20 Year cycle of elections

I was trying to think of a topic to discuss in our next local genealogy club meeting (https://www.facebook.com/Clarkston-Area-Genealogy-Society-933098470117575/) and thought about the presidential campaign we are experiencing.

If in 2016 we have a campaign and we have one every four years then a look at a 20 year cycle might be an interesting topic to discuss regarding our family trees.

In order to get a feel for how many years we would have to look at in terms of genealogy, I thought I would create an Excel chart.

I brought up an Excel page and in the first cell (A1) I typed in 2016. In cell A2 I typed in =SUM(A1-20) and when I hit enter the date 1996 was put into the box [2016 minus 20 years].

I copied A2 and put it into A3; only three cells and I was back at 1976. I copied and pasted down column “A” and in just 13 cells at A13 I was back to 1776.

Excel photo

Thirteen 20 year periods in most family trees would yield how many generations?

If in this 2016 presidential campaign year we have Donald Trump and Mike Pence running against Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine who was running in the other 12, twenty (20) year periods?

I did a search and found this History Channel web site which had my answer and then some: http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-elections

History Channel web page photo

The first election took place in January of 1789 and George Washington was elected with no one running against him.

So If we go back to our Excel chart in cell A13 – 1776 we have no campaign at all, so we have no names to put in.

In A12 1796 we have, John Adams and Thomas Pickney against Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

In A11 1816 we have, James Monroe and Daniel D Tompkins against Rufus King.

In A10 1836 we have, Martin Van Buren and Col. Richard M Johnson against Hugh White, Daniel Webster and Gen William Henry Harrison

In A9 1856 we have, Millard Fillmore and Andrew J. Donelson against James Buchanan and John C. Breckinridge  also against John C. Frémont of California and William L. Dayton

In A8 1876 we have, Rutherford B Hayes and William A Wheeler against Samuel J Tilden and Thomas A. Hendricks

In A7 1896 we have, William McKinley and Garret A Hobart against William Jenninsg Bryan and Arthur Sewell also against Thomas Watson VP also against John M Palmer and Simon B Buckner

In A6 1916 we have, Woodrow Wilson and Thomas R Marshall against Charles Evans Hughes and Charles Fairbanks and John M. Parker

In A5 1936 we have, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Nance Garner against Alfred M. Landon and Fred Knox

In A4 1956 we have, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon against Adlai E. Stevenson and Estes Kefauver

In A3 1976 we have, Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale against Gerald Ford and Robert Dole

In A2 1996 we have, Bill Clinton and Al Gore against Robert Dole and Jack Kemp

Here we are back to A1 which is this year’s (2016) election campaign.


I prepared a MS Word Doc to hold the chart I created using the info we put into Excel and also on the document I included the copied paragraphs for each of the twenty year elections from the History Channel web page so that it would be easily available to the reader.

I hope this has given you another way of looking at your family tree and a way of putting your relatives into the historical record.

Who was great-great uncle Charlie voting for in 1836; Martin Van Buren or Daniel Webster?

Thank You.



Twenty Year Cycle of Presidential Elections

2016 Donald Trump and Mike Pence running against Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine
1996 Bill Clinton and Al Gore against Robert Dole and Jack Kemp
1976 Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale against Gerald Ford and Robert Dole
1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon against Adlai E. Stevenson and Estes Kefauver
1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Nance Garner against Alfred M. Landon and Fred Knox
1916 Woodrow Wilson and Thomas R Marshall against Charles Evans Hughes and Charles Fairbanks and John M. Parker
1896 William McKinley and Garret A Hobart against William Jenninsg Bryan and Arthur Sewell
1876 Rutherford B Hayes and William A Wheeler against Samuel J Tilden and Thomas A. Hendricks
1856 Millard Fillmore and Andrew J. Donelson against James Buchanan and John C. Breckinridge  also against John C. Frémont of California and William L. Dayton
1836 Martin Van Buren and Col. Richard M Johnson against Hugh White, Daniel Webster and Gen William Henry Harrison
1816 James Monroe and Daniel D Tompkins against Rufus King
1796 John Adams and Thomas Pickney against Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.
1776 No election


From a History Channel web page (link at bottom) we get the following:

Election of 1796

John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson
The 1796 election, which took place against a background of increasingly harsh partisanship between Federalists and Republicans, was the first contested presidential race.

The Republicans called for more democratic practices and accused the Federalists of monarchism. The Federalists branded the Republicans “Jacobins” after Robespierre’s faction in France. (The Republicans sympathized with revolutionary France, but not necessarily with the Jacobins.) The Republicans opposed John Jay’s recently negotiated accommodationist treaty with Great Britain, whereas the Federalists believed its terms represented the only way to avoid a potentially ruinous war with Britain. Republicans favored a decentralized agrarian republic; Federalists called for the development of commerce and industry.

State legislatures still chose electors in most states, and there was no separate vote for vice president. Each elector cast two votes for president, with the runner-up becoming vice president.

The Federalists nominated Vice President John Adams and tried to attract southern support by running Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina for the second post. Thomas Jefferson was the Republican standard-bearer, with Aaron Burr as his running mate. Alexander Hamilton, always intriguing against Adams, tried to throw some votes to Jefferson in order to elect Pinckney president. Instead, Adams won with 71 votes; Jefferson became vice president, with 68; Pinckney came in third with 59; Burr received only 30; and 48 votes went to various other candidates.

Election of 1816

James Monroe vs. Rufus King
In this election Republican James Monroe won the presidency with 183 electoral votes, carrying every state except Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware. Federalist Rufus King received the votes of the 34 Federalist electors. Daniel D. Tompkins of New York was elected vice president with 183 electoral votes, his opposition scattered among several candidates.

After the bitter partisanship of the Jefferson and Madison administrations, Monroe came to symbolize the “Era of Good Feelings.” Monroe was not elected easily, however; he barely won the nomination in the Republican congressional caucus over Secretary of War William Crawford of Georgia. Many Republicans objected to the succession of Virginia presidents and believed Crawford a superior choice to the mediocre Monroe. The caucus vote was 65-54. The narrowness of Monroe’s victory was surprising because Crawford had already renounced the nomination, perhaps in return for a promise of Monroe’s future support.

In the general election, opposition to Monroe was disorganized. The Hartford Convention of 1814 (growing out of opposition to the War of 1812) had discredited the Federalists outside their strongholds, and they put forth no candidate. To some extent, Republicans had siphoned off Federalist support with nationalist programs like the Second Bank of the United States.

Election of 1836

Martin Van Buren vs. Daniel Webster vs. Hugh White
The election of 1836 was largely a referendum on Andrew Jackson, but it also helped shape what is known as the second party system. The Democrats nominated Vice President Martin Van Buren to lead the ticket. His running mate, Col. Richard M. Johnson, claimed to have killed Indian chief Tecumseh. (Johnson was controversial because he lived openly with a black woman.)

Disdaining the organized politics of the Democrats, the new Whig party ran three candidates, each strong in a different region: Hugh White of Tennessee, Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, and Gen. William Henry Harrison of Indiana. Besides endorsing internal improvements and a national bank, the Whigs tried to tie Democrats to abolitionism and sectional tension, and attacked Jackson for “acts of aggression and usurpation of power.” Democrats depended on Jackson’s popularity, trying to maintain his coalition.

Van Buren won the election with 764,198 popular votes, only 50.9 percent of the total, and 170 electoral votes. Harrison led the Whigs with 73 electoral votes, White receiving 26 and Webster 14. Willie P. Mangum of South Carolina received his state’s 11 electoral votes. Johnson, who failed to win an electoral majority, was elected vice president by the Democratic Senate.

Election of 1856

James Buchanan vs. Millard Fillmore vs. John C. Freemont
The 1856 election was waged by new political coalitions and was the first to confront directly the issue of slavery. The violence that followed the Kansas-Nebraska Act destroyed the old political system and past formulas of compromises. The Whig party was dead. Know-Nothings nominated Millard Fillmore to head their nativist American party and chose Andrew J. Donelson for vice president. The Democratic party, portraying itself as the national party, nominated James Buchanan for president and John C. Breckinridge for vice president. Its platform supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act and noninterference with slavery. This election saw the emergence of a new, sectional party composed of ex-Whigs, Free-Soil Democrats, and antislavery groups. The Republican party opposed the extension of slavery and promised a free-labor society with expanded opportunities for white workers. It nominated military hero, John C. Frémont of California for president and William L. Dayton for vice president.

The campaign centered around “Bleeding Kansas.” The battle over the concept of popular sovereignty sharpened northern fears about the spread of slavery and southern worries about northern interference. The physical assault by Congressman Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina on Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the floor of the Senate heightened northern resentment of southern aggressiveness.

Although the Democratic candidate, Buchanan, won with 174 electoral votes and 1,838,169 votes, the divided opposition gained more popular votes. The Republican party captured 1,335,264 votes and 114 in the electoral college, and the American party received 874,534 popular and 8 electoral votes. The Republicans’ impressive showing–carrying eleven of sixteen free states and 45 percent of northern ballots–left the South feeling vulnerable to attacks on slavery and fearful the Republicans would soon capture the government.

Election of 1876

Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Samuel Tilden
In 1876 the Republican party nominated Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio for president and William A. Wheeler of New York for vice president. The Democratic candidates were Samuel J. Tilden of New York for president and Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana for vice president. Several minor parties, including the Prohibition party and the Greenback party, also ran candidates.

The country was growing weary of Reconstruction policies, which kept federal troops stationed in several southern states. Moreover, the Grant administration was tainted by numerous scandals, which caused disaffection for the party among voters. In 1874 the House of Representatives had gone Democratic; political change was in the air.

Samuel Tilden won the popular vote, receiving 4,284,020 votes to 4,036,572 for Hayes. In the electoral college Tilden was also ahead 184 to 165; both parties claimed the remaining 20 votes. The Democrats needed only 1 more vote to capture the presidency, but the Republicans needed all 20 contested electoral votes. Nineteen of them came from South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida–states that the Republicans still controlled. Protesting Democratic treatment of black voters, Republicans insisted that Hayes had carried those states but that Democratic electors had voted for Tilden.

Two sets of election returns existed–one from the Democrats, one from the Republicans. Congress had to determine the authenticity of the disputed returns. Unable to decide, legislators established a fifteen-member commission composed of ten congressmen and five Supreme Court justices. The commission was supposed to be nonpartisan, but ultimately it consisted of eight Republicans and seven Democrats. The final decision was to be rendered by the commission unless both the Senate and the House rejected it. The commission accepted the Republican vote in each state. The House disagreed, but the Senate concurred, and Hayes and Wheeler were declared president and vice president.

In the aftermath of the commission’s decision, the federal troops that remained in the South were withdrawn, and southern leaders made vague promises regarding the rights of the 4 million African-Americans living in the region.

Election of 1896

William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan vs. Thomas Watson vs. John Palmer
In 1896 the Republican nominee for president was Representative William McKinley of Ohio, a “sound money” man and a strong supporter of high tariffs. His running mate was Garret A. Hobart of New Jersey. The party’s platform stressed adherence to the gold standard; western delegates bolted, forming the Silver Republican party.

The Democratic party platform was critical of President Grover Cleveland and endorsed the coinage of silver at a ratio of sixteen to one. William Jennings Bryan, a former congressman from Nebraska, spoke at the convention in support of the platform, proclaiming, “You shall not crucify mankind on a cross of gold.” The enthusiastic response of the convention to Bryan’s Cross of Gold speech secured his hold on the presidential nomination. His running mate was Arthur Sewall of Maine.

The Populists supported Bryan but nominated Thomas Watson of Georgia for vice president. Silver Republicans supported the Democratic nominee, and the newly formed Gold Democrats nominated John M. Palmer of Illinois for president and Simon B. Buckner of Kentucky for vice president.

Bryan toured the country, stressing his support for silver coinage as a solution for economically disadvantaged American farmers and calling for a relaxation of credit and regulation of the railroads. McKinley remained at home and underscored the Republican commitment to the gold standard and protectionism. The Republican campaign, heavily financed by corporate interests, successfully portrayed Bryan and the Populists as radicals.

William McKinley won, receiving 7,102,246 popular votes to Bryan’s 6,502,925. The electoral college votes were 271 to 176. Bryan did not carry any northern industrial states, and the agricultural states of Iowa, Minnesota, and North Dakota also went Republican.

Election of 1916

Woodrow Wilson vs. Charles Evans Hughs
In 1916 the Progressive party convention tried to nominate Theodore Roosevelt again, but Roosevelt, seeking to reunify the Republicans, convinced the convention to support the Republican choice, Associate Justice Charles Evans Hughes. The Republicans selected Charles Fairbanks of Indiana as Hughes’s running mate, but the Progressives nominated John M. Parker of Louisiana for vice president. The Democrats renominated President Woodrow Wilson and Vice President Thomas R. Marshall.

The Democrats stressed the fact that Wilson had kept the nation out of the European war, but Wilson was ambiguous about his ability to continue to do so. The election was close. Wilson received 9,129,606 votes to Hughes’s 8,538,221. Wilson also obtained a slim margin in the electoral college, winning 277 to 254.

Election of 1936

Franklin D. Roosevelt vs. Alfred M. Landon
In 1936 the Democratic party nominated President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Vice President John Nance Garner. The Republican party, strongly opposed to the New Deal and “big government,” chose Governor Alfred M. Landon of Kansas and Fred Knox of Illinois.

The 1936 presidential campaign focused on class to an unusual extent for American politics. Conservative Democrats such as Alfred E. Smith supported Landon. Eighty percent of newspapers endorsed the Republicans, accusing Roosevelt of imposing a centralized economy. Most businesspeople charged the New Deal with trying to destroy American individualism and threatening the nation’s liberty. But Roosevelt appealed to a coalition of western and southern farmers, industrial workers, urban ethnic voters, and reform-minded intellectuals. African-American voters, historically Republican, switched to fdr in record numbers.

In a referendum on the emerging welfare state, the Democratic party won in a landslide–27,751,612 popular votes for fdr to only 16,681,913 for Landon. The Republicans carried two states–Maine and Vermont–for 8 electoral votes; Roosevelt received the remaining 523. The unprecedented success of fdr in 1936 marked the beginning of a long period of Democratic party dominance.

Election of 1956

Dwight D. Eisenhower vs. Adlai E. Stevenson
Despite suffering a heart attack and abdominal surgery during his first term, President Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated by the Republicans for a second term without opposition. Although Richard M. Nixon had been a controversial vice president and many Republicans felt he was a liability, he was also renominated. For the second time the Democrats chose former governor Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois; his running mate was Estes Kefauver of Tennessee.

Foreign policy dominated the campaign. Eisenhower claimed responsibility for the country’s being prosperous and at peace; Stevenson proposed ending the draft and halting nuclear testing. The Suez Canal crisis, occurring in the final weeks of the campaign, created a sense of emergency, and the country responded by voting strongly against change.

Eisenhower won with 35,590,472 votes to Stevenson’s 26,022,752. His margin was 457 to 73 in the electoral college.

Election of 1976

Jimmy Carter vs. Gerald Ford
In 1976 the Democratic party nominated former governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia for president and Senator Walter Mondale of Minnesota for vice president. The Republicans chose President Gerald Ford and Senator Robert Dole of Kansas. Richard M. Nixon had appointed Ford, a congressman from Michigan, as vice president to replace Spiro Agnew, who had resigned amid charges of corruption. Ford became president when Nixon resigned after the House Judiciary Committee voted three articles of impeachment because of his involvement in an attempted cover-up of the politically inspired Watergate break-in.

In the campaign, Carter ran as an outsider, independent of Washington, which was now in disrepute. Ford tried to justify his pardoning Nixon for any crimes he might have committed during the cover-up, as well as to overcome the disgrace many thought the Republicans had brought to the presidency.

Carter and Mondale won a narrow victory, 40,828,587 popular votes to 39,147,613 and 297 electoral votes to 241. The Democratic victory ended eight years of divided government; the party now controlled both the White House and Congress.

Election of 1996

Bill Clinton vs. Robert Dole vs. H. Ross Perot vs. Ralph Nader
Although Clinton won a decisive victory, he carried a mere four Southern states, signaling a decline in Southern support for Democrats who historically could count on the area as an electoral stronghold. Later, in the elections of 2000 and 2004, Democrats did not carry a single Southern state.

The 1996 election was the most lavishly funded up to that point. The combined amount spent by the two major parties for all federal candidates topped $2 billion, which was 33 percent more than what was spent in 1992.

During this election the Democratic National Committee was accused of accepting donations from Chinese contributors. Non-American citizens are forbidden by law from donating to U.S. politicians, and 17 people were later convicted for the activity.

Popular Vote: 45,590,703 (Clinton) to 37,816,307 (Dole)Electoral College: 379 (Clinton) to 159 (Dole)

Link to web page: — http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-elections


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