June 15: The 12th Amendment
In 1804, the 12th Amendment clarified the process of electing a President, allowing votes to be cast separately for President and Vice President. Before this Amendment, men ran only for President and the first place winner became President and the runner-up became Vice-President. This system quickly proved incompatible with the reality of political parties. The issue was evident in the 1800 presidential election: Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican, wanted to run for president with “running mate” Aaron Burr. American Democratic-Republicans wanted both of their representatives in office, so they voted for both (in elections of that time, each elector voted for two presidential candidates). In the end, Jefferson and Burr tied and the House was left to determine the winner. Jefferson was declared winner only after 36 ballots. Originally, the Framers had wanted to promote the election of the “best man” as President rather than encouraging political parties, but by 1800, it was obvious that political parties were unavoidable. The 12th Amendment marked the acceptance of this reality.