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The Revolution Of 1800 Essay

1682 words - 7 pages

During the election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson succeeded in defeating the incumbent, John Adams, and assumed the presidency. In terms of elections though, the election of 1800 itself was a fascinating election in that it a heavily-contested election and was effectively the first time political parties ran smear campaigns against each other during an election. The Republican Party attacked the Federalists for being anti-liberty and monarchist and tried to persuade the public that the Federalists were abusing their power through acts such as the Alien & Sedition Acts and the suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion (Tindall and Shi 315). The Federalists, on the other hand, attacked Jefferson for ...view middle of the document...

The Federalists no longer held power in the presidency and in Congress and as a whole, were “destined never to regain national power” (Tindall and Shi 317). The defeat of Adams was the beginning of the Federalists’ decline and their party would gradually fade over time into obscurity. Even more important was that the election of 1800 demonstrated the success of the so-called experimental republican government. Jefferson’s victory showed that it was possible for the government handle the transfer of power from the in-power party to the out-of-power party. Even though the period leading up to the election was filled with conflict between the political parties, after the election the presidency was transferred from Adams to Jefferson without bloodshed or legal issues. Jefferson was unanimously recognized as the president and the government was established as a legitimate political body that could handle change, not just a dynasty of Federalists (Mr. Weisend). The election of 1800 and subsequent deadlock between Jefferson and Burr also exposed a flaw in the U.S. Constitution that the original Founders did not expect. The Founders originally gave each elector in the Electoral College two ballots to cast for a President and a Vice President. They had hoped that the two candidates with the most votes would set aside their differences and assume the roles of President and Vice President, regardless of whether or not the candidates were from opposing political parties, as had happened in the election of 1796 where Adams became President and Jefferson became Vice President even though they were Federalist and Republican respectively. However, the Founders did not anticipate that teams of presidential and vice-presidential candidates would emerge, nor did they anticipate that electors would cast both their ballots for only one team (“Jefferson's Revolution of 1800”). Thus, when the ballots were tallied, there was no distinction between the presidential candidate and the vice-presidential candidate, who had both received the same number of ballots from electors. As a result, the 12th Amendment, which required electors to explicitly mark their selection for President and Vice President, was added to the Constitution. However, in terms of true political differences, Jefferson’s policies as President did not really deviate from previous Federalist policies. Although Jefferson had a vision of a nation of Republican Farmers that would be supported by universally provided education, and a reduced government, he was unable to accomplish these goals. He also desired to reduce the armed forces and get rid of Hamilton’s economic system. Unfortunately, external conditions proved too much for Jefferson and he was force to embrace many of the Federalist policies that he had previously opposed and abandon many of his Republican policies. Military conflicts, such as harassment from the Barbary Pirates, convinced Jefferson that a standing military was necessary for the...

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