In addition to what are considered the ten most important Presidential elections in American history, there are also ten other elections that transformed our history, as history would have been different had the results been the opposite of what they were.
In chronological order, these elections are as follows.
Presidential Election of 1844—If James K. Polk had not won over Henry Clay, the likelihood of gaining the Pacific Northwest by treaty with Great Britain, and gaining the Southwest by war with Mexico, together the greatest land expansion since the Louisiana Purchase under Thomas Jefferson, would have been far less likely. But also the Civil War might have been delayed without the battle over freedom or slavery in the Mexican Cession territories gained from the war.
Presidential Election of 1864—An election often ignored, if Abraham Lincoln had not won over General George McClellan, who he had fired from Union Army military leadership, the Civil War, in its late stages, might have ended differently in some form, hard to determine.
Presidential Election of 1876—If the Electoral Commission and Compromise of 1877, giving Rutherford B. Hayes victory over Samuel Tilden, had not occurred, after a disputed election result in Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, there might have been civil war erupting all over again.
Presidential Election Of 1896—If William McKinley had not defeated William Jennings Bryan, there might have been no Spanish American War, no Filipino Insurrection, and no gaining of overseas colonies, as Bryan opposed the idea.
Presidential Election Of 1916—If Woodrow Wilson had not squeaked out a victory over Charles Evans Hughes, he had readied plans to hand over the Presidency to Hughes early, with the Secretary of State resigning, Hughes being named Secretary of State, the Vice President resigning, and then Wilson resigning. Wilson left behind a hand written memorandum to this effect, concerned about the transition of power as the dangers of World War I came closer to the possibility of American participation.
Presidential Election Of 1928—If Herbert Hoover had lost to Alfred E. Smith, the likelihood of a very different reaction to the onset of the Great Depression in 1929 might have led Smith to being the equivalent of Hoover’s successor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and his New Deal.
Presidential Election of 1968—If Hubert Humphrey had defeated Richard Nixon, it is likely that the Vietnam War would have ended earlier, and that there would not have been a Watergate scandal, and instead a continuation of the Great Society begun by Lyndon B. Johnson.
Presidential Election of 1976—If Gerald Ford had defeated Jimmy Carter, it is likely that after 12 years of Republican control and growing economic and foreign policy challenges, that the Democrats would have retaken the White House in 1980, and there would have been no Ronald Reagan Presidency.
Presidential Election Of 1992–If George H. W. Bush had not had to deal with an economic recession and the third party challenge of Ross Perot, the second highest popular percentage third party effort in US history, it is very likely that Bill Clinton would never have been President.
Presidential Election of 2000—If the popular vote recount in Florida had been continued, and the Supreme Court had not intervened to declare the election over, then Al Gore would have become President instead of George W. Bush, and there might not have been a September 11 terrorist attack, the resulting war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and likely not a tremendous growth in the national debt from $5 trillion to $10 trillion
How much history would have been different if only the results of these elections had been other than what they were!