The election of 1800 was also known as “The Revolution of 1800.” This was the fourth election, occurring every four years, for the young United States. The election of 1800 is important because it marked the first time in the United States history, in which the power was peacefully passed from one party to another. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had an emotional, and strongly fought campaign for the position of President.
Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican, and John Adams was a Federalist. Those were very divergent parties that thought differently in many ways. Each side believed victory by the other would ruin the nation.
Jefferson and Adams had different ideas of how the United States should be, and how it should be governed. John Adams envisioned a very strong federal government, while Thomas Jefferson wanted to make the United States an agrarian republic, the nation’s economy would be based on agriculture. Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, so he believed in the rationalist ideas of enlightenment. For the election, each state could choose the day in which they would vote. Voting in the presidential election lasted from April to October of that year.
South Carolina was the last state to return the results. However, the election was ultimately decided in the House of Representatives. This election was also important because it revealed one of the flaws of the original constitution of the United States in the electoral college system that had to be corrected with the Twelfth Amendment.
The founding fathers of our country wanted a popularity vote, however they had to create a way for the election to be fair for all the states. To make sure a candidate that is only popular in a specific region did not get elected for president, the electoral college was created. In the election of 1800, the Democratic-Republican party promoted Thomas Jefferson with Aaron Burr as vice-president; while the Federalist party promoted John Adams with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. In the election “All of the Democratic-Republican electors, however, cast their ballots for Jefferson and Burr, and since electors could not indicate a presidential or vice presidential choice, the result was a tie.” (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 20 Oct. 2016) The tie caused the election to be decided by the lame-duck Federalist-controlled House of Representatives.
Voting in the House of Representatives began on Feb. 11, 1801, each of the 16 states cast a single vote. After voting 36 times, Thomas Jefferson was elected by the House of Representatives to be the third President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, which is today Charlottesville, Virginia. In 1762, Jefferson graduated from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia (History.com, 2009). He practiced law and served in local government as a magistrate, county lieutenant, and member of the House of Burgesses in his early professional life (Monticello.org).
Jefferson was also a member of the Continental Congress, as a member he was chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Before Jefferson became the 3rd President of the United States, he was the 2nd vice-president of the United States for John Adams, a leader who he would soon run against in the presidential election of 1800. They went from working together to having a very strong rivalry. Leonard Everett Fisher said “Jefferson, the southern Democratic-Republican, believed that ordinary people should have a voice in government.” (Fisher, 35) Jefferson was representing the Democratic-Republican party in the election, and he had many supporters.
During the two administrations of President George Washington (1789-1797), many former Anti-Federalists united against the fiscal program of Alexander Hamilton. (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, 15 Dec. 2017) The people who favored states rights, the rights or powers retained by the regional governments of a federal union under the provisions of a federal constitution, and a strict interpretation of the constitution rallied under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson. These Democratic-Republican party members were deeply influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution.
They first adopted only the name Republican, to emphasize their anti monarchical ideals. The party added the name Democratic when the Federalist party began calling them Democratic-Republicans. The Democratic-Republican party, and the Federalist party were strong rivals. All of their ideals were completely different. In 1800 the parties were put against each other, for a very tough election.
John Adams was born on October 30, 1735 in Braintree, MA. He was the first vice-president of the United States for George Washington, and 2nd president, and a true Federalist. Adams also served on the Continental Congress and helped draft the constitution. In the Election of 1800, this Federalist was fighting to stay in the position of President.
Educated in Harvard, Adams began his career as a lawyer in 1758 and eventually became a very renowned attorney in Boston. Adams was a big defender of the Patriots, colonist that fought for freedom from England. He wrote a response to oppose the Stamp Act of 1765.
He was very sympathetic about the cause, even though Adams didn’t like Great Britain very much. Adams still defended the British soldiers in the trials for murders of colonist in the Boston Massacre. In 1796, when George Washington retired, John Adams ran for presidency and won over Thomas Jefferson.
The election of 1800 was a big rematch for Jefferson and Adams. The Federalists, were those who favored a strong central government. Very strong political leaders like Hamilton, John Adams, and George Washington followed the Federalist beliefs. (Stefoff, 86) The Federalist party was created in opposition to the Democratic-Republican party. Both parties wanted many things, and had different plans for the country if they won the election. Federalists wanted a strong federal authority to restrain the excess of popular majorities, while the Democratic-Republicans wanted totally different things, such as to reduce national authority so that people would be able to rule more directly through state governments. (ushistory.org) Even though the Federalists were a very strong party, the party was unsuccessful after the election of 1800.
The party caused its own failure by their own incapacity to organize politically, and their unwillingness to compromise principles to win elections. The election of 1800 proved the flaw of voting for president and vice-president in the United States. The Electors did a popularity vote with most votes going to president and the second most votes going to vice-president.Voting, however, would often take many ballots. To solve this problem the twelfth amendment was adopted on June 15, 1804.
The Electors would cast separate ballots for president and vice-president. This fourth election was a very strongly fought “battle”. Each candidate represented very strong parties. Parties that had very different ideals and disagreed with each on the way the country should work. The election was rematch for Thomas Jefferson. He had run against Adams in the previous election, however, he got 2nd place and became John Adams’ vice-president. This time the Democrat was able to win and bring his party to power.
After a long, and emotional election, Thomas Jefferson was able to win and become the 3rd president of the United States of America after 36 ballots of the electors. After the victory of the Democratic-Republican party, the Federalist party never held power again. As a result of the election the United States changed its electoral voting system.