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Presidential Election of 1808: A Resource Guide

James Madison, fourth President of the United States
James Madison, fourth President of the United States.
1 print: lithograph.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a variety of material associated with the presidential election of 1808, including manuscripts, broadsides, campaign literature, and government documents. This guide compiles links to digital materials related to the presidential election of 1808 that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on the 1808 election and a selected bibliography.

1808 Presidential Election Results [1]

Political Party
Presidential Nominee
VP Nominee
Electoral College
Popular Vote
James Madison
George Clinton
Charles Pinckney
Rufus King

* George Clinton received 6 electoral votes for president from New York.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection consists of published congressional records of the United States of America from 1774 to 1875.

James Madison Papers, 1723 to 1859

The James Madison Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 12,000 items captured in some 72,000 digital images.

References to the presidential election of 1808 include:

  • Henry Lee to James Madison. 1808, "Permit me to take the liberty of saying that as you have consented to be put up as the next C Magistrate of the US. however you personally disregard success, you owe it to yr. numerous & honorable friends to take care that you do succeed, limiting that care, as you will ever do, by those obligations which truth & honor impose." [Transcription] External Link
  • James Lenox to James Madison, January 28, 1808, "I have seen it mentioned in sevral of the news papers, that there would be no division among the republicans, on the next presidential election, and I heartily wish I Could see it in the same point of view, but I Confess I do not. As Republicans yourself the Vicepresindent and Mr. Munroe is spoken off, all of which have their favourits in this Country, and if no Accomodation Can be made I fear those of oppasitt politics may get some advantage by it." [Transcription] External Link
  • James Main to James Madison, March 7, 1808, "Perhaps it may be deemed presumption in a stranger to trouble you on a subject, in the event of which I have only a common interest with the rest of my fellow Citizens: I mean your election to the presidential chair. But from a devotion, for your talents & character I consider you the best fitted for the important trust of any other that has been proposed, & have taken every opportunity to echo, the wisdom of the selection by a majority of the members of Congress. But Sir, you are not apprised of the deep game, which the Clinton party are playing here." [Transcription] External Link
  • Charles Pinckney to James Madison, December 7, 1808, "I have the honor & pleasure to inform you that I have just signed all the necessary Lists of our Electors & official papers necessary to be authenticated by the Executive & that You have this day recieved the unanimous Vote of the State as President & that our Legislature was unanimous in the choice of Electors so far as that they recieved, Some 135 & others near that out of 136 the whole number of Votes, & to congratulate you on the certainty of your election generally & handsomely every where except perhaps in New England." [Transcription] External Link
  • Morgan Lewis to James Madison, December 29, 1808, "That you had not an unanimous Vote of the Electors of this State is to be regretted; particularly on Account of the effect which may be produced on our foreign concerns, by the appearance of a want of unanimity among ourselves. The conduct of Mr. Clinton’s friends is highly exceptionable, though the public Interests may possibly demand that it should be forgotten." [Transcription] External Link

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. While the broadside format represents the bulk of the collection, there are a significant number of leaflets and some pamphlets.

Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606 to 1827

The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents.

References to the presidential election of 1808 include:

  • Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., January 26, 1808, "A caucus was held on Saturday by the members of Congress at which 89. attended. Mr. Madison had 83. votes, Clinton 3. Monroe 3. as president, & Clinton had 79. as V. President..." [Transcription]
  • Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, February 18, 1808, "I see with infinite grief a contest arising between yourself and another, who have been very dear to each other, and equally so to me. I sincerely pray that these dispositions may not be affected between you; with me I confidently trust they will not." [Transcription]
  • James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, February 27, 1808, "In regard to the approaching election I have been and shall continue to be an inactive Spectator of the mov'ment. Should the nation be disposed to call any citizen to that station it would be his duty to accept it. On that ground I rest. I have done nothing to draw the attention of anyone to me in reference to it, nor shall I in future. No one better knows than I do the merit of Mr. Madison, and I can declare that should he be elected he will have my best wishes for the success of his administration, as well an account of the great interest which I take in what concerns his welfare as in that of my country. His success will give me no personal mortification. It will not lessen my friendship for him which is sincere & strong." [Transcription]
  • Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, March 10, 1808, "In the present contest in which you are concerned I feel no passion. I take no part. I expect no sentiment. Which ever of my friends is called to the supreme cares of the nation, I know that they will be wisely & faithfully administered, and as far as my individual conduct can influence they shall be cordially supported." [Transcription]
  • Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis, July 17, 1808, "The Presidential question is clearing up daily, and the opposition subsiding. It is very possible that the suffrage of the nation may be undivided. But with this question it is my duty not to intermeddle." [Transcription]

External Web Sites

The American Presidency Project: Election of 1808 External Link

The American Presidency Project Web site presents election results from the 1808 presidential election.

A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns, 1787-1825

A searchable collection of election returns from 1787 to 1825. The data were compiled by Philip Lampi. The American Antiquarian Society and Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives have mounted it online with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Selected Bibliography

Primary Sources: Campaign Literature

An Address to the People of the American States Who Choose Electors... Washington, D.C.: n.p., 1808. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Address of the State Committee of Correspondence, to the Citizens of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: n.p., 1808. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] External Link

Letter, on the Approaching Election of a President of the United States, Addressed to the Citizens of South Carolina. By a Native of Charleston. Charleston: n.p., 1808. [Catalog Record] (full-text available in Early American Imprints, Series 2, no.15419)

A Political Sermon, Addressed to the Electors of Middlesex. Boston?: n.p., 1808. [Catalog Record] [Full Text] [PDF]

A Review of the Rise, Progress and Tendency of the Present System of National Policy. Addressed to the People of the United States. Boston: Printed at the Repertory Office, 1808. [Catalog Record] (full-text available in Early American Imprints, Series 2, no. 16057)

Genet, Edmond Charles. Communications on the Next Election for President of the United States. New York: Printed for the Author, 1808. [Catalog Record] (full-text available in Early American Imprints, Series 2, no. 15093)

Secondary Sources

Ammon, Harry. 1963. "James Monroe and the Election of 1808 in Virginia." William & Mary Quarterly 20, no. 1: 33-56. [Catalog Record]

Brant, Irving. "Election of 1808," in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-2008, eds. Gil Troy, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Fred L. Israel. 3 vols. I, 92-122. New York: Facts On File, 2012. [Catalog Record]

Carson, David A. 1988. "Quiddism and the Reluctant Candidacy of James Monroe in the Election of 1808," Mid America 70, no. 2: 79-89. [Catalog Record]

Zinman, Donald A. 2011. "The Heir Apparent Presidency of James Madison." Presidential Studies Quarterly 41, no. 4: 712-26. [Catalog Record]


1. Presidential Elections, 1789-2008. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010), 211.

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  March 16, 2022
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