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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 protracted, bitter rematch of the 1796 election 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.

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 verify that he did anything to sway the vote his way. 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 distinct choice between their selections for President and Vice President.

Jefferson's 22.8% victory margin in the popular vote is the largest ever victory margin for a challenger to an incumbent President.

General election

The candidates



Image:JohnAdams 2nd US President.jpg|John Adams
(Massachusettsmarker)
Image:AaronBurr.jpg|Aaron Burr
(New Yorkmarker)
Image:John Jay (Gilbert Stuart portrait).jpg|John Jay
(New Yorkmarker)
Image:Tj3.gif|Thomas Jefferson
(Virginiamarker)
Image:Charles Cotesworth Pinckney.jpg|Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
(South Carolinamarker)


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 Francemarker over Britainmarker 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.” 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.

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 faction of "High Federalists", who considered Adams too moderate and aligned themselves with with Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, in his third sabotage attempt towards Adams, 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, became public when it came into the hands of a Republican, embarrassing Adams and damaging Hamilton's efforts on behalf of Pinckney, not to mention speeding Hamilton's own political decline.

Hamilton had apparently grown impatient with Adams and wanted a new president who was more amenable 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 authority to tax citizens). Hamilton suggested to Washington that he lead the New Yorkmarker State militia to quash the rebellion in Pennsylvaniamarker. 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 Carolinamarker. Given Pinckney's lack of political experience he would have been likely to be open to Hamilton's influence. However, Hamilton's plan backfired and the split in the Federalist party allowed the Democratic Republicans to win in 1800.

Selection method changes

Partisans on both sides sought any advantage they could find. In several states, this included changing the method of selection to ensure the desired result. In Georgiamarker, Democratic-Republican legislators replaced the popular vote with selection by the state legislature. Federalist legislators did the same in Massachusettsmarker and New Hampshiremarker. (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. Virginiamarker 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 New York's state legislature. With the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans tied 65–65 in the Electoral College, the last state to vote, South Carolinamarker, 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, which 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 and Burr was an inhabitant 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).

Disputes

Defective certificates

When the electoral ballots were opened and counted on February 11, 1801, it turned out that the certificate of election from Georgiamarker 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.

Source (Popular Vote): U.S. President National Vote. Our Campaigns. (February 10, 2006).

Source (Electoral Vote):

(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.

Breakdown by ticket

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 loath to vote for Jefferson (with one exception, Alexander Hamilton), their partisan nemesis; Jefferson was the key opponent of Federalists since 1789. Seizing a chance 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 lone 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. Hamilton embarked on a frenzied letter-writing campaign to get delegates to switch votes. 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. The four present representatives from South Carolina, all Federalists, also changed their 3-1 selection of Burr to four abstentions. The final count 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 (<<EM>votes for Jefferson>-<<EM>votes for Burr>-<<EM>abstentions>).
1st ballot 2nd–35th ballots(a) 36th ballot
Georgiamarker(b) Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Kentuckymarker Jefferson
(2-0-0)
Jefferson
(2-0-0)
Jefferson
(2-0-0)
New Jerseymarker Jefferson
(3-2-0)
Jefferson
(3-2-0)
Jefferson
(3-2-0)
New Yorkmarker Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
North Carolinamarker Jefferson
(9-1-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Jefferson
(6-4-0)
Pennsylvaniamarker Jefferson
(9-4-0)
Jefferson
(9-4-0)
Jefferson
(9-4-0)
Tennesseemarker Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-0)
Virginiamarker Jefferson
(16-3-0)
Jefferson
(14-5-0)
Jefferson
(14-5-0)
Marylandmarker no result
(4-4-0)
no result
(4-4-0)
Jefferson
(4-0-4)
Vermontmarker no result
(1-1-0)
no result
(1-1-0)
Jefferson
(1-0-1)
Delawaremarker Burr
(0-1-0)
Burr
(0-1-0)
no result
(0-0-1)
South Carolinamarker(c) Burr
(0-5-0)
Burr
(1-3-0)
no result
(0-0-4)
Connecticutmarker Burr
(0-7-0)
Burr
(0-7-0)
Burr
(0-7-0)
Massachusettsmarker Burr
(3-11-0)
Burr
(3-11-0)
Burr
(3-11-0)
New Hampshiremarker Burr
(0-4-0)
Burr
(0-4-0)
Burr
(0-4-0)
Rhode Islandmarker Burr
(0-2-0)
Burr
(0-2-0)
Burr
(0-2-0)


(a) The votes of the individual representatives is typical and may have fluctuated from ballot to ballot, but the result for each individual 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

"Revolution of 1800"

The "revolutionary" aspect of the election was in the sense that it was the first peaceful transfer of national 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 willingly relinquished power at the close 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

References



Bibliography



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