Electoral history of George Washington

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George Washington stood for public office five times, serving two terms in the Virginia House of Burgesses and two terms as President of the United States. He is the only independent to serve as U.S. president and the only person unanimously elected to that office.

1755 House of Burgesses election[edit]

Washington first stood for election to the Virginia House of Burgesses from Frederick County, Virginia in 1755 at the age of 23.[1] Two burgesses were elected from each Virginia county by and among the male landowners. Members of the House of Burgesses did not serve fixed terms, unlike its successor the Virginia House of Delegates, and it remained sitting until dissolved by the governor or until seven years had passed, whichever occurred sooner.[2][3]

Elections during this time were not conducted by secret ballot but rather by viva voce. The sheriff of the county, a clerk, and a representative of each candidate would be seated at a table, and each elector would approach the table and openly declare his vote. In elections to the House of Burgesses, each voter cast two votes and two candidates were elected who received the greatest number of votes.[4]

1755 House of Burgesses (from Frederick County)[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
independent (politician) Hugh West 271 46.64
independent (politician) Thomas Swearingen 270 46.47
independent (politician) George Washington 40 6.88

1758 House of Burgesses election[edit]

In 1758, Washington again stood for election to the House of Burgesses. Washington's campaign was managed by Colonel James Wood, who procured 160 gallons of alcoholic drinks and distributed them gratis to 391 voters in the county.[5] Washington won the election with more than 39-percent of the vote. Thomas Bryan Martin won Frederick County's other house seat; he was the nephew of the Lord Fairfax of Cameron, governor of Virginia.[2][5]

1758 House of Burgesses (from Frederick County)[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
independent (politician) George Washington 310 39.04
independent (politician) Thomas Bryan Martin 240 30.22
independent (politician) Hugh West 199 25.06
independent (politician) Thomas Swearingen 45 5.67

1761 House of Burgesses election[edit]

Washington successfully stood for re-election to his seat in the House of Burgesses in 1761, campaigning with his neighbor George Mercer. The three candidates were Washington, Mercer, and Adam Stephen, and all three had fought together during the disastrous Battle of Fort Necessity in the Seven Years' War. Stephen emerged as a critic of Washington, unlike Mercer, and their rivalry continued through to the American Revolution.[6][2][4]

Washington and Mercer received the support of "the leaders of all the patrician families" of the county, while Stephen attracted "the attention of the plebians".[2][4]

1761 House of Burgesses (from Frederick County)[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
independent (politician) George Washington (incumbent) 505 42.15
independent (politician) George Mercer 399 33.30
independent (politician) Adam Stephen 294 24.54

1788 United States presidential election[edit]

Washington is inaugurated as president of the United States in 1789.

The first U.S. presidential election was held over a period of weeks from December 1788 to January 1789. Washington was elected with 69 of the 69 first-round votes cast in the United States Electoral College. With this election, he became the only U.S. president to be unanimously chosen.[7][8]

No popular vote totals are listed in this table. In early elections, many electors were chosen by state legislatures instead of public balloting, and votes were cast for undifferentiated lists of candidates in those states which practiced public balloting, leaving no or only partial vote totals.[9][10][11]

1788 U.S. presidential election[12]
Party Candidate Votes %
independent (politician) George Washington 69 100.00

1792 United States presidential election[edit]

Washington was unanimously re-elected President of the United States in the 1792 election, carrying all first-round electoral votes.[8]

1792 U.S. presidential election[12]
Party Candidate Votes %
independent (politician) George Washington (incumbent) 132 100.00

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kimberly, Maria. "House of Burgesses". George Washington's Mount Vernon. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The First Election of Washington to the House of Burgesses". newrivernotes.com. Grayson County Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  3. ^ Gottlieb, Matthew. "House of Burgesses". encyclopediavirginia.org. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Beeman, Richard (2015). The Varieties of Political Experience in Eighteenth-Century America. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 39–43. ISBN 978-0812201215.
  5. ^ a b Brusoe, Peter. "That time George Washington bought an election with 160 gallons of booze (and other Presidents' Day stories)". bgov.com. Bloomberg. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Adam Stephen". mountvernonr.org. Mount Vernon Ladies' Association. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  7. ^ Chernow, Ron (February 2011). "George Washington: The Reluctant President". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Washington unanimously elected by Electoral College to first and second terms". history.com. History Channel. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  9. ^ Austin, Erik (1986). Political Facts of the United States Since 1789. Columbia University Press. p. 92. ISBN 0231060947.
  10. ^ Duignan, Brian (2009). The Executive Branch of the Federal Government: Purpose, Process, and People. Rosen Publishing. p. 366. ISBN 978-1615300235.
  11. ^ Berry, Steve (2016). Presidential Lottery: The Reckless Gamble in Our Electoral System. Random House. p. 50. ISBN 978-0812986822.
  12. ^ a b "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". archives.org. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 4 November 2016.