Election of 1800 Adapting Project HISTORY November 17, 2010 Newhouse I, Room 409
Six Important things to keep in mind • Constitution ratified only 12 years earlier • Previous national government, the Articles of Confederation last less than 10 years • Strong antiparty sentiment shared by most, if not all public men---Federalists and Republicans • No tradition of a “loyal opposition”—the government seen as synonymous with the Constitution • Election of 1800 first time in American history power transferred from one proto-party to another • Election of 1800 along with 1860 the two most critical presidential elections in American history
Who were the Candidates • President John Adams (Federalist) • Vice President Thomas Jefferson (Republican) • Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (Federalist) • Aaron Burr (Republican)
What were the issues? • Foreign Affairs--French Revolution---polarizing American society—along sectional lines— • Quasi-War with France • Both sides demonized the other as being unpatriotic and dangerous to the Constitution, a republican form of government and the Union • Defense build up • 1798---Federalist Congress—Alien and Sedition Laws
The Election • Candidates same as in 1796---Adams vs. Jefferson • Early Federalist setback-- New York Legislature won by Republicans-- mean that Republicans control electoral votes (12) • Federalists divided--Hamilton support scheme to elect Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of SC President over Adams
Methods of Election • Ten states, N.H., Vt., Mass., Conn., N.Y., N.J., Pa., Del., S.C., and Ga.--legislatures chose electors • R.I. And Va. Elected theirs by general ticket • Md., N.C., and Ky., divided state into districts for election • Tenn. Used combination of legislature and district plans
Hamilton’s Denunciation of Adams • Fall, 1800, Hamilton published letter denouncing Adams • “Great and intrinsic defects” in his character • “disgusting egotism, distempered jealousy, and ungovernable indiscretion of temper”
Election Hysteria • Connecticut Federalist: “there is scarcely a possibility that we shall escape a Civil War…. Murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of distress, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes”
Election Results • New England solid for Adams • New York--Republican • Pennsylvania--split 8 for Jefferson and 7 for Adams • New Jersey and Delaware--Federalist • Maryland split 5 to 5 • Virginia south sweep for Jefferson, except N.C. 8 to 4 in favor of Jefferson • Jefferson and running mate Aaron Burr tie with 73 votes • Adams 65 votes
Electoral Crisis • Tie in Electoral College---precipitated one of the greatest political and constitutional crises in history • 16 states--8 for Jefferson, 6 controlled by Federalists and 2 divided • Majority of Federalists opted for strategy to throw support to Burr • Burr told Jefferson that he would “utterly disclaim all competition”
Electoral Crisis 2 • Tensions build--Gabriel’s Revolt in Va., summer of 1800--heighten sense of vulnerability • Fires in Washington (War and Treasury) • Rumors that Jefferson to be assassinated • Isolation of Washington • February, 1801--balloting begins in House • Hamilton argued Burr more dangerous than Jefferson--Burr man of “extreme and irregular ambition” “far more cunning than wise far more dexterous than able”
Electoral Crisis 3 • If Jefferson not elected--what Republican response---Gallatin suggested that state governments refuse to obey any act coming from usurping President • Some Federalists proposing that blocking an election in House----lead to a Federalist pro-tem of Senate serving as president • Rumors of militias arming and mobilizing • Governor McKean of Pennsylvania • Governor Monroe of Virginia
Deadlock Broken • After 36 ballots Jefferson elected • Some Federalists cast blank ballots in Delaware and South Carolina---Federalists in Maryland and Vermont not vote---states then vote for Jefferson • Why did Federalists seek resolution of crisis? • What was Burr’s role?
Revolution of 1800 • The “revolution of 1800… was as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form” Thomas Jefferson • Why did Jefferson believe this?
What Happened After 1800 • Federalist strength in the House of Representatives • 1798 60% • 1800 34% • 1802 27% • 1804 17% • 1806 16.9%
What Happened After 1800 (2) • Some Federalists removed from office • Repealed excise tax--called for reduction in national debt • Allowed Alien and Sedition Acts to lapse • Let BUS expire in 1811 • Purchase Louisiana Territory, 1803 despite strict constructionist views