van Buren - 6, Harrison - 2)
New Hampshire (Van Buren - 5)

Vermont (Harrison - 5)
Massachusetts (Harrison - 11, Van Buren - 1)
Rhode Island (Harrison - 2)

Connecticut (Van Buren - 6)
New York (Van Buren - 25, Harrison - 9)
Pennsylvania (Van Buren - 14, Harrison 11)
New Jersey (Van Buren - 5, Harrison - 1)

Delaware (Harrison - 1)
Maryland (Harrison - 4, Van Buren - 4)
Virginia (Van Buren - 15, White - 4)
North Carolina (White - 7, Van Buren - 6)
South Carolina (White - 7, Van Buren - 2)

Georgia (Van Buren - 7, White - 2)
Kentucky (Harrison - 9, Van Buren - 4)
Tennessee (White - 9, Van Buren - 4)
Ohio (Harrison - 10, Van Buren - 9)
Louisiana (White - 2, Van Buren - 1)
Indiana (Van Buren - 5, Harrison - 2)
Mississippi (Van Buren - 2)
Illinois (Van Buren - 3)

Alabama (White - 3, Van Buren - 2)
Missouri (Harrison - 1, Van Buren - 1)
Arkansas (Van Buren - 1)
Michigan (Van Buren - 2)

Final Results:
Van Buren - 13
Harrison - 6
White - 5
Deadlocked - 2

Van Buren was one state, nay, one vote away from the Presidency. At first, he was furious that he was one vote away from the Presidency, until he remembered he was one vote from the Presidency, and so he has a higher chance of victory than the Whigs, who have to convince the Nullifiers that gave them the vote in South Carolina and Alabama to vote for Harrison (Who the Whigs were planning on becoming President over Hugh White).

The Whigs briefly celebrated the "victory" against Van Buren, until they realized they had to win. Hugh L. White was sent to meet with the Nullifiers in South Carolina and Alabama to secure their votes for Harrison. This would prove futile, as they didn't want to vote for some National Republican Yankee from Ohio. Maryland is a typically Whig state, so the Whigs spent a lot of energy attempting to break the tie. The Whigs knew it would be an uphill battle for the Presidency, but they weren't gonna give up.

As for the vote for the Vice Presidency, Dick Johnson beat Francis Granger 31 to 19, with two abstaining. However, by March 4th, Johnson would not be inaugurated for the office of Vice Presidency.
It would be interesting to see more electoral college deadlock timelines. Someone claimed that the electoral college and first past the post mean only 2 parties can ever win states. Not only is this inconstant with many elections like the 1968 election, but there are plenty of chances for 3rd, 4th, and 5th place parties to win states if their support is concentrated instead of diffuse. If each state picked its own popular vote from the national popular vote and then changed by a simple variance (like a unimodal symmetric distrbution around the national average) then minor parties would totally be screwed, but in fact states are not random and some parties will have more support in certain states than others.
Chapter Two: The Chinn Controversy and Harrison's Offensive
Following the first ballot, many Whig Representatives cast their vote for Harrison instead of White, besides two. South Carolina and Alabama held firm in their support of White, refusing to vote for Harrison. Time and time again, Harrison and White tried to get the nullifiers to vote for Harrison, but they held firm. As the ballots went on, it almost seemed there would be no President, that this entire election would be in vain. That is, until March 4th, 1837, when Richard Mentor Johnson took up the job of President. This was it. This is what the Whigs needed to convince the nullifiers of the south to vote for Harrison, as Johnson had been married to one Julia Chinn, a person who was 1/8th black. The Whigs presented caricatures of her, presenting her more as a black woman than a european with black heritage. Harrison and the Whigs claimed Johnson was a closet abolitionist
who not only supported the abolition of slavery, but also things like black rights and interracial marriage, and also that Van Buren was a closet abolitionist for running with Johnson and supporting him. While these attacks worked in the states of S. Carolina and Alabama, the two deadlocked states of Maryland and Missouri needed more convincing, and even then the Whigs needed one more state to go their way. On the sixth ballot, however, the entire room gasped as lone Arkansas Representative Archibald Yell cast his vote for Harrison. By the seventh ballot Maryland and Missouri had gone to Harrison, securing him the win.

So, how did this happen? Harrison had made a promise behind the Whig and Democrats' back, promising Yell, Missouri Rep Albert G. Harrison, and Maryland Rep Francis Thomas to support the annexation of Texas. Harrison believed that the Whig's domestic plan was more important, but Harrison still received scrutiny from most of the party. Harrison, Yell, and Thomas were all basically blacklisted from the Democratic Party, and Speaker Polk cut ties to Yell, who he was friends with. Representative Joseph Johnson of Virginia decried it the "Second Corrupt Bargain", which led to a heated argument between himself and now Massachusetts Representative and former President John Quincy Adams.

Either way, Harrison was in the house, and Johnson stepped down from the position of acting President to Vice President. So began the Harrison Administration, one of the more controversial Presidencies, especially for its time.
Johnson had been married to one Julia Chinn, a person who was 1/8th black...
i don't believe Johnson was actually married to Chinn, who was a slave. However, he treated her as if she was his wife, which was scandalous, and acknowledged their two daughters (who married white men; more scandal). All this was enough to cause the Virginia electors to abstain in OTL 1836, leaving Johnson one electoral vote short of a majority.

By 1836, Chinn had died. Johnson had later taken up with another slave mistress, but quarreled with her and sold her away.

BTW, Johnson's private life was notorious enough that Lincoln alluded to it in the 1858 debate with Douglas. In countering Douglas's insinuation that he supported social equality for blacks, Lincoln noted that the only public figure he knew of that did so was "Judge Douglas' old friend Colonel Johnson" - with no further explanation.
Chapter Three: The Harrison Administration and the Electoral Reform Amendment
William Henry Harrison was officially inaugurated on April 2nd, 1837 to a crowd of ecstatic Whigs and bitter Democrats. He began his Presidency like all Presidencies do: by forming a cabinet.
Vice President: Richard M. Johnson
Secretary of State: Daniel Webster
Secretary of the Treasury: Nicholas Biddle
Secretary of War: John Tyler
Attorney General: John Sergeant
Postmaster General: Francis Granger
Secretary of the Navy: Willie P. Mangum

Harrison had to work with a large Democratic majority in the Senate, so he could not get much done on the domestic front for now, but he did get one major accomplishment done in his first year: the annexation of Texas. Remaining true to his promise, Texan annexation would be carried out following the official proposal made by Texan Secretary of State Memucan Hunt, Jr. The proposal was accepted by Congress, and Texas would join the union by early 1838. However, debate still raged on over Texan annexation, or more specifically, Texan size and the imbalance of slave vs. free. Texas was a slave state, and thus created an imbalance between the number of slave and free. Harrison decided to kill two birds with one stone, and split Texas into two states, one free one slave. Many were hesitant, believing it violated the Missouri Compromise, but Harrison reminded them that the Missouri Compromise only applied to territories within the old Louisiana purchase, so this was completely legal. Although some were skeptical, especially in Texas itself, the act creating a new state, named Washington, was passed by congress and signed into law by President Harrison. The new state, Colorado's, borders were outlined as being any lands east of the Colorado river until it ended, where it would then be a straight line from the northernmost point of the river until the 103rd Meridian. The Texan Crisis was solved.

Another major part of Harrison's Presidency was the passage of the 13th amendment, or the Electoral Reform Amendment. The Democrats, humiliated by their loss, wanted to make sure an election like 1836 never happened again. The Electoral Reform Amendment would make it so in the event of electoral deadlock, the two candidates with the most Electoral College votes would face off in a runoff election. If the runoff ended in a tie, then the House of Representatives would decide in a normal contingent Election. The Democrats and their massive majority, only had to get 30 more votes in the house, and just one in the Senate. Many Whigs opposed this, hoping to use the same strategy used in 1836 to win 1840, but other Whigs, mostly from the Anti-Mason faction of the party supported it, getting the votes it needed to win in 1838. It would be officially ratified come next Election.

By 1837, serious economic downturn began in America. While most Presidents would be horrified at this, Harrison was ecstatic. Blaming the Panic on Jackson and the Democrats' policies, Harrison was sure the Whigs would take both houses in 1838, and he was right. In 1839, the new majority Whig Congress was sworn in, and Harrison could now officially get to work. Immediately, he raised tariffs and created the Third Bank of United States, with former Secretary of the Treasury Richard Rush as its first President. The bank and tariffs did do some good when it came to relieving the Panic, but not enough. As the Panic of 1837 continued, albeit better now, Americans began to lose trust in both parties.

By 1840, Harrison made it clear he had no intention to run for a second term, saying in his farewell address to the Whig National Convention he wishes his successors do the same. 1840 was an open field, and many were ready for their attempt at the Presidency.
Chapter Four: The 1840 Presidential Election
The Whig convention was split between three major candidates: Henry Clay, Winfield Scott, and Willie P. Mangum. Northeastern support was solidly with the General, while the upper south supported Clay, the solid south was for Willie P. Mangum. Midwest support was mostly mixed between Clay and Scott, with some for Mangum. The election remained deadlocked, until Mangum came up with an idea. A repeat of 1836. If the three candidates ran in their home regions, then at least one of them would go up against the Democratic candidate. These are, in a way, a precursor to primaries. For Vice President, Scott ran with Daniel Webster, Clay ran with Thomas Ewing of Ohio, and Mangum ran with John Tyler of Virginia.


The Democratic Convention was a mess. Following the Election of 1836, many believed the candidate should be a southerner, as Van Buren's New York Elitism, in a way, lost them the election. The frontrunner on the first ballot was Speaker of the House Robert M.T. Hunter, however he had little support outside the south. On the 2nd ballot Jackson's Secretary of State, John Forsyth of Georgia, was proposed. The movement to nominate John Forsyth grew, until he was almost guaranteed the nomination. Holding out in New England was Vice President Martin Van Buren, and his loyal delegates denied Forsyth the official nomination. Eventually, the two sides came to an agreement, and Van Buren dropped out only if Forsyth chose Silas Wright for his Vice President. An Anti-Annexation Northern Democrat, many Dems hoped they could pick up anti-annexation support in the north by those who felt betrayed by the Whigs. Wright reluctantly accepted the nomination, and the Democratic Ticket was formed.

In the end, the Whig's strategy did not work, and John Forsyth took the Presidency. The deciding state was New York, which went to Forsyth by just a few thousand votes. If Scott won the state, he and Forsyth would move on to the 2nd round, which Scott would've won if all the Clay and Mangum states voted Whig again. Forsyth was to be the next President of the United States, and Silas Wright, the Vice President.

Despite the victory, the Democrats were beginning to crack. The courting of many anti-annexation northerners led to a stronger anti-slavery presence within the Democratic Party. A bitter rivalry between the northern and southern Democrats were forming. For now however, with Slavery not a big issue, the Democrats would stay united in support of President Forsyth.
Chapter Five: Tragedy and Divide
Vice President: Silas Wright
Secretary of State: James Buchanan
Secretary of the Treasury: Levi Woodbury
Secretary of War: Lewis Cass
Attorney General: James K. Polk
Postmaster General: Robert Strange
Secretary of the Navy: Robert M.T. Hunter

By September of 1841, just five months after his inauguration, members of Forsyth's cabinet began to notice the President becoming tired, often dozing off during cabinet meetings, and entering long and loud coughing fits. Whenever the topic of his health was brought up, Forsyth simply said "Tis but a fever. I'll be fine." He was never fine. By December of 1841, the sickness had left him bedridden, and he died surrounded by family and friends alike. Silas Wright was now President.

The Democratic Party mourned the death of the first President to die in office, who they all saw as a uniter they can all get behind. Wright, meanwhile, was looked on with skepticism. Many, especially in the south, doubted he'd respect the right to own slaves. This was doubt was bolstered when President Wright had sent Buchanan to finish the diplomatic resolution to the US-Mexico Border, wishing not to go to war. The treaty establish the US-Mexico Border as following the Rio Grande until it ends, where at the northernmost point of the RIo Grande, it would follow a straight line north until the previously established Adams-Onis Treaty's borders. This move was wildly controversial, especially with the south, as they viewed the move as restricting southern expansion, and that Wright was an abolitionist who wanted to abolish slavery. President Wright had lost the support of his fellow Democrats, and so he could not get much done. He lowered tariffs, but overall Wright is seen as a "Do-Nothing President."

But even if Wright did nothing as President, he certainly was one of the most influential politicians of his time, and nothing would prove this more than the Election of 1844.
Chapter Six: The 1844 Presidential Election
One of the most infamous Elections in American History, and the first one in which the 13th amendment was actually used, was 1844. With the Democrats and Whigs divided over slavery, and as voters begin to care about slavery more and morea, the American divide grew.

The Whig Convention was held in Buffalo, New York. The Convention was split between Henry Clay and Winfield Scott, but the south was not enthusiastic about either. That's when the underdog entered: Senator John M. Clayton of Delaware. Clayton entered the convention with an interesting strategy that caught the eye of those in the convention: The Southern Strategy. The south had lost faith in the Democrats since they allowed Silas Wright to become President, and Wright was deeply unpopular within the south. So, Clayton sought to take advantage of this. By appealing to southerners, they could win big while still getting northern votes in New England. Clayton was nominated on the 12th ballot, with Daniel Webster of Massachusetts for Vice President. It was foolproof. However, not everyone was pleased with appealing to slave owners, and they quietly walked out of the convention.

At the Democratic Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, President Wright wasn't even considered. Democrats debated the strategy they should use in this election. Southern Democrats thought they should appeal to slave owners, especially after the Wright Presidency, while northern Democrats thought they should abandon the south, predicting the Whig's southern strategy. As the debate raged on, they found their guy: James K. Polk. The former Speaker and upper south resident, Polk was seen as the shining light of hope the Democrats needed to win. As a diehard expansionist and slaveholder, he'd appeal to the base while also appealing to the north. He was perfect. To balance out the ticket, Secretary of the Treasury Levi Woodbury was chosen for Vice President. However, not everyone was pleased with Polk's nomination, and they quietly walked out of the convention.

The walkouts met in Philadelphia, and decided to form their own party: The Free Soil Party. The Free Soil convention near unanimously nominated New Hampshire Senator John P. Hale for President and Joshua R. Giddings for Vice President. As an anti-slavery expansion party, their base was mostly in New England with support in midwestern states, mainly Ohio.

Clayton's southern strategy worked wonders, with the Whigs sweeping the vote in the south, winning all but South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia. The Free Soil Party stole the Democrats' votes in New York, giving the state to Clayton. But the Free Soil Party stole votes from Whigs in Ohio, giving that state to the Democrats. The Free Soil Party won Vermont by a healthy margin, and just barely won in Massachusetts.


Polk was three Electoral College votes shy of a majority, meaning the 13th amendment came into effect, and a runoff began. Ohio and New York traded hands, but Pennsylvania had just barely went to John M. Clayton, winning him the election by just under 1000 votes.

The Whigs had retaken the Presidency, and proved that the southern strategy could work. Despite this victory, many northern whigs began to look towards the Free Soil Party, and the Whigs became more and more divided...
Chapter Seven: Mexicans, Mormons, California, and Clayton
Vice President: Daniel Webster
Secretary of State: Henry Clay
Secretary of the Treasury: William M. Meredith
Secretary of War: John Bell
Attorney General: John McLean
Postmaster General: Theodore Frelinghuysen
Secretary of the Navy: John Davis
Secretary of the Interior: Millard Fillmore

Clayton was a major American nationalist, and someone who believed in the ideas of Manifest Destiny and American supremacy. The west was a disputed area, especially in Oregon. Both the British and Americans wanted all of Oregon, but they both couldn't have it. As Americans and British alike flooded into the area, clashes between the two people began. The peace between the two groups wasn't helped when Clayton declared "54 40 or FIght!" It was clear the Americans weren't going to back down, and neither were the British. As tensions grew, Henry Clay and British Foreign Secretary George Hamilton-Gordon met in Kingston to settle the issue. During the meeting, however, both heard the news of the Battle of Forsyth. The town of Forsyth (Located just north of OTL northwest Washington) was inhabited by both Americans and Brits. Tensions were always high in the town, but after a British fur trader was shot for trespassing on an Americans farm, full out violence broke out. The Battle of Forsyth was a victory for the more well armed Americans, kicking the Brits from the town. The Forsyth Militia then proceed to raid other towns nearby, recruiting more Americans on the way. James Douglas, the regional chief executive of the Hudson's Bay Company, in response, assembled a militia of fur traders. The two militias faced off at the Battle of St. James, which ended in a British tactical victory, but at a greater cost of life. Both sides did not want a war, so Clay and Hamilton-Gordon rushed to get the treaty ratified. The treaty established the borders as the 49th parallel, but gave control of all of Vancouver island to the United States. In return, the British could freely live in the parts west of the Columbia River and Vancouver Island and remain citizens of the British Crown. Tensions remained heated after Clayton called the Forsyth Militia "Patriots, heroes, and freedom fighters that scored a great victory for the United States!"

Mormons! Everyone loves them! Well, everyone except citizens of Hancock County, Illinois, who had driven them out of Illinois and killed their leader, Joseph Smith. While most of the country hated the Mormons, Clayton saw a great opportunity to wage war with Mexico. He hated Mormons, yes, but he loved the US more and hated Mexicans more. President Clayton made sure the Mormons were safely brought to the Mexican state of Las Californias, and had the Mormons settle wherever they pleased in the territory. They chose to settle near the Great Salt Lake, establishing the creatively named city of Salt Lake City, and quickly began converting the native population. Those that did not convert responded with resistance, asking for the government of Las Californias for assistance in driving the Mormons out. However, Las Californias' government was overrun by rebels, declaring the Californian Republic (With help from the United States of course). With nowhere else to turn, they asked the federal Government for assistance, and Mexico sent troops to deal with the Rebels, firing on American soldiers in the process. Clayton feigned being surprised and furious for attacking "Good Americans and Californians," a comment that would be criticized since that included the Mormons as "good americans." The USA declared war on Mexico in 1846, and the war was over by late 1847. The war went smoothly, as Mexico was dealing with a coup and Government change, and thus could not respond to the invasion with swiftness. Winfield Scott reached Mexico City, where he personally laid down the terms. All Mexican territory north of the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas were ceded to the USA.

While Clayton enjoyed popularity among the general public, the northern, more abolitionist faction, of Whigs (Nicknamed the Adams Whigs), were becoming increasingly annoyed, and looked more towards the Free Soil Party as the 1848 Election neared...
Chapter Eight: The Battle of Louisvile
As Whig delegates filed into the convention hall in Louisville, Kentucky, most kept their heads down and didn't talk with one another. Everyone knew the Convention would be heated due to the controversial Presidency of John M. Clayton. Clayton easily swept the southern states on the first ballot, with some support in the midwest, but not enough to secure the majority. Meanwhile, most of the northern delegates refused to support Clayton, however, instead casting their votes for various Free Soil Whigs, mainly John McLean and William Seward. The north knew, in order to defeat Clayton, they needed to unite behind one candidate. While the Sewardites and McLeanists bickered between themselves, another candidate began to rise to prominence, almost like a compromise candidate: John Davis, former Massachusetts Governor. Davis was not a hardline Free Soil, but did have abolitionist sympathy, and opposed its expansion. Davis was seen as the perfect compromise candidate to unite the north against Clayton. Davis' support began to grow, until every northern state except Illinois and Indiana was voting for him.

However, delegates who supported the more radical Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania prevented either candidate from taking the majority. Ballot after ballot, the convention remained deadlocked. Day after day, until the Cameronians finally left the convention out of pure frustration. On the 63rd ballot, some Davisites finally broke, and voted for Clayton just to hand him the nomination. Webster did not run for re-election for Vice President, so the vote for that was open. Ultimately, it was decided it was best if the Vice President was another Massachusetts politician, the one and only John Davis.

Reactions to the ticket were mixed. While some moderate Whigs were happy, the more diehard Adams Whigs (OTL Conscience Whigs) still refused to support the candidacy Clayton, and instead they joined the Free Soil Party, who nominated Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio for President and Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts for President. The Free Soil ticket, especially since both nominees were former Whigs in normally safe Whig states, would certainly be a thorn in the Whigs side as they attempt to defeat the Democrats and reelect Clayton.

As for the Democrats, Levi Woodbury of New Hampshire was the obvious choice. A doughboy, he had New England appeal, along with the Free Soil-Whig Split, the Democrats could potentially sweep New England and make up for any losses in the south. James Iver McKay, a Representative from North Carolina, was selected for Vice President.


(From left to right, John M. Clayton, Levi Woodbury, Joshua R. Giddings)

The campaign was on, and one of the most titular elections in American History began.
Chapter Nine: The Election That Killed the Whigs
The main issue of the day was slavery and US Expansion, specifically when it came to the new US Territories. Clayton stood firm in his belief to make all Mexican territories south of the Rio Grande Slave States and all those north Free. Northern Whigs despised this idea, since most territories were south of the northernmost point of Rio Grande, meaning slavery would expand greatly, while Free states were restricted. Woodbury took a more neutral stance, proposing the idea of popular sovereignty in most territories taken from Mexico. Giddings' position was clear: No New Slave States.

Woodbury believed he had a shot at New England, being a New Englander himself, and with the Whig vote being split. He attacked Clayton as a slavocrat and Giddings as a radical abolitionist. Clayton continuously denied the notion he was a slavocrat, vowing to keep the balance of slave and free states to preserve the union, attacking Giddings as a radical abolitionist and Woodbury as a faux unionist with a northern bias in the south, and as a puppet of the Democratic Slavocrats in the north. Giddings kept to his bread and butter: No new slave states, and Clayton and Woodbury are puppets of rich slavocrats.

Clayton had little support in the north, and in some cases split the Democratic vote in some northern states, which is often the reason blamed for how the election results looked like this:

(Oklahoma is a stand-in for Colorado)

No candidate received the majority, and a runoff would be held, but the Whigs would not face off against the Democrats. Instead, the Joshua R. Giddings would face off against Levi Woodbury. It was a humiliating defeat for the Whigs, and mainly began to lose faith in the party, instead opting for the Democrats, Know Nothings, or even the Free Soil Party. Weakened, the Whigs would not run a candidate in 1852, and would officially dissolve in 1854.

The final results were the biggest landslide with more than one candidate in American history, as the Anti-Free Soil Vote was no longer split.

Levi Woodbury would be the next President of the United States of America.