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Map of Maryland

On April 28, 1788, the Maryland Legislature, by a vote of 63 to 11, became the seventh state to ratify the new proposed national Constitution.

With the creation of Allegany on December 25, 1789, the number of counties in Maryland increased to nineteen, a number that stayed constant until 1837. In addition, Baltimore and Annapolis were classified as cities.

Maryland had three Legislative bodies. The House of Delegates, which was elected annually in October, had eighty members; four were chosen at large from each county and two from both Baltimore City and Annapolis.

A State Senate of fifteen members was chosen every five years in early September and by an unusual method. An Electoral College of forty members was chosen, consisting of two members from the counties and one each from Baltimore City and Annapolis. The Electoral College then voted to elect nine Senators to represent the Western Counties and six for what was termed the Eastern Shore. There was not much interest in these elections until 1801, when for the first time; they became a political contest between the Federalist and Republican parties.

In addition to the above, a Governor’s Council of five members was elected annually by a joint session of the House of Delegates and State Senate. They assisted the Governor who was also chosen yearly by the Legislature.

Since the House of Delegates and State Senate voted together in electing the Governor, United States Senators and Governor’s Council, a potentially difficult situation could arise, if control of these two bodies was split between both parties. This played out in the election of 1800, when for the first time, Republicans won control of the House of Delegates, but Federalists still controlled the State Senate. As a result, the Federalists were able to elect their Governor, United States Senator and the entire Governor’s Council, even though Republicans had clearly won the state election.

Popular elections were held in Maryland for Congress, Presidential Electors, House of Delegates, State Senator Electors and County Sheriff. After the elections of 1788 and 1792, all Congressmen and Presidential Electors were chosen by districts. In addition, popular elections for city officers were held in Baltimore and Annapolis.

Except for the overwhelming Republican vote from Baltimore City, the parties were over all fairly evenly matched. After losing control of the state in 1801, the Federalists stayed relatively competitive and were able to rebound and capture the House of Delegates in 1808, and again from 1812–1817. Their greatest victory came in 1816 when they elected five out of nine congressmen, all fifteen State Senators, and had a 56 to 24 edge in the House of Delegates.

With their large majorities in the House of Delegates after 1812 and then by winning the State Senate in 1816, the Federalists were able to elect their Governors and Council members from 1812–1818 along with two United States Senators, one in 1813 and another in 1816. For several years they were in complete control of the Maryland Government.

By 1819 the Federalists lost their majority in the House of Delegates and two years later the entire State Senate. Only fourteen Federalists were elected to the House of Delegates in 1823. However, the following year in an unexpected turn of events, Federalists ran candidates in seven of the eight congressional contests, electing three members and losing another by running two candidates, splitting their votes, thus allowing a Republican to win. Voter turnout for this election was the highest ever cast in Maryland. It was perhaps a precursor to the changing political scene that was about to engulf the nation.


one-issue parties

In the "Era of Good Feelings", when many candidates were of the same party, specific issues would divide the candidates and the candidates would be described in newspapers in terms of their support or opposition of that issue. The various one-issue parties include:

  • New York 1807 Assembly, Dutchess County: The Division and Anti-Division Tickets.
  • New Jersey 1810 Essex County: The Bank Tax Ticket and the Anti-Bank Tax Ticket.
  • Pennsylvania 1814 Assembly, Columbia, Northumberland and Union: In 1813, Northumberland County had been divided into three counties: Northumberland, Columbia and Union. The 1814 Assembly election for the district composed of these three counties split on the division.
  • Maryland 1816 House of Delegates, Montgomery County: Moderates and Violents. Both groups appeared to be Federalists, but were listed in several newspapers as Moderates and Violents (including the Daily National Intelligencer (Washington), Alexandria Herald, Federal Republican (Baltimore) and Federal Gazette (Baltimore). Throughout the early republic, the Federalist remained incredibly united. One exception was the 1816 Montgomery County election. Montgomery was among the most Federal counties in Maryland, and as sometimes happens when one party is so dominant, dissension, often in the form of personality conflicts erupt. The exact cause of this split is not yet known, but it is interesting that none of the Delegates chosen in 1815 ran for re-election, although one was a candidate for Congress. Although all the candidates for Delegates were Federalist, it was stated that Republicans supported those listed as Moderates. Among those listed as Violents was Alexander C. Hanson, owner of the virulent Baltimore Federal Republican, which had recently moved back to Maryland from Georgetown. Although Hanson was not elected to the House of Delegates, he was chosen a few months later to the United States Senate. With his appointment, this conflict seemed to subside.
  • New Hampshire 1816 House of Representatives, Portsmouth: Brickites and Woodites. Both groups were Republicans but were split on a "law passed for the exclusive erection of brick buildings" (Portsmouth Oracle. March 16, 1816.)
  • Kentucky 1817 and 1818: George Madison who was elected Governor of Kentucky in August 1816, died very shortly after being inaugurated. He was succeeded by Gabriel Slaughter, who had just been elected as Lieutenant Governor. The new Lieutenant Governor, appointed John Pope, who was considered by many to be an avowed Federalist, to the office of Secretary of State for Kentucky. This caused uproar among the Kentucky Republicans and many of them demanded a new election for Governor and that became a big issue in the state elections of 1817. It would have required an act of the State Legislature to call for a new election of a Governor, so in the 1817 and 1818 state elections, candidates for the state legislature aligned themselves into those who were in favor of a new election for Governor, and those against a new election for Governor.
  • New York 1819 Assembly, Ontario County: The Division and Anti-Division Tickets.
  • Illinois and Missouri 1820: Various elections included tickets there listed as either Pro-Slavery and Anti-Slavery or Restrictionist (anti-slavery) and Anti-Restrictionist or variations of the two tickets running against each other (e.g. Pro-Slavery vs. Restrictionist). These would come up again in Illinois in 1824.
  • Maryland 1822 and 1823 House of Delegates elections in Anne Arundel County and the 1822 Assembly election in Annapolis City: The Caucus and Anti-Caucus tickets. With their loss of the State Senate in September 1821, and even more for Delegates in the following month of October, by the next election of 1822, the Federalists in many counties offered only token any opposition. With the upcoming Presidential election, in which a Congressional caucus would be called upon to choose the republican candidate, the system of caucus nominations, both nationally and on the state level was coming under increasing attack. In 1822, several Federalist newspapers, listed some candidates in Annapolis City and Anne Arundel County as Anti-Caucus. In Annapolis City, Lewis Duvall who had been elected for many years a Republican member to the House of Delegates was not re nominated in 1821. This apparently caused some dissension, as he still received substantial support in both 1821 and 1822. In Anne Arundel County, two candidates were set up in opposition to the Regular Republican ticket and both were elected. It is interesting to note that almost half of their votes came from the most Federalist district within that county. It does appear that in both places, much of the support for these candidates was drawn from Federalists. Throughout the states, regularly nominated Republican candidates faced opposition from others within their party, a further reflection of dissatisfaction with the nomination process.
  • Kentucky 1822 House of Representatives, Bullitt County, Assembly, Fayette County and Assembly, Franklin and Owen Counties, 1823 Assembly, Fayette County and 1824 Assembly, Madison County: The Relief and Anti-Relief (or Constitutionalist) Tickets. The Relief and Anti-Relief parties were a reaction to the crisis caused by the national economic downturn [Panic of 1819] and how the state of Kentucky was dealing with the aftermath.
  • Maryland 1823 House of Delegates, Washington County: The Jew-Bill Ticket and the No Jew-Bill Ticket. This was in reference to the bill, eventually passed in 1826, that removed the Christian oath requirement for public office in Maryland.
  • Pennsylvania 1824 Commissioner, Moyamensing Township: The People's ticket and the Family Ticket.
  • Pennsylvania 1824 Commissioner, Southwark District: The 25 Cent ticket and the Quality Ticket.
  • Kentucky 1824 House of Representatives, Bourbon, Fayette, Franklin, Mercer and Washington Counties: The Court Ticket and the Country Ticket.