Map of Georgia

Georgia entered the Union on January 2, 1788, the fourth of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the United States Constitution. The Georgia constitution of 1789 created a bicameral legislature consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives; representatives were elected annually, senators every third year. Although Georgia's early constitutions specified neither the sex nor the race of voters, in practice eligible voters consisted of free men (predominantly whites) at least 21 years old who had paid taxes during the previous year and had resided in the county for at least six months. Each county elected one senator, and counties elected from two to five representatives, depending roughly on relative population. The legislature elected the governor to a two-year term, initially through a cumbersome process but, after a 1795 amendment, through a simple joint ballot of the legislature. Another 1795 amendment made Senate elections annual. All elections were by ballot.

The 1798 constitution (frequently amended but not entirely replaced until 1861) left the basic electoral structure intact. The most important change specified the use of the "three-fifths" or "federal" ratio, which counted three-fifths of the enslaved population in addition to the free white population in apportioning seats in the state House of Representatives. The 1798 document also required regular reapportionment among counties as the population changed. The legislature continued to elect the governor until an amendment in 1824 required direct popular election of the state's chief executive. The first popular election for governor occurred in 1825. In elections for the U.S. Congress, the legislature elected senators by joint ballot, and the state alternated between a district system and a general ticket system for the direct popular election of members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Early Georgia politics was highly personal and factional. The absence of statewide elections, except for Congress, tended to localize politics and deter the formation of broad, institutionalized parties. The Federalists had some strength through the turn of the century, especially in Savannah and Augusta, but Georgia was largely a Republican state. The major political contests featured clashes among those who claimed to be Jeffersonian Republicans. Outrage over the Yazoo land frauds helped James Jackson dominate state politics for many years until his death in 1806, and William Crawford and George M. Troup then assumed the leadership of the Jackson group. John Clark headed the major rival faction. In broad terms, Jackson-Crawford-Troup adherents tended to have Virginia ties and to be based in the wealthier sections of the eastern black belt and low country. The Clark faction contained more people of North Carolina extraction and found its strongest support in frontier areas. Clark defeated Troup for the governorship in both 1819 and 1821, before Troup bested his rival in 1825. William Crawford was a major presidential contender in 1824. Excitement over these races, indeed, helped push through the amendment calling for popular election of the governor and a law mandating popular election of presidential electors. The most persistent and pressing issue of this early period was the state's efforts to push back the Creek and Cherokee nations and open Native American lands to white settlement. The short-staple cotton boom and the Panic of 1819 fueled economic and land concerns. The election returns presented in this series end just before the Georgia factions began to organize themselves into bona fide political parties that would become the Democratic and Whig parties in the state.

<h3>Bibliography</h3> <ul> <li>Carey, Anthony Gene. <title>Parties, Slavery, and the Union in Antebellum Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997.
  • Coleman, Kenneth R., gen. ed. A History of Georgia, 2nd ed. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991.
  • Cook, James F. The Governors of Georgia, 1754—2004, 3rd ed. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2005.
  • Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia Georgia Constitution Web Page
  • Lamplugh, George R. Politics on the Periphery: Factions and Parties in Georgia, 1783—1806. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1986.
  • Phillips, Ulrich B. Georgia and State Rights. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1902.

  • Republican splinter parties

    See Republican. These are elections in which two distinct and separate Republican tickets were run.


    New Jersey 1820: Several newspapers, including the Elizabeth-Town Gazette and the True American (Philadelphia) listed a separate ticket of dissident Republicans for the U.S. House of Representatives race in New Jersey in 1820, referred to as the "Anti-Caucus" ticket. Nominations for At Large candidates on a state wide level could often cause problems. Rotation of candidates, or lack thereof, from different regions/counties would sometimes cause dissension, and occasionally regional candidates, often an incumbent who had been dropped from the list, would be set up in opposition. As the Federalist Party declined, the process of country meetings, conventions and the Legislative caucus to nominate candidates came under increased criticism and with less party competition the idea of a more open and balanced method of selecting candidates was becoming a political issue.

    Adamite / Crawford:

    While many tickets would grow up around support for one person (such as Clintonians in New York or Snyderites in Pennsylvania), the affiliations of many candidates in various elections in 1823 and 1824 were based around which candidate for President in 1824 the individual candidate was supporting. While those supporters of Andrew Jackson would become the mainstream part of the Republican Party as it transitioned into the Democratic Party, there were also the followers of John Quincy Adams, many of whom would soon form the basis for, first the National Republican Party, then its successor, the Whig Party. The followers of William H. Crawford were also identified, though they never coalesced into any sort of larger organization and mostly existed in Georgia, Crawford's home state, though they found support among the Bucktails of New York.

    Friends of Reform:

    In 1820, these were Republican candidates in Pennsylvania, mostly in Bucks County, opposed to the present administration.

    New School / New School Republican / Old School / Old School Democrat / Old School Republican:

    Used in Pennsylvania throughout the 1810's. They were often in opposition to the Constitutionalists. (See also: Crucible of American Democracy: The Struggle to Fuse Egalitarianism and Capitalism in Jeffersonian Pennsylvania. Andrew Shankman. University Press of Kansas. 2004.)

    Opposition Republican:

    Used in several states over the course of over 20 years.

    "Prior to the election of 1802 there had been minor divisions based largely upon personal jealousies and the quest for offices; and a vague dissatisfaction with the Governor had developed. A new cause of dissension became prominent in 1803 and 1804 as the legislature began to attempt modifications in the judicial system and to use its powers of impeachment against the judges of the State courts. McKean's opposition to most of these measures alienated many Republicans; and some of his supporters sought Federalist aid to redress the political balance." (The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics, 1800-1816. Sanford W. Higginbotham. 1952. p 49)

    "The election of 1803 found the Republican splits becoming deeper and more widespread. The quarrel over Federal patronage in Philadelphia nearly reached the point of an open breach, while the Rising Sun movement against Leib gained added strength in Philadelphia County. In Lancaster some of the State officeholders made an unsuccessful attempt to organize a third party movement in support of McKean. The Federalists for the most part abandoned active politics, although the dissident Republican factions courted their aid." (Higginbotham, p 58)


    Used in several states over the course of over 20 years.

    In Rhode Island in 1807 and 1808 this was a splinter party formed by a combination of those republicans who were supporters of Governor James Fenner, combined with Federalists.

    In New Jersey, for several years, from 1807 through 1822, this was a quasi-merged group between Federalists and Republicans, similar to the Quids in Pennsylvania.

    State Senate

    The upper house of the State Legislature. Until 1792, the upper house in Delaware was the Council. Until 1819, the upper house in Connecticut was the Council of Assistants. By 1825, all of the states had an upper house called the State Senate except New Jersey, whose upper house was the Legislative Council and Vermont, which had a unicameral legislature.

    1787 - 1825: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia

    Office Scope: State

    Role Scope: State (Connecticut) / County / District / City / Parish