The Election of 1800-1801
by Richard J. Behn
Table of Contents
President John Adams
Religion and Morality
New York and Aaron Burr
The General Election
Alexander Hamilton vs. John Adams
Alexander Hamilton vs Aaron Burr
Crisis and Conspiracy
The House Vote and Negotiations
The presidential election of 1800 is generally considered the nastiest in American history. Indeed, the campaign did not reflect well on the Founders or their new government. The race between Federalist John Adams and Republican Thomas Jefferson was raucous, bitter, and unpredictable. Historian David McCullough wrote that according to the opposing campaigns, "if Jefferson was a Jacobin, a shameless southern libertine, and a 'howling' atheist, Adams was a Tory, a vain Yankee scold, and, if truth be known, 'quite mad.''"1
The charges and countercharges addressed the candidates' courage, patriotism, religion, race, morality, mental health, as well as their political viewpoints. Foreign developments fueled domestic fears which fueled political unrest. Historian Joanne B. Freeman wrote: "The fuel for these fears was the seemingly implacable opposition of Federalists and Republicans, largely a battle between northerners and southerners. With partisan animosity at an all-time high and no end in sight, many assumed that they were engaged in a fight to the death that would destroy the Union. Of course each side assumed that it alone represented the American people, its opponents a mere faction promoting self-interested desires."2 Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: "In the first knock-down, drag-out campaign, Americans proved they preferred newspapers to pamphlets to books, and, further, that they preferred their newspapers crammed with items of scandal. It was the first modern campaign."3 But the election was also very different from the modern norm. The editors of the Alexander Hamilton Papers wrote: "It is difficult, and probably impossible...to determine popular interest in an election in which most voters did not vote directly for the electors, in which the candidates did not publicly campaign for votes, and in which few newspapers bothered to report campaign news or election results."4
Candidates Adams and Jefferson agreed on many subjects of political policy and theory although they had very different attitudes toward the benefits and dangers of democracy. Their personalities, however, were dissimilar. They "were the odd couple of the American Revolution: Adams, the short, stout, candid-to-a-fault New Englander; Jefferson, the tall, slender, elegantly elusive Virginian," wrote historian Joseph J. Ellis. "Adams, the highly combustible, ever combative, mile-a-minute talker whose favorite form of conversation was an argument; Jefferson, the forever cool and self-contained enigma who regarded an argument as dissonant noise that disrupted the natural harmonies he heard inside his own head,"5 The two men, who had collaborated in 1776 on the Declaration of Independence and later worked together as diplomats in Europe, had grown apart politically in the 1790s. Adams, ever sensitive to slights, was injured by Jefferson's rebuffs and appalled by Jefferson's embrace of the French Revolution. The breach between their supporters was even wider, deeper, and more vicious.
The period leading up to the election of 1800 became a witches' brew of personalities, innuendo, ideology, and rumor. Through newspapers and pamphlets each side attempted to demonize the other as well as the foreign governments with whom they were perceived to be allied. Historian John Ferling noted: "The Federalists...left no stone unturned in their attempts to link the Republicans with the blood excesses of the French Revolution."6 Jefferson scholar Jerry W. Knudson wrote: "Federalist newspapers viciously denounced Jefferson for his alleged atheism, his philosophical attitudes, his pro-French, revolutionary leanings, and his attachment to democracy - a scare word in 1800 - and opposition to Federalism. There were other charges in this most virulent of American presidential campaigns - that Jefferson had not paid his British debts, that he would emancipate southern slaves, that he maintained a 'Congo Harem' at Monticello, and that he had revealed his cowardice by fleeing from the British in 1871."7
It was a campaign of intense exaggeration on both sides. Historian Joseph J. Ellis summarized the most egregious arguments: "Adams was supposedly maneuvering to have his eldest daughter married into the family of [British King] George III in order to establish a royal bloodline. He also had purportedly arranged to smuggle a small bordello of London prostitutes across the Atlantic to satisfy his instincts for debauchery within the presidential mansion. Jefferson, for his part, was described as a demonstrable coward who had avoided military service in the Revolutionary War and had fled rather precipitously while governor of Virginia at the approach of British troops."8 There were some grains of truth amidst the charges, but much of them were wild flights of partisan fancy.
President John Adams
John Adams had started off his presidency in 1797 at a distinct disadvantage. "There never was perhaps a greater contrast between two characters than between those of the present President and of his predecessor," wrote James Madison of the transition from George Washington to John Adams in 1797. "The one cold considerate and cautious, the other headlong and kindled into flame by every spark that lights on his passions. The one ever scrutinizing into the public opinion, and ready to follow where he could not lead it; the other insulting it by the most adverse sentiments and pursuits. W. a hero in the field, yet overweighing every danger in the Cabinet. A. without a single pretension to the character of a soldier, a perfect Quixote as a statesman. The former chief magistrate pursuing peace every where with sincerity, tho' mistaking the means; the latter taking as much pains to get into war, as the former took to keep out of it."9 Washington biographer James Thomas Flexner wrote: "No man in all probability had been so deeply jealous of George Washington for so long a time as the President-elect."10 The iconic, reserved Washington was a very hard act to follow - particularly for the sensitive, egotistical Adams. Historian Jay Winik wrote that "In a sense, Adams couldn't win. Roused to indignation, Washington got angry; Adams was instead seen as petty - or paranoid. Washington appeared statesmanly; Adams as crotchety. And where Washington was self-effacing, Adams was wild and melodramatic."11
As Washington's two-term vice president, Adams suffered much from the inevitable comparison between America's first president and its second. One problem observed historian Richard Brookhiser, was that Adams "had no executive experience."12 Second, Adams was not a particularly likable character. He had few friends in either his own party or the opposition. Historian Thomas Fleming called the John and Abigail Adams a "party of two."13 Adams' eight years as America's first vice president had not been easy, although neither had they had taxing on the restless elder statesman from Massachusetts. His two terms were frustrating for a man of his vigor, intellect, ambition, and vanity. He complained to his wife Abigail: "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."14 Historian Richard Norton Smith observed that "the second office was torture for the proud, prickly New Englander cast as occasional confidant and frequent lightning rod to the vastly more popular chief executive, whom Adams, in moments of pique, called Old Muttonhead."15
What made the situation even more intolerable for Adams was the profound jealousy he harbored for the mythic reputations of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. He was also envious of more charismatic colleagues like Alexander Hamilton and even his cousin Samuel Adams. Adams did not like to play second fiddle to anyone - not even to an accomplished violinist like Jefferson. Adams was never comfortable in repose and the vice presidency offered little outlet for his talents or opinions. Historian Fawn M. Brodie wrote that "Adams frankly described his role as 'the first prince of the country, and the heir apparent to the sovereign authority.' But he never had Washington's intimate friendship, and Hamilton was eager to supersede him politically as well as personally."16 Adams' sole job was to preside over the Senate - a responsibility which he found stultified his innate desire to declare his opinions, which unfortunately the elected senators did not seek or value. For a man who liked to talk, his duties were torture.
Moreover, Adams took an almost perverse pleasure in being unpopular. It was his badge of political martyrdom. Historians Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen wrote that Adams "antagonized people, often needlessly, and lacked the political savvy and social skills necessary to retain the [presidential] office."17
The dignity that seemed to come easily to George Washington was elusive to Adams. He suffered from Irritable Founder Syndrome. He was cantankerous. He contemplated a heroic role and was chagrined that he seemed condemned to play a merely supporting role in history. He had a strong opinion of his own accumulated wisdom and a low opinion of unfettered democracy. So much of the world annoyed him.
As a consequence, Adams's published writings were judged insufficiently democratic and probably monarchial by critics like Thomas Jefferson. Two decades later, Adams wrote Jefferson: "In truth, my 'Defence of the Constitutions' and 'Discourses on Davila,' were the cause of that immense unpopularity which fell like the tower of Siloam upon me. Your steady defence of democratical principles, and your invariable favorable opinion of the French revolution, laid the foundation of your unbounded popularity. Sic transit gloria mundi." He added: "Now, I will forfeit my life, if you can find one sentiment in my Defence of the Constitutions, or the Discourses on Davila, which, by a fair construction, can favor the introduction of hereditary monarchy or aristocracy into America. They were all written to support and strengthen the Constitution of the United States."18
In December 1796, Adams had edged out Jefferson in the Electoral College - by just three votes. Historian Bruce Ackerman wrote that Jefferson's 1796 "campaign manager, James Madison, offered him a chance to quibble his way to the presidency by challenging the four Vermont votes that gave Adams his edge in the electoral college. Jefferson turned down Madison flat: 'I pray to declare it on every occasion foreseen or not foreseen by me, in favor of the choice of the people substantially expressed, and to prevent the phaenomenon of a Pseudo-president at so early a day.'"19 Jefferson wrote of Adams: "I am his junior in life, was his junior in Congress, his junior in the diplomatic line, his junior lately in our civil government."20
Even as president, John Adams was a bundle of contradictions. He worried about everything. Nevertheless, there was none of Jefferson's false modesty or false self-importance in Adams. In 1793, Adams wrote to his wife Abigail of the conflict within Washington's Administration: Supreme Court Chief Justice John "Jay's Friends have let Escape feelings of Jealousy as well as Jefferson's. And it is very natural. Poor me who have no Friends to be jealous, I am left out of the question and pray I ever may be."21 Of course, Adams desperately wanted to be part of governmental decision-making and yearned to have the recognition he thought his talents should demand. Contemplating his elevation to the presidency in 1797, Adams wrote his wife on March 1, 1796: "I am quite at my Ease. I never felt less Anxiety when any considerable Change lay before me. Aut transit aut finit. I transmigrate or come to an End. The Question is between living at Phila[delphia] or at Quincy, between great Cares and Small Cares. I have looked into myself and see no meanness [illegible] nor dishonesty there. I see weakness enough. But no timidity."22
Once Adams occupied the presidency, noted historian Joseph J. Ellis, he "regarded himself as the American version of 'the patriot king,' the virtuous chief magistrate who would oppose all factions on behalf of the public interest, even if it meant repudiating his own Federalist colleagues, as it eventually did."23 Adams had a strong concept of his presidential responsibilities, but a weak concept of how to exercise them politically. He had taken office without a strong popular or political base. Historian Jay Winik wrote that "within weeks, he was declaring that the presidency was tantamount to a sentence of 'hard labor.' His pique was predictable. For all his brilliance and years in public service - he was arguably the nation's most seasoned diplomat - he had numerous handicaps to overcome." Among them was his executive inexperience and a lack of political instincts.24 He was not the man to construct a broad governing coalition: Adams was unable to rally either Federalists or Republicans. To his credit, however, noted historian Jack Shepherd wrote: "John Adams...was a national president, with all his faults, who felt no obligation either to party or politicians, but to his country. He had constantly sought peace and accommodation throughout his career; he had always been a man of law over mob rule."25
Adams lacked Washington's political dexterity - refusing even to participate in celebrating Washington's long leadership record. When as president he was invited to a ball in Washington's honor, he wrote "DECLINED" on the invitation - causing a minor political scandal which contributed to his image as being out of political touch with the opinions of most Americans.26 In replacing Washington, Adams made a fatal mistake in not replacing his cabinet, who owed their loyalty to Alexander Hamilton rather than Adams. During his presidential term, Adams would attract many strong critics - even among those who should have been his friends. Treasury Secretary Oliver Wolcott Jr. wrote in 1800 of Adams: "We know the temper of his mind to be revolutionary, violent, and vindictive; he would be sensible that another official term would bring him to the close of life. His passions and selfishness would continually gain strength; his pride and interest would concur in rendering his administration favorable to the views of the democrats and jacobins; public offices would be frequently bestowed on men capable of servile compliances; the example of a selfish attention to personal and family interests would spread like a leprosy in our political system, and by corrupting the fountains of virtue and honor would destroy the principles by which alone a mild government under any form can be sustained."27
Adams's decision as president to retain Washington's cabinet was well-intentioned but ill-advised. It contributed mightily to the political and personal paranoia from which Adams already suffered. Washington biographer Richard Brookhiser wrote that Adams was ill-prepared for the country's top office. He had never been a general or a governor. He had been a thinker. Brookhiser wrote that Adams "was a hands-off administrator, spending inordinate amounts of time at his home in Braintree, doing business by mail. When he acted, he acted impulsively and without consultation. Years later, he complained that 'I was as president a mere cipher,' meaning that Hamilton pulled the strings in his cabinet. Hamilton's role was not quite what Adams thought, and to the degree that he was a cipher, it was because he made himself one."28 Adams biographer James Grant concluded that Adams was ill-suited for the American presidency: "His first deficiency was that he was not George Washington. Try as he might, the constitutional theorist, peacemaker, and junk-bond financier could never replace the heroic general. Certainly Adams had all too little of the Virginian's stoic self-control...A third deficiency was that Adams was a political entrepreneur, a creator and builder more than a manager."29 And lingering in Adams' political shadows was the consummate Federalist manager, Alexander Hamilton, never afraid to try to exercise power and influence.
Adams, moreover, was not a trusting soul. He didn't trust the business elite, he didn't trust the political elite, and he didn't much trust the people. In particular, he didn't trust Hamilton. Most important, he increasingly did not trust his own cabinet. Adams' Secretary of War James McHenry wrote: "Whether he is spiteful, playful, witty, kind, cold, drunk, sober, angry, easy, still, jealous, cautious, confident, close, open, it is almost always in the wrong place or to the wrong persons."30 As a cabinet member, McHenry had been unnerved by the president's mercurial moods and capricious judgment. When Adams effectively fired McHenry in the spring of 1799, the president ranted about the power and influence of former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton who he claimed, was "the greatest intrigruant in the World - a man devoid of every moral principle - a Bastard, and as much a foreigner as Gallatin."31 Historians Stanley Elkins and Eric McKittrick wrote of the cabinet confrontation: "Whether Adams intended this in advance, or simply lost control of himself, or whether he did indeed intend it but needed to work himself up before he could do it, cannot of course be known."32
Adams' fellow Federalists were not averse to reporting on his defects. Historian David Hackett Fischer wrote that with a few exceptions, "Federalists were in a state of extreme disorganization at the end of 1790s. Evidence of many kinds suggest that they were not merely split, as a modern party might be, but atomized." Fischer noted that the party could even nominate candidates efficiently for office. But perhaps the greatest difficulty was that there was no real chief of the party. Adams was alienated from other party leaders, but so was Alexander Hamilton." There developed a serious communication gap between Adams and fellow Republicans. Fischer wrote: "By 1800, after three years of his administration, many federal leaders so thoroughly misunderstood him that they believed he had taken leave of his senses." He added: "The violent quarrels between Adams and other Federalists in 1799-1800 were not merely a matter of appointments, the army, and foreign affairs, but a clash of conflicting political conceptions."33
As president Adams, therefore, grew increasingly isolated - from his own fellow Federalists who were angered by his decision to seek a second peace mission to France in 1799 and from Republicans angered by Adams's support of the Alien and Sedition acts. Anger and depression stalked Adams at a time he needed to be developing a political strategy to save his presidency. Even his friends could not reach him. Historian Thomas Fleming wrote: "One hot July day [in 1799], three old friends, led by General Henry Knox, rode out from Boston to see him. John sat in the parlor reading a newspaper while they tried to converse with him. He did not offer them so much as a sip of cold water before they stalked out, wondering if the president was more than a little crazy."34
Adams' job was a lonely one. Legal expert James F. Simon wrote: "Adams, if often seemed, was bereft of a true political friend in all of Philadelphia - except for John Marshall. Through the entire rancorous session of the Sixth Congress, Marshall not only remained loyal to the president in his votes, but valiantly and effectively defended the Adams administration's policies."35 If Adams was to have only one friend, he could have had a better one than Marshall, who became secretary of state and then chief justice in the last year of Adams's presidency. Marshall scholar Charles F. Hobson wrote: "Besides carrying out his official duties, Marshall acted as Adams's trusted and confidential adviser. He drafted the president's annual message to Congress and counseled him on the numerous judicial appointments that marked the final days of his presidency."36 But Marshall's swift ascendancy came when Adams political fortunes were already crashing. Marshall was too late to save his mentor.
Key to Adams's presidency and to his political future was his handling of relationships with the tumultuous French government. President Adams took office at a time of conflict between Britain and France - and conflict between their partisans in the United States - Federalists for Britain and Jeffersonians for France. The Jay Treaty of 1795 had deepened that rift. The French Revolution of 1789 had set in motion the political currents that would converge in the election of 1800. "As liberty got ugly in France, people grew less patient with its partisans here at home," noted religious scholar Forrest Church.37 American attitudes toward the French Revolution became a surrogate for attitudes toward American politics. "To a large extent the record of the Adams Administration was written in response to the pressures of foreign affairs growing out of the crisis in French relations which greeted him when he took office and which, before it was settled, led to decisions in domestic policy more controversial than those in foreign affairs," observed historian Noble E. Cunningham, Jr.38
The Jay Treaty had quieted relations with Britain, but the crisis of American-French relations occupied most of Adams's presidency and colored all of the politics during his administration. During his two terms, President Washington had been able to balance the competing strands of American politics while balancing America's responses to Britain and France. President Adams could hardly balance the competing strands among his fellow Federalists as he tried to quiet relations across the Atlantic. Historian Jean Edward Smith wrote that Adams "attempted to follow Washington's moderate policies but came under increasing fire from both the left and right. Jefferson and the Republicans pressed the president for an alliance with France against England, while Hamilton's supporters urged an alliance with England and war against France."39
Soon after he took office, President Adams dispatched three official commissioners to Paris - to the dismay of Federalists. Adams' own secretary of state was suggesting his replacement in letters he wrote at the end of October 1797. Timothy Pickering wrote to Pennsylvania Senator William Bingham: "This fatal error will subvert the present administration & with them the government itself. Mr. Adams has not by this mission gained one friend among the democrats; to their former hatred will now be added another sensation: while among the federalists he has forfeited the support of his best friends and our most estimable citizens."40 Pickering would be proved wrong. The commissioners attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate with the French government. Instead, French officials insisted on bribes. When the American emissaries arrived in Paris in the fall of 1797, they met with three representatives of French Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand. They were informed that before any negotiations could proceed, they needed a $250,000 bribe from the Americans and a governmental loan to France of $12 million.
Commissioner John Marshall wrote from Paris: "All power is now in the undivided possession of those who have directed against us those hostile measures...Only the Atlantic can save us."41 The commissioners presented their correspondence with "X, Y and Z" in the French government to Adams, who in turn gave it to Congress. The publication of the XYZ correspondence backfired on Jeffersonians as Americans rallied to prepare for war with France. The President's opponents insisted on publication of the delegation's papers, but publication of these so-called XYZ letters backfired by mobilizing public opinion against France and behind the Federalists. The Federalists then overreacted by passing the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. Jefferson was as inflamed in his opposition to the Federalists' acts as the Federalists were inflamed in their support for the Alien and Sedition Acts. The vice president wrote that "to preserve the freedom of the human mind & freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom, for as long as we may think as we will & speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement."42
The anti-Federalists led by Jefferson and James Madison overreacted to the Alien and Sedition Acts by pushing the Virginia and Kentucky Legislatures to pass the so-called Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions which asserted state authority to overrule federal government. Adams's great-grandson Henry wrote: "These Virginia Resolutions, which were drawn by Madison, seemed strong enough to meet any possible aggression from the national government; but Jefferson, as though not quite satisfied with these, recommended the Kentucky legislature to adopt still stronger. The draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, whether originally composed or only approved by him, representing certainly his own convictions, declared that 'where powers are assumed which have not been delegated a nullification of the Act is the rightful remedy,' and 'that every State has a natural right, in cases not within the compact, to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits.' Jefferson did not doubt 'that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made federal, will concur in declaring these acts void and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the federal government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.'"43
Historian Joseph Charles wrote: "Whatever the causes for Adams's decision, the sending of the second mission to France put an end to British efforts at collaboration with this country. Their captures of our ships and impressment of our seamen became again as numerous as at any time during the decade. The heavy captures of the British in 18oo were an important factor in bringing about the Republican victory in the election, particularly since one of these captures influenced the vote of New York City, upon which depended that of the state and less directly that of the whole country."44
In the 1800 election, Jefferson asserted his foreign policy simply: "I am for free commerce with all nations, political connection with none and little or no diplomatic establishment."45 By then, President Adams was distrusted by his own party, many of whom were angered by his renewed peace initiative to France. Republican aversion to the Alien and Sedition Acts was celebrated in a campaign ditty:
Rejoice, Columbia's son rejoice
To tyrants never bend the knee
But join with heart and soul and voice
For Jefferson and liberty
From Georgia up to Lake Champlain
From seas to Mississippi's shore
Ye sons of freedom loud proclaim
THE REIGN OF TERROR IS NO MORE46
Years later, Adams contended to Jefferson that Jefferson did not understand the Federalists' fears of civic disorder and revolution. Adams wrote his former opponent in 1813: "You never felt the terrorism of Shays's Rebellion in Massachusetts. I believe you never felt the terrorism of Gallatin's Insurrection in Pennsylvania. … You certainly never felt the terrorism excited by Genet in 1793, when ten thousand people in the streets of Philadelphia, day after day, threatened to drag Washington out of his house and effect a revolution in the government, or compel it to declare war in favor of the French Revolution and against England. The coolest and the firmest minds, even among the Quakers in Philadelphia, have given their opinions to me that nothing but the yellow fever … could have saved the United States from a total revolution of government. I have no doubt you was fast asleep in philosophical tranquility when ten thousand people, and perhaps many more, were parading the streets of Philadelphia on the evening of my Fast Day [25 April 1799]; when Governor [Thomas] Mifflin himself thought it his duty to order a patrol of horse and foot to preserve the peace; when Market Street was as full as men could stand by one another, and even before my door; when some of my domestics, in frenzy, determined to sacrifice their lives in my defense; when all were ready to make a desperate sally among the multitude and others were with difficulty and danger dragged back by the others; when I myself judged it prudent and necessary to order chests of arms from the War Office to be brought through bylanes and back doors, determined to defend my house at the expense of my life and the lives of the few, very few, domestics and friends within it. What think you of terrorism, Mr. Jefferson?"47
Under pressure from fellow Federalists in the aftermath of the XYZ Affair, Adams had mobilized an American army - under General George Washington. The president, however, did not cease to seek an accommodation with France - to the chagrin of fellow Federalists. Adams' foreign policy toward France might have contained an element of jealousy. The president had been forced against his will by Washington and Alexander Hamilton to appoint Hamilton to the number two command position in a reconstituted American army preparing to fight France. Peace with France would deprive Hamilton of any chance at military glory. Predictably, Adams' peace initiative infuriated Hamilton whose respect for Adams was hardly higher than his for France.
The Treaty of Mortefontaine was a personal triumph for Adams - but not a political one. Historian Gordon W. Wood noted: "After months of negotiations, France...agreed to terms and in 1800 signed the Treaty of Mortefontaine with the United States that brought the Quasi-War to a close and suspended the Franco-American treaty of 1778, thus freeing America from its first of what Jefferson would refer to as 'entangling alliances.' Unfortunately for Adams, word of the ending of the conflict did not reach America until the Republicans had won the presidency."48 The treaty 'did not give the Americans all they desired, but it did resolve the crisis, and as the principal scholars of the Federalist era have argued, it was probably the best accommodation that could have been reached."49 It was finally ratified by the Senate on February 3, 1801. "Adams would go to his grave believing that he had sacrificed himself for peace," wrote historian Richard Brookhister. "A more realistic view is that he did the right thing in the worst possible way."50
Objectively, Adams was right. Historians Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick wrote: "With the likelihood of an actual French invasion having long since faded, and with popular exasperation at high taxes, the Alien and Sedition Laws, and an expensive army becoming every day more manifest, there was little to be gained from a continuing sole preoccupation with the specter of jacobinism."51 Politically, Adams was already isolated from both Jeffersonians and Federalists. After leaving the presidency, Adams wrote of his fellow Federalists: "Let me repeat to you once more, Sir, the faction was dizzy. Their brains turned round. They knew not, they saw not the precipice on which they stood."52 Without a foreign war to fight, the Federalists and Jeffersonians seemed to focus their paranoia on each other - fears and suspicions that had been growing since the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, exacerbated by the Jay Treaty, the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.
The same fears that had motivated the Alien and Sedition Acts were revived by Federalists in the 1800 campaign. Historian Fawn M. Brodie wrote: "The New York Commercial Advertiser ran a series of articles by one who signed himself Burleigh, which topped every previous diatribe in vituperation and hysteria. Burleigh predicted that a Jefferson victory would mean civil war, that thousands of Frenchmen and Irishmen, 'the refuse of Europe who have fled from the pillory and the gallows, and are here stirring up revolution, watching for plunder, and rioting in the thoughts of dividing up the property of the honest,' would 'rush from their lurking places, whet their daggers, and plunge them into the hearts of all who love order, peace, virtue, and religion.'"53 Emotions were running high and the rhetoric was hot. One Jeffersonian ditty proclaimed:
Let foes to Freedom dread the name,
But should they touch this sacred Tree,
Twice fifty thousands swords shall flame,
For Jefferson and Liberty.54
President Adams had grown increasingly isolated - from his own fellow Federalists who were angered by his decision to seek a second peace mission to France in 1799 and from Jeffersonians angered by his support of the Alien and Sedition acts. His position was perilous and his personality was fragmenting.
Vice President Thomas Jefferson presented a far different image from John Adams. In 1790 Pennsylvania Senator William Maclay observed the new secretary of state when former American minister to France first visited Congress: "Jefferson is a slender man; has rather the air of stiffness in his manner. His clothes seem too small for him. He sits in a lounging manner, on one hip commonly, and with one of his shoulders elevated much above the other. His face has a sunny aspect. His whole figure has a loose, shackling air. He had a rambling, vacant look, and nothing of that firm collected deportment which I expected would dignify the presence of a secretary or minister. I looked for gravity, but a laxity of manner seemed shed about him. He spoke almost without ceasing; even his discourse partook of his personal demeanor. It was loose and rambling; and yet he scattered information wherever he went, and some even brilliant sentiments sparkled from him."55 Historian Ron Chernow wrote: "A reserved man whose tight lips bespoke a secretive personality, Jefferson had calm eyes that seemed to comprehend everything. Shrinking from open confrontations, he often resorted to indirect, sometimes devious methods of dealing with disagreements. He could show a courtly charm in conversation and was especially seductive in small groups of like-minded listeners, where he became a captivating talker and natural leader."56
In the 1796 election Adams had defeated Jefferson in the Electoral College, but only by the narrow margin of 71 to 68. With the second most votes Jefferson became vice president with no responsibilities besides presiding over the Senate. Adams sought to involve Jefferson in his new administration, but Jefferson declined any participation. As vice president, Jefferson made a conscious decision not to cooperate with his long-time friend. Rather, he determined to wait his chance to become president himself. Joseph Ellis wrote that Jefferson "was psychologically incapable of seeing himself as a party leader, but that in fact was what he once...had become."57 Jefferson worked hard at this role, albeit in secret. Willard Sterne Randall wrote: "The enactment of the Sedition Act signaled one of the most secretive periods in Thomas Jefferson's long life. His letter book reveals that, while they usually exchanged several letters a month, he did not exchange a single letter with his closest ally, Madison, for more than three months in 1798 even as they launched the Republican counterattack against the Alien and Sedition Laws. Yet it is clear that the two men consulted each other regularly." Randall wrote: "Vice President Jefferson had stopped using the mails, too easily monitored by Federalist officials."58
There was no presidential honeymoon for Adams. Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall noted that "the campaign of 1800 had begun almost as soon as Jefferson became vice president in 1797."59 At least, it began in 1797 for Thomas Jefferson, who as vice president had little else to do other than plan and plot his next campaign and to organize his followers. Jefferson biographer Claude G. Bowers noted: "In every community he had his correspondents with whom he communicated with reasonable regularity, doing more in this way to mould and direct the policies of his party than could have been done in any other way."60 Jefferson was a devoted correspondent but he was a cautious one - particularly after he was burned by publication of criticism of George Washington contained in a letter from Jefferson to his Italian friend Philip Mazzei. Jefferson had been highly embarrassed by the publicity given his letter to Mazzei, which was published by Mazzei in Italy. It was then translated into French for publication and later translated again back to English, each time exaggerating Jefferson's criticisms. Historian Ron Chernow wrote of the Mazzei letter that it "gave the world a peek into a very different Thomas Jefferson: not the political savant but the crafty, partisan operative marked by unrelenting zeal."61
Jefferson had a habit of making cutting and injudicious remarks in letters which he later needed to explain. Jefferson scholar Frank L. Mott wrote: "Few public men have ever been more industrious letter-writers, and much of his correspondence was punctuated by pleas of secrecy. It is as though he felt a certain dichotomy in his political career - a cleavage between the Jefferson of history, and on the other hand, Jefferson the political manager, whose smaller intrigues, necessary though they seemed at the time, were more or less distasteful and might be private and easily forgotten."62
By 1798, Jefferson was in what then passed for full campaign mode - writing letters and organizing Republicans for the 1800 election. Biographer Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., wrote that Jefferson "may have been more comfortable in other roles, but he did not draw back from the party role for which he seemed destined. He never admitted liking the task of party leader, but he exercised that role with skill until he left the presidency twelve years later."63 Along with Madison, Jefferson constructed the intellectual framework for the assault on the Federalists. Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: "Madison accepted Jefferson's argument that the Union was based on a compact among states but rejected Jefferson's theory that the state was ever justified in declaring federal laws null and void."64 Madison and Jefferson first met regularly at Monticello to plan the campaign. But under the admonition of neighbor James Monroe that they should not be seen together, they discontinued that practice.
Madison took the more public role. "The year 1799 saw a continuation of confrontation politics,' wrote Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg. "In January and February Madison decided to go after the malefactors. Twice he wrote surreptitiously for the Aurora, using the signatures 'Enemy to Foreign Influence' and 'A Citizen of the United States.'"65 When even further meetings with Madison were considered unwise, Jefferson took the risk of writing out in November 1799 what was effectively the Republican campaign platform. Randall noted that Jefferson "called for peace, 'even with Great Britain.' 'A sincere cultivation of the Union' was to be the public stance. The army was to be disbanded 'on principles of economy and safety,' but while protesting unconstitutional laws, nothing was 'to be said or done which shall look or lead to force and give any pretext for keeping up the army.' The 1798 Resolutions had become the fundamental planks of the Democratic-Republicans in domestic affairs. The explicit pledge to avoid the use of force was to guarantee a bloodless revolution, one far too long unrecognized as such by historians."66
Politically, Jefferson was lucky that Washington had died in December 1799. Jefferson's once-warm relations with Washington had deteriorated in Washington's first administration and worsened once Jefferson departed for home in late 1793. After publication of the Mazzei letter, Washington ceased any communication with Jefferson. Although the Father of the Country generally appeared to be above politics, Washington was not so far above politics that he did not push two of his closest Virginia collaborators (one of whom was John Marshall) to run for Congress as Federalists in 1798. Washington was not close to Adams, but his successor's policies more closely followed his own ideas than did those advocated by Jefferson.
Jeffersonians adjusted quicker than Federalists to the new realities of party politics in America. The Federalists by contrast were politically maladroit. Writing of the impact on Federalists' actions on German-Americans in Pennsylvania, Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick wrote: "The Federalists never would wake up to the political effect they were having on these normally stolid people, and they continued to do one witless thing after another which would end only in their losing them forever."67 Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote that Federalist leaders saw the world in terms of a dichotomy that blinded them to political realities of America's development during the 1790s. Wood noted "how difficult it was for the Federalists leaders to accept the political, social, and religious changes taking place all around them. The issue facing them, as they saw it, was fundamental and beyond compromise: it was between 'Religion and infidelity, Morality and Debauchery, legal Government and total Disorganization."68 Historian John Ferling observed: "The Federalist mantra was that a stable society was essential to the well-being of a republican government. Furthermore, many Federalists wore their gentility on their sleeve, such as Fisher Ames, who was in the habit of referring to the party as the 'wise, the rich, and the good,' or others who at times spoke of it as 'the wise, the rich and the well-born."69
Both Federalists and Jeffersonians reached back in history to dredge up the most vicious charges. The Federalists charged that Jefferson had exhibited cowardice when the Virginia governor had fled from English soldiers in 1781. John Adams was accused by Thomas Jefferson's backers of using the brother of his running mate to procure English mistresses for both men. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, brother of Adams's 1776 running mate John Pinckney, had participated in the XYZ mission. Charles was Adams' 1800 running mate. Adams took the charge of procurement in relatively good humor, complaining of Pinckney: "I do declare upon my honor, if this be true General Pinckney has kept them all for himself and cheated me out of my two."70
Religion and Morality
Religious similarities between the candidates were twisted in political differences. Historian Bruce Ackerman wrote that "Republicans were on a rhetorical rampage against a Federalist administration with overweening monarchical ambitions."71 Federalists were equally inflamed. In one newspaper article a Federalist critic raised the question about what might happen if "such a man as Mr. Jefferson were to hold the reins of government." The writer prophesied: "In a short time, licentiousness and immorality would meet with the most public approbation, every restraint would soon be thrown off, and men would soon bring themselves to be infamous debauchees, assassins, cheats, thieves, liars, hateful and hating one another, a curse upon the earth."72
The mud-throwing in the campaign started early - and it started in the church. On July 4, 1798, the congregational minister who was president of Yale delivered a ringing condemnation of Jefferson's supposed atheism. In a widely-reprinted sermon, Yale President Timothy Dwight, whom critics sarcastically called "His Holiness Pope Timothy," prophesied the likely consequence of a Jefferson victory: "[T]he Bible would be cast into a bonfire, our holy worship changed in a dance of Jacobin phrensy, our wives and daughters dishonored, and our sons converted into the disciples of Voltaire and the dragoons of Marat." According to Dwight, "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, the nation black with crimes."73 Historian Edwin S. Gaustad wrote: "What Dwight had in mind were the many reforms, including those of the calendar, that the French Revolution had introduced...' Jefferson's friendship with France made him automatically liable for all the excesses, religious and otherwise, of that country's strongly anticlerical Revolution."74 Forrest Church wrote: "The religious divide ran largely along sectional lines. 'We want no Southern lights in these parts,' Timothy Dwight's brother Theodore editorialized in the Connecticut Courant. 'We have Northern lights - we have gospel light, and political light, sufficient to exterminate Jacobinism.'"75 One New York minister wrote: "Though there is nothing in our constitution to restrict our choice, yet the open and warm preference of a manifest enemy to the religion of Christianity, in a Christian nation, would be an awfull symptom of the degeneracy of that nation, and a rebellion against God."76 Federalist newspapers warned: "At the present solemn and momentous epoch, the only question to be asked by every American, laying his hand on his heart, is 'Shall I continue in allegiance to GOD - AND A RELIGIOUS PRESIDENT; or impiously declare for JEFFERSON - AND NO GOD!!!"77
The Jeffersonian newspapers were fewer but they vigorously attempted to respond. "The spirit of party has converted the elegant reasoning of Mr. Jefferson against religious establishments into a blasphemous argument against religion itself, editorialized one Maryland newspaper.78 The Philadelphia Aurora came to Jefferson's defense, editorializing "that the only charge which was brought by his enemies against Mr. Jefferson, is.....that he has no religion - a charge as false as it is weak and malicious, and which being brought at the eve of the last election prevented those enquires and answers...which have proved, that Mr. Jefferson was the most valuable and best friend that the true religion, and particularly the doctrines of the Christian Religion, ever had in the United States."79
The pitched battle that took place in the pulpit and newspapers was remarkably different from the agreement of the candidates' personal theological views.80 Historian Eugene R. Sheridan wrote: "Jefferson's opponents triumphantly proclaimed" that "Jefferson was an atheist, an infidel, or at best a deist (in their zeal to undermine his popular support his critics frequently sacrificed analytical rigor to rhetorical effect) who was hostile to Christianity and therefore unworthy to serve in the highest office possible for the American people to bestow upon a fellow citizen."81 Jefferson and Adams had very similar beliefs and very different attitudes toward church. Adams liked the church even when he did not like most clergy. Adams himself did not endorse the clergy wars. "They triggered his disdain for action and mistrust of religious politics," wrote Forrest Church.82
President Adams and Vice President Jefferson were both Unitarians by conviction if not public profession. But Adams was more willing to acknowledge the role of religion in public life and in the spring of 1799 issued a call for a day of fasting and repentance that had been requested by Presbyterians. It was the repentance part, according to historian Edwin S. Gaustad, that got Adams into trouble by appearing to side with Presbyterians and favor the establishment of a national church against other Protestant denominations.. Adams later wrote Benjamin Rush: "A general suspicion prevailed that the Presbyterian Church was ambitious and aimed at an establishment of a national church."83 Ironically, Adams' beliefs were a far cry from Presbyterian Calvinism. He overstated the case when he claimed: "The National Fast, recommended by me turned me out of office."84 It was true, however, that such declarations of fasting and thanksgiving were highly controversial - especially with Jefferson and Adams.
As the election approached, the attacks on Jefferson escalated. Historian Edwin S. Gaustad wrote: "Jefferson himself stood exposed as the target. The Reverend William Linn, Dutch Reformed minister of New York, joined in the frenzy. In the Notes on the State of Virginia, Linn found evidence that Jefferson rejected biblical revelation; this man who would be president even questioned the universal deluge in the days of Noah and failed utterly to hold up the Bible as the book 'most ancient, the most authentic, the most interesting, and the most useful in the world.' On this ground alone, Linn declared, 'he ought to be rejected from the Presidency.' Some would argue, said Linn, that Jefferson was a man of superb talents and remarkable abilities; so much the worse, for 'the greater will be his power and more extensive his influence in poisoning mankind.'"85
Linn made an issue of the absence of any evidence that Jefferson regularly attended Christian worship - although Jefferson did.86
Actually, Jefferson was fortunate that the Federalists knew so little about his religious beliefs. Steven Waldman wrote: "Little of the truly anti-religious material that Jefferson had written privately was well known at that point. In fact, he was scrupulous to keep his religious views private. But the Federalists felt they had enough to prove that Jefferson was dangerous, and the Virginian's religious views soon became a major issue in the campaign."87 After the election, Jefferson described the campaign in a letter to British scientist Joseph Priestley: "What an effort, my dear Sir, of bigotry in Politics & Religion have we gone through! The barbarians really flattered themselves they should be able to bring back the times of Vandalism, when ignorance put everything into the hands of power & priestcraft. All advances in science were proscribed as innovations. They pretended to praise and encourage education, but it was to be the education of our ancestors. We were to look backwards, not forwards, for improvement."88
There was a political divide in America'spulpits. Forrest Church wrote that in 1800, "Outgroups tended to be politically progressive, in groups politically conservative. The established churches (Congregational, Unitarian, and to a lesser extent, Episcopalian) were predominantly Federalist in their voting patterns. Dissenting Protestants (Baptist, Methodist, etc.), along with Catholics and Jews, by and large voted Republican. The Presbyterians split North and South, with the Northern Presbyterians, predominantly of English descent, aligning with the Federalists, and the southern and western Scots Presbyterians gravitating to the Republicans."89 Historian Walter A. McDougall argued that "Republican party managers did not care what voters did on Sunday. It happened their social message dovetailed with that of egalitarian, self-reliant Baptists and Methodists." So the emotion-free religion of Jefferson attracted the emotion-full evangelicals: "[O]ut in the sticks folks praised the Lord, passed the bottle, and jostled on down to vote for Long Tom."90 Adams' ministerial supporters very much cared what voters did. Adams' great-grandson, Henry Adams, noted that "every dissolute intriguer, loose-liver, forger, false coiner, and prison-bird; every hair-brained, loud talking demagogue; every speculator, scoffer, and atheist - was a follower of Jefferson."91
The Federalists hardly treated their own candidate better than did the Jeffersonians in 1800, especially after the dismissal of McHenry and Pickering from the Adams cabinet. Suicidal Federalists looked to replace Adams as their candidate. Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick wrote that "the Federalist cabal to prevent John Adams from succeeding himself - had taken on a life of its own. What followed throughout the summer and fall was a sequence of political madness. The madness, to be sure, was not exactly one-sided. There was a distinct aspect of it for which John Adams could have had no other to blame but himself."92 The Hamilton-led scenario was to milk all possible votes for Adams and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in the north and elect Pinckney with extra votes obtained for him in South Carolina. Elkins and McKitrick wrote: "By the end of the summer it had penetrated even the essentially innocent mind of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney that there were disreputable forces afoot from which he really ought to dissociate himself."93
New York and Aaron Burr
The key to President Adams' defeat, however, was in Hamilton's New York rather than Pinckney's South Carolina. New York State was then a swing state between the two emerging parties. The key vote was for its new legislature in the spring of 1800. As historian Noble Cunningham noted: "Jefferson calculated that if the Federalists carried New York the Republicans would have to carry both New Jersey and Pennsylvania and 'we could not count with any confidence' on doing that. In March 1800, Jefferson thus regarded a Republican victory in New York as essential to his election."94 The rules were important. It was the selection of election rules, rather than popular votes, that in many cases decided the results of state elections. New York Republicans wanted to shift the power to elect the Electoral College from the state legislature to direct election by districts. Federalists, who thought they could take all the state's votes and who controlled the legislature, refused. As a result, all the state's Electoral College votes would be awarded by whichever party controlled a majority of the state's legislators election in May 1800.
The key to the results in New York was Jefferson ally Aaron Burr, who literally invented modern campaign techniques. On a personal level, the New York election became a political duel between Burr and Alexander Hamilton that four years later would lead to a duel that would kill the Federalist leader. But Hamilton, who was a world-class statesman, was out of his league when it came to local politics Burr was a talented politician and charismatic personality who both attracted and repelled contemporaries. Historian Gordon S. Wood wrote: "For Burr, befriending people and creating personal loyalties and connections was the way politics and society worked. Aristocrats were patrons, and they had clients who were obliged to them. Hence Burr sought to patronize as many people as he could."95 Burr combined his organizational genius with personal charisma. Historian Joanne B. Freeman wrote that Burr "politicked through the agency of a league of energetic young lieutenants." She quoted one top Burr aide, Matthew Davis, who wrote: "It was one of the most remarkable exhibitions of the force of his character...this bending every one who approached him to his use and compelling their unremitted, though often unwilling, labours in his behalf."96
Burr's alliances and friendships were sometimes curious for an ambitious New Yorker. Burr was not a conventional or predictable Jeffersonian, noted historian Roger G. Kennedy. Burr was "willing to cooperate with the Federalists and to be lukewarm toward France. Neither position endeared him either to the Francophile Virginians or to the Livingstons" who dominated New York politics. Kennedy wrote: "Burr's aberrations from Republican discipline and taste might have been enough, but he added his abolitionist alliance with Hamilton and Jay, as well as that peculiar insistence upon the intellectual equality of blacks and women to white males, for which Mr. Jefferson has said 'the public is not prepared nor am I." Kennedy added: "Aaron Burr exacerbated his relationship with Jefferson by being unwilling to inveigh either against John Jay's handling of the Federalists' Alien and Sedition Acts or for Jefferson's countermeasures, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions."97
Still, Burr held a pivotal national position for Jeffersonians. As Jefferson's 1796 running mate, he was miffed about the Jeffersonians' handling of the Electoral College vote in Virginia. In order to make sure that Burr was not elected president, Virginia withheld its votes from him, giving Massachusetts' Samuel Adams fifteen of the state's sixteen votes. Historian Garry Wills wrote: "Burr, angered that he had been betrayed by his own party, refused to join the Republican ticket again, in 1800, unless he was assured that there would be no repetition of the humiliating snub he had received the first time."98 Jefferson began a charm offensive against Burr after the 1796 election "that continued at irregular intervals until Burr himself became Vice President in 1801."99
In 1798 Jefferson dispatched Pennsylvania Congressman Albert Gallatin to New York to determine which leading Republican should be Jefferson's best running mate in 2000. Adams' great-grandson later wrote that "the New York Republicans were divided into three factions, represented by the Clinton, Livingston, and Burr interests; and among them there was...little difference in principle or morals."100 But Gallatin clearly favored Burr, who was also close to his father-in-law, Commodore James Nicholson, who wrote Gallatin: "Burr is the most suitable person and perhaps the only man. Such is also the opinion of all the Republicans in this quarter; their confidence in A. B. Is universal and unbounded."101 Historian Garry Wills wrote that Burr "told the vice president that everything would depend, in New York, on the twelve New York city delegates to the assembly, and he thought he could win those crucial seats for the party. This news comforted Jefferson, since it looked as if Pennsylvania, which had given Jefferson fourteen of its fifteen votes in the last election, would not be casting any votes in 1800. New York, in that case, would be the only middle state going Republican if it did."102 New York City's 13 legislators were key. Burr biographer Nancy Isenberg wrote that Burr "understood that everything boiled down to his being able to secure the greatest number possible of Manhattan assemblymen."103 The Federalists meanwhile seemingly had a death wish. In New York City, they fielded a completely undistinguished slate of candidates for the State Assembly in New York City.104 A Burr ally described the Federalist ticket as "two grocers, a ship chandler, a baker, a potter, a bookseller, a mason, and a shoemaker."105
Burr's strategy was just the opposite of the Federalists'. The Republican ticket was a team of political all-stars. Burr put together a ticket for the Assembly of big-name Republicans from different factions - men whose stature would ordinarily have made such a candidacy beneath them. Burr shrewdly left his own name off the list which included former Governor George Clinton, Revolutionary War General Horatio Gates, and Robert Livingston, the first secretary of foreign affairs under the Articles of Confederation. Burr let the Federalists unveil their ticket first; then surprised them with the quality of his own nominees. As Burr planned the campaign for nomination and election of his slate: "As soon as the room begins to fill up, I will nominate Daniel Smith as chairman, and put the question quickly. Daniel being in the chair, you must nominate one member, I will nominate one...and other...and, in this way, we will get them nominated. We must then have some inspiring speeches, close the meeting, and retire. We must then have a caucus and invite some of our most active and patriotic Democrats, both young and old, appoint meetings in different wards, select speakers to address each, and keep up frequent meetings at Tammany Hall until the election."106 Biographer Isenberg wrote: "Burr saw that the ticket was rounded out with prominent merchants, mechanics, and trusted ex-assemblymen who had recently served with him in the lower house."107
Because Burr's own name was controversial in New York City, he ran instead in upstate Orange County. His strategy was pivotal. Cunningham wrote: "Burr's accomplishment in framing a strong ticket inspired the lesser party leaders to greater effort. 'Never,' said one of them, 'have I observed such a union of sentiment; so much zeal and so general a determination to be active.'" Cunningham noted: "Burr's success depended on mobilizing the regular party machinery into an effective campaign organization." For two months, Burr spared no effort to do so. Historians Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick wrote: "Had it not been for the prodigious exertions of Aaron Burr in the pivotal state of New York, and switches of a few hundred votes for assemblymen in the city wards there, hitherto safely Federalist, Adams would have defeated Jefferson a second time for the presidency."108
While nominating these elite individuals in New York City, the Jeffersonians depicted themselves as the friends of working men. The Federalists allowed themselves to be defined as the party of the elites. In New York City in 1800, noted historian John Ferling, Federalist "insensitivity toward the workers cost them dearly."109 Ferling wrote: "To many dock jockeys, sailors, and unskilled laborers who struggled to keep their heads above water, as well as to skilled tradesmen and small-business owners who aspired to greater social and economic opportunities, the Federalists had taken on the appearance of nabobs and grandees who preferred to keep their distance from their social inferiors."110
The legislative election was held over three grueling days. The days were particularly grueling for Hamilton and Burr who sped around New York speaking and cajoling and urging their supporters to greater get-the-vote efforts. Burr's Republicans prevailed in every contest. Cliff Sloan and David McKean wrote: "When the votes were tallied it was evident that Burr had outworked and outmaneuvered his archrival....It was, as ardent Federalist Gouverneur Morris remarked, 'a bad sign' that the Federalists would face serious difficulties in the presidential election."111 It was bad for the Federalists, bad for Hamilton, and bad for President Adams.
Aaron Burr proved to be the country's first grassroots political mastermind - turning out the New York City vote and turning out the Federalist majority in Albany. In this political and personal duel between Burr and Hamilton, Hamilton was out maneuvered. A Hamilton biographer wrote: "Whereas Hamilton was open, straightforward and impetuous, Burr was subtle, evasive and cautious. Hamilton was a man of principle who acted, sometimes to his detriment, upon ideas strongly held; Burr, on the other hand, made expediency his guide, played fast and loose with all parties and never permitted ideological considerations to stand in the way of his political advancement."112 Burr was also a fund-raising genius. Biographer Marie B. Hecht wrote: "When a rather wealthy but lazy gentleman was assessed one hundred dollars, Burr directed that the amount be doubled and that no labor should be expected. 'He will pay you the two hundred dollars and thank you for letting him off so easy,' Davis recalled Burr as having said, adding 'that the knowledge and use of men consisted in placing each in his appropriate position."113
John Nicholson, Pennsylvania Congressman Gallatin's father-in-law, wrote from New York that the campaign "has been conducted and brought to issue in so miraculous a manner that I cannot account for it but from the intervention of a Supreme Power and our friend Burr the agent....His generalship, perseverance, industry, and execution exceeds all description, so that I think I can say he deserves anything and everything of his country."114 From Washington, Gallatin, a key Jefferson supporter, wrote his wife: "The New York election has engrossed the whole attention of all of us, meaning by us Congress and the whole city. Exultation on our side is high; the other party are in low sprits." He wrote: "Who is to become Vice-President, Clinton or Burr? This is a serious question which I am delegated to make, and to which I must have an answer by Friday next. Remember this is important, and I have engaged to procure correct information of the wishes of the New York Republicans."115 Gallatin's father-in-law was deputed to evaluate the choice between Clinton and Burr as the most desirable running mate for Jefferson. Nicholson wrote Gallatin: "Gen. Clinton with whom I just spoke declined - His age, his infirmities & his habits & Attachment to retired Life in his opinion has exempted him from an active life. As Geo. Clinton thinks Col. Burr is the most Suitable person & perhaps the only Man. Such is also the opinion of all the Republicans in this quarter that I have conversed with, this confidence in AB is universal & unbounded."116
Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow wrote: "On May 3, the day the news [of Adams's New York defeat] arrived, Jefferson saw that the election results had indeed dealt a horrendous blow to Adams."117 The same day that Jefferson received the New York results, Federalist members of Congress gathered to designate a candidate for president. Without much enthusiasm and operating under the influence of Hamilton, they nominated both Adams and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. What the Federalist congressmen did not do was differentiate which man was a candidate for president. The Philadelphia Aurora called the Federalist meeting a "Jacobinical conclave" - ironic since "Jacobins" was a term more likely to be associated with the French-leaning Jeffersonians.118
Alexander Hamilton was truly stunned by the New York election results. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote: "Burr, as Hamilton saw it, had stolen the election by a trick; all that was necessary to defeat the trick was to place the choice of electors in the hands of the people." So, now Hamilton wanted the Federalist legislature to change the method of electing electors to district election.119 In his desperation Hamilton proposed to Governor John Jay that New York State's laws be changed so that the outgoing Federalist legislature, rather than the incoming Republican one, be allowed to choose the state's Electors. Hamilton contended that "interests of society" should not be undermined "by a strict adherence to ordinary rules."120 Hamilton wrote Jay: "You, sir, know in a great degree the anti-Federal party; but I fear you do not know them as well as I do. It is a composition, indeed, of very incongruous materials; but all tending to mischief-some of them to the Overthrow of the Government by stripping it of its due energies, others of them, to a Revolution, after the manner of Bonaparte. I speak from indubitable facts, not from conjectures and inferences. In proportion as the true character of the party is understood, is the force of the considerations which urge to every effort to disappoint it; and it seems to me, that there is a very solemn obligation to employ the means in our power." Hamilton continued:
The calling of the Legislature will have for its object the choosing of electors by the people in districts; this (as Pennsylvania will do nothing) will ensure a majority of votes in the United States for a Federal candidate. The measure will not fail to be approved by all the Federal party; while it will, no doubt, be condemned by the opposite. As to its intrinsic nature, it is justified by unequivocal reasons of Public Safety.
The reasonable part of the world will, I believe, approve it. They will see it as a proceeding out of the common course, but warranted by the particular nature of the crisis, and the great cause of social order.
If done, the motive ought to be frankly avowed. In your communication to the Legislature, they ought to be told that temporary circumstances had rendered it probable that without their interposition, the executive authority of the General Government would be transferred to hands hostile to the system heretofore pursued with so much success, and dangerous to the peace, happiness, and order of the country; that under this impression, from facts convincing to your own mind, you had thought it your duty to give the existing Legislature an opportunity of deliberating whether it would not be proper to interpose, and endeavor to prevent so great an evil by referring the choice of electors to the people distributed into districts.
In weighing this suggestion, you will doubtless bear in mind that popular governments must certainly be overturned, and while they endure, prove engines of mischief, if one party will call to its aid all the resources which vice can give; and if the other (however pressing the emergency) confines itself within all the ordinary forms of delicacy and decorum.
The Legislature can be brought together in three weeks, so that there will be full time for the object; but none ought to be lost.
Think well, my dear sir, of this proposition-appreciate the extreme danger of the crisis; and I am unusually mistaken in my view of the matter, if you do not see it right and expedient to adopt the measure.121
Hamilton's proposal was not so outrageous as it might seem by modern standards. Changing the rules was standard procedure in 1800. Before their New York victory, Burr's Republicans had wanted to change the state's rules for district elections. Historian Joanne Freeman noted: "There was method to Hamilton's seeming madness. With the Republic's survival at stake, rules and standards had to be bent and adapted, though not overthrown."122 But changing the rules in the middle of the game after the election did seem outrageous - at least to Governor Jay who rejected Hamilton's suggestion by effectively ignoring it. The governor wrote on Hamilton's letter that is was 'a measure for party purposes wh. I think it wd. not become me to adopt."123
Like Hamilton in New York, President Adams in Philadelphia was stunned by the Federalists' defeat in New York. Jefferson recalled more than a decade later: "On the day on which we learned in Philadelphia the vote of the city of New York, which it was well known would decide the vote of the State, and that, again, the vote of the Union, I called on Mr. Adams on some official business. He was very seriously affected, and accosted me with these words: 'Well, I understand that you are to beat me in this contest, and I will only say that I will be as faithful a subject as any you will have.' 'Mr. Adams,' said I, 'this is no personal contest between you and me. Two systems of principles on the subject of government divide our citizens into two parties. With one of these you concur, and I with the other. As we have been longer on the public stage than most of those now living, our names happen to be more generally known. One of these parties, therefore, has put your name at its head, the other mine. Were we both to die to-day, to-morrow two other names would be in the place of ours, without any change in the motion of the machinery. Its motion is from its principle, and not from you or myself.' 'I believe you are right,' said he, 'that we are but passive instruments, and should not suffer this matter to affect our personal dispositions.' But he did long retain this just view of the subject. I have always believed that the thousand calumnies which the federalists, in bitterness of heart, and mortification at their ejection, daily invented against me, were carried to him by their busy intriguers, and made some impression."124
Hamilton had badly miscalculated - but so did Republicans when they rewarded Burr with the vice presidential designation. Burr had proven to be a skilled political negotiator - whose abilities were ignored at one's peril. His weaknesses were also ignored at one's peril. The Republicans needed New York; the choice was Burr, Robert Livingston, or former Governor George Clinton. Burr and his allies pressed his claim to the post. Republicans were willing to yield to Burr's demands for becoming their candidate for vice president - Republicans had to pledge to deliver all their votes to him - not withhold some as Virginia had in 1796. Because of this pledge, a political crisis ensued....Burr pretended reluctance, but he wanted to be asked. As Gallatin's wife wrote Albert, Burr's attitude was that the Virginians had "once deceived him, and they are not to be trusted."125 Burr worried that a close election might result in a reversal of the results of 1796 with Jefferson elected President and Adams elected vice president - with his own ambitions again sidelined. Democrats wavered about Burr, and Burr wavered about joining Jefferson's ticket, telling Albert Gallatin's father-in-law that he thought "that no arrangement could be made which would be observed to the southward, alluding as I understood to the last election, in which he was certainly ill used by Virginia and North Carolina." Gallatin was assigned to tell Burr that if he ran, Virginia would deliver her votes to him.126 Meanwhile, Burr's future son-in-law, South Carolinian Joseph Alston, made the political rounds of New England and Virginia. A careful and cautious Burr left little to chance.
The General Election
"Throughout the summer and early fall, the harsh ideological as well as personal tone of the campaign hardened partisan loyalties and turned the contest into a democratic outpouring," wrote historian Sean Wilentz. "Some southern Republican raised the issue of states rights, but generally Jefferson's supporters, fearing continued unease at the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, stressed their attachment to the Constitution and the spirit of 1776, now endangered by the Federalists' repression. The Federalists countered that the Republicans were bloodthirsty, godless Jacobins in disguise, who had roused up 'discontented hotheads' and would reduce the country to a land of groans, and tears, and blood.'"127
Adams was hardly the war monger that James Madison portrayed him to be but Madison's characterization of Adams typified the polarization of American politics in the late 1790s. Both sides went to great lengths to exaggerate the differences between the two candidates. David McCullough noted the "striking ironies" of comparisons between the two candidates. "Jefferson, the Virginia aristocrat and slave master who lived in a style fit for a prince, as removed from his fellow citizens and their lives as it was possible to be, was hailed as the apostle of liberty, the 'Man of the People.' Adams, the farmer's son who despised slavery and practiced the kind of personal economy and plain living commonly upheld as the American way, was scorned as an aristocrat who, if he could, would enslave the common people."128 There were differences between the two men, but they were hardly the ones that politicians emphasized. Many of those differences involved personality. Adams, for example, was restless internally. Jefferson was restless externally.
Much more than Adams, Jefferson proved a master of hot button issues. Those issues energized his supporters. Historian James H. Broussard wrote that one reason "for the greater intensity of the Republicans' campaign is that while Federalists viewed Jefferson as a potential disaster for the country, Republicans believed that Federalist policies were already a present danger."129 The Jeffersonians had the passion of "outs" who desperately wanted and believed in change. Jefferson's supporters also proved the better organizers. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote that they succeeded "in capturing majorities in most legislatures, they were better organized and more artful in arousing the voters - and that was the key to their success."130 In contrast, wrote Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, the Federalists "were all but paralyzed in their incapacity to think or act in a truly political way, in any of the senses that 'political' would come more and more to be understood in the America of the nineteenth century."131 "Republican speakers and editors endless excoriated their opponents over the alien and sedition acts, the Provision Army, and their Anglo-monarchical proclivities," wrote Sean Wilentz. "The Federalists countered that the Republicans were bloodthirsty, godless Jacobins in disguise, who had roused up 'discontented hotheads' and would reduce the country to a 'land of groans, and tears, and blood.'"132
The Jeffersonians were much better at politics than the Federalists. The Jeffersonians were being increasingly aggressive at techniques the Federalists found offensive. Historian David Hackett Fischer identified Hamilton as one of the few Federalists who was good at campaigning. Fischer noted: "By and large, older Federalists turned away from electioneering at the same time that Jeffersonians turned toward it." Fischer wrote: "During the 1790s the Jeffersonians revolutionized electioneering. By pooling their efforts they were able to sponsor campaigns far beyond the resources of the wealthiest individuals or the busiest of cliques. Their opponents complained bitterly of endless 'dinings,' 'drinkings,' and celebrations; of handbills 'industriously posted along every road'; of convoys of vehicles which brought voters to the polls by the cartload, of candidates 'in perpetual motion.'"133
At the same time, Jeffersonians sought to place their leader on a high moral plain. Jefferson took an active and unprecedented, albeit secret, role in directing his presidential campaign. Jefferson liked to appear above the battle - even when he was in the thick of it. In his case, however, his deniability was not plausible. Jefferson wanted to exploit fissures within the Federalist Party even as he sought to keep his own party unified. "Do not let my name be connected with the business," Jefferson told James Monroe of his involvement in the 1800 campaign.134 In an earlier letter, Jefferson enclosed some pamphlets and wrote: "I wish you to give these to the most influential characters among our country-men, who are only misled, are candid enough to be open to conviction, and who may have the most effect on their neighbors."135
Legal expert James F. Simon wrote: "Jefferson was anything but aloof in his behind-the-scenes political activities. He and Madison, in particular, discussed both broad issues of political principle and specific strategies for partisan advantage. Jefferson had firm ideas on how to exploit the growing fissure between the moderate and conservative Federalist factions over the second Paris peace mission and the related issue of a standing army. He knew that Adams and Marshall supported the peace mission and wanted to maintain the army only for defensive purposes, whereas the High Federalists, led by Hamilton, opposed any settlement with France and favored an expansive, permanent military presence."136 Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: "Jefferson's most important contribution was to develop the Republican platform in letters that explained his own political principles to party leaders around the country."137 Jefferson also sought other Republicans to take more public roles on his behalf. Cunningham wrote that "Jefferson appealed to...political friends to write political tracts and pieces for the newspapers, though he himself adhered faithfully to an earlier resolved not to write anonymously for publication."138
Indeed, both sides tried to define the election by dichotomies which stretched truth into caricature. Jefferson was repeatedly defined by his followers in the 1800 election as the author of Declaration of Independence. One Jeffersonian argument urged voters "taking the Declaration of Independence in our hands, and carrying its principles in our hearts, let us resolve to support THOMAS JEFFERSON, whose whole life has been a comment on its precepts, and an uniform pursuit of the great blessings of his country which it was first intended to establish."139 Such characterizations grated on Adams who had led the fight to pass independence while Jefferson had merely written the document which had been much edited by Congress. Jefferson biographer Willard Sterne Randall wrote: "Some Republicans, in fact, complained that Jefferson's campaign was too high-toned, that with all the talk about principles, not enough was being done to strip up people's feelings so they would get out and vote. Benjamin Franklin Bache, grandson and namesake of the great inventor and printer, insisted on simplifying the campaign; under his editorship, the Philadelphia-based Aurora proclaimed, 'The Friends of peace will vote for Jefferson - the friends of war will vote for Adams or for Pinckney.'"140 Jefferson had laid out his political ideas in 1799 letter:
I do, then, with sincere zeal, wish an inviolable preservation of our present Federal Constitution, according to the true sense in which it was adopted by the States, that in which it was advocated by its friends, and not that which its enemies apprehended, who therefore became its enemies; and I am opposed to the monarchising of its features by the forms of its administration, with a view to conciliate a first transition from a President and Senate for life, and from that to an hereditary tenure of these offices, and thus to worm out the elective principle.
I am for preserving to the States the powers not yielded by them to the Union, and to the legislature of the Union its constitutional share in the division of powers; and I am not for transferring all the powers of the States to the General Government, and all those of that government to the executive branch.
I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers and salaries merely to make partisans, and for increasing, by every device, the public debt, on the principle of its being a public blessing.
I am for relying for internal defense on our malitia [sic] solely, till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace, which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy which, by its own expenses, and the eternal laws in which it will implicate us, will grind us with public burthens, and sink us under them.
I am for free commerce with all nations; political connection with none; and little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe; entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of kings to war against the principles of liberty.
I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another: for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or injust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents. And I am for encouraging the progress of science in all its branches; and not for raising a hue and cry against the sacred name of philosophy.141
Churches and newspapers were key campaign tools for both sides. Newspapers were highly partisan and mostly Federalist, but Jefferson used what periodicals he could to support his campaign and he did so most energetically. He was fortunate that the number of Republican newspapers grew sharply as the election approached.142 Jefferson scholar Jerry W. Knudson noted: "The federalist press did not lose the election; on the contrary, it came remarkably close to winning it."143 The impact of the media, however, would only truly be felt in states like Maryland where the results of the election had not been effectively predetermined by the rules or other factors. Cliff Sloan and David McKean wrote that Jefferson "would later acknowledge that he personally underwrote the Republican press: 'I as well as most other Republicans who were in the way of doing it, contributed what I could to the support of the republican papers and printers,' including 'sums of money for the Bee, the Albany Register, etc. when they were staggering under the sedition law, contributed to the fines of Callender himself, of Holt, Brown and others suffering under that law."144 In 1797 rogue journalist James Callender had complained to Jefferson of Federalist persecution. Jefferson began to send him a series of small payments that Jefferson later claimed to be "mere charities."145 Jefferson wrote of one of Callender's articles: "Such papers cannot fail to produce the best effect. They inform the thinking part of the nation."146 Historian Thomas Fleming wrote: "The journalist was a heavy drinker with a paranoid streak that widened appreciably when he was jailed under the Sedition Act, the law that made it a crime to criticize a president. Jefferson, who believed the law was unconstitutional, gave Callender money and sympathy. When Jefferson became president in 1800, he pardoned the journalist."147 When Jefferson's charity ceased, however, Callender would turn on Jefferson.
"It was the newspapers that became the principal instruments of this partisan warfare," wrote historian Gordon S. Wood. "While the Federalist press accused the Republicans of being 'filthy Jacobins' and 'monsters of sedition,' the Republican press denounced the Federalists for being 'Tory monarchists' and 'British-loving aristocrats' and the president for being 'a mock Monarch' who was 'blind, bald, toothless, querulous' and 'a ruffian deserving of the curses of mankind.' By the late 1790s both President John Adams and Vice-President Thomas Jefferson came to believe that they had become the victims, in Adams's words, of 'the most envious malignity, the most base, vulgar, sordid, fish-woman scurrility, and the most palpable lies' that had ever been leveled against any public official."148 Both may have been victims, but Jefferson was the more active aggressor. While Jefferson was fully engaged in the election, Adams was not. Historian John Ferling wrote that Adams' "protracted absence from Philadelphia isolated him from the public and especially from those within his party who wished for an approachable and visible leader."149 While Adams did not proactively campaign, he did engage in a negative struggle with fellow Federalists that undermined his campaign.
Adams was too alienated from his own party to have much influence on the Federalist campaign. Even as president, he was an often distant figure -- seeking refuge at his home in Massachusetts with his beloved wife, and once there sinking into depression. Unlike Adams, Jefferson was deeply and intimately involved in his campaign - although he tried to veil that involvement. Jefferson biographer Fawn Brodie wrote: "Jefferson's emergence during the campaign of 1800 as a resolute, determined, and wily candidate for president can be charted, though with some difficulty, in his letters, where he shows himself to be politic, shrewd, restrained, and often secretive. He sent his most confidential letters by special messenger, often with instruction that the missives be burned."150 Biographer Noble Cunningham noted: "Adams was not so active as Jefferson in 1800 in the types of campaign activities in which Jefferson engaged - letter-writing, circulating political pamphlets, urging friends to write pieces for the press, assisting Republican newspaper editors, and encouraging Republican followers throughout the country to assist in the party cause. But Adams enjoyed the advantages of being the President of the United States, and whether consciously or not, he allowed his candidacy to benefit from these advantages."151 The president's involvement, however, was relatively passive compared to the zealotry of Jefferson.
Alexander Hamilton vs. John Adams
Adams lacked the loyal base of party support that Jefferson enjoyed. Alexander Hamilton, the Federalists' leading political strategist, did not like or trust President Adams. Hamilton determined to try to replace Adams with his vice presidential running mate, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. To accomplish that feat, Hamilton campaigned far harder than either of the presidential candidates. Hamilton biographer Marie B. Hecht wrote that Hamilton "wrote letters, spoke to friends and acquaintances, and made an extended swing through New England. As time went on, Hamilton's dislike for Adams grew, and his determination to stop him [became] unrestrained by his usual good sense."152 Shortly after the New York defeat in April, Hamilton wrote a brief note to House Speaker Theodore Sedgewick: "You have heard of the loss of our election in the city of New York. This renders it too probable that the electors of President for this State will be anti-federal. If so, the policy which I was desirous of pursuing at the last election, is now recommended by motives of additional cogency. To support Adams and Pinckney equally is the only thing that can possibly save us from the fangs of Jefferson. It is, therefore, essential that the federalists should not separate without coming to a distinct and solemn concert to pursue this course bona fide."153
Then on May 10, Hamilton wrote Sedgewick a longer letter: "Were I to determine from my own observation, I should say, most of the most influential men of the Federal party consider Mr. Adams, as a very unfit and incapable character. For my individual part, my mind is made up. I will never more be responsible for him by my direct support, even though the consequence should be the election of Jefferson. If we must have an enemy at the head of the government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible; who will not involve the party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures. Under Adams as under Jefferson, the government will sink."
'Tis a notable expedient for keeping the Federal party together, to have at the head of it a man, who hates and is despised by those men of it, who, in times past, have been its most efficient supporters. If the cause is to be sacrificed to a weak and perverse man, I withdraw from the party, and act upon my own ground; never, certainly, against my principles, but in pursuance of them in my own way. I am mistaken, if others will not do the same. The only way to prevent a fatal schism is to support General Pinckney in good earnest. If I can be perfectly satisfied, that Adams and Pinckney will be upheld in the East with entire good faith; on the ground of conformity, I will, wherever my influence may extend, pursue the same plan. If not, I will pursue Mr. Pinckney, as my single object. Adieu.154
Historian Joanne B. Freeman has noted that the results of presidential elections were highly dependent on the honor of the candidates' supporters. "Personal honor was the ultimate bond of party when all else failed, the only way to overcome the many conflicting regional and personal claims that tore a man's commitments of principles. In the absence of the firm partisan bonds that scholars often take for granted on the national stage, honor was a fundamental underpinning of national partisan combat."155 Aaron Burr had experienced in1796 what happened when politicians did not honor their commitments. In so doing, the Virginians had assured that Burr would become wary and calculating with Jefferson.
Hamilton, wary and calculating by nature, had his own sense of honor. He did not trust Adams. Under Hamilton's strategy, South Carolina would provide the final and determining votes for the Electoral College. Pinckney and Adams would collect all the votes from northern Federalists but the votes from South Carolina would be reserved for Pinckney alone. Sedgwick wrote Hamilton after a meeting of congressional Federalists on May 3: "We have had a meeting of the whole federal party [in Congress], on the subject of the ensuing election, and have agreed that we will support, bona fide, Mr. Adams and General Pinckney."156 But the weakness of his strategy is that by pulling away from Adams in one state, Federalists in another could pull away from Pinckney. Freeman wrote: "All over the nation Federalists were well aware that if they reneged on their half of the agreements - if they refused to support the candidate who was not from their region - the supporters of that man would do the same in return, and the Federalist cause would collapse."157
Adams was doubtless aware of the maneuverings of Hamilton and enraged by what he regarded as the complicity of his Cabinet. The president moved quickly and emotionally to respond. Cunningham wrote: "After the Federalist defeat in New York, Adams no longer felt compelled to deal gently with Hamilton, who could no longer deliver the New York vote either for or against him."158 A week after the congressional meeting of Federalists that designated both Adams and Pinckney, Adams picked a fight with Hamilton's allies in the cabinet - forcing out both Secretary of War James McHenry and Secretary of State Timothy Pickering. First, he requested Pickering's resignation, which Pickering refused. Adams then fired him. As McHenry recalled his parting interview with the president, Adams said: "Hamilton has been opposing me in New York. He has caused the loss of the election No head of Department shall be permitted to oppose me." Adams went on to denounce Hamilton as a "an intriguant," "a bastard" and a "foreigner." He charged that McHenry was "subservient to Hamilton who ruled Washington, and would still rule if he could."159 For his part, Pickering wrongly blamed his dismissal on an agreement that Adams had made with Jefferson.
The Hamilton faction began to mobilize in response. Marie B. Hecht wrote: "Hamilton had already made up his mind that he would never support Adams, 'even if though the consequence should be the election of Jefferson. If we must have an enemy at the head of the Government, let it be one whom we can oppose and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and measures."160 Manning J. Dauer wrote: "Several days before the removal Adams told Pickering that Jefferson would probably win, and would be as little inclined to go to war as he would." Dauer observed: "Reflecting this belief or suspicion that Adams had entered into a bargain, and desiring to use the dismissals as ammunition in their campaign to lessen the exclusive support for him, the High-Federalists inspired an interesting article, which appeared in the Trenton Federalist of June 2. From this paper it was copied throughout the country. The item stated that the dismissals were the result of a bargain between Jefferson and Adams."161
Communications from Hamilton's friends reinforced his antagonism toward Adams. Hamilton wrote McHenry that "we are not to be discouraged. A new and more dangerous Aera has commenced....Property, Liberty and even life are at stake. The friends of good principles, must be more closely linked."162 Left in office was Hamilton ally Oliver Wolcott, the secretary of the treasury. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote: "That he chose not to fire Wolcott - who fiercely opposed his reelection and was, despite being against an army, much closer to Hamilton than was the staunchly independent Pickering -- is a mark of the breakdown of his faculties."163 Hamilton sought to collect information from his friends in government that he could use to attack Adams. Meanwhile, Pickering was replaced by Virginia Congressman John Marshall and McHenry was replaced by Massachusetts Senator Samuel Dexter. Hamilton squirmed on the defense, where he was never comfortable. "It is plain that unless we give our reasons in some form or other, Mr. Adams' personal friends, seconded by the Jacobins, will completely run us down in the public opinion," Hamilton wrote Wolcott.164 Former Massachusetts Congressman Fisher Ames wrote Hamilton at the end of August, laying out the Federalists' dilemma:
"We understand that, at the close of the late session, the federalists consulted on the measures proper to be taken by the friends of order and true liberty, to keep the chair from being occupied by an enemy of both. This was the principal object, to which all inferior considerations must be made to yield. It was known and allowed that Mr. Adams had conducted strangely and unaccountably, and that his reelection would be very inauspicious to the United States. But, great as that evil appeared, it was thought indispensably necessary to run the risk of it, and to agree fairly to vote for him and General Pinckney, because chance might exclude the former, and because any other arrangement would, by dividing the party, inevitably exclude both, and absolutely secure the success of Mr. Jefferson; and because, also, many, perhaps most, of the federalists will believe, it is better to have him, Mr. Adams, again, than Mr. Jefferson. The question being, not what opinion we must have of the candidates, but what conduct we are to pursue, I do not see cause to arraign the policy of the result of that meeting. For, in the first place, it is manifestly impossible to get votes enough for General P. to prevent the choice of Mr. Jefferson, in case he should be supported in open hostility to Mr. A. The sixteen votes of this State, and four of Rhode Island, may be counted as adhering, in all events, to Mr. A. Then why should we ground any plan of conduct on a known impracticability of its execution? By taking that course of open hostility, generous as it may seem, we are at issue with all the federalists who would not join us, and whose vexation and despair would ascribe the certain ill success of the party to us, and not to the Jacobins. They would say we make Mr. Jefferson President, and the vindictive friends of Mr. A. would join in the accusation. The federalists would be defeated, which is bad, and disjointed and enraged against one another, which would be worse. Now it seems to me, that the great object of duty and prudence is, to keep the party strong, by its union and spirit. For I see almost no chance of preventing the election of Mr. Jefferson. Pennsylvania will be managed eventually by Governor McKean and Governor Dallas, to throw its whole weight into that scale. The question is not, I fear, how we shall fight, but how we and all federalists shall fall, that we may fall, like Antjeus, the stronger for our fall. It is, I confess, awkward and embarrassing, to act under the constraints that we do. But sincerity will do much to extricate us. Where is the inconsistency of saying, President A. has not our approbation of some of his measures, nor do we desire his reelection: but many federalists do, and the only chance to prevent the triumph of the Jacobins, is to unite, and vote according to the compromise made at Philadelphia, for the two candidates. That this gives an equal chance, and a better than we would freely give to one of them. But, strong as our objections are, and strongly as we could, and are willing to, urge them to the public, we refrain, because the effect of urging them would be to split the federalists, and absolutely to insure Mr. Jefferson's success. That, however, if the rancorous - and absurd attacks of Mr. A.'s personal friends, and the meditated intrigues with our legislature, should make it necessary, we shall not fail to prevent the effect of that compromise which they thus abuse, and turn against the avowed design of those who made it; and that we shall not sit still, but resort to such measures as they will render necessary. That this compromise not only exhibits the condescension and pliancy of Mr. A.'s opposers, but is the only good basis of the success of either Mr. A.'s or General P.'s friends in the event, as it engages beforehand for the acquiescence of the disappointed part of the federalists, and also as it is the only step that can unite them to oppose the election of a Jacobin, and, in that sad event, that can keep them united as a party, without whose union, oppression and revolution will ensue."165
Adams was unquestionably injured by the efforts of Hamilton, with whom Adams had repeatedly clashed as president - most recently over the Administration's policy toward France. The Adams foreign policy eventually bore fruit but word of a new treaty with France reached America after most states had already chosen their electors and after Hamilton created a diatribe against Adam's presidency and personality. The former secretary of the Treasury sometimes committed more to paper than was wise. Ron Chernow wrote: "In writing an intemperate indictment of John Adams, Hamilton committed a form of political suicide that blighted the rest of his career."166 Unquestionably, it was not Hamilton's finest hour. John Ferling wrote that "Hamilton, driven by his hatred of Adams to the point that his customary highly sensitive political skills were subsumed by his irrational passion, decided to publish an open philippic against the president."167 Hamilton had been working on the document during the summer - seeking assistance from past and present members of Adams' cabinet. Naively, Hamilton apparently thought he could privately print and distribute the 54-page document to Federalist leaders.
In the interim, Hamilton wrote President Adams directly to complain about Adams's criticism of him and his influence on the Adams administration. On August 2, Hamilton wrote: "It has been repeatedly mentioned to me that you have, on different occasions, asserted the existence of a British Faction in this Country, embracing a number of leading or influential characters of the Foederal Party (as usually denominated) and that you have sometimes named me at other times plainly alluded to me as one of this this description of persons: And I have likewise been assured that of late some of your warm adherents, for electioneering purposes, have employed a corresponding language." Hamilton then demanded whether these statements had been made and on what evidence.168
When his complaint brought no response from the president, Hamilton returned to work on a larger indictment of the president. Hamilton's friends wisely tried to dissuade him from completing and circulating the manuscript. Massachusetts Federalist George Cabot wrote Hamilton in August: "I don't think...we can discard Mr Adams as a candidate at this late period without total disarrangement & defeat in this quarter."169 Hamilton, however, insisted on writing and giving limited distribution of his letter denouncing Adams' faults and misdeeds. Instead of reaching its apparently intended audience - South Carolina Federalists who could help decide the election - the letter fell into the possession of Jeffersonian newspaper editor William Duane. Aaron Burr is suspected of playing a part in securing a copy. Duane published much of the long "Letter from Alexander Hamilton, Concerning the Public Conduct and Behavior of John Adams." in the Pennsylvania Aurora. The printed letter was dated October 24 and stated "the conviction that [Adams] does not possess the talents adapted to the Administration of Government, and that there are great and intrinsic defects in his character, which unfit him for the office of Chief Magistrate." Curiously, after a vituperative denunciation of Adams' "distempered jealousy, and the ungovernable indiscretion of Mr. Adams's temper," Hamilton concluded by endorsing a vote for the Federalist ticket of Adams and Pinckney. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote that "Hamilton's aim was to elect Pinckney president. To achieve that, it was necessary to hold New England solid for both Federalists and to induce South Carolina electors to vote only for Pinckney without actually asking them to do so. For whatever reason, the New Englanders did what he wanted: thirty-eight of the thirty-nine electors in the area voted for both Adams and Pinckney. To turn South Carolina against Adams, Hamilton in his pamphlet called attention to a harsh letter Adams had written about the Pinckney brothers in 1792."170
The letter called into question Hamilton's judgment as much as the record and personality of Adams. Elkins and McKitrick wrote that Hamilton's letter "dotted at every point with instances of his fatuities, his inconsistencies, his blunders, and his foolishness, most of them occurring in his presidency."171 Historian John Lamberton Harper wrote: "The letter did have an effect on Hamilton's reputation and party standing. Robert Troup wrote King that in its wake, Hamilton's usefulness would be 'greatly lessened.' [George] Cabot wrote Hamilton, 'I am bound to tell you that you are accused by respectable men of Egotism, & some very worthy & sensible men say you have exhibited the same vanity in your book [letter] which you charge as a dangerous quality & great weakness in Mr. Adams.'"172
President Adams was prudent in his response to Hamilton. Publicly, the president did nothing. However, in reply, Adams "drafted an eight-nine-page handwritten response to Hamilton's allegations and included charges of his own," wrote historian John Ferling. "He depicted the New Yorker as devious, duplicitous, calculating, and above all dangerous. But for all his hurt and vehemence, Adams in the end chose not to immediately publish his tract." The damage had been done, but because few states chose their Electoral College electors by popular vote, its impact on the election was limited. Political manuevering would play a more important role in the outcome. The Hamilton-Adams feud had derailed any chance that Adams might win. Ferling wrote of Hamilton that "throughout the campaign he pursued a well-conceived three-pronged strategy. First, he sought to ensure that Adams would not win in the electoral college, and his pamphlet aimed at sowing sufficient doubts about the president's character in the minds of electors that one or two would turn away from him. Second, Hamilton sought electoral votes for Pinckney."173 Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick wrote: "The episode revealed...a good many things about the individual character of both John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, most of it less than attractive."174
In truth, the election of 1800 was not a very democratic. Despite unprecedented voter interest in a national political contest, the voters were limited in their ability to participate - at least directly. Historian Noble E. Cunningham, Jr. noted: "Most of the campaign issues were debated within the contest and procedures of state elections for members of the legislatures which would choose the presidential electors in two-thirds of the states." Dominant political parties altered the rules to restrict the ability of their opponents to win Electoral College votes. In many ways, the real contest was over who constructed and controlled the election rules, which were manipulated by both sides. The legislatures controlled the rules - when, how, and who got to vote - or in most cases, if citizens got to vote directly at all. Cunningham wrote that after Virginia Republicans passed a last to change the state's method of electing the Electoral College from district votes to a statewide vote, Federalists "protested the change" and Republicans replied that "the same game is playing off in New England, and some other Eastern States."175 The prevailing political parties in several states altered the way that Electoral College was selected to insure victory by their side. There was one other way in which the law favored Jefferson. Garry Wills noted that the most important and most underappreciated rule was the constitutional bonus of 12 votes awarded to the South to count three-fifths of the number of slaves in their population.
Connecticut: With the influence of President Dwight, Editor Dwight, and the established Congregational churches, Connecticut may have been the most Federalists of all states in 1800. The Jeffersonians barely got organized in the state. All of Connecticut's nine votes - selected by the Connecticut legislature -- went for the Federalist ticket. (In the House of Representatives, the state vote consistently for Burr).
Delaware. The state held legislative elections on October 6. Delaware remained in very safely in Federalist hands, assuring that the legislature would choose three Federalist electors, even though Congressman James A. Bayard noted: "They may hesitate whether they will give Mr. Adams a vote."176 (In the House, Bayard, the state's lone congressman voted for Burr until the final ballot when he abstained.)
Georgia: The state legislature gave itself the power to elect the state's electors rather than allow popular election as had been the previous practice. One local observer wrote a Savannah newspaper in October: "That Mr. Jefferson will have all the votes of Georgia, admits of no doubt, considering the mode of our elections."177 The Federalists put up no fight. All four of Georgia's votes went for the Jeffersonians, but the results were presented in a defective form to the U.S. Senate. They should have been presented as a "List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each," but the form used by Georgia was different. Vice President Jefferson (not the most impartial arbiter) accepted Georgia's votes as being cast for himself and Burr. (In the House, the Georgia delegation voted consistently for Jefferson.)
Kentucky: The election result in Kentucky was a foregone conclusion; Thomas Jefferson was viewed as virtually a native son by transplanted Virginia residents. The Federalists were a non-existent force on the western side of the Appalachians. All four of the State's votes went to the Republicans during a direct vote in early November. (In the House, the state's two-man delegation voted consistently for Jefferson.)
Maryland: The state was a key battleground for Federalists and Jeffersonians. Historian Noble E. Cunningham, Jr. wrote: "If the district system prevailed, the 10 electoral votes would be divided. Burr in July claimed 4 certain, and 2 possible, Republican districts. Federalist James A. Bayard in August would concede but 3 Maryland districts to Jefferson."178 Hamilton tried unsuccessfully to break the allegiance of Maryland Federalists to Adams. Historian Manning J. Dauer noted that South Carolina Congressman John Rutledge wrote Hamilton to express the view that "the influence of Carroll against Adams was offset by the Chases, Craik, Stoddert, and the Republicans Samuel Smith and Dent. Both of these last, though Republican moderates, preferred Adams to Pinckney and would be in a position to thwart any attempt to deflect votes from Adams in Maryland."179 Cunningham observed: "There was more open campaigning in Maryland than in any other state in 1800. It took place wherever people gather, 'at a horse race, a cock-fight, or a Methodist quarterly meeting,' explained one observer.180 Edward J. Larson added that "despite the lull in campaigning elsewhere, candidates for the offices of state legislator and presidential elector began making the rounds of these public gatherings and engaging their debating skills"181 The election in Maryland took place in two stages. In October, a new state legislature was elected. The Federalists promised to change the method of choosing electors from direct-election-by-district to election-by-the-state-legislature. They miscalculated the mood of the electorate, which rejected the Federalists and their desire to change the rules. Federalists hoped to recoup in the November district election of electors. Instead, the Republicans won five and the Federalists won five electors. Jefferson was encouraged by the Maryland vote, writing a Maryland ally, "We owe to our political opponents exciting [the spirit of '76] again by their bold strikes."182 (In the House, the state delegation was also tied because ailing Congressman Joseph Nicholson was carried from his sick bed to the House floor to vote for Jefferson.183 A bed for Nicholson was set up in a committee room and the ballot box was brought to him so he could cast his vote.184 Historian Michael A. Bellesiles noted: "Had he [Nicholson] taken a turn for the worse, or had snow fallen too heavily to allow transportation, Maryland...would have gone Federalist."185 Instead, the tied delegation could not vote until the final vote when the Federalists abstained, and Jefferson got the state's vote.)
Massachusetts: In John Adams' home state of Massachusetts, the legislature changed the method of choosing electors - shifting that privilege from the people to themselves - so that Adams and Pinckney would be assured of all that state's Electoral College votes. Electors were previously chosen by popular vote, but the legislature changed the rules so that the Federalist legislature could control the state's 15 electors - second only to Virginia in number. Historian Manning J. Dauer wrote that "the district method was abandoned, not so much to assure an unanimous Federal vote, as to make certain that electors would not be chosen who would vote for Adams alone. Had the electors been chosen by popular vote, it is likely that in a number of districts only those would have been selected who were pledged to vote for Adams and throw away votes from Pinckney. Adams' proponents opposed this change, but without avail."186 Hamilton visited the state in June as part of a tour of New England related to his military duties. The Massachusetts electors were chosen in November. (The Federalists dominated the House delegation and consistently voted for Burr.)
New Hampshire: Although electors in the state had previously been elected by popular vote, the New Hampshire legislature changed to legislative election of the state's six electors. The legislature rejected a proposal that electors be chosen by popular election by district. On August 6, 1800, Hamilton wrote: "In New-Hampshire there is no doubt of Federal Electors, but there is a decided partiality for Mr Adams. I took pains to possess Governor [John T.] Gilman whose influence is very preponderating, of the errors and defects of Mr Adams."187 Federalists won the legislative elections in September, assuring that all of the state's votes would go to Adams. (In the House, the Federalist delegation voted consistently for Burr.)
New Jersey: Both presidential camps thought that New Jersey was trending Republican. Burr predicted in July: "We think we have an equal claim with the federalists to the whole of New Jersey. The republicans of that State speak most confidantly [sic] of a republican legislature at the approaching election in October."188 Burr and his informants were wrong. The Federalists overwhelmingly won the state legislative election on October 14 - assuring that all of the state's seven votes would go to the Federalist ticket despite an energetic campaign waged by Republicans. The Federalists' hold on the state was too strong. "A considerable diversion in favor of the opposition has lately been made in New Jersey, but the best and best-informed men there entertain no doubt that all her electors will still be Federal," reported Alexander Hamilton.189 (By a narrow 3-2 margin, Jefferson won the state's vote in the House on every ballot. Republican James Linn was a lame duck who might have flipped; instead, he was appointed supervisor of revenue by incoming President Jefferson.)
New York: The State Legislature elected New York's slate of electors. Michael A. Bellesiles noted that changing the law governing the election of the electors would have changed history: "Had [Jay] listened to Hamilton and had the New York vote turned out the way Hamilton expected, Adams would have received eight electoral votes to Jefferson's four. That would have reversed the results exactly, giving Adams seventy-three-votes to Jefferson's sixty-five."190 The results of the May legislative elections insured that the Republicans would get all the state's 12 votes. (See above summary of that campaign.) One elector tried to vote for Aaron Burr for twice, but his second vote was changed to Jefferson. (By a 6-4 margin in the House, the state's votes went to Jefferson. But according to historian Michael A. Bellesiles, Representative Edward "Livingston had wavered in the early ballots between Jefferson and Burr, and had apparently spoken with James Linn of New Jersey about breaking the deadlock by swinging their states to Burr. Livingston was at the center of intrigues; he had studied law with Alexander Hamilton and James Kent, a rather conservative pair, was a friend of Burr's, and had already been offered the post of secretary of the navy by Jefferson."191 Historian Joanne Freeman noted that after a Burr agent addressed the New York delegation, the congressmen felt it necessary to repledge their loyalty to Jefferson's election as president.192)
North Carolina: The state's electors were elected in a popular vote by congressional district on November 3. The result was a split in which the Republicans won four votes and the Federalists won four. Having won only one Electoral College vote here in 1796, Adams had a net gain of three in 1800. (The Republicans overwhelmingly controlled the House delegation, however, and the state voted consistently in the House for Jefferson.)
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania was a key battleground state since the state legislature would choose the state's 15 electors. Norman K. Risjord noted: "Republicans tried to change the law to allow for popular selection of electors, but the Senate blocked this effort."193 Jefferson had won the state in 1796, but Federalists hoped that the state's political rules would help them. Philadelphia was also the home of the leading journalistic spear-carriers for the parties - the Gazette of the United States for the Federalists and Aurora for the Republicans. The legislature, however, had no clear rules for how it would choose electors. In the October 14 legislative elections, the Republicans swept the lower house as expected. But only a quarter of the seats were up for election in the upper house, most already held by Republicans. The Federalists held onto their majority in the Senate by one key vote. The legislature then had to decide how it would choose electors. Pennsylvania "stands little chance of a vote," wrote Jefferson in late November.194 The Republicans wanted both houses to vote jointly. By refusing, the Federalist Senate threatened a stalemate resulting in Pennsylvania casting no votes in the Electoral College. The Federalists successfully held out for a compromise by which eight Republican electors would be elected along with seven Federalists ones. (In the House vote, the state's Republican congressmen had a strong majority which they used to cast consistent votes for Jefferson.)
Rhode Island: Rhode Island was the only New England state in which Republicans had any hope for winning Electoral College votes. During his four-state New England tour in June, Alexander Hamilton visited with Governor Arthur Fenner, whom he tried to persuade to support Charles Cotesworth Pinckney for president. The popular Fenner, who had been in office for a decade, indicated he would support Jefferson and could never support Pinckney.195 Later in the summer, Burr also visited Rhode Island as part of a New England trip to boost Jefferson's candidacy. If elected as a Rhode Island elector, said Fenner, he would probably vote for Jefferson and Adams in order to assure that Jefferson won the presidency. "In R. Island, where Electors are to be chosen by the people, a Jefferson ticket is formed and will at least receive respectable support," predicted Burr.196 Election of the Electoral College was by direct vote on November 19. The Federalist ticket narrow prevailed. Burr was embarrassed by the result and wrote Jefferson to apologize for the results.197 Rather than vote for Pinckney for Vice President, however, one elector voted for John Jay. (The state's two congressmen were both Federalists and voted consistently for Burr in the House of Representatives.)
South Carolina: Both Hamilton and Jefferson understood that South Carolina could decide the election. The Federalists thought they had a solid chance based on their stronghold in Charleston. "The issue of the election hangs on S. Caro[in]a," wrote Jefferson.198 Historian John Ferling wrote: "The Federalists would have elected one of their candidates had they carried rural South Carolina. But the 'Wind having changed' there…as Blackguard Charlie Pinckney noted, the Federalists lost what had been their southern stronghold throughout the 1709s."199 South Carolina was the last state to choose its eight electors - one day before the December 3 deadline on which the state's eight electors would have to cast their votes. On October 14, voters went to the polls and elected a state legislature that gave Republicans a nominal plurality although the exact partisan composition of the legislature was unclear. The South Carolina legislature - both houses voting together -- would choose the electors but neither Republicans nor Federalists had a clear majority so there was a room for an effective leader to influence the results. General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the Federalist candidate for vice president and himself a state senator, was a popular native son. General Pinckney, however, he refused to push his own candidacy independent of that of President Adams - while Hamilton boosted Pinckney's candidacy as the logical favorite son of the state. Had the electors been pledged to vote for Pinckney, he might have edged both Adams and Jefferson for the presidency. Pinckney's Republican second cousin, Senator Charles Pinckney, proved the more able political general and more determined politician in the Pinckney clan. Working tirelessly at the state capitol in Columbia throughout November, "Blackguard Charlie" Pinckney maneuvered the state legislature to select electors pledged to Jefferson. "The election is just finished, and We Have, thanks to Heaven's Goodness, carried it," the Republican Pinckney wrote Jefferson in early December - making clear that he had been the key determinant in the decision.200 (South Carolina's congressional delegation was controlled by Federalists, who consistently voted for Burr in the House of Representatives.)
Tennessee: Like its transmontaine neighbor Kentucky, the new state of Tennessee was solidly in Jefferson's camp. Tennessee was divided into three electoral college districts, each of which supported Jefferson. The Republican victory assured that its three electors would vote Republican. (The state's one Republican congressman voted consistently for Jefferson in the House of Representatives.)
Vermont: Federalists won of the Vermont legislature - assuring that they would win all of the state's four votes would go to Adams-Pinckney. (In the vote in the House of Representatives, the state's two congressmen split so the state's vote was not counted until the final ballot in which the state's Federalist abstained and the remaining Republican was able to cast the state's vote for Jefferson. It was conjectured that Federalist Congressman Lewis Richard Morris might have been influenced by his uncle, New York Senator Gouverneur Morris. There was never any question about the solidity of the state's Jeffersonian congressman, noted historian Michael A. Bellesiles: "Vermont would have gone Federalist only if Republican Matthew Lyon, fresh from serving time in jail for violating the Sedition Act, had been murdered."201 Lyon testified that he had been asked by Federalists: "What is it you want, Colonel Lyon? Is it office, is it money? Only say what you want, and you shall have it."202)
Virginia. After the election of several new Federalist congressmen in 1798, Jeffersonians changed the state's method of election of electors from districts to a "winner-take-all state election of electors in order to eliminate the potential for Federalists to win any of the state's 21 electoral votes - the most to be cast by any state in the Union.203 The state legislature narrowly voted for the change in January 1800 when it passed the "General Ticket Law." When legislative elections were held in April, Jeffersonians increased their margin - a good Jeffersonian omen for the fall presidential election. So was the overwhelming victory of the Jeffersonian candidate to fill John Marshall's old congressional seat.204 Historian Garry Wills wrote: "Though the change did favor the majority party, its work was not finished. Voters, instead of naming a known person from each district, had to vote for statewide candidates singled out by the central party. The information on these candidates had to be spread, along with their connections to the Jeffersonian establishment. One means for coping with this problem was to make sure that most electors were well known outside their districts. Madison himself was put up as one of the electors, along with famous men like Edmund Pendleton and George Wythe. Jefferson himself arranged for ample printed material to be distributed to each district, while warning his agents to keep his role secret."205 Virginia's votes were temporarily cast into doubt when plans for an extensive slave rebellion were uncovered in late August. Gov. James Monroe acted quickly to capture and execute the ringleaders - in order to dispel any Federalist criticism that Republican policies contributed to lawless behavior or that there was French involvement in the uprising. The Jefferson electors swept the state in November (by better than 3-1), insuring that all 15 of Virginia's electors would vote for the Republican slate. (Jefferson supporters predominated in the state's congressional delegation so all of the state's votes in the House of Representatives went to the home state candidate in February.)
On October 15, 1800, President Adams left his Massachusetts home for Washington. For the first time, Adams would take up residence in the new capital which was little more than a frontier town. "The City I have seen only from the windows of the Capitol," wrote one congressman. "The prospect furnishes a view of a few scattered houses and a great deal of dreary rough country."206 Abigail stayed behind; she was frequently sick with rheumatism and fever. It was a time of sadness and tension for Adams. At the beginning of December, he learned of the death of his alcoholic son Charles on November 30. Both he and Abigail were devastated. When Abigail did arrive in Washington, she was horrified by what she found in the Executive Mansion: "Not one room or chamber is finished of the whole. It is habitable by fires in every part, thirteen of which we are obliged to keep daily, or sleep in wet & damp places."207
The election results added to the couple's burden. Historian Edward J. Larson noted "that although he lost the election, Adams did better than his party as a whole. Outside New York, he received more electoral votes in 1800 than in 1796, when he won. The Republicans' narrow victory in the New York City elections had indeed turned the tide." Larson noted that in the 1800 elections, "Federalists lost control of Congress for the first time in the nation's history, dropping more than ten seats in the Senate and more than twice that number in the House. Amid a Republican surge, Adams did remarkably well."208 Historian Garry Wills wrote: "In 1800, other things being equal, the outcome was determined by two factors - the twelve votes given Jefferson by the slave count, and Aaron Burr's brilliant campaign effort in New York, which added twelve more votes. Without either one, the Republicans would have lost."209
Vice President Jefferson remained worried about the result. "At Monticello, Jefferson kept close tabs on the vote, which proved to be much closer than he had anticipated, even with New York in his pocket," wrote Jefferson biographer Norman K. Risjord.210 Under Article II of the original Constitution, electors from each state had two votes to cast on December 3. No differentiation was made between their votes for president and vice president. Under the existing constitutional rules, Burr was as legitimate a potential president as Jefferson. Jefferson, however, expected a few Republican electors to drop their vote for Burr as they had in 1796 - assuring that Jefferson would again have a the lead. A Jefferson ally in South Carolina projected that Jefferson would win 73 votes to Burr's 70.211 Instead, all 73 Republican electors voted for both Jefferson and Burr (except for one in New York whose vote was changed). Adams was one vote ahead of running mate Pinckney with 65. The Federalists were out of the running. "My little bark has been oversett in a squall of thunder & lighting & hail attended with a strong smell of sulphur," wrote Adams to his son Thomas on December 17.212 "Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Burr have equal numbers 73. Which will be chief?" Adams wrote to a friend at the end of December.213
Burr had rejected the notion of a potential tie in a letter to Baltimore Congressman Samuel Smith, a key Jefferson ally: "It is highly improbable that I shall have an equal number of votes with Mr. Jefferson; but if such should be the result, every man who knows me ought to know that I should utterly disclaim all competition - Be assured that the federal party can entertain no wish for such an exchange, as to my friends, they would dishonor my views and insult my feelings by harbouring a suspicion that I could submit to be instrumental in counteracting the wishes & expectations of the U.S. and I now constitute you my proxy to declare these sentiments if the occasion shall require."214 Burr wrote Maryland Congressman Smith again on December 16: "As to my friends, they would dishonor my views and insult my feelings by a suspicion that I would be instrumental in counteracting the wishes and expectations of the people of the United States."215 Burr effectively refused either to take himself out of consideration or actively promote his candidacy. He pretended to be a loyal Republican at the same time he preserved his political options. Historian James Roger Sharp wrote that Burr's "public position was that he 'would utterly disclaim all competition' between Jefferson and himself and that the Republicans could be 'assured that the federal party can entertain no wish for such an exchange.' Nevertheless, despite his disavowals, the tie vote was obviously a tempting opportunity for Burr and posed an awkward and extremely dangerous problem for the Republicans, who were suspicious of Burr's motives."216
Still, there seemed to be little prospect for a deadlock in the Electoral College. Jefferson wrote Burr on December 15 about their potential tie: "Although we have no official information of the votes for President, and cannot have until the first week in February, yet the state of the votes is given on such evidence, as satisfies both parties that the two republican candidates stand highest. From South Carolina we have not even heard of the actual vote; but we have learned who were appointed electors, and with sufficient certainty how they would vote. It is said they would withdraw from yourself one vote. It has also been said that a General Smith, of Tennessee, had declared that he would give his second vote to Mr. Gallatin, not from any indisposition towards you, but extreme reverence to the character of Mr. Gallatin. It is also surmised that the vote of Georgia will not be entire. Yet nobody pretends to know these things of a certainty, and we know enough to be certain that what it is surmised will be withheld, will still leave you four or five votes at least above Mr. Adams. However, it was badly managed not to have arranged with certainty what seems to have been left to hazard. It was the more material, because I understand several of the high-flying federalists have expressed their hope that the two republican tickets may be equal, and their determination, in that case, to prevent a choice by the House of Representatives (which they are strong enough to do), and let the government devolve on a President of the Senate. Decency required that I should be so entirely passive during the late contest that I never once asked whether arrangements had been made to prevent so many from dropping votes intentionally, as might frustrate half the republican wish; nor did I doubt, till lately, that such had been made.217
Burr responded to Jefferson on December 23: "My personal friends are perfectly informed of my wishes on the subject and can never think of diverting a single vote from you."218 He added: "It is the unanimous determination of the republicans of every grade to support your administration with unremitted zeal....As to myself, I will cheerfully abandon the office of V. P. if it shall be thought that I can be more useful in any active station. In fact, my whole time and attention shall be unceasingly employed to render your administration grateful and honorable to our country and to your yourself. To this I am impelled, as well by the highest sense of duty as by the most devoted personal attachment."219
Burr was getting annoyed and offended about the growing doubts concerning his loyalty. About a week later, Burr wrote Smith a rambling and defensive letter: "At the moment of leaving town I received a great number of letters on the subject of the election and I perceive a degree of Jealousy and distrust and irritation by no means pleasing or flattering - The letters are however generally answered by those which I have written you; but one gentleman (of our friends) has asked me whether if I were chosen president, I would...resign - The question was unnecessary, unreasonable and impertinent, and I therefore made no reply. If I had made any I should have told that as at present advised; I should not - What do you think of such a question? I was made a Candidate against my advice and against my will; God knows, never contemplating, or willing the result which has appeared - and now I am insulted by those who used my name for having suffered it to be used - This is what we call going on principle and not men - I presume however that before this time you are satisfied that no such terrible event, or ever was to be apprehended; and that no such intention was ever entertained by those who laugh at your absurd claims -"220
Burr's silence and inactivity raised questions about his intentions. A Republican delegation visited with Burr in Philadelphia at the beginning of January. Burr's comments were equivocal. "We must have a President, and a constitutional one, in some way, Burr told Samuel Smith and Benjamin Hichborn. When Hichborn asked how such a deadlock could be broken, Burr responded: "Why, our friends must join the Federalists, and give the President."221 Biographer Marie B. Hecht wrote: "To Burr, seeing the opposition to Jefferson among the Federalists, it had become evident that only he could unify them behind a legitimately chosen chief executive. Throwing his support openly behind Jefferson would make the Virginian no more palatable if usurpation was the aim, for the opposition party could continue to prevent an election. It could, moreover, destroy whatever confidence he had among Federalists."222 Burr was becoming annoyed with Smith. According to biographer Nancy Isenberg, he was already "sick and tired of the southerners who were suddenly intent on impugning his motives."223
Such words were no comfort to Thomas Jefferson. His growing unease was reflected in a letter he wrote his daughter on January 26, 1801 saying that in Washington "there is such a mixture of the bad passions of the heart, that one feels themselves in an enemy's country. It is an unpleasant circumstance, if I am destined to stay here, that the great proportion of those of the place who figure are Federalists, and most of them of the violent kind. Some have been so personally bitter that they can never forgive me, though I do them with sincerity. Perhaps in time they will get tamed. Our prospect as to the election has been alarming; as a strong disposition exists to prevent an election, and that case not being provided for by the Constitution, a dissolution of the government seemed possible. At present there is a prospect that some, thought Federalists, will prefer yielding to the wishes of the people rather than have no government." He added as a postscript: "Hamilton is using his uttermost influence to procure my election rather than Colonel Burr's."224
Burr was urged by friends to hurry to Washington to press his case, but he declined to act - supposing Jefferson would be elected. Burr, however, declined to issue a new endorsement of his running mate - setting the stage for another impasse. Burr had a good excuse for staying in New York. His beloved only daughter, 18-year-old Theodosia, was married in Albany on February 2 to 21-year-old South Carolinian Joseph Alston. Biographer Isenberg insisted: "Many historians have assumed that Burr and his agents were jockeying among Republicans and federalists, open to a deal of some sort. But no reliable evidence of this exists."225
Conspiracies and conspiracy theories were proliferating. The alleged conspiracies fed talk of equally dubious counter-measures. Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote: "On December 19, Jefferson heard reports about a Federalist plot to 'stretch' the Constitution and steal the presidency. Federalists were openly declaring their intention to prevent an election, he informed Madison. If Federalists could prolong the deadlock beyond the expiration of Adams's term on March, the country would be without a president, and then all bets were off. The Constitution said nothing about such an eventuality. Federalists were seeking to 'reverse what has been understood to have been the wishes of the people,' a gloomy Jefferson wrote. 'This opens upon us an abyss, at which every sincere patriot must shudder.'"226 Jefferson had some reason to be suspicious of the Federalist courts, which were dominated by Federalist judges and soon would be even more so. Two Supreme Court justices, Bushrod Washington of Virginia and Samuel Chase of Maryland, had actively campaigned against his election. Nevertheless, by mid-January, Adams wrote: ""The federal party has been so imprudently managed, as well as so discordantly composed that the overthrow of the party is no wonder. The federal cause had no head."227
Alexander Hamilton vs. Aaron Burr
Alexander Hamilton yielded to none of his fellow Federalists in his disdain for Thomas Jefferson, but he feared Aaron Burr more than he hated Jefferson. Historian John Lamberton Harper noted that Burr's extravagant lifestyle did leave him chronically in debt and liable to bribery," but observed that Burr's most repugnant acts lay in the future.228 Given Burr's future behavior, Hamilton seems to have been right to worry. Just as he had gone to work to defeat Adams, Hamilton went to work to block Burr. "If there be a man in the world I ought to hate it is Jefferson," Hamilton wrote Gouverneur Morris.229 Burr biographer Nancy Isenberg argued that the former Treasury secretary's motives may not have been devoid of self-interest: "Hamilton preferred to do battle with Jefferson, as head of the contending party, rather than to compete for the leadership role in his own party. If the Federalists elevated Burr, then Hamilton faced the prospect of losing control of the Federalists both nationally and locally."230 Harper argued that Hamilton saw that if elected, Burr would "become in fact the man of our party," to use Hamilton's words.231 Whatever his motive, Hamilton was industrious. Arnold Rogow observed: "From December 16, 1800, when Hamilton was certain of the electoral tie result, to January 30, 1801, twelve days before the House began balloting, he wrote at least fifteen letters, or an average of one every three days, in what became a desperate...effort to convince Federalists" not to vote for Burr.232
Hamilton was out of step with the party that he had effectively founded. Gordon S. Wood wrote that "so great was the Federalists' fear of Jefferson that many of them thought that simply electing Burr was the best way of keeping Jefferson out of the presidency."233 Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote: "Most Federalists were stunned that the American people had thrown the party of Washington, Adams, and Hamilton out of power. Would they - the men who had created the republic and governed it so successfully since its founding - meekly accept an unjust, undeserved defeat? 'Resistance must be bold, determined and unshrinking, or it is ineffectual,' declared the Gazette of the United States."234 Historian James Roger Sharp wrote: "By early 1801, however, the majority of Federalists seem to have concluded that the more viable and immediate objective should be to push to have Burr elected. Failing that, the other more extreme and dangerous alternative of preventing an election would still be available if they had the stomach for persevering with it."235 Burr biographer Nancy Isenberg wrote: "In defense of Burr, Federalists made two arguments. The first was simply that they should vote for him because he was not Jefferson....The second argument in favor of Burr was that he impressed many Federalists as a 'vigorous practical man,' who combined 'courage with 'generosity,' as Gouverneur Morris described the view of his House colleagues. Here again, Burr's appeal was his military record and his balance of masculine traits."236
While many Federalists embraced Burr, Hamilton sought to push him away from them. Hamilton began his barrage of letters in December 1800. "There is no circumstance which has occurred in the course of our political affairs that has given me so much pain as the idea that Mr. Burr might be elevated to the presidency by the means of the Federalists," Hamilton wrote secretary of the Treasury, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., in mid-December.237 A day earlier, Hamilton had written his successor "that Jefferson or Burr will be President, and it seems probable they will come with equal votes to the House of Representatives. It is also circulated here, that in this event, the Federalists in Congress, or some of them, talk of preferring Burr. I trust New England, at least, will not so far lose its head as to fall into this snare. There is no doubt, but that, upon every virtuous and prudent calculation, Jefferson is to be preferred," wrote Hamilton. "He is by far not so dangerous a man and he has pretensions to character." Hamilton did not temporize: "As to Burr, there is nothing in his favor. His private character is not defended by his most partial friends. He is bankrupt beyond redemption, except by the plunder of his country. His public principles have no other spring or aim than his own aggrandizement, per fas aut nefas. If he can, he will certainly disturb our institutions, to secure himself permanent power, and with it wealth. He is truly the Catiline of America. But early measures must taken to fix on this point the opinions of the Federalists. Among them, from different motives, Burr will find partisans. If the thing be neglected, he may possibly go far."238
Hamilton's erratic political behavior during 1800, however, had effectively reduced his influence among fellow Federalists. His warnings about Burr had little effect. Hamilton wrote a friend: "If Mr. Jefferson is likely from predilection for France to draw the country into war on her side - Mr. Burr will endeavor to do it for the sake of creating the means of personal power and wealth. This portrait is the result of long and attentive observation of a man with whom I am personally well-acquainted and in respect to whose character I have had peculiar opportunity of forming a correct judgment. By no means, my Dear Sir, let the Federalists be responsible for his Elevation.- In a choice of Evils, let them take the least - Jefferson is in my view less dangerous than Burr."239 Hamilton wrote of Burr: "He is in every sense a profligate; a voluptuary in the extreme, with uncommon habits of expense….He is artful and intriguing to an inconceivable degree…bankrupt beyond redemption except by the plunder of his country."240
President Adams shared Hamilton's disdain for Burr. "All the old patriots, all the splendid talents, the long experience, both of Federalist and Anti-Federalists, must be subject to the humiliation of seeing this dexterous gentleman rise, like a balloon filled with inflammable air, over their ears," Adams argued. "What an encouragement to party intrigue and corruption."241 The more general Federalist viewpoint was represented by James McHenry who wrote: "If Mr. Burr succeeds, we may flatter ourselves that he will not suffer the executive power to be frittered into insignificance."242
Hamilton had certainly not abandoned his dislike of Jefferson. Historian John C. Miller noted that Hamilton "reminded his partisans that Jefferson was 'a contemptible hypocrite' who was 'tinctured with fanaticism...crafty and persevering in his objects...not scrupulous about the means of success, nor even mindful of truth.' Still, Hamilton was willing to concede that Jefferson possessed a certain amount of integrity and devotion to principle."243 Hamilton's campaign against Burr yielded little results. New York Senator Gouverneur Morris warned Hamilton that he seemed to be in "the awkward situation of a man who continues sober after the company are drunk." Hamilton replied with an attack on Burr's character and his patriotism:
I hasten to give you some information which may be useful. I know as a fact, that overtures have been made by leading individuals of the Federal party to Burr, who declines to give any assurances respecting his future intentions and conduct, saying, "that to do it might injure him with his friends, and prevent their co-operation; that all ought to be inferred from the necessity of his future situation, as it regarded the disappointment and animosity of the Anti-Federalists; that the Federalists, relying upon this, might proceed in the certainty that, upon a second ballot, New York and Tennessee would join him.
It is likewise ascertained, that he perfectly understands himself with Edward Livingston, who will be his agent at the seat of government. Thus you see that Mr. Burr is resolved to preserve himself in a situation to adhere to his former friends, engagements, and projects; and to use the Federalists as the tool of his aggrandizement.
The hope that by his election he will be separated from the AntiFederalists, is a perfect farce. He will satisfy them that he has kept himself free to continue his relations to them, and as many of them are secretly attached to him, they will all be speedily induced to rally under his standard, to which he will add the unprincipled of our party, and he will laugh at the rest. It is a fact, that Mr. Burr is now in frequent and close conference with a Frenchman, who is suspected of being an agent of the French government, and it is not to be doubted that he will be the firm ally of Bonaparte.244
Jefferson's association with France was still held against him by most Federalists. Historian John Zvesper wrote that the Federalists worried that "the wild, Jacobinical ideological tendencies that the Republicans had displayed since the French Revolution suggested that all of the achievements of the American Revolution and the constitution making of the 1770s and 1780s would be reversed by them....At its worst, Jefferson and the Republicans would replicate in the American republic the mobocracy of the French republic and the military dictatorship that grew out of it. The hopes of mankind for all the benefits of liberty rested on America. How could the Federalist party just walk away from the battle?"245 The Federalists's animus toward Jefferson obscured the danger and deficiencies of Burr, but they did not obscure the Federalists' strategy. Because the outgoing Congress would elect the President and because the House was controlled by Federalists, that party would have had an advantage in the vote where each representative cast one vote. Because their votes were concentrated in a few states in the northeast, the Federalists did not control a majority of the state delegations. The three delegations which were evenly split between Federalists and Republicans could not vote until one of their members abstained or changed his vote.
While the Federalists moved to embrace Burr, Burr made no moves to embrace the Federalists. "Burr was a far shrewder politician that the Federalist congressmen who presumed to instruct him how to carry off the Presidency," wrote historian John C. Miller. "Burr saw no reason to open negotiations with the Federalists - they were already, so to speak, in his bag. He knew that by openly aligning himself with the Federalists he would forfeit all hope of support from the Republicans - and it was only with Republican aid that he would hope to nose out Jefferson."246 Burr was too good a politician to box himself in and too ambitious a politician to reject the opportunity the Federalists offered. So Jeffersonian newspapers praised him in January as a wonderful candidate for vice president.
Crisis and Conspiracy
Both the Republicans and the Federalists were looking for a way out of the crisis that gripped Washington. But both parties fed the tension. "Talk was rife about militias arming, a possible civil war, and the breakup of the union. There were even reports that Jefferson would be assassinated," wrote historian James Roger Sharp. "Adding to the anxiety about violence were lingering fears from the Virginia slave conspiracy in the summer of 1800 and the outbreak of two mysterious fires in Washington. The building that housed the War Department burned November 8, while portions of the Treasury Department were damaged by flames on January 20."247 (President Adams himself joined the bucket brigade fighting the fire.)
Both sides were willing to believe or at least suspect the worst about each other and their willingness to act outside what they perceived as democratic norms. Historian Sean Wilentz wrote: "Federalists suspected that Virginians were willing to impose Jefferson on the nation at bayonet point if necessary. Albert Gallatin drafted a memorandum which insisted that any Federalist effort to usurp the election would have to be 'resisted by freemen wherever they had the power of resisting.'"248 At home in Virginia, former Congressman Madison was kept informed of events in Washington by his successor. On January 10, Madison sent Jefferson his own analysis of what the Federalists might attempt:
Desperate as some of the adverse party there may be, I can scarcely allow myself to believe that enough will not be found to frustrate the attempt to strangle the election of the people, and smuggle into the Chief Magistracy the choice of a faction. It would seem that every individual member who has any standing or stake in society, or any portion of virtue or sober understanding, must revolt at the tendency of such a manoeuvre. Is it possible that Mr. Adams should give his sanction to it, if that should be made a necessary ingredient? or that he would not hold it his duty or his policy, in case the present House should obstinately refuse to give effect to the Constitution, to appoint, which he certainly may do before his office expires, as early a day as possible after that event for the succeeding House to meet and supply the omission? Should he disappoint a just expectation in either instance, it will be an omen, I think, forbidding the steps towards him which you seem to be meditating.249
Threats and rumors of threats of armed force were exchanged by both sides. Speculation about the actions of others was generally more extreme than anything the other side actually contemplated, but both sides were prepared to act to prevent the possible depredations of the other. Jefferson himself wrote early in his presidency: "In the event of an usurpation, I was decidedly with those who were determined not to permit it. Because that precedent once set, would be artificially reproduced and end soon in a dictator." In a letter to Pennsylvania Governor Thomas McKean, Jefferson wrote: "Had [the election of 1800] terminated in the elevation of Mr. Burr, every republican would, I am sure, have acquiesced in a moment; because, however it might have been variant from the intentions of the voters, yet it would have been agreeable to the Constitution."250
The Gazette of the United States, a strong Federalist newspaper, editorialized:
"If the tumultuous meetings of a few fighting bacchanals in Virginia mean the people, and are to dictate to the Congress of the United States whom to elect as President - if the constitutional rights of this body are so soon to become the prey of anarchy and faction - if we have already arrived at that disastrous period in the life of nations 'when liberty consists in no longer reverencing either the law or the authorities' - in short the scenes which sadden the history of the elective monarchies of Europe are so soon to be re-acted in America, it would be prudent to prepare at once for the contest: the woeful experiment if tried at all could never be tried at a more favorable conjuncture!"251
Nearly a half century later, Albert Gallatin recalled the Jeffersonians' benign intent: "The only cause of real apprehension was that Congress should adjourn without making a decision, but without usurping any powers. It was in order to provide against that contingency that I prepared myself a plan which did meet with the approbation of our party. No appeal whatever to physical forces was contemplated; nor did it contain a single particle of revolutionary spirit. In framing this plan, Mr. Jefferson had not been consulted; but it was communicated to him, and he fully approved it." Gallatin recalled that "it was threatened by some persons of the Federal party to provide by law that if no election should take place, the Executive power should be placed in the hands of some public officer. This was considered as a revolutionary act of usurpation, and would, I believe, have been put down by force if necessary. But there was not the slightest intention or suggestion to call a convention to reorganize the government and to amend the Constitution. That such a measure floated in the mind of Mr. Jefferson is clear from his letters of February 15 and 18, 1801, to Mr. Monroe and Mr. Madison. He may have wished for such measure, or thought that the Federalists might be frightened by the threat."252 James Roger Sharp maintained: "Gallatin's recollection was faulty, as evidenced by [Governor Thomas] McKean's letter to Jefferson. McKean was prepared to act, not to prevent violence, as Gallatin was to have it, but to assure Jefferson the presidency."253
Gallatin wrote: "I always thought that the threatened attempt to make a President by law was impracticable. I do not believe that if a motion had been made to that effect there would have been twenty votes for it in the House. It was only intended to frighten us; but it produced an excitement out-of-doors, in which some of our members participated. It was threatened that if any man should be thus appointed President by law, and accept the office, he would instantaneously be put to death. It was rumored, and though I did not know it from my own knowledge, I believe it was true, that a number of men from Maryland and Virginia, amounting, it was said, to fifteen hundred (a number undoubtedly greatly exaggerated), had determined to repair to Washington on the 4th of March for the purpose of putting to death the usurping, pretending President." Gallatin recalled: "There was but one man whom I can positively assert to have been decidedly in favor of the attempt to make a President by law. This was General Henry Lee, of Virginia, who, as you know, was a desperate character and held in no public estimation. I fear, from the general tenor of his conduct, that Mr. [Roger] Griswold, of Connecticut, - in other respects a very worthy man, - was so warm and infatuated a partisan that he might have run the risk of a civil war rather than to see Mr. Jefferson elected. Some weak and inconsiderate members of the House might have voted for the measure; but I could not designate any one."254
Both the Republicans and the Federalists were looking for a way out of the crisis that gripped Washington. The resolution of the election conflict was a severe test for the new American democracy. Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn wrote: "Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin, and others fully grasped the frightening dimensions of the crisis. A few Federalists candidly acknowledged their party's malice. 'Understand that the democrats in Congress are in a rage for having acted with good faith,' one Federalist explained to Rufus King. So polarized were the two parties, so severe the strain between them, that their differences appeared unbridgeable."255
Although a Federalist, New York Governor John Jay had long maintained good relations with Burr. Jay Biographer Walter Stahr wrote: "Many Federalists were, at this time, scheming to use the tie in the electoral college in their favor. Jay was not among them. On the contrary, he urged Federalists to abide by the election results."256 Jay wrote in late January 1801 that the 1800 elections "place us in a new situation, and render it proper for us to consider what our conduct under it should be. I take the liberty, therefore, of suggesting whether the patriotic principles on which we profess to act, do not call upon us to give (as far as may depend upon us) fair and full effect to the known sense and intention of a majority of the people, in every constitutional exercise of their will; and to support every administration of the government of our country which may prove to be intelligent and upright, of whatever party the persons composing it may be."257
On New Year's Day, 1801, the First Family had hosted a dinner in the still unfinished White House. Thomas Jefferson and Abigail Adams sat next to each another and engaged in conversation. Jefferson queried the First Lady about her opinion of the upcoming vote in the House of Representatives. She replied that she preferred not "to converse upon" the vote. She added that when folks "do not know what to do, they should take great care that they do not do they know not what."258 Abigail wrote her son Thomas: "Mr. Jefferson dines with us and in a card replie to the president's invitation, he begs him to be assured of his Homage and high consideration."259 Before she departed in mid-February for Quincy, Jefferson came for tea with Abigail. "It was more than I expected," she admitted.260
In January, Adams and Jefferson had encountered each other while walking and discussed the pending stalemate, but little is known of his conversation. Biographer Ralph Adams Brown wrote that Adams respected the propriety of his situation and the limitations on his authority to influence the situation.261 In February Jefferson made a less successful call on President Adams. McCullough wrote: "Adams who could have applied influence behind the scenes, refused to say or do anything. Firm in his belief in the separation of powers, he saw it as a question for the legislature in which he, as President, had no business and he would stay far from it."262 Jefferson recalled: "When the election between Burr and myself was kept in suspense by the federalists, and they were meditating to place the President of the Senate at the head of the government, I called on Mr. Adams with a view to have this desperate measure prevented by his negative. He grew warm in an instant, and said with a vehemence he had not used towards me before: 'Sir, the event of the election is within your own power. You have only to say you will do justice to the public creditors, maintain the navy, and not disturb those holding offices, and the government will instantly be put into your hands. We know it is the wish of the people it should be so.' 'Mr. Adams,' said I, 'I know not what part of my conduct, in either public or private life, can have authorized a doubt of my fidelity to the public engagements. I say, however, I will not come into the government by capitulation. I will not enter on it. but in perfect freedom to follow the dictates of my own judgment.' I had before given the same answer to the same intimation from Gouverneur Morris. 'Then,' said he, 'things must take their course.' I turned the conversation to something else, and soon took my leave. It was the first time in our lives we had ever parted with anything like dissatisfaction."263
In the midst of politics, practical considerations intervened. On February 20, Adams wrote Jefferson a thoughtful but brief note: "In order to save you the trouble and Expence of purchasing Horses and Carriages, which will not be necessary, I have to inform you that I shall leave in the stables of the United States seven Horses and two Carriages with Harness and Property of the United States. These may not be suitable for you: but they will certainly save you a considerable Expence as they belong to the studd of the President's Household."264
With the opening of Congress in December, Jefferson had taken up residence at Conrad and McMunn's boarding house on Capitol Hill. Historian Edward J. Larson wrote that the "boardinghouse became the Republican command post, with Jefferson occupying its only private suite. Gallatin likened dining at its common table to eating at 'a refectory of monks.'"265 According to the Pennsylvania congressman, "being all thrown together in a few boarding houses without hardly any other society then [sic] ourselves, we are not likely to be either very moderate politicians or to think of anything but politics. A few indeed drink and some gamble, but the majority drink nought but politics, and by not mixing with men of different or more moderate sentiments, they inflame one another."266 The Federalists and Republicans, however, did not mix much. There was a clear division between the two political camps that inhibited negotiations about a solution to the impasse. Because the House could not act until the Electoral votes were tallied on February 11, both sides had plenty of time to strategize, organize and speculate on potential actions by the other side. Edward J. Larson wrote that "anything seemed possible and rumors spread wildly."267
Historians differ as to whether or not Gallatin was tempted to throw his support to Burr. Roger G. Kennedy wrote: "On the third of February, Gallatin sent Burr a letter now lost - or, more likely, deliberately destroyed. It came after he had laid the necessity of choice in a tied election before two advisers. One of them, Peter Townsend, told their mutual acquaintance Benjamin Betterton Howell that they counselled Gallatin to urge Burr to come to Washington 'without a moment's delay' to seize the prize, which Gallatin did. According to Howell, Townsend joined in urging Burr to 'lose not a moment [which] he agreed [not] to do...but at the critical moment his heart failed him...[and] he remained in Albany and wrote letters.'"268
In the final days of the Adams Administration, Virginia's John Marshall did double duty as both Supreme Court Chief Justice and Secretary of State. His relations with his cousin Thomas Jefferson had deteriorated in recent years, and Marshall rejected Hamilton's request that he helped block Burr. Although Hamilton and Jay saw past Jefferson's defects, John Marshall could not. Marshall was a Washington loyalist and could not forgive Jefferson for writing the Mazzei letter. "The morals of the writer of the letter to Mazzei could not be pure," Marshall told Hamilton.269 Legal expert James F. Simon wrote: "Marshal had joined many of Jefferson's vocal detractors in the Federalist party who predicted that the 'speculative theorist' at the head of the national government would be totally absorbed with elaborate and, at best, useless political theories that would do the nation no practical good. Things could be worse. If Jefferson joined the 'absolute terrorists' in his party, Marshall surmised, 'it is not difficult to foresee that much calamity is in store for our country.' And if Jefferson did not join his more violent brethern, Marshall speculated, 'they will soon become his enemies and calumniators.'"270 Marshall's comment came in a letter he wrote on the day Jefferson's inauguration in which he said: I wish, however, more than I hope that the public prosperity & happiness will sustain no diminution under Democratic guidance. The Democrats are divided into speculative theorists & absolute terrorists. With the latter I am disposed to class Mr. Jefferson. If he ranges himself with them it is not difficult to foresee that much difficulty is in store for our country - if he does not, they will soon become his enemies and calumniators."271 Jefferson also distrusted Marshall. Jefferson had become consumed in the late 1790s by the hobgoblins of monarchy with which he associated Federalists. Legal expert James F. Simon wrote: "Whereas Marshall feared disunion at the hands of the radical Republicans, Jefferson was certain that the Federalists were attempting to establish an American monarchy, supported by strong-armed Alien and Sedition Act prosecutions."272 Marshall biographer David Scott Robarge wrote: "Despite Marshall's studied neutrality, other equally baseless rumors circulated in Washington that he was part of a Federalist intrigue to prevent the Republicans from winning the presidency."273
The upcoming congressional deadlock raised important constitutional questions. "The written Constitution was fast becoming a partisan weapon in the new world of party politics," noted Historian Bruce Ackerman. "Rather than smoothing the path of democratic transition, it was disrupting an already tense situation. Part of the problem was bad draftsmanship, which allowed Horatius to play the game of legalistic reasoning without an adequate set of rules to cover the case at hand."274 Ackerman argued that Marshall penned commentary about the upcoming contest in the House under the pen name Horatius and made the case for the secretary of state being the only possibility to be interim president because it had to be an "officer of the United States" under the Constitution. According to Ackerman, "Horatius's arguments not only furthered Marshall's political interests but invoked constitutional concerns that were central to his jurisprudence."275
Both sides engaged in a war of threats and implied threats. Thomas Boylston Adams wrote that the Congress that chose his father's successor was "an Electioneering Cabal and Conspiracy.'"276 Historian Michael A. Bellesiles wrote: "Rumors of assassination, arson, military preparations, revolution, and civil war swirled around the new capital of Washington, D. C. Most fearful were the southern Republicans. They were certain that the Federalists had secretly sent arms to [Haiti's]Toussaint Louverture for his slave rebellion in Saint Domingue."277 Historian Dumas Malone argued that it was clear "from what the Republican leaders said at the time...that the designation, by congressional act, of anybody except Jefferson or Burr as President, would have been viewed as usurpation and resisted. Gallatin, for one, regarded as impracticable and improbably any attempt to make a President by law; he doubted that the necessary bill could be passed or that Adams would sign it."278
Monroe, an erstwhile friend of Burr, rallied to Jefferson, his Virginia neighbor. Monroe wrote Jefferson: "It is said here that Marshall has given an opinion in conversation with Stoddard, that in case 9 States shod. not unite in favor of one of the persons chosen, the legislature may appoint a Presidt. till another election is made, & that intrigues are carrying on to place us in that situation. This is stated in a letter from one of our reps. (I think Randolph) & has excited the utmost indignation in the legislature...There has been much alarm at the intimation of such a projected usurpation, much consultation, and a spirit fully manifested not to submit to it. My opinion is they shod. take no step founded on the expectation of such an event, as it might produce an ill effect even with our friends."279 A congressional statute called for the president pro tempore of the Senate to be the interim president, but "Horatius" argued that because a legislator was not an "officer" of the government, he could not serve under the Constitution. Michael A. Bellesiles wrote that rumors and threats accelerated with the stagnation in the House: "Representative Joseph Nicholson wrote that if anyone but Jefferson became president, 'Virginia would instantly proclaim herself out of the Union.' The Philadelphia Federalist Gazette of the United States reported that 'the bold and impetuous partisans of Mr. Jefferson' planned to march on Washington to remove with force anyone other than Jefferson selected for the presidency."280
As the House vote approached, Jefferson had been calmly active on his own behalf, but disdained any negotiation or compromise. Cliff Sloan and David McKean wrote that he "conferred regularly with his Republican allies in the House, his frustration mounted as the deadlock dragged on." The vice president had no trust in the Federalists - even a moderate one like his cousin John Marshall. "Jefferson feared that the Federalists might snatch the election from the Republicans altogether," wrote legal expert James F. Simon. "Jefferson had originally suggested the Federalists might elect a president of the Senate (a president pro tempore) to serve in that interim capacity. Later, he reported to Madison that 'the Feds appear determined to prevent a election, and to pass a bill giving the government to Mr. Jay, appointed Chief Justice, or to Marshall as Secretary of State."281
Though Jeffersonians acted as if the House was obligated to elect their standard-bearer, that was not at all the case. The members of Congress, which was still ruled by the defeated Federalists, were free agents. In many cases, they did not even have a popular vote to guide them. Historian Garry Wills wrote: "The only obligation resting on the House of Representatives was to choose the person its members considered most fit to rule the country. They were as free to make a decision by their own lights as were the presidential electors themselves." He noted: "There was a case to be made for choosing a Republican acceptable to Federalists, rather than confining the issue to Republicans' own preferences."282
Jefferson himself assumed that given the results of the election he had the right to be president. Actually, under the Constitution and its intent, both the Electoral College and the House of Representatives had considerable latitude. After all, just because a state's Electoral College votes were cast for one candidate did not mean its congressional delegation would necessarily vote the same way. Nevertheless, it was obvious that the election was a real test of the American Constitution, just a dozen years old. Thomas Jefferson foresaw trouble, writing James Monroe: "If they could have been permitted to pass a law putting the government into the hands of an officer, they would certainly have prevented an election. But we thought it best to declare openly and firmly, one & all, that the day such an act passed, the middle States would arm, & that no such usurpation, even for a single day, should be submitted to[.] This first shook them; and they were completely alarmed at the resource for which we declared, to wit, a convention to re-organize the government, & to amend it. The very word convention gives them the horrors, as in the present democratical spirit of America, they fear they should lose some of the favorite morsels of the constitution."283 Jefferson told Monroe that he had rejected any compromise and "that I would not receive the government on capitulation, that I would not go into it with my hands tied."284
Legal expert James F. Simon wrote that Jefferson "had heard the rumor, rampant in Washington as well as in the states, that a continued stalemate could lead to the total dissolution of the federal government...the editor of the Federalist newspaper Gazette of the United States reported that if it came to a test of military strength Massachusetts, a Federalist Stronghold, could field a state militia greater than the combined strength of those of Pennsylvania and Virginia, which were loyal to Jefferson. Jefferson ignored the insurrectionist threats from both sides and continued to hope for a peaceful, constitutional solution. 'At present there is a prospect that some, though Federalists, will prefer yielding to the wishes of the people rather than have no government,' he wrote Martha," his daughter.285
Threats and rumors of potential force of extraconstitutional action by one side bred counter-rumors and counter-threats from the other side. There were probably more rumors of plots than actual plots but the rumors bred counter-plots and counter-rumors. There was more bravado than reality. Washington's proximity to Virginia and Pennsylvania, however, gave some substance to the Jeffersonian threats. "Around the country, rival groups of unofficial Republican and Federalist militia had reportedly begun to drill, in preparation for a possible civil war. Southerners, already shaken by the Gabriel [slave rebellion] conspiracy, traded rumors about Federalist plots to block Jefferson's election as president, while Federalists suspected that Virginians were willing to impose Jefferson the nation at bayonet point if necessary."286 Despite the talk of violence, force and counter-force on both sides, Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone noted that after Jefferson's "inauguration and at a time of calm, he wrote different version of events to his learned friend Joseph Priestley. 'There was no idea of force, nor of any occasion for it,' he then said. A more correct statement, nearer the full truth, would have been that there was no idea of force among the responsible leaders, except in the case of attempted usurpation by the Federalists and that the occasion for employing it did not arise."287 Jefferson conveniently overlooked his provocative correspondence with Monroe. The president wrote Priestley: "I have been, above all things, solaced by the prospect which opened on us [in the Presidential contest in 1801] in the event of a non-election of a President; in which case, the Federal Government would have been in the situation of a clock or watch run down. There was no idea of force, nor of any occasion for it. A convention, invited by the Republican members of Congress, with the virtual President and Vice-President, would have been on the ground in eight weeks, would have repaired the Constitution where it was defective, and wound it up again. This peaceable and legitimate resource, to which we are in the habit of implicit obedience, superseding all appeal to force, and being always within our reach, shows a precious principle of self-preservation in our composition, till a change of circumstances shall take place, which is not within prospect at any definite period."288
The House Vote and Negotiations
On February 11 the Electoral College votes were tallied in the Senate: as a snowstorm raged in Washington. Jefferson tied Burr with 73 each. Adams with 65 got one more vote than Pinckney with 64. John Jay received one vote. As Vice President, Jefferson presided over the tally. One woman who watched him wrote: "Calm and self-possessed...he retained his seat in the midst of the angry and stormy, though half smothered passions that were struggling around him, and by this dignified tranquility repressed any open violence - though insufficient to prevent whispered menaces and insults, to these however he turned a deaf ear, and resolutely maintained a placidity which baffled the designs of his enemies."289 If Hamilton can be criticized for seeking to change the rules in New York, Jefferson can be criticized for not following the rules for Georgia. The electoral votes from Georgia were not submitted in proper form. As presiding officer of the Senate, Vice President Jefferson ignored the problem and acted as if they were properly cast - four for him and four for Burr. He did not hesitate although one report said that "his countenance changed."290 Historian Edward J. Larson wrote that Jefferson "moved on quickly...not mentioning the technical deficiency."291 Jefferson proclaimed: "The President of the Senate, in pursuance of the duty enjoined upon him, announced the state of the votes to both Houses, and declared that THOMAS JEFFERSON, of Virginia, and AARON BURR, of New York, having the great number, and a majority of the votes of all the Electors appointed, and, being equal, it remained for the House of Representatives to determine the choice."292
When both Jefferson and Burr received 73 votes, under the Constitution the presidential election was thrown to the House of Representatives where Jefferson-hating Federalists united behind Burr - stalemating the process because two state delegations needed for a decision were tied. The country was on the verge of a constitutional crisis. The House of Representatives, meeting in closed session, now deadlocked. Nine state delegations were necessary for victory. Jefferson had the support of eight, Adams six. Over six days, 35 ballots recorded no change in the 8-6 vote for Jefferson with two states not voting because their delegations were evenly split.
As Jefferson had written his daughter at the end of January, "Hamilton is using his uttermost influence to procure my election rather than Colonel Burr's."293 Hamilton put a lot of effort on trying to break Delaware's James A. Bayard away from Burr. Swinging Bayard's one vote could elect Jefferson. The former treasury secretary had written the Delaware congressman: "I admit that [Jefferson's] politics are tinctured with fanaticism, that he is too much in earnest in his democracy, that he has been a mischievous to the principal measures of our past administration, that he is crafty & persevering in his objects, that he is not scrupulous about the means of success, not very mindful of truth, and that he is contemptible hypocrite. But it is not true as alleged that he is an enemy of the power of the Executive....Nor is it true that Jefferson is zealot enough to do anything in pursuance of his principles which will contravene his popularity or his interest."294 Historian David Hackett Fischer described Bayard as "a well-bred gentleman, abundantly endowed with charm and presence. He had an open, easy-going personality and an affable, engaging manner."295 Historian Edward J. Larson wrote: "Even as Hamilton worked furiously behind the scenes to derail the Federalist effort to elect Burr, he was not willing to concede the presidency to Jefferson without getting something in return for Federalist votes in Congress. In fact, just as soon as an electoral-vote tie had started to look likely, he had begun urging Federalists in Congress to wring concessions from Jefferson in exchange for their votes."296 Jefferson, however, was determined not to bargain for the presidency or to appear to do so.
Meanwhile, Albert Gallatin played a pivotal role as leader of the Jeffersonians in the House. The Pennsylvania congressman took an active role in trying to move Federalist supporters behind Jefferson rather than his friend Burr, who remained steadfastly mute about his intentions. Historian Raymond Walters, Jr. wrote: "As a leader of the Jeffersonian forces in the House, Gallatin traded gossip, made tallies of the prospective poll, and planned party strategy."297 Decades later, Gallatin recalled: "On the day on which we began balloting for President, we knew positively that Mr. Baer, of Maryland, was determined to cast his vote for Mr. Jefferson rather than that there should be no election; and his vote was sufficient to give us that of Maryland and decide the election. I was certain, from personal intercourse with him, that Mr. [Lewis Richard] Morris, of Vermont, would do the same, and thus give us also the vote of that State. There were others equally prepared, but not known to us at the time. Still, all these gentlemen, unwilling to break up their party, united in the attempt, by repeatedly voting for Mr. Burr, to frighten or induce some of us to vote for Mr. Burr rather than to have no election. This balloting was continued several days for another reason. The attempt was made to extort concessions and promises from Mr. Jefferson as the conditions on which he might be elected. One of our friends, who was very erroneously and improperly afraid of a defection on the part of some of our members undertook to act as an intermediary, and confounding his own opinions and wishes with those of Mr. Jefferson, reported the result in such a manner as gave subsequently occasion for very unfounded surmises."298
The House went through ballot after ballot - almost three dozen. Although some congressman moved to support Jefferson, their votes came in delegations which already supported him. As Bruce A. Ackerman observed: "America teetered on the brink of disaster."299 Jefferson had the support of eight states. Burr had the support of six while Maryland and Vermont's delegations could not vote because their members were tied. A switch to Jefferson of one congressman in either state could decide the election since nine states were needed for election. For a week, vote after vote was taken with no change in the 8-6 plurality Jefferson held. The sessions were long; one lasted for a day and a half. Only when the Federalist from Delaware James A Bayard, decided to split with Burr did the logjam break and Jefferson win enough votes for election. Bayard's decision would have a disproportionate impact on the House decision. By himself, he could decide the election.
Bayard later testified: "I was one of those who thought from the beginning that the election of Mr. Burr was not practicable. The sentiment was frequently and openly expressed, I remember it was generally said by those who wished a perseverance in the opposition to Mr. Jefferson, that several Democratic States were more disposed to vote for Mr. Burr than for Mr. Jefferson. That out of complaisance to the known intention of the party they would vote a decent length of time for Mr. Jefferson, and as soon as they could excuse themselves by the imperious situation of affairs would give their votes for Mr. Burr, the man they really preferred. The states relied upon for this change were New York, New Jersey, Vermont, and Tennessee. I never however understood that any assurance to this effect came from Mr. Burr. Early in the election it was reported that Mr. Edward Livingston the representative of the City of New York, was the confidential agent of Mr. Burr, and that Mr. Burr had committed himself entirely to the discretion of Mr. Livingston, having agreed to adopt all his acts. I took an occasion to sound Mr. Livingston on the subject, and intimated that having it in my power to terminate the contest, I should do so, unless he could give me some assurance that we might calculate upon a change..."300
Congressman Bayard became the focus of Republican efforts to end the stalemate. "I am sorry I cannot yet relieve you from the present general anxiety," Gallatin wrote his father-in-law on February 16. "We have balloted for the 34th time this morning and the result is still the same. Mr. Bayard had positively declared on Saturday to some of his own party that he would this day put an end to the business by voting for Mr. Jefferson. He acted otherwise."301 The same day, President Adams wrote to his wife: "The election will be decided this day in favour of Mr. Jefferson as it is given out by good authority."302 Bayard, who would lose the next congressional election, met first with Virginia's John Nicholas and later with Maryland's Samuel Smith in search of an agreement. Historian Roger Kennedy viewed the use of Smith as a go-between as a slap at Gallatin: "It was a painful affront, for Smith and Gallatin had been long at odds. It was becoming obvious that there were some things Jefferson did not like to ask Gallatin to do, and he was left out of the subsequent deal-making that brought Jefferson the presidency."303 Perhaps Kennedy overstated the case since there were conversations and understandings, but no real negotiations - to which Jefferson was clearly averse. And some of the choice of interlocutor depended on whom Bayard chose to talk to. Smith, who came from neighboring Maryland, was trying to maximize his influence with Bayard just as he had earlier done with Burr. Historian Merrill D. Peterson wrote that Smith "lodged at Conrad's and had already conversed with Jefferson on the first two of the three points mentioned by Bayard, for other Federalists had made similar inquiries. Smith now agreed to sound out the Virginian on the subject of political removals. He did so that evening, and the next day gave Bayard the assurances he had requested."304 Bayard thought Jefferson had made a commitment when all he had was Smith's suggestion that he did. "Bayard was persuaded that Jefferson had made specific concessions about preserving the public credit," noted historian Sean Wilentz. Although Jefferson had not made any specific compromises, Bayard thought he had and he acted on that assumption.305 Joanne B. Freeman wrote that Jefferson encouraged ambiguity - denying any willingness to negotiate but saying that he "had no hesitation" is talking with a friend. She noted that Jefferson "responded to each Federalist proposition in turn, footnoting his assurances with citations to his writings that would prove his views to the Federalists."306
Bayard, who had grown disillusioned with Burr, sought a way out of the stalemate. Historian James Roger Sharp wrote: "Bayard, who had only reluctantly come to support the New Yorker anyway, denounced Burr as having 'acted a miserable paltry part' and having done nothing when the 'election was in his power.' It had been possible to elect Burr, he said, but it would have 'required his cooperation.' Burr, Bayard concluded, would 'never have another chance of being President of the U. States and the little use he has made of the one which has occurred gives me but a humble opinion of the talents of an unprincipled man.'"307 Bayard later stated: "In determining to recede from the opposition to Mr. Jefferson, if occurred to us, that probably instead of being obliged to surrender at discretion, we might obtain terms of capitulation. The gentlemen whose names I have mentioned, authorised me to declare their concurrence with me upon the best terms that could be procured. The vote of either of us was sufficient to decide the choice. With a view to the end mentioned, I applied to Mr. John Nicholas, a member of the House from Virginia, who was a particular friend of Mr. Jefferson, I stated to Mr. Nicholas that if certain points of the future administration could be understood and arranged with Mr. Jefferson, I was authorised to say that three states would withdraw from an opposition to his election. He asked me what those points were: I answered,
First, sir, the support of public credit; secondly, the maintenance of the naval system; and lastly, that 'Subordinate public officers employed only in the ' execution of details, established by law, shall not be removed from office on the ground of their political character, nor without complaint against their conduct. I explained myself that I considered it not only reasonable but necessary that offices of high discretion and confidence should be filled by men of Mr, Jefferson's choice. I exemplified by mentioning on the one hand, the offices of the secretaries of states, treasury, foreign ministers, &c. and-on the other, the collectors of ports, S.C. Mr. Nicholas answered me, that he considered the points as very reasonable, that he was satisfied that they corresponded with the views and intentions of Mr. Jefferson, and knew him well. That he was acquainted with most of the gentlemen who would probably be about him and enjoying his confidence, in case he became president, and that if I would be satisfied with his assurance, he could solemnly declare it as his opinion, that Mr. Jefferson, in his administration, would not depart from the points I had proposed. I replied to Mr. Nicholas, that I had not the least doubt of the sincerity of his declaration, and that his opinion was perfectly correct, but that I wanted an engagement, and that if the points could in any form be understood as conceded by Mr. Jefferson, the election should be ended, and proposed to him to consult Mr. Jefferson. This he declined, and said he could do no more than give me the assurance of his own opinion as to the sentiments and designs of Mr. Jefferson and his friends. I told him that was not sufficient, that we should not surrender without better terms. Upon this we separated, and I shortly after met with Genera l Smith, to whom I unfolded myself in the same manner that I had done to Mr. Nicholas. In explaining myself to him in relation to the nature of the offices alluded to, I mentioned the offices of George Latimer, collector of the port of Philadelphia, and Allen M'Lane, collector of Wilmington. General Smith gave me the same assurances as to the observance by Mr. Jefferson of the points which I had stated, which Mr. Nicholas had done. I told him I should not be satisfied nor agree to yield, till I had the assurance from Mr. Jefferson himself; but that if he would consult Mr. Jefferson and bring the assurance from him, the election should be ended. The general made no difficulty in consulting Mr. Jefferson, and proposed giving me his answer the next morning. The next day, upon our meeting, General Smith informed me that he had seen Mr. Jefferson and, stated to him the points mentioned, and was authorized by him to say, that they corresponded with his views and intentions, and that we might confide in him accordingly. The opposition of Vermont, Maryland, and Delaware, was immediately withdrawn, and Mr. Jefferson was made president by the votes of ten states."308
Smith led Bayard astray - perhaps not by outright misrepresentation but certainly by the appearance of what he represented. Jefferson scholar Susan Dunn described what transpired: Smith "feels Jefferson out on several issues and then reports to Bayard that Jefferson would do nothing to change certain key Federalist policies or remove certain men. Later Smith explains that Jefferson did not have 'the remotest idea of my object' and had no knowledge that Smith was acting as a go-between with Bayard. 'I was satisfied in my own mind that [Jefferson's] conduct...would be so and so,' Smith writes. "But certainly never did tell [Bayard] that I had any authority from Mr. Jefferson to communicate anything to him.' On February 15, Jefferson gives his own account of the story; he was approached by people wanting to 'obtain terms & promises from me,' he tells Monroe. Would he agree to follow Federalist policies in exchange for their votes? 'I have declared to them unequivocally,' he asserts, that I would not receive the government on capitulation, that I would not go into it with my hands tied.'"309
Bayard's decision to vote for Jefferson was delayed by fellow Federalists. Bayard resolved to break the impasse, but he had previously agreed to work in concert with Federalists from Maryland and Vermont, whose delegations were deadlocked. So instead of Bayard acting alone, on February 17 after 35 votes, Federalist congressmen from Maryland and Vermont decided not to cast votes, allowing their states to be recorded for Jefferson. Those states, previously deadlocked, agreed that Bayard would cast a blank ballot and that the other Federalists would not participate in their state's voting - giving Jefferson two extra votes (Maryland and Vermont) and Burr one (Delaware) less, 10-4. "Representing the smallest state, I was compelled by the obligation of a sacred duty, so to act, and not to hazard the Constitution upon which the political existence of the state depends," Bayard wrote."310 Republican Albert Gallatin was less generous in his analysis of the Federalists' action: "They had but one proper mode to pursue, and that was for the whole party to come over; instead of which they contrived merely to suffer Mr. Jefferson to be chosen without a single man of theirs voting for him."311 South Carolina remained tied and did not vote. Jefferson wrote his daughter:
After exactly a week's balloting there at length appeared ten States for me, four for Burr, and two voted blanks. This was done without a single vote coming over. Morris of Vermont withdrew, so that Lyon's vote became that of the State. The four Maryland federalists put in blanks, so then the vote of the four republicans became that of their State. Mr. Hager of South Carolina (who had constantly voted for me) withdrew by agreement, his colleagues agreeing in that case to put in blanks. Bayard, the sole member of Delaware, voted blank. They had before deliberated whether they would come over in a body, when they saw they could not force Burr on the republicans, or keep their body entire and unbroken to act in phalanx on such ground of opposition as they shall hereafter be able to conjure up. Their vote showed what they had decided on, and is considered as a declaration of perpetual war; but their conduct has completely left them without support. Our information from all quarters is that the whole body of federalists concurred with the republicans in the last elections, and with equal anxiety. They had been made to interest themselves so warmly for the very choice, which while before the people they opposed, that when obtained it came as a thing of their own wishes, and they find themselves embodied with the republicans, and their quondam leaders separated from them, and I verily believe they will remain embodied with us, so that this conduct of the minority has done in one week what very probably could hardly have been effected by years of mild and impartial administration.312
Jefferson's analysis of the election resolution - contained in a letter to James Madison, seems a curious mixture of bluster and wishful thinking: "The minority in the House of Representatives, after seeing the impossibility of electing Burr, the certainty that a legislative usurpation would be resisted by arms, and a recourse to a convention to reorganize and amend the government, held a consultation on this dilemma, whether it would be better for them to come over in a body and go with the tide of the times, or by a negative conduct suffer the election to be made by a bare majority, keeping their body entire and unbroken, to act in phalanx on such ground of opposition as circumstances shall offer; and I know their determination on this question only by their vote of yesterday. [Feb. 17.] Morris, of Vermont, withdrew, which made Lyon's vote that of his State. The Maryland federalists put in four blanks, which made the positive ticket of their colleagues the vote of the State. South Carolina and Delaware put in six blanks. So there were ten States for one candidate, four for another, and two blanks. We consider this, therefore, as a declaration of war, on the part of this band. But their conduct appears to have brought over to us the whole body of federalists, who, being alarmed with the danger of a dissolution of the government, had been made most anxiously to wish the very administration they had opposed, and to view it, when obtained, as a child of their own."313
When Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated as the country's third President on March 4, 1801, his predecessor was not around to assure a smooth transition. John Adams had left the city for Massachusetts before the sun rose taking a public coach north to Massachusetts. The nation's second president headed home to Massachusetts - very early on the morning of his successor's inauguration. "I shall be in Quincy as early in the spring as the roads and the weather permit," he wrote in December. "The only question remaining for me is, what shall I do with myself?"
Two days before, Jefferson wrote the new chief justice of the Supreme Court, his own cousin John Marshall, asking him "to administer the oath" at the inauguration. Marshall replied that he would "make a point of being punctual."314 Marshall continued to have doubts, however, about the new president. "Today the new political year commences," he wrote defeated vice presidential candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney just before the inauguration. "I wish however more than I hope that the public prosperity and happiness may sustain no diminution under democratic guidance." Marshall added that if President Jefferson sided with "absolute terrorists", then "it is not difficult to foresee that much calamity is in store for our country - if he does not they will soon becomes his enemies and calumniators."315
President-elect Jefferson awoke on March 4 at his rooming house on Capitol Hill. He deliberately took a more populist approach to taking office than had Presidents Washington and Adams. Jefferson dressed in a simple suit with no wig and walked the short distance from the board house to the Capitol. Unlike his predecessors, he wore no sword. His simple appearance was meant to send a message along with his words. Cliff Sloan and David McKean wrote that the new president "wanted to send a signal to the American people that his administration would live up to the democratic ideals on which the nation had been founded."316 Still, Jefferson's inauguration was not without fanfare. The Washington Intelligencer reported: "A discharge from a company of Washington artillery ushered in the day; and about 10 o'clock, the ALEXANDRIA company of riflemen, with the company of artillery, paraded in front of the President's lodgings. At 12 o'clock THOMAS JEFFERSON, attended by a number of his fellow citizens, among whom were many members of Congress, repaired to the Capitol. His dress was, as usual, that of a plain citizen, without any distinctive badge of office. He entered the Capitol under a discharge from the artillery."317 When Jefferson arrived at the Senate, its new presiding officer, Vice President Burr, gave up his seat of honor. Burr biographer Nancy Isenberg noted: "Few could have missed the symbolism: it marked a moment of closure to the election tie. The man intended for the vice presidency had saved the nation by honorably ceding the presidential chair to his Virginia running mate."318
Jefferson's simple approach was wise. Unlike Washington, he was not the master of dramatic gestures. His voice was high-pitched and virtually inaudible in a crowd. His speech would be memorable to readers, but not listeners who were present. In delivering his inaugural, Jefferson's voice could barely be heard, but his careful cadences resonated in print: "Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans; we are all federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."319
In his First Inaugural Address, Jefferson sought to address the divided nation. He did so with great eloquence: "During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now decided by the voice of the nation, announced according to the rules of the Constitution, all will, of course, arrange themselves under the will of the law, and unite in common efforts for the common good," said Jefferson. "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things."320
The new president had chosen his words carefully. Historian Sean Wilentz wrote: "In the most important speech of his life, Jefferson displayed his singular ability to mold the political situation before him with his words, turning democratic hopes and assumption into political facts."321 Jefferson was less interested in political realities than political ideals. So he spoke to an ideal political situation: "But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans - we are all federalists."322 Jefferson biographer Alf J. Mapp, Jr., wrote: "The most impressive thing about the address was its conciliatory tone, not only in its statement about all alike being Federalists and Republicans, but in more specific passages, such as his assertion: 'All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.'"323 There was a subtext to what Jefferson meant in his speech, according to historians Elkins and McKitrick. They noted that Jefferson privately wrote "that the mass of our countrymen, even of those who call themselves Federalists, are republicans." If they saw the error of their ways, then Republicans "may conciliate the honest part of those who were called Federalists." 324
The capitalization of "Republicans" and "Federalists" was made in the printed text - which altered perhaps Jefferson's less partisan and less conciliatory intention. His own handwritten text did not capitalize these words. Historian John Ferling wrote that "Jefferson used the term republicans as a clear reference to the citizenry's overwhelming embrace of republicanism, while by federalists he meant either the federal system in which power was shared by the national and state governments, the federal union, or both."325 Jefferson biographer Dumas Malone contended that Jefferson's First Inaugural "touched on a basic difference between himself and the High Federalists when he spoke of the fear of some that a republican government, and more particularly this government, was not strong enough. It was in this connection, in one of the most memorable of his many memorable phrases, that he referred to it as 'the world's best hope,' anticipating Lincoln's 'the last best hope of earth.' He himself believed this government the strongest on earth, because of the personal concern of its citizens for it; and he was convinced that it would grow in strength as self-government was extended."326
Jefferson's inaugural address was more conciliatory than his own private feelings. Privately, Jefferson thought his election had reversed a very dangerous trend in American politics. He wrote Massachusetts' Elbridge Gerry: "Your part of the union, tho' as absolutely republican as ours, had drunk deeper of the delusion and is therefore slower in recovering from it. The aegis of government and the temples of religion and justice have all been prostituted there to take us back to the times when we burnt witches."327 Jefferson wrote shortly after his inauguration that "our fellow citizens have been led hood-winked from their principles, by a most extraordinary combination of circumstances. But the band is removed, and they now see for themselves. I hope to see shortly a perfect consolidation, to effect which, nothing shall be spared on my part, short of the abandonment of the principles of our revolution. A just and solid republican government maintained here, will be a standing monument & example for the aim & imitation of the people of other countries; and I join with you in the hope and belief that they will see, from our example, that a free government is of all others the most energetic; that the inquiry which has been excited among the mass of mankind by our revolution & it's consequences, will ameliorate the condition of man over a great portion of the globe."328 James F. Simon noted: "In his letters, Jefferson returned to his favorite nautical metaphors to express exhilaration over the Republican victory, and undisguised resentment of the Federalist past. 'The storm through which we have passed has been tremendous indeed,' he wrote John Dickinson. 'The tough sides of our Argosy have been thoroughly tried. Her strength has stood the waves into which she was steered with a view to sink her. We shall put her on her republican tack, and she will now show by the beauty of her motion the skill of her builders.'"329
John Marshall was skeptical of Jefferson's intentions. Legal expert James F. Simon wrote: "Marshall had joined many of Jefferson's vocal detractors in the Federalist party who predicted that the 'speculative theorist' at the head of the national government would be totally absorbed with elaborate and, at best, useless political theories that would do the nation no practical good. Things could be worse. If Jefferson joined the 'absolute terrorists' in his party, Marshall surmised, 'it is not difficult to foresee that much calamity is in store for our country.' And if Jefferson did not join his more violent brethern, Marshall speculated, 'they will soon become his enemies and calumniators.'"330
Still, Jefferson's inauguration was milestone. "I have this morning witnessed one of the most interesting scenes, a free people can ever witness," one witness testified after the inauguration. "The changes of administration, which in every government and in every age have most generally be epochs of confusion, villainy and bloodshed, in this our happy country take place without any species of distraction, or disorder."331 True, the election signaled the first shift in political power from one party to another, but both Marshall and Jefferson exaggerated the immediate impact of the election. Nearly two decades later, Jefferson wrote that "the revolution of 1800...was as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form; not effected indeed by the sword, as that, but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people. The nation declared its will by dismissing functionaries of one principle, and electing those of another, in the two branches, executive and legislative, submitted to their election. Over the judiciary department, the constitution had deprived them of their control. That, therefore, has continued the reprobated system, and although new matter has been occasionally incorporated into the old, yet the leaven of the old mass seems to assimilate to itself the new, and after twenty years' confirmation of the federal system by the voice of the nation, declared through the medium of elections, we find the judiciary on every occasion, still driving us into consolidation."332 Historian Yonathan Eyal wrote that "Jefferson's revolution of 1800...marked the beginning of more than a half-century of political control by disciples of his and Madison's vision of limited government. Most revolutions, certainly those in Jefferson's treasured Paris, never lasted so long."333 Still, Marshall was in control of the Supreme Court and remained so for the next 34 years. Nevertheless, as historian Richard E. Ellis wrote, "The passage of the Judiciary Act of 1801, coupled with the Jeffersonian republican victory in the election of 1800 set the stage for a major reappraisal of the relationship of the courts to the national government."334 One of the Jeffersonians' first priorities was to role back the Judiciary Act and the control it vested in the Federalists.
There was much lingering animosity amongst Americans. The Philadelphia Aurora printed some vitriolic observations by outgoing Vermont Congressman Matthew Lyon about Adams: "You seem now more than ever bent on mischief: your vindictive spirits prompts you to do every thing in your power to give the succeeding administration trouble, but you are as unfortunate in this as in most of your calculations; your creatures are generally pliant reeds, they will bend to and fawn upon any body that is in power; it was power they worshipped in you, not John Adams."335 President Adams had indeed been busy. He had written Abigail on February 16, 1801: "The Burden upon me in nominating Judges and Consuls and other officers, in delivering over the furniture, in the ordinary Business at the Close of a Session, and in preparing for my Journey of 500 miles through the mire, is and will be very heavy."336 As always, Adams could see the dark side of his situation - even while shedding the burdens of the presidency and the gloomy presidential house. Twelve days after he left Washington, 'having trotted the bogs five hundred miles," Adams arrived home in Quincy "where he found in the barn a hundred-pound load of seaweed, vital fertilizer for his fields," wrote historian John Patrick Diggins. Adams' Jeffersonian opponents were delighted to see him go. The vitriolic Philadelphia Aurora wrote that Adams "needed to be cast like polluted water out the back door, and who should immediately leave for Quincy that Mrs. Adams may wash his befuddled brains clear."337
At sixty-six, Adams was home for good, and there he knew he would die."338 Years later, Adams would express relief that he had lost the election of 1800: "....had I been chosen President again, I am certain I could not have lived another year. It was utterly impossible that I could have lived through one year more of such labors and cares as were studiously and maliciously accumulated upon me by the French faction and the British faction, the former aided by the republicans, and the latter by Alexander Hamilton and his satellites."339 Adams' equanimity seemed genuine. In early January, he had said: "I am not about to write lamentations or jeremiades over my fate nor panegyricks upon my life and conduct. You may think me disappointed. I am not. All my life have I expected it & you might be surprised perhaps to see how little it affects me."340 Although Adams rushed to leave town on the morning of Jefferson's inauguration, the nation's third president did not rush to occupy the still-unfinished White House. He remained at Conrad McMunn's boarding house, conducting presidential business from a parlor that adjoined the bedroom he occupied. On March 19, the new president finally moved into the White House.
As symbolically important and traumatic as Jefferson's election had been, not much changed quickly in national politics. Historian Forrest McDonald wrote: "There was no Reign of Terror, and nobody was guillotined; nothing that was done was spectacular, and little of it was dramatic; yet in that short space of time the American government made a more profound turn toward what a majority of its people desired than had almost any other government, ancient or modern."341 The shift was primarily symbolic at first. Historian Bruce Ackerman wrote: "For the Republicans, the Federalists had betrayed Founding values during the 1790s, and the election of 1800 had authorized a great cleansing in the name of the People. For the Federalists, the election had been marked the passing triumph of a faction, and they had been completely justified in making a last desperate effort to batten down the hatches of the ship of state."342
The election had been the first real test of party politics at the presidential level. Historian James E. Lewis, Jr. noted: "A sense of party loyalty, or at least a sense of personal loyalty among members of the same party, guided men's actions throughout the electoral process. It helped to get voters to the polls, organize the actions of legislators at the state and federal levels, decide the votes of electors, and determine the outcome in the House election."343 Historian Jeffrey L. Pasley wrote that "the intensity of effort and feeling that went into his election produced more general and durable changes. Foremost among these was the rejection of the principle of free choice at the higher levels of the electoral system that the founders had intended. John Adams believed that Americans would have accepted Aaron Burr as their legitimate president if Congress had selected him, but the contrary idea that Jefferson ought to be president because he was the people's choice was forcefully expressed in the popular political culture of 1800-1801."344 But Burr's behavior killed his political future. Congressman Bayard wrote: "The means existing of electing Burr but that required his cooperation. By deceiving one Man (a great blockhead) and tempting two others (not incorruptible) he might have secured a majority of the States. He will never have another chance of being President of the U. States and the little use he has made of the one that has occurred gives me but a humble opinion of the talents of an unprincipled man."345
The election of 1800 helped seal the fate of the Federalists, who went into a clear and terminal decline over the next two decades. Historian Manning J. Dauer wrote: "The failure of Adams to stem the tide of the commercial influences in the part caused the transition of most moderates to Republicanism....The two expanding economic forces in the country were agriculture and commerce. The party battle represented a contest between these two for supremacy. It was natural, that when the demands of the commercial group should become too great, the agrarian forces would become united."346 John C. Miller wrote that "the remnants of the party took refuge in the states, where they continued to wage a rearguard action against the enemy. But even in New England, Federalism stood upon steadily contracting ground: New Hampshire and Rhode Island fell to the Republicans and they made heavy inroads in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Thus the peril of two sectional parties looking down each other's throats across Mason and Dixon's line was averted."347 The Republicans had triumphed. Eventually, the Jeffersonians would become the Democrats. And six decades later, a new and very different Republican Party would defeat the Democrats and elect Abraham Lincoln president. The sectional crisis that had been averted in 1800 would not be deferred.
President Jefferson was less compromising than it appeared from his inaugural address. "The Federalist party having publicly considered 'usurpation' in 1801 made Federalist leaders deeply suspect to many of the very people who had recently voted for them," wrote historian John Zvesper. "So in the end the party's threat to ignore the country's choice of Jefferson to be president helped to underpin the Republican victory. Two days after the end of the presidential balloting by the House of Representatives in February 1801, Jefferson sent his son-in-law a summary of the Federalists' actions during that stressful week of balloting. He knew that the Federalist leaders, in spite of having backed down, were not at all reconciled to him being president. The way they had arranged the voting in that last ballot, with no Federalist obliged to soil his hands by voting for him, had to be 'considered as a declaration of perpetual war.' But, he gloated, 'their conduct has completely left them without support,' because throughout the country it had alienated Federalist voters from Federalist leaders. The Federalists' threat of usurpation had made even people who voted against the Republicans come out in their favor, so that Jefferson's victory, "when obtained … came as a thing of their own wishes…." In short, the Federalist leaders' conduct 'has done in one week what very probably could hardly have been effected by years of mild and impartial administration.'"348 In November 1801, President Jefferson wrote Virginia Governor Monroe: "Conspiracy, insurgency, treason, rebellion, among that description of persons who brought on us the alarm, and on themselves the tragedy, of 1800 were doubtless within the view of every one; but many perhaps contemplated, and one expression of the resolution might comprehend, a much larger scope."349
Jefferson's Republicans intended no repetition of the electoral stalemate in the House of Representatives. The Philadelphia Aurora editorialized soon after Jefferson's election by the House: "It is to be hoped that at some convenient opportunity during the administration of Mr. Jefferson, the republicans will take care that the same disgraceful sene at the election of a President, shall not take place in the future, which we have so lately experienced. However perfect the rest of the constitution may be, it ought no longer to be the means of rendering us the laughing stock of the civilized world."350 A constitutional amendment was the Republican response to the political chaos of the election of 1800. It was clear that the Constitution would need to be changed. The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution - passed in 1804 - was the Republican response to the election of 1800.
The election of 1800-1801 badly hurt Alexander Hamilton, who had failed to convince Federalists either to abandon Adams or to abandon Burr. Hamilton biographer Marie B. Hecht wrote: "Although Hamilton had the satisfaction of seeing the less dangerous Republican win the presidency, he was now the quasi-leader of a deposed and divided party. He had, in this election, incurred the enmity of Burr and, more threatening to his political future, of the Adams Federalists as well."351 When he worked to elect his Federalist brother-in-law as governor of New York in early 1801, the candidate was scorned by Federalists and defeated by the voters. Burr again triumphed. In the fall, Hamilton's son, not yet 20, was killed in a duel. The enmity of Burr that would lead to Hamilton's own death as a result of a duel with the vice president on July 11, 1804.
Burr also was grievously injured by the election. The Jeffersonians with whom he had worked turned on him. Albert Gallatin was the rare Republican who remained friendly with Burr. In September 1801, Gallatin was bold enough to write President Jefferson: "I wish the Republicans throughout the Union would make up their mind. Do they eventually mean not to support Burr as your successor, when you shall think fit to retire? Do they mean not to support him at the next election for Vice-President? These are serious questions, for although with Pennsylvania and Maryland we can fear nothing so long as you will remain the object of contention with the Federalists, yet the danger would be great should any unfortunate event deprive the people of your services. Where is the man we could support with any reasonable prospect of success? Mr. Madison is the only one, and his being a Virginian would be a considerable objection. But if, without thinking of events more distant or merely contingent, we confine ourselves to the next election, which is near enough, the embarrassment is not less, for even Mr. Madison cannot on that occasion be supported with you, and it seems to me that there are but two ways: either to support Burr once more or to give only one vote for President, scattering our other votes for the other person to be voted for. If we do the first, we run, on the one hand, the risk of the Federal party making Burr President, and we seem, on the other, to give him an additional pledge of being eventually supported hereafter by the Republicans for that office."352 Burr Biographer Nancy Isenberg wrote: "By the following year...New York Republicans joined the Federalists in a concerted campaign to destroy Burr's political reputation. His foremost critic was the English émigré James Cheetham, editor of the American Citizen, New York City's one Republican newspaper. But Cheetham did not act alone. His barrage of sleazy insinuations and crude insults was encouraged by DeWitt Clinton, a rising star among Republicans in the Empire State."353 Burr continued to attempt to straddle the divide between Republicans and Federalists -- to his own injury. Historian Alf J. Mapp, Jr., wrote: "Thinking to exploit the gap between Burr's cadre of determinedly loyal followers and the great mass of Republicans, Federalist leaders invited him to attend their annual Washington's birthday banquet. Making the most of the moment's potential for drama, Burr toasted 'the union of all honest men.' The Republicans saw this move as a bid for Federalist support."354
While strongly criticizing Hamilton's and Adam's use of partisan patronage over the previous 12 years, Jefferson adopted their approach to patronage, albeit on a more limited basis. Although the Republicans took control of the government, they did not immediately cease control of the government's patronage. Neither did they ignore the opportunity to replacement recalcitrant Federalists with Jefferson's supporters. Of particular concern to Republicans were the lucrative Treasury posts. Historian Garry Wills wrote: "In a sense, Jefferson could only get away with mass displacements by pretending no such thing could happen. He and most other Whig proponents of the country of the 'country ideology' condemned executive appointments when they were used as instruments of political purpose. It was the power of creating 'places' that had corrupted the British constitution."355 Jefferson was determined to replace the similar system which he believed that Hamilton had put in place in America. Jefferson wanted a simpler, less political government. In August 1800, Jefferson had defined his political philosophy in a private letter: "The true theory of our Constitution is surely the wisest and best, that the States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better the more they are left free to manage for themselves, and our general government may be reduced to a very simple organization and a very unexpensive one, - and a few plain duties to be performed by a few servants."356
Jefferson also wanted to roll back the judicial reform put in place by the outgoing Federalists. Garry Wills wrote: "This whipping of a party line was something so new in the Congress that charges of compulsion were raised. Richard Ellis, a defender of Jefferson, writes that was the beginning of a 'bullying' approach Jefferson part. One Republican congressman is reported to have said: 'If the question on the repeal were taken by ballot, they would certainly lose it, but by calling for the yeas and nays they could hold every man to the point.' Some Republicans continued to doubt the constitutionality of the repeal, though Jefferson had privately called their qualms 'a fraudulent use of the Constitution.'"357
Jefferson's Cabinet included James Madison for secretary of State, Congressman Levi Lincoln of Massachusetts for attorney general, and Maine's Henry Dearborn for secretary of War. It was harder to find someone willing to become secretary of the Navy. New York's Robert Livingston and Maryland's Samuel Smith rejected Jefferson's requests to take the job - as did several other men. Pennsylvania's Albert Gallatin did not appear to have been hurt by his equivocal attitude toward Jefferson. Gallatin was named secretary of the Treasury by the new president - probably because Gallatin's financial expertise was unmatched by any other Jeffersonian. The bad blood between Gallatin and the Smith family would continue, however, and when Gallatin sought to move from the Treasury to the State Department in 1809, the Smith family and their allies would block the switch.
Jefferson settled into the White House. Henry Adams wrote: "For eight years this tall, loosely built, somewhat stiff figure, in red waistcoat and yarn stockings, slippers down at the heel, and clothes that seemed too small for him, may be imagined as Senator Maclay described him, sitting on one hip, with one shoulder high above the other., talking almost without ceasing to his visitors at the White House. His skin was thin, peeling from his face on exposure to the sun, and giving it a tettered appearance. This sandy face, with hazel eyes and sunny aspect; this loose, shackling person; this rambling and often brilliant conversation, belonged to the controlling influences of American history, more necessary to the story than three-fourths of the official papers, which only hid the truth. Jefferson's personality during these eight years appeared to be the government, and impressed itself, like that of Bonaparte, although by a different process, on the mind of the nation. In the village simplicity of Washington he was more than a king, for he was alone in social as well as in political preeminence. Except the British Legation, no house in Washington was open to general society; the whole mass of politicians, even the Federalists, were dependent on Jefferson and 'The Palace' for amusement; and if they refused to go there, they 'lived like bears, brutalized and stupefied.'
John Adams grandson Henry wrote: "Jefferson showed his powers at their best in his own new home, where among friends as genial and cheerful as himself his ideas could flow freely, and could be discussed with sympathy. Such were the men with whom he surrounded himself by choice, and none but such were invited to enter his Cabinet. First and oldest of his political associates was James Madison, about to become Secretary of State, whose character also described itself, and whose personality was as distinct as that of his chief. A small man, quiet, somewhat precise in manner, pleasant, fond of conversation, with a certain mixture of ease and dignity in his address, Madison had not so much as Jefferson of the commanding attitude which imposed respect on the world. 'He has much more the appearance of what I have imagined a Roman cardinal to be,' wrote Senator Mills of Massachusetts in 1815. An imposing presence had much to do with political influence, and Madison labored under serious disadvantage in the dryness of his personality. Political opponents of course made fun of him. 'As to Jemmy Madison, - oh, poor Jemmy! - he is but a withered little apple-John,' wrote Washington Irving in 1812, instinctively applying the Knickerbocker view of history to national concerns."358
Shortly after his inauguration, Jefferson opened a letter at the White House which he realized was intended for Adams. He forwarded it to the former president, who responded - acknowledging that the letter concerned the funeral of his beloved son Charles Adams, who had died of alcoholism in November 1800. Adams wrote: "It is not possible that any thing of the kind should happen [sic] to you, and I sincerely wish you may never experience any thing in any degree resembling it." On a political note, Adams added: "This part of the union is in a state of perfect tranquility & I see nothing to obscure your prospect of a quiet & prosperous administration, which I heartily wish you."359 Adams remained angry, however, about the way his presidential legacy was portrayed. On March 31, he wrote Benjamin Stoddert: "A group of foreign liars, encouraged by a few ambitious native gentlemen, have discomfited the education, the talents, the virtues and the property of the country."360
The former president did not easily forgive and forget. For more than a decade Adam's relationship with Jefferson would remain strained. Just two months after leaving Washington, Adams wrote that he shuddered "at the calamities, which I fear his conduct is prepared for his country: from a mean thirst for popularity, an inordinate ambition and a want of sincerity."361 Writing Mercy Otis Warren in 1807 to defend his political behavior, Adams clearly contrasted his own lack of improper ambition to that of Jefferson: "If by 'ambition' you mean a love of power or a desire of public offices, I answer, I never solicited a vote in my life for any public office. I never swerved from any principle, I never professed any opinion, I never concealed even any speculative opinion to obtain a vote. I never sacrificed a friend or betrayed a trust. I never hired scribblers to defame my rivals. I never wrote a line of slander against my bitterest enemy, nor encouraged it in any other."362 Historian Andrew S. Trees wrote of Adams: "Although he could comfort himself with the thought that his unpopularity confirmed his virtue, it was small consolation in the fact of what looked to him like the betrayal of both his friends, and his party."363
Abigail professed to be relieved by her husband's defeat, but admitted: "I lose my sleep often and I find my spirits flag. My mind and heart have been severely tried."364 She especially worried about how her husband would deal with his forced retirement. Abigail herself had a difficult time forgiving and forgetting. In 1804, Jefferson and Abigail Adams exchanged correspondence concerning the death of Mary "Polly" Jefferson Eppes. Jefferson wrote Abigail: "One act of Mr. Adams's Life, and one only ever gave me a moments personal displeasure. I did think his last appointments to office personally unkind. They were from among my most ardent political enemies." Abigail responded: "The constitution empowers the president to fill up offices as they become vacant. It was in the exercise of this power that appointments were made, and Characters selected whom Mr. Adams considerd [sic], as men faithfull to the constitution and where he personally knew them, such as were capable of fulfilling their duty to their country."365
Abigail complained bitterly about the release of journalist James Callender, who had been imprisoned under the Sedition Act and later pardoned by President Jefferson. She wrote Jefferson: "One of the first acts of your administration was to liberate a wretch who was suffering the just punishment of the Law due to his crimes for writing and publishing the basest libel, the lowest and vilest Slander, which malice could invent, or calumny exhibit against the Character and reputation of your predecessor, of him for whom you protest the highest esteem and Friendship, and whom you certainly knew incapable of such complicated baseness. The remission of Callenders fine was a public approbation of his conduct." She noted Jefferson's payment to Callender and wrote: "The serpent you cherished and warmed, bit the hand that nourished him, and gave you sufficient Specimens of his talents, his gratitude[,] his justice, and his truth. When such vipers are let lo[o]se upon Society, all distinction between virtue and vice are leveled, all respect for Character is lost in the overwhelming deluge of calumny - that respect which is a necessary bond in the social union, which gives efficacy to laws, and teaches the subject obey the Majestrate, and the child to submit to the parent."366
Jefferson pretended not to know that Abigail was speaking of Callender and hid behind his opposition to the Sedition act. He replied to her: "I do not know who was the particular wretch alluded to; but I discharged every person under punishment or prosecution under the Sedition law, because I considered and now consider that law to be a nullity as absolute and as palpable as if Congress had ordered us to fall down and worship a gold image; and that it was as much my duty to arrest it's execution in every stage, as it would have been to have rescued from the fiery furnace those who should have been cast into it for refusing to worship their image."367
Abigail was not persuaded by Jefferson's argument - which she regarded as a violation of his authority: "With regard to the act under which he was punished, different persons entertain different opinions respecting it. It lies not with me to decide upon its validity. That I presume devolved upon the supreme Judges of the Nation: but I have understood that the power which makes a Law, is alone competent to the repeal. If the Chief Majestrate can by his will annul a Law, where is the difference between a republican, and a despotic Government?" Abigail then wrote philosophically - in a way that might provide a coda to the election of 1800: "I have seen and know that much of the conduct of a public ruler, is liable to be misunderstood, and misrepresented. Party hatred by its deadly poison blinds the Eyes and envenoms the heart. It is fatal to the integrity of he moral Character. It sees not that wisdom dwells with moderation, and that firmness of conduct is seldom united with outrageous [violence] of sentiment. Thus blame is too often liberally bestowed upon actions, which if full understood, and candidly judged would merit praise instead of censure. It is only by the general issue of measures producing banefull or beneficial effects that they ought to be tested."368
Jefferson later wrote Abigail of the 1800 campaign: "With respect to the calumnies and falsehood which writers and printers at large published against Mr. Adams. I was as far from stooping to any concern or approbation of them, as Mr. Adams was respecting those of 'Porcupine,' Fenno, or Russell, who published volumes against me for every sentence vended by their opponents against Mr. Adams. But I never supposed Mr. Adams had any participation in the atrocities of these editors, or their writers. I knew myself incapable of that base warfare, and believed him to be so. On the contrary, whatever I may have thought of the acts of the administration of that day, I have ever borne testimony to Mr. Adams's personal worth; nor was it ever impeached in my presence. without a just vindication of it on my part. I never supposed that any person who knew either of us, could believe that either of us meddled in that dirty work."369
Jefferson's memory was either faulty or he forgot that he was far from passive in the 1800 election. Jefferson wrote Benjamin Rush in 1811: "Mr. Adams has been alienated from me, by belief in the lying suggestions contrived for electioneering purposes, that I perhaps mixed in the activity and intrigues of the occasion. My most intimate friends can testify that I was perfectly passive. They would sometimes, indeed, tell me what was going on; but no man ever heard me take part in such conversations; and none ever misrepresented Mr. Adams in my presence, without my asserting his just character. With very confidential persons I have doubtless disapproved of the principles and practices of his administration. This was unavoidable. But never with those with whom it could do him any injury. Decency would have required this conduct from me. if disposition had not, and I am satisfied Mr. Adams's conduct was equally honorable towards me. But I think it part of his character to suspect foul play in those of whom he is jealous, and not easily to relinquish his suspicions."370 When in 1811 Adams and Jefferson resumed their friendship through correspondence, there were prickly moments as they reviewed the history of their relationship. Adams wrote the man who defeated him: "Checks and Ballances, Jefferson, however you and your Party may have ridiculed them, are our only Security, for the progress of Mind, as well as the Security of Body."371
The best summary of Jefferson's attitudes regarding the election may have been in his letter to Joseph Priestley shortly after his inauguration: "As the storm is now subsiding, and the horizon becoming serene, it is pleasant to consider the phenomenon with attention. We can no longer say there is nothing new under the sun. For this whole chapter in the history of man is new. The great extent of our Republic is new. Its sparse habitation is new. The mighty wave of public opinion which has rolled over it is new. But the most pleasing novelty is, it's so quickly subsiding over such an extent of surface to it's true level again. The order & good sense displayed in this recovery from delusion, and in the momentous crisis which lately arose, really bespeak a strength of character in our nation which augurs well for the duration of our Republic; & I am much better satisfied now of it's stability than I was before it was tried."372
Richard J. Behn is research director of The Lehrman Institute.
- David McCullough, John Adams, p. 544.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 94 (Joanne B. Freeman, Corruption and Compromise in the Election of 1800").
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, pp. 541-542.
- Harold C. Syrett, Papers of Hamilton, Volume 24, p. 444.
- Joseph J. Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, p. 163.
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 151.
- Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 52.
- Joseph Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, p. 196.
- Letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, February 1798).
- James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man, p. 357.
- Jay Winik, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, p. 506.
- Richard Brookhiser, America's First Dynasty, p. 49.
- Thomas Fleming, The Intimate Minds of the Founding Fathers, p. 191.
- (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, December 19, 1793).
- Richard Norton Smith, Patriarch, p. 24.
- Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, p. 257.
- Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States, p. 131.
- (Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, July 13, 1813).
- Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 252.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, January 1, 1797).
- (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, February 17, 1793).
- Charles Francis Adams, The Life of John Adams, p. 196 (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, March 1, 1796).
- Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphinx, p. 168.
- Jay Winik, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, p. 513.
- Jack Shepherd, The Adams Chronicles, p. 205.
- Thomas Fleming, The Intimate Minds of the Founding Fathers, p. 182.
- George Gibbs, editor, Memoirs of the administrations of Washington and John Adams: edited from the papers of Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury, p. 401 (Letter from Oliver Wolcott to Fisher Ames, August 10, 1800).
- Richard Brookhiser, Alexander Hamilton: American, p. 131.
- James Grant, John Adams: Party of One, pp. 381-382.
- Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 613.
- James Grant, John Adams: Party of One, p. 424.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 736.
- David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, pp. 53-57,18.
- Thomas Fleming, The Intimate Minds of the Founding Fathers, p. 187.
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 101.
- Charles F. Hobson, The Great Chief Justice: John Marshall and the Rule of Law, p. 7.
- Forrest Church, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, p. 157.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 35 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Jean Edward Smith, John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, p. 7.
- Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, p. 246.
- Jay Winik, The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800, p. 522.
- Forrest Church, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, pp. 174-175.
- Henry Adams, History of the United States of America During the First Administration of Thomas Jefferson, p. 140.
- Joseph Charles, "The Jay Treaty: The Origins of the American Party System," The William and Mary Quarterly, October, 1955, p. P. 605.
- Henry Stephens Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson, Volume II, p. 469.
- Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Biography, pp. 324-325.
- (Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 30, 1813).
- Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty, p. 275.
- Darren Staloff, Hamilton, Adams and Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding, p. 225.
- Richard Brookhiser, America's First Dynasty, p. 51.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 703.
- (Letter from John Adams to James Lloyd, February 6, 1815)
- Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Biography, p. 325.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors, The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 125.
- William Maclay, Sketches of Debate in the First Senate, p. 212.
- Ron Chernow, George Washington: A Life, p. 599.
- Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphinx, p. 167.
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, pp. 533-534
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 531.
- Claude G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America, p. 107.
- Ron Chernow, George Washington: A Life, p. 780.
- Frank L. Mott, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 24.
- Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, p. 209.
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 535.
- Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, Madison and Jefferson, p. 343.
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 536.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 696.
- Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 602.
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 128.
- Ralph A. Brown, The Presidency of John Adams, p. 188.
- Bruce A. Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 206.
- Fergus M. Bordewich, Washington: How Slaves, Idealists, and Scoundrels Created the Nation's Capital, p. 247.
- Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty, p. 586.
- Edwin S. Gaustad, Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson, p. 91.
- Forrest Church, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, p. 161.
- Steven Waldman, Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, p. 167.
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe: the Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 173.
- Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, Madison and Jefferson, p. 342.
- Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 53.
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 542.
- Eugene R. Sheridan, Jefferson and Religion, p. 22.
- Forrest Church, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, p. 103.
- (Letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812).
- (Letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush, June 12, 1812).
- Edwin S. Gaustad, Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson, p. 91.
- Forrest Church, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, p. 257.
- Steven Waldman, Founding Faith: Providence, Politics, and the Birth of Religious Freedom in America, p. 167.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, March 21, 1801).
- Forrest Church, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, p. 198.
- Walter A. McDougall, Freedom Just Around the Corner, p. 366.
- Charles F. O'Brien, "The Religious Issue in the Presidential Campaign of 1800," Essen Institute Historical Collections, Volume 107, 1971, p. 82.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 732.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 735.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, pp. 39-40 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 280.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 99 (Joanne Freeman, "Corruption and Compromise in the Election of 1800).
- Roger G. Kennedy, Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson: A Study in Character, p. 151.
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, p. 67.
- Arnold Rogow, A Fatal Friendship: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, p. 212.
- Henry Adams, History of the United States of America During the First Administration of Thomas Jefferson, p. 230.
- (Letter from James Nicholson to Albert Gallatin, May 7, 1800).
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, p. 68
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 197.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 733.
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, p. 70.
- Marie Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, p. 149.
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 198.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 692.
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 131.
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, pp. 128-129.
- Cliff Sloan and David McKean, The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall and the Battle for the Supreme Court, p. 15.
- John C. Miller, Alexander Hamilton: Portrait in Paradox, p. 357.
- Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, pp. 149-150.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 42 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Nathan Schachner, Aaron Burr: A Biography, p. 179.
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 202.
- Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 611.
- John Robert Irelan, The Republic, Or, a History of the United States of America in the Administrations, p. 210.
- Forrest McDonald, Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 349.
- Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, p. 151.
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, May 7, 1800).
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 96 (Joanne B. Freeman, "Corruption and Compromise in the Election of 1800").
- John Lamberton Harper, American Machiavelli, p. 254.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, January 16, 1811).
- Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, p. 152.
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, p. 71.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, p. 90.
- David McCullough, John Adams, pp. 544-545.
- James Brouososard, The Southern Federalists, 1800-1816, p. 23.
- Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, p. 26.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 693.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, p. 90.
- David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, pp. 95, 93.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, August 23, 1799).
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, February 11, 1799).
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 119.
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 538.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 45 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 55 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800")
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 558.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799).
- Forrest Church, So Help Me God: The Founding Fathers and the First Great Battle over Church and State, p. 183.
- Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 66.
- Cliff Sloan and David McKean, The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall and the Battle for the Supreme Court, p. 21.
- Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, p. 636.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James T. Callender, October 6, 1799).
- Thomas Fleming, The Intimate Minds of the Founding Fathers, p. 310.
- Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty, p. 256
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 121.
- Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Biography, p. 324.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 47 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Marie B. Hecht, Odd Destiny: The Life of Alexander Hamilton, p. 378.
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Theodore Sedgewick, May 4, 1800).
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Theodore Sedgewick, May 10, 1800)
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 102 (Joanne B. Freeman, "Corruption and Compromise in the Election of 1800").
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 43 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 105 (Joanne B. Freeman, Corruption and Compromise in the Election of 1800").
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 45 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- (Letter from James McHenry to Alexander Hamilton, June 2, 1800).
- Marie B. Hecht, Odd Destiny: The Life of Alexander Hamilton, p. 380.
- Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, p. 251.
- Marie B. Hecht, Odd Destiny: The Life of Alexander Hamilton, p. 379 (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to James McHenry, May 15, 1800).
- Forrest McDonald, Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 349.
- Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, p. 254 (Letter From Alexander Hamilton to Wolcott, August 3, 1800).
- (Letter from Fisher Ames to Alexander Hamilton, August 26, 1800).
- Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton, p. 617.
- John Ferling, John Adams: A Life, p. 397.
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to John Adams, August 2, 1800).
- Marie B. Hecht, Odd Destiny: The Life of Alexander Hamilton, p. 383.
- Forrest McDonald, Alexander Hamilton: A Biography, p. 351.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 738.
- John Lamberton Harper, American Machiavelli, p. 257.
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 199, 142.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 739.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, pp. 57, 37 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Harold Coffin Syrett, editor, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Volume XXV, p. 69.
- James H. Broussard ,The Southern Federalists, 1800-1816, p. 27.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 58 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, p. 255.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 57 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 185.
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 203.
- John Dos Pasos, The Men who Made the Nation, p. 432.
- Charles Augustus Goodrich, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, p. 396.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 68 (Michael A. Bellesiles, "The Soil Will Be Soaked with Blood.").
- Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, p. 250.
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to James A. Bayard, August 6, 1800).
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 58 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 205.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 63 (Michael A. Bellesiles, "The Soil Will Be Soaked with Blood.").
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 68 (Michael A. Bellesiles, "The Soil Will Be Soaked with Blood").
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 94 (Joanne B. Freeman, Corruption and Compromise in the Election of 1800").
- Norman K. Risjord, Thomas Jefferson, p. 120.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, p. 91.
- Marie B. Hecht, Odd Destiny: The Life of Alexander Hamilton, p. 382.
- Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, p. 155.
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 204.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, p. 91.
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson, p. 167.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, p. 92.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 68 (Michael A. Bellesiles, "The Soil Will Be Soaked with Blood").
- Irving Brant, The Fourth President: James Madison, p. 301.
- Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life, p. 544.
- James H. Broussard, The Southern Federalists, 1800-1816, p. 28
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, pp. 68-69.
- Ralph Adams Brown, The Presidency of John Adams, p.197.
- (Letter from Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, November 18, 1800).
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 250. John C. Miller wrote that "the result of the congressional elections of 1800 left no doubt that the Republicans had won a sweeping triumph. The Federalists suffered a loss of approximately forty seats: the incoming House was composed of sixty-six Republicans and forty Federalists." John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 274.
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, p. 62.
- Norman K. Risjord, Thomas Jefferson, p. 120.
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 239.
- (Letter from John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, December 17, 1800).
- (Letter from John Adams to Cotton Tufts, December 28, 1800).
- Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, p. 155 9(Letter from Aaron Burr to Samuel Smith, December 16, 1800).
- Merrill Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, p. 645 (Letter from Aaron Burr to Samuel Smith, December 16, 1800).
- James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 253.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, December 15, 1800).
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation, p. 132 (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, December 29, 1800).
- (Letter from Aaron Burr to Thomas Jefferson, December 23, 1800).
- Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, p. 161 (Letter from Aaron Burr to Samuel Smith, December 16, 1800).
- Merrill Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, pp. 647-648.
- Marie B. Hecht, Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, p. 163.
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 217.
- Letters of Thomas Jefferson, p. 559 (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, January 26, 1801).
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: Life of Aaron Burr, p.218.
- Susan Dunn, Jefferson's Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, pp. 8-9.
- (Letter from John Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, January 16, 1801).
- John Lamberton Harper, American Machiavelli, p. 261.
- Marie B. Hecht, Odd Destiny: The Life of Alexander Hamilton, p. 387.
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 213.
- John Lamberton Harper, American Machiavelli, p. 261.
- Arnold Rogow, A Fatal Friendship, p. 216.
- Gordon S. Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815, p. 283.
- Susan Dunn, Jefferson's Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 10.
- James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 258.
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 211.
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., December 17, 1800).
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Oliver Wolcott, Jr., December 16, 1800).
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Harrison Gray Otis, December 23, 1800).
- Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate Biography, p. 332.(Letter from Alexander Hamilton to John Rutledge, January 4, 1801).
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 251.
- (Letter from James McHenry to Rufus King, January 2, 1801).
- John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 270.
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to Gouverneur Morris, January 1801).
- John Zvesper, From Bullets to Ballots: The Election of 1800 and the First Peaceful Transfer of Political Power http://teachingamericanhistory.org/zvesper/chapter8.html
- John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 271.
- James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 250.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, p. 93.
- (Letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, January 10, 1801).
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Thomas McKean, March 9, 1801).
- Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 49 (Gazette of the United States, February 16, 1801).
- E. James Ferguson, editor, Selected Writings of Albert Gallatin, p. 203 (Letter from Albert Gallatin to Henry A. Muhlenberg, May 8, 1848).
- James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 275.
- (Letter from Albert Gallatin to Henry A. Muhlenberg, May 8, 1848).
- Susan Dunn, Jefferson's Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 12.
- Walter Stahr, John Jay, p. 364.
- William Jay, The Life of John Jay, p. 422 (Letter from John Jay to the Committee of the Federal Freeholders in New-York, January 27, 1801).
- Cliff Sloan and David McKean, The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall and the Battle for the Supreme Court, p. 34.
- (Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, January 3, 1801).
- David McCullough, John Adams, p. 559.
- Ralph Adams Brown, The Presidency of John Adams, p. 202
- David McCullough, John Adams, p. 558.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, v, 561. Ford Ed., ix, 297. (M., Jan. 1811).
- Lester J. Cappon, editor, The Adams-Jefferson Letters, p. 263 (Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, February 20, 1801).
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 257.
- (Letter from Albert Gallatin to his wife, January 22, 1801).
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, pp. 257, 259.
- Roger G. Kennedy: Burr, Hamilton and Jefferson: Character Tested by Slavery and Secession, p. 167.
- John Dos Pasos, The Men Who Made the Nation, p. 434.
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 140.
- (Letter from John Marshall to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, March 4, 1804).
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 73.
- David Scott Robarge, A Chief Justice's Progress: John Marshall from Revolutionary Virginia to the Supreme Court, p. 231.
- Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 44.
- Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 53.
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Coming to Power: Critical Presidential Elections in American History, p. 39 (Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., "Election of 1800").
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 64 (Michael A. Bellesiles, "The Soil Will Be Soaked with Blood").
- Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805, p. 7.
- (Letter from James Monroe to Thomas Jefferson, January 18, 1801).
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 66 (Michael A. Bellesiles, "'The Soil Will be Soaked with Blood'").
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 129 (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, December 26, 1800).
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, pp. 74-75.
- Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term 1801-1805, p. 9.
- John Dos Pasos, The Men Who Made the Nation, p. 435.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Martha, January 26, 1801.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, p. 93.
- Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term 1801-1805, p. 9.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, March 21, 1801).
- Fawn M. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, p. 333.
- Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 67.
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 263.
- Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 69.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, January 26, 1801).
- (Letter from Alexander Hamilton to James Bayard, January 16, 1801).
- David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism, p. 42.
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 254.
- Raymond Walters, Jr., Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat, p. 128.
- (Letter from Albert Gallatin to Henry A. Muhlenberg, May 8, 1848).
- Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 3.
- Matthew L. Davis, editor, Memoirs of Aaron Burr, p. 399 (Deposition by James A. Bayard, March 6, 1805).
- John Dos Pasos, The Men Who Made the Nation, p. 436.
- (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, February 16, 1801).
- Roger G. Kennedy: Burr, Hamilton and Jefferson: Character Tested by Slavery and Secession, p. 168.
- Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation, p. 650.
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, p. 94.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, pp. 110-111 (Joanne B. Freeman, 'Corruption and Compromise in the Election of 1800").
- James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis, p. 272.
- Edwin Williams. The Presidents of the United States, Their Memoirs and Administrations, pp.122-123.
- Susan Dunn, Jefferson's Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism, p. 211.
- (Letter from James Bayard to John Adams, February 19, 1801).
- Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe, p. 268.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, February 19, 1801).
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, February 18, 1801).
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 137.
- (Letter from John Marshall to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, March 4, 1801).
- Cliff Sloan and David McKean, The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall and the Battle for the Supreme Court, p. 67.
- Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 58.
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Idol: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 224.
- (Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801).
- (Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801).
- Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, p. 95.
- Joseph J. Ellis, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, p. 182.
- Alf J. Mapp, Jr., Thomas Jefferson: Passionate Pilgrim: The Presidency, the Founding of the University and the Private Battle, p. 5.
- Stanley Elkins & Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800, p. 753.
- John Ferling, Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, p. 205.
- Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term 1801-1805, p. 21.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, March 29, 1801).
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to John Dickinson, March 6, 1801).
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 145.
- James F. Simon, What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States, p. 140.
- Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Steele Commager and William E. Leuchtenburg, The Growth of the American Republic, Volume I, p. 330.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, September 6, 1819).
- Yonathan Eyal, The Young America Movement and the Transformation of the Democratic Party, 1828-1861, p. 18.
- Richard E. Ellis, The Jeffersonian Crisis: Courts and Politics in the Young Republic, p. 19.
- Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 62.
- Margaret A. Hogan and C. James Taylor, My Dearest Friend, Letters of Abigail and John Adams, p. 474 (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, February 16, 1801).
- Joseph J. Ellis, First Family, p. 212 (Philadelphia Aurora, March 11, 1801).
- John Patrick Diggins, John Adams, p. 151.
- (Letter from John Adams to Boston Patriot).
- (Letter from John Adams to William Tudor, January 1800).
- Forrest McDonald, The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, p. 29.
- Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy, p. 155.
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis and Peter S. Onuf, editors, The Revolution of 1800, p. 22 (James E. Lewis, Jr., "'What is to Become of Our Government?'"),
- James Horn, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, editors The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic, p. 125 (Jeffrey L. Pasley, "1800 as a Revolution in Political Culture").
- (Letter from James Bayard to Alexander Hamilton, March 8, 1801).
- Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists, p. 259.
- John C. Miller, The Federalist Era, p. 277.
- John Zvesper, From Bullets to Ballots: The Election of 1800 and the First Peaceful Transfer of Political Power.
- (Letter Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, November 24, 1801).
- Jerry W. Knudson, Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty, p. 56.
- Marie B. Hecht, Odd Destiny: The Life of Alexander Hamilton, p. 390.
- (Letter from Albert Gallatin to Thomas Jefferson, September 14, 1801).
- Nancy Isenberg, Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, p. 224.
- Alf J. Mapp, Jr., Thomas Jefferson: Passionate Pilgrim: The Presidency, the Founding of the University and the Private Battle, p. 18.
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, p. 91.
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Gideon Granger, August 13, 1800).
- Garry Wills, "Negro President": Jefferson and the Slave Power, p. 96.
- Henry Adams, History of the United States of America During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson, pp. 127-128.
- Lester J. Cappon, editor, The Adams-Jefferson Letters, p. 263 (Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, March 24, 1801).
- Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President, First Term, 1801-1805, p. 5.
- (Letter from John Adams to Richard Cranch, May 23, 1801).
- (Letter from John Adams to Mercy Otis Warren, August 19, 1807).
- Andrew S. Trees, The Founding Fathers: The Politics of Character, p. 145.
- Thomas Fleming, Intimate Lives of the Founders, p. 193.
- (Letter from Abigail Adams to Jefferson, July 1, 1804).
- (Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, July 1, 1804).
- (Letter from Thoms Jefferson to Abigail Adams, July 22, 1804).
- John Patrick Diggins, editor, The Portable John Adams, p. 470-471 (Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, July 1, 1804).
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Abigail Adams, July 1804).
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Benjamin Rush, January 1811).
- (Letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, June 24, 1813).
- (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley Washington, March, 21, 1801)