Return of the Presidential Electors Casting their Vote for George Washington, 1789

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Document Description:

In 1789, the United States held its first Presidential Election.  The United States Constitution required states to send certified votes for President and Vice President.  The U.S. House and Senate met on April 6, 1789 to count the ballots.  This is a contemporary copy of South Carolina’s certified votes for president.  South Carolina’s electors included a former president of the Constitutional Congress (Henry Laurens), two signers of the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Heyward, Jr., and Edward Rutledge), a signer of the United States Constitution (Charles Cotesworth Pinckney), a leading South Carolina patriot and member of the Sons of Liberty (Christopher Gadsden), a captain of the Revolutionary War from the upcountry (Arthur Simkins), and a lawyer and judge who fought as a lieutenant colonel in the Revolutionary War (John Faucheraud Grimké).  The electors met in the Exchange in Charleston at noon on February 4, 1789.  As each elector had two votes, the totals were seven votes for George Washington, six votes for John Rutledge, and one vote for John Hancock. 

The document was donated to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History (SCDAH) on July 19, 2004, by Mr. and Mrs. John Fletcher Hays, Jr., of Lake Placid, Florida.  The Hayses found this document in a house they bought in Lake Placid, and they wanted SCDAH to have the document.  The accessions archivist at SCDAH thought that the National Archives should have the document, as it was a United States Senate document.  However, the National Archives currently has South Carolina’s official ballot in the records of the U.S. Senate.  This signed and sealed document is the duplicate sent to the General Assembly of South Carolina or to Governor Thomas Pinckney.  It is written in the same handwriting as the document at the National Archives with only minor changes in grammar.  The National Archives determined that since the document originally was intended for the government of South Carolina, it should remain with SCDAH.


Return of the Presidential Electors Casting Their Vote for George Washington.  1789.  Miscellaneous Communications to the General Assembly, Series S165029, 1789, No. 5.  South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.


City of Charleston             State of South Carolina

                             We the Subscribers being duly appointed in the manner directed by the Legislature of the State of South Carolina, Electors, for the purpose of choosing a President of the United States of America agreeable to the Federal Constitution, did meet at twelve o’clock on this fourth day of February, at the Exchange of the City of Charleston in the State of South Carolina, and being first duly sworn before his Excellency the Governor, agreeable to an Act entitled “an Act prescribing on the part of this State, the times, places and manner of holding Elections for Representatives in the Congress, and the manner of appointing Electors of a President of the United States,” and having also taken the Oath of Allegiance and Abjuration agreeable to the 36th Clause of the Constitution of the State of South Carolina DID vote by ballot for two Persons accordingly, and on opening the said ballots, we FOUND that the honorable George Washington Esquire of Virginia – and the honorable John Rutledge Esquire of the State of South Carolina & the honorable John Hancock Esq. of Massachusetts were voted for, and that George Washington – had seven votes and John Rutledge had six votes and John Hancock had one vote.

ALL which we do Certify, and in Testimony thereof have signed our Names and affixed our Seals this fourth day of February in the Year of our Lord One Thousand seven hundred and Eighty nine, and in the Thirteenth year of the Independence of the United States of America.

            Christ. Gadsden [seal]                 Edward Rutledge [seal]

            Henry Laurens [seal]                    Charles Cotesworth Pinckney [seal]

            Arthur Simkins [seal]                   Thomas Heyward, Jr. [seal]

                                                              John Faucheraud Grimke [seal]

Correlating SC Social Studies Academic Standards:

Standard 3-3: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution and South Carolina’s role in the development of the new American nation.

Indicator 3-3.3 Summarize the effects of the American Revolution in South Carolina, including the establishment of a new nation and a new state government and capital. (H, P, G)

Standard 4-4: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the beginnings of America as a nation and the establishment of the new government.

Indicator 4-4.4 Compare the roles and accomplishments of early leaders in the development of the new nation, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Marshall, and James Madison. (H, P)


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