Departing from the monarchical tradition of Britain, the founding fathers of the United States created a system in which the American people had the power and responsibility to select their leader. Under this new order, George Washington, the first U.S. president, was elected in 1789. At the time, only white men who owned property could vote, but the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments to the Constitution have since expanded the right of suffrage to all citizens over 18. Taking place every four years, presidential campaigns and elections have evolved into a series of fiercely fought, and sometimes controversial, contests, now played out in the 24-hour news cycle. The stories behind each election—some ending in landslide victories, others decided by the narrowest of margins—provide a roadmap to the events of U.S. history.