On January 7, 1789, the Congress of the United States of America, having recently adopted the Constitution, held its first presidential election. Despite having retired to his Virginia plantation after the war, the Electoral College cast a unanimous vote (69 electoral votes) for George Washington.
Under the original Constitution, the electors each cast two ballots (for different candidates). The offices were then awarded in order of total votes cast. Washington got the most (69) and was elected President, followed John Adams (34) who was elected Vice President. The other candidates were John Jay of New York (9 votes); Robert Hanson Harrison of Maryland (6 votes); John Rutledge of South Carolina (6 votes); Samuel Huntington of Connecticut (2 votes); John Milton of Georgia (2 votes); James Armstrong of Pennsylvania (1 vote); Benjamin Lincoln of Massachusetts (1 vote); and Edward Telfair of Georgia (1 vote).
Forty-four electors failed to cast their ballots and only 10 states out of the original 13 participated in the election. North Carolina and Rhode Island were ineligible to participate as they had not yet ratified the Constitution. New York failed to appoint its allotment of eight electors because of a deadlock in the state Legislature. The United States still employs the Electoral College system. The president and vice president are the sole elected federal officials chosen by the college rather than by direct popular vote.