62-year-old President James Madison would run for re-election in 1812. It wasn’t like he didn’t face obstacles in his way though. The British in recent years had continued to interfere with American trade. There was a lot of pressure on President Madison to do something. In the Congressional elections of 1810-11 half of the House of Representatives were voted out. New congressmen like Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun were War Hawks who wanted action. Great Britain must pay for their behavior over the years.
James Madison would be re-nominated by the Democratic-Republicans in May 1812. His Vice-President George Clinton had died a few weeks earlier. Elbridge Gerry a former Governor of Massachusetts and signer of the Declaration of Independence would take Clinton’s place on the ticket.
On June 1st POTUS Madison sent a special message to Congress listing the insults Great Britain was guilty of over the years. It was up to Congress to decide what to do and they decided war.
Like all war-time POTUS in the future, Madison was criticised on his handling of the war. The war had its share of descenders. There were Hawks and Doves in the Democratic-Republican Party. Not all his party members were happy with Little Jemmy.
When the Federalists got around to nominate a candidate to challenge Madison they did something strange. They picked a Democratic-Republican to go against him, Dewitt Clinton, the Mayor of New York City and an enemy of Madison’s. Clinton hoped to draw support from New Englander’s who were tired of the Virginia Dynasty of Presidents and from Democratic-Republican’s who were against the war. His Vice-Presidential running mate would be a Philadelphia lawyer named Jared Ingersoll.
below Dewitt Clinton
In the end although James Madison had his critics, the electors rallied around the president. Never in American history has an incumbant POTUS lost a re-election during war time. There were 18 states at this time. President Madison would win 128 electoral votes to Dewitt Clinton’s 89. President Madison won 11 of the 18 states.
The Federalist Party was on its way out. It was being viewed as a party for the rich and well to do. A party only concerned about the New England states. Their time was nearing its end. They also in three presidential elections in a row failed to nominate a serious challenger to the Democratic-Republican candidate. After throwing Charles Pinckney out there twice in a row to be beaten like a gong, they couldn’t even find a Federalist worth supporting in 1812.