United States presidential election, 1800: Wikis

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1796 United States 1804
United States presidential election, 1800
1800
Tj3.gif US Navy 031029-N-6236G-001 A painting of President John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd president of the United States, by Asher B. Durand (1767-1845)-crop.jpg
Nominee Thomas Jefferson John Adams
Party Democratic-Republican Federalist
Home state Virginia Massachusetts
Running mate Aaron Burr Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Electoral vote 73 65
States carried 8 7
Popular vote 41,330 25,952
Percentage 61.4% 38.6%
ElectoralCollege1800.svg
Presidential election results map. Green denotes states won by Jefferson, orange denotes states won by Adams. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Previous President
John Adams
Federalist

In the United States Presidential election of 1800, sometimes referred to as the "Revolution of 1800," Vice President Thomas Jefferson defeated incumbent president John Adams. The election was a realigning election that ushered in a generation of Democratic-Republican Party rule and the eventual demise of the Federalist Party in the First Party System. It was a lengthy, bitter rematch of the 1796 election between the pro-French and pro-decentralization Democratic-Republicans under Jefferson and Aaron Burr, against incumbent Adams and Charles Pinckney's pro-British and pro-centralization Federalists. The jockeying for electoral votes, regional divisions, and the propaganda smear campaigns created by both parties made the election recognizably modern.[1]

The election exposed one of the flaws in the original Constitution. Members of the Electoral College could only vote for President; each elector could vote for two candidates, and the Vice President was the person who received the second largest number of votes during the election. The Democratic-Republicans had planned for one of the electors to abstain from casting his second vote for Aaron Burr, which would have led to Jefferson receiving one electoral vote more than Burr. The plan, however, was bungled, resulting in a tied electoral vote between Jefferson and Burr. The election was then put into the hands of the outgoing House of Representatives controlled by the Federalist Party. Many Federalists voted for Burr, and the result was a week of deadlock. Federalist Alexander Hamilton, who detested both but preferred Jefferson to Burr, was one of those who vigorously lobbied against Burr. Burr remained in New York during the debates and votes, as his only daughter was married there on February 1, 1801. No evidence exists to prove that he did anything to sway the vote his way[2]. Hamilton's actions were one episode of the ill-fated relationship between Hamilton and Burr, which ended in Hamilton's fatal duel with Burr in 1804. In the absence of efforts on Burr's behalf, lobbying by Jefferson's supporters and Hamilton allowed Jefferson to ascend to the Presidency.

The Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, was added to the United States Constitution. The Twelfth Amendment stipulates that electors make a discrete choice between their selections for President and Vice President.

Contents

General election

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Candidates

Campaign

The 1800 election was a rematch of the 1796 election. The campaign was bitter and characterized by slander and personal attacks on both sides. Federalists spread rumors that the Democratic-Republicans were radicals who would murder their opponents, burn churches, and destroy the country (based on the Democratic-Republican preference for France over Britain at a time when the violent French Revolution was in full swing). In 1798, George Washington had complained "that you could as soon scrub the blackamoor white, as to change the principles of a profest [sic] Democrat; and that he will leave nothing unattempted to overturn the Government of this Country.”[3] Meanwhile, the Democratic-Republicans accused Federalists of destroying republican values, not to mention political support from immigrants, with the Alien and Sedition Acts, some of which were later called unconstitutional after their expiration by the Supreme Court; they also accused Federalists of favoring Britain in order to promote aristocratic, anti-republican values.[4]

Adams was attacked by both the opposition Democratic-Republicans who felt that Adams's foreign policy was too favorable toward Britain, feared that the new army called up for the Quasi-War would oppress the people, opposed Adams's new taxes, and attacked his Alien and Sedition Acts as violations of states' rights and the Constitution.

Adams was also attacked by a group of "High Federalists", who considered Adams too moderate and aligned themselves with Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, in his third sabotage attempt towards Adams[5], schemed to elect Vice Presidential candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to the Presidency. One of Hamilton's letters, providing a scathing criticism of Adams and spanning fifty-four pages[6], became public when it came into the hands of a Republican, embarrassing Adams and damaging Hamilton's efforts on behalf of Pinckney[1], not to mention speeding Hamilton's own political decline.[6]

Hamilton had apparently grown impatient with Adams and wanted a new president who was more receptive to his pro-federal goals. During Washington's presidency, Hamilton had been able to influence the federal response to the Whiskey Rebellion (which threatened the government's power to tax citizens). Hamilton suggested to Washington that he lead the New York State militia to quell the rebellion in Pennsylvania. The Whiskey Rebellion infuriated Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson who felt the government was abusing its power against the rights of the citizens. When Washington announced that he would not seek a third term, this prompted Hamilton to support VP John Adams in the 1796 election.

Hamilton appears to have hoped in 1796 that his influence within an Adams administration would be as great or greater than in Washington's. By 1800, Hamilton had come to realize that Adams was too independent and chose to support Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina. Given Pinckney's lack of political experience he would have been expected to be open to Hamilton's influence. However, Hamilton's plan backfired and the split in the Federalist party allowed the Democratic Republicans to prevail in 1800.

Selection method changes

Partisans on both sides sought any advantage they could find. In several states, this included changing the procession of selection to ensure the desired result. In Georgia, Democratic-Republican legislators replaced the popular vote with selection by the state legislature. Federalist legislators did the same in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. (This may have had some unintended consequences in Massachusetts, where the make up of the delegation to the House of Representatives changed from 12 Federalists - 2 Democrats to 8 Federalists - 6 Democrats.) Pennsylvania also switched to legislative choice, but this resulted in an almost evenly split set of electors. Virginia switched from electoral districts to winner-take-all, a move that probably switched one or two votes from the Federalist column to the Democratic-Republican column.

Voting

Because each state could choose its own election day, voting lasted from April to October. In April, Burr succeeded in reversing the Federalist majority and getting a Democratic-Republican majority in the New York state legislature. With the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans tied 65–65 in the Electoral College, the last state to vote, South Carolina, chose eight Democratic-Republicans, giving the election to Jefferson and Burr.

Under the United States Constitution, each Presidential elector cast two votes, without distinction as to which was for President or Vice President. The recipient of a majority of votes was elected President, while the Vice Presidency went to the recipient of the second greatest number of votes. The Federalists, therefore, had one of their electors vote for John Jay rather than for Vice Presidential candidate Pinckney. The Democratic-Republicans had a similar plan to have one of their electors cast a vote for another candidate instead of Burr, but, by a misadventure, failed to execute it. In fact, their plan was almost reversed by a faithless elector in New York casting both of his votes for Burr. This would have been enough to give him the Presidency, but the state re-assigned the second vote to Jefferson since Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution prohibited an elector from casting both his votes for an inhabitant of the same state as the elector; Burr was a resident of New York. As a result, the Democratic-Republican electors each cast their two votes for Jefferson and Burr, giving each of them 73 votes. A contingent election had to be held in the outgoing Federalist-dominated House of Representatives (the old House elected in 1798).[1]

Disputes

Defective certificates

When the electoral ballots were opened and counted on February 11, 1801, it turned out that the certificate of election from Georgia was defective; while it was clear that the electors had cast their votes for Jefferson and Burr, the certificate did not take the constitutionally mandated form of a "List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each". Vice President Jefferson, who was counting the votes in his role as President of the Senate, immediately counted the votes from Georgia as votes for Jefferson and Burr. No objections were raised. The total number of votes for Jefferson and Burr was 73, a majority of the total, but a tie between them.

Results

Jefferson and Burr tied for first place, so the election was thrown into the House of Representatives.

Presidential Candidate Party Home State Popular Vote(a), (b), (c) Electoral Vote
Count Percentage
Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican Virginia 41,330 61.4% 73
Aaron Burr Democratic-Republican New York 73(d)
John Adams Federalist Massachusetts 25,952 38.6% 65
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney Federalist South Carolina 64
John Jay Federalist New York 1
Total 67,282 100.0% 276
Needed to win 70

Source (Popular Vote): U.S. President National Vote.Our Campaigns. (February 10, 2006).
Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 30, 2005).

(a) Votes for Federalist electors have been assigned to John Adams and votes for Republican electors have been assigned to Thomas Jefferson.
(b) Only 6 of the 16 states chose electors by any form of popular vote.
(c) Those states that did choose electors by popular vote had widely varying restrictions on suffrage via property requirements.
(d) A faithless elector in New York voted twice for Aaron Burr, but this violated electoral college rules and so the second vote was re-assigned to Thomas Jefferson.

Breakdown by ticket

Presidential Candidate Running Mate Electoral Vote
Thomas Jefferson Aaron Burr 73
John Adams Charles Cotesworth Pinckney 64
John Adams John Jay 1

Contingent election of 1801

Aaron Burr tied Jefferson in the Electoral College vote

The members of the House of Representatives balloted as states to determine whether Jefferson or Burr would become President. There were sixteen states, and an absolute majority—in this case, nine—was required for victory.

While it was common knowledge that Jefferson was the candidate for President and Burr for Vice President, the lame-duck House was controlled by the Federalists, who were unwilling to vote for Jefferson (with one exception, Alexander Hamilton[6]), their partisan nemesis; Jefferson had been the principal opponent of Federalists since 1789. Seizing an opportunity to elect Burr, as opposed to Jefferson, most Federalists voted for Burr, giving Burr six of the eight states controlled by Federalists. The seven states controlled by Democratic-Republicans all voted for Jefferson, and Georgia's sole living Federalist representative also voted for Jefferson, giving Jefferson eight states. Vermont was evenly split, casting a blank ballot. The remaining state, Maryland, had five Federalist representatives to three Democratic-Republicans; one of its Federalist representatives voted for Jefferson, forcing the state delegation to cast a blank ballot.

Over the course of seven days from February 11 to February 17, the House cast a total of 35 ballots, with Jefferson receiving the votes of eight state delegations each time—one short of the necessary majority of nine. During the confusion, Alexander Hamilton said he supported Jefferson because he was "by far not so dangerous a man" as Burr; in short, he would much rather have someone with wrong principles than someone devoid of any.[6] Hamilton embarked on a frenzied letter-writing campaign to get delegates to switch votes.[7] He narrowly succeeded, and on Tuesday, February 17, on the 36th ballot, Jefferson was elected.

Federalist James A. Bayard of Delaware and his allies in Maryland and Vermont all cast blank ballots. This resulted in the Maryland and Vermont votes changing from no selection to Jefferson, giving him the votes of 10 states and the presidency. Bayard, as the sole representative from Delaware, changed his vote from Burr to no selection.[1] The four present representatives from South Carolina, all Federalists, also changed their 3-1 selection of Burr to four abstentions. The final tally was Jefferson with ten votes to Burr's four.

Results

Jefferson Burr no result
1st 35 ballots 8 6 2
36th ballot 10 4 2

In the following table, results for the state delegation are expressed as (<votes for Jefferson>-<votes for Burr>-<abstentions>).

1st ballot 2nd–35th ballots(a) 36th ballot
Georgia(b) Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Kentucky Jefferson
(2-0-0)
Jefferson
(2-0-0)
Jefferson
(2-0-0)
New Jersey Jefferson
(3-2-0)
Jefferson
(3-2-0)
Jefferson
(3-2-0)
New York Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
North Carolina Jefferson
(9-1-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Pennsylvania Jefferson
(9-4-0)
Jefferson
(9-4-0)
Jefferson
(9-4-0)
Tennessee Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Virginia Jefferson
(16-3-0)
Jefferson
(14-5-0)
Jefferson
(14-5-0)
Maryland no result
(4-4-0)
no result
(4-4-0)
Jefferson
(4-0-4)
Vermont no result
(1-1-0)
no result
(1-1-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-1)
Delaware Burr
(0-1-0)
Burr
(0-1-0)
no result
(0-0-1)
South Carolina(c) Burr
(0-5-0)
Burr
(1-3-0)
no result
(0-0-4)
Connecticut Burr
(0-7-0)
Burr
(0-7-0)
Burr
(0-7-0)
Massachusetts Burr
(3-11-0)
Burr
(3-11-0)
Burr
(3-11-0)
New Hampshire Burr
(0-4-0)
Burr
(0-4-0)
Burr
(0-4-0)
Rhode Island Burr
(0-2-0)
Burr
(0-2-0)
Burr
(0-2-0)

(a) The votes of the representatives is typical and may have fluctuated from ballot to ballot, but the result for each state did not change.
(b) Even though Georgia had two representatives apportioned, one seat was vacant due to the death of James Jones.
(c) Even though South Carolina had six representatives apportioned, Thomas Sumter was absent due to illness, and Abraham Nott departed for South Carolina between the first and final ballots.

Electoral college selection

Method of choosing Electors State(s)
State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district Kentucky
Maryland
North Carolina
Each Elector chosen by voters statewide Rhode Island
Virginia
  • State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district
  • Each county chooses an electoral delegate by popular vote
  • Elector is chosen by electoral delegates of the counties within their district
Tennessee
Each Elector appointed by state legislature (all other states)

"Revolution of 1800"

The "revolutionary" quality of the election was in the sense that it was the first peaceful transfer of federal executive power from one political faction to another. Both Adams and his predecessor, George Washington, had been aligned with the Federalist Party; although Washington had voluntarily relinquished power at the end of his term in 1797, Adams as his Vice President was widely viewed as Washington's heir apparent and a continuation of the Federalist agenda. However, when defeated by Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans, the Federalists voluntarily handed over executive authority to their political opposition.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d Ferling (2004)
  2. ^ see Isenberg, Nancy (2007), "Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr," pp. 218-220
  3. ^ Mintz, S. (2003). "Gilder Lehrman Document Number: GLC 581". Digital History. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/documents/documents_p2.cfm?doc=341. Retrieved 2006-09-20. 
  4. ^ Buel (1972)
  5. ^ McCullough (2001)
  6. ^ a b c d Chernow (2004)
  7. ^ Roberts (2008)

References

Bibliography

  • Ben-Atar, Doron; Oberg, Barbara B., eds. (1999), Federalists Reconsidered 
  • Pasley, Jeffrey L.; et al., eds. (2004), Beyond the Founders: New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic 
  • Beard, Charles A. (1915), The Economic Origins of Jeffersonian Democracy 
  • Bowling, Kenneth R.; Donald R. Kennon (2005), Establishing Congress: The Removal to Washington, D.C., and the Election of 1800 
  • Buel, Richard (1972), Securing the Revolution: Ideology in American Politics, 1789–1815 
  • Chambers, William Nisbet (1963), Political Parties in a New Nation: The American Experience, 1776–1809 
  • Chernow, Ron (2004), Alexander Hamilton 
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. (1965), The Making of the American Party System 1789 to 1809 
  • Dunn, Susan (2004), The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism 
  • Elkins, Stanley; Eric McKitrick (1995), The Age of Federalism 
  • Ferling, John (2004), Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 
  • Fischer, David Hackett (1965), The Revolution of American Conservatism: The Federalist Party in the Era of Jeffersonian Democracy 
  • Freeman, Joanne B. (1999), "The election of 1800: a study in the logic of political change", Yale Law Journal 108 (8): 1959–1994, doi:10.2307/797378 
  • Goodman, Paul (1967), "The First American Party System", in Chambers, William Nisbet; Burnham, Walter Dean, The American Party Systems: Stages of Political Development, pp. 56–89 
  • Hofstadter, Richard (1970), The Idea of a Party System 
  • Kennedy, Roger G. (2000), Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson: A Study in Character, Oxford University Press 
  • McCullough, David (2001), John Adams 
  • Horn, James P. P.; Lewis, Jan Ellen; Onuf, Peter S. (2002), The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic 
  • Miller, John C. (1959), Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox 
  • Roberts, Cokie (2008), Ladies of Liberty 
  • Schachner, Nathan (1961), Aaron Burr: A Biography 
  • Schlesinger, Arthur Meier, ed. (1986), History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-1984, Vol. 1 , essay and primary sources on 1800.
  • Sharp, James Roger (1993), American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis 
  • Wills, Garry (2003), Houghton Mifflin Co., pp. 47-89, ISBN 0-618-34398-9  . . . also listed (in at least one source) as from Mariner Books (Boston) in 2004 [1]

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