Daniel D. Tompkins continued as his vice president for his second term.
The 1820 election was unusual in the sense that Monroe ran effectively unopposed – second only to George Washington in his overwhelming support. The only dissenting vote in this election was cast by William Plumer of New Hampshire, who disliked Monroe’s leadership. He voted instead for Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to be president and Richard Rush for vice president.
The unusually amicable campaign was a result of the peaceful atmosphere of the country in the previous four years during the Era of Good Feelings. The Democratic-Republican Party became the only significant U.S. political party. The Federalist Party had lost its political influence and had failed to win a presidential election in many years.
Though the president was reelected with near unanimity, the campaign competition shifted toward the vice presidential post. James Monroe had selected Daniel D. Tompkins as his running mate. Tompkins was also from the Democratic-Republican Party, and had been vice president for Monroe’s first term as president.
The Federalist electors voted for an array of Federalist candidates for the position, including Richard Stockton from Massachusetts, who received the most votes after Tompkins. The Delaware legislature voted for Delaware resident Daniel Rodney and some votes went to Maryland resident Robert Goodloe Harper. Since the Federalist votes for president went to Monroe, a Democratic-Republican, and they chose Federalist vice presidents, they voted on what is known as a split ticket.
The United States had expanded its borders considerably before this election. Illinois, Mississippi, and Alabama had been admitted into the Union before the 1820 election, leading to a change in the electoral vote distribution. After this election, no new states entered the Union until before the 1836 presidential election.
Missouri’s statehood, though it had qualified months before the election, was the source of controversy in regards to the election. Since Congress had not yet officially admitted the state to the Union, some congressmen argued that Missouri’s electoral votes should not be counted. After months of debate on Missouri’s status, the electoral vote was tallied both with and without Missouri’s vote. Since Missouri’s electoral votes had gone to Monroe, who had already won by a wide margin, it was a nonissue. Missouri’s statehood was finally confirmed in August 1821. A few other electoral votes were never cast, including a few electors who died before they could cast their votes.
The electoral votes for the 1820 election were distributed as follows: