Columbians in US presidential elections

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Quite a few Columbia alumni and attendees have made appearances in US presidential elections. Two attendees of Columbia Law School, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, were elected to the presidency. Not until Barack Obama's win in 2008, however, was any Columbia graduate ever elected to the White House.


Under the awkward system then in place, electors from each state each had two votes. They each cast their first vote for George Washington, but their second votes were cast for a smattering of other candidates. John Adams, capturing most, went on to become VP. But John Jay KC 1764 received nine electoral votes of his own.


John Jay ran again in this contest, garnering five electoral votes.


John Jay was once again a candidate, receiving yet one electoral vote.


DeWitt Clinton CC 1786, then Mayor of New York, was nominee of both the Federalist Party and a dissident faction of Democrats known as the "Clinton Republicans". The election took place as the War of 1812 raged, and Clinton chose a strategy that could only have worked just prior to the invention of mass communications: he campaigned against the war in the Northeast, and for its "more vigorous prosecution" in the South and West. The gamble did not pay off, and his opponent James Madison stayed in office.


Daniel D. Tompkins CC 1795 (who lent his name to Tompkins Square Park) was on the Democratic ticket as running mate to James Monroe. The duo won, and Tompkins became the US' sixth vice president.


In this last effectively unopposed election in American history, Monroe and Tompkins had a cakewalk to victory. Somehow, DeWitt Clinton made it on the ballot, and received about 2,000 popular votes, though no electoral ones.


Stewart Woodford CC 1854 was on the VP ballot, receiving some 70 votes at the Republican National Convention. He was beat for the veep slot handily, despite his membership in St. Anthony Hall.


William Walter Phelps Law 1863 was a Republican VP nominee, but lost by a substantial number of delegates.


Law school dropout Theodore Roosevelt secures the veep spot as William McKinley's running mate.


Roosevelt, who had been elevated to the presidency by McKinley's assassination, held on to his incumbent presidency.


Charles Evans Hughes Law 1884, then Governor of New York, was a serious Republican presidential candidate, but was beaten by eventual nominee (and president) Taft.


Nicholas Murray Butler CC 1882 MA 1883 PhD 1884, then University President, was the vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party, running with Taft.

Teddy Roosevelt ran again as a third party candidate on the Progressive ticket.

On the Democratic side, William Sulzer CC 1884, then Governor of New York, was a candidate during the primaries, but lost out to Woodrow Wilson. The split of the Republican Big Tent allowed Wilson to claim victory.


Charles Evans Hughes was the presidential nominee for the Republican Party, but lost out to Wilson. Teddy Roosevelt had thrown his hat in the ring for the nomination, but was not successful. He was nominated by the Progressive Party, but later withdrew to support Hughes.


Nicholas Murray Butler was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican nomination, losing out to eventual president Warren G. Harding. Law school dropout Franklin Roosevelt was the Democratic nominee for vice president. He was the running mate of James M. Cox, who had beaten out James W. Gerard CC 1890, a serious primary contender, to the nomination.

Prohibition Party VP nominee D. Leigh Colvin studied at the law school for an indeterminate period.


James W. Gerard was again a contender for the presidential nomination.


Law school dropout FDR was nominated by the Democrats and cruised to victory over Hoover, who had presided over the onset of the Great Depression.


FDR reelected.


FDR reelected again. Thomas Dewey Law 1925 appears on the horizon as a candidate in the Republican presidential primaries.


FDR reelected yet again.


Dewey famously trounced in a surprise upset by Harry Truman, despite what the Chicago Tribune thinks.[1]


University President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the Republican nominee, and cruises to the White House. He was then the closest-connected president to Columbia.


Barack Obama CC 1983 was the Democratic Party nominee and first ever African-American nominated by a major party, and won the election to become the nation's first Black president. Mike Gravel GS was a long-shot candidate for the party's nomination.

Wayne Allyn Root CC 1983 is the vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party. Matt Gonzalez CC 1987 is the vice presidential running mate of independent candidate Ralph Nader.

Republican nominee John McCain did not attend Columbia, but addressed the 2006 Class Day festivities. His daughter Meghan McCain is CC 2007.