Political junkies — like those of us at Political Capital — will appreciate the website “A New Nation Votes,” a compilation of vote totals from U.S. elections from 1787 to 1825.
A favorite: a 1789 U.S. House race between two future presidents, James Madison and James Monroe.
The Virginia district they both sought was “drawn by Patrick Henry to give Monroe the advantage,” according to Ralph Ketcham’s biography of Madison. Henry was an opponent of the new Constitution, of which Madison was a primary author.
“Throughout the debates, despite intemperate charges made by the supporters of each, there was ‘no atom of ill-will’ between Madison and Monroe,” Ketcham wrote.
Madison won the election by 1,308 to 972, aided by a big 216 to 9 win in his home county of Orange.
That race was 20 years before Madison became the fourth president in 1809 and 28 years before Monroe succeeded him as the fifth president in 1817.
Madison reflected on his contest with Monroe in a 1789 letter to Thomas Jefferson, who would become the nation’s third president.
“It was my misfortune to be thrown into a contest with our friend, Col. Monroe,” Madison wrote to Jefferson.
“The occasion produced considerable efforts among our respective friends,” Madison wrote. “Between ourselves, I have no reason to doubt that the distinction was duly kept in mind between political and personal views, and that it has saved our friendship from the smallest diminution. On one side I am sure it is the case.”