1820 U.S. Presidential Election: The Last President Who Ran Unopposed, James Monroe

By Jacob Shelton
Portrait of James Monroe circa 1819. (Samuel Morse/Wikimedia Commons)

What's the most amount of electoral votes ever gotten? Is it possible to receive all the electoral votes? James Monroe came the closest with 228 (after the unanimously elected George Washington, who obviously doesn't count), but even though he was the last president to run unopposed, not even he could catch 'em all.

The Era Of Good Feelings

In 1820, America was still in its golden years of the Era of Good Feelings, a time when Americans were unified after the War of 1812. The Federalist Party was on its last legs, and the Democratic-Republican Party, which championed American exceptionalism and expansion, seemed to be unstoppable. Four years earlier, James Monroe whooped Rufus King so hard in the presidential election that the Federalists didn't even bother to nominate anyone for the 1820 election, and it's easy to see why: Monroe's initial stint in the White House was one of nearly complete political bliss. As the Federalist Party melted from existence, Monroe could have easily ignored everyone from that group, but he chose to take on appointments regardless of party lines. He spoke to the common people, he listened, and most importantly, he maintained the status quo.

Monroe did such a stellar job of leading the country that there wasn't really a need for Democratic-Republican nomination caucus, but 40 delegates still made a show of attending, if only to look at each other and go, "So it's Monroe and Tompkins, right?" "Yeah, yeah, for sure, Monroe and Tompkins."As popular as Monroe was, though, his V.P. was almost replaced prior to the caucus. Daniel D. Tompkins hadn't performed spectacularly and began campaigning for governor of New York, but luckily (or not, depending on your perspective), he lost. Rather than nominate a new vice presidential candidate, the caucus just decided to leave Tompkins on after he lost the state election.