The 1800 Election: Random Interesting Facts

by Jonathan Hobratsch

The following notes are for The Deadlocked Election of 1800: Jefferson, Burr, and the Union in the Balance by James Rogers Sharp, which is part of a multi-book series on presidential elections. I’ll post notes for every book.

Here’s a map of the 1800 results:

Source: Wikipedia

1800: VP Thomas Jefferson defeats Pres. John Adams & 1801: Jefferson defeats Burr

This rematch of the 1796 election was also bound by the same major issue that influenced the 1796 election: the Jay Treaty. This pro-British treaty compelled the French to take a stronger approach towards America, including interfering in American trade by intimidation or seizing ships and by ignoring or disrespecting US diplomats. As was the case with the previous election, Federalists generally favored pro-British, hardline stance against France, which included beefing up the navy. Federalists tended to be merchants, financiers, manufacturers, and established families that relied on British trade and British culture. The Jeffersonian Republicans tended to sympathize with the French Revolution, held on to anti-British animosity from the Rev War, favored expanded suffrage and opportunities for the common man and recent immigrants, and were often involved in agriculture or blue color work.

Here are my notes:

  • According to the author, the country seemed on the verge of collapse during the 1800 election. Sectional issues were threatening the concept of Union. Fear of foreign intervention and in the election and domestic sedition was undermining both the independence of the United States and the integrity of the political structure of the United States. I’ll add the reaction to domestic sedition, probably ruined the trust in the government to some degree.
  • John Adams late in life, when thinking back to the 1800 election, said he expected a “Civil War” at the time.
  • Jefferson did not have a high opinion on the late George Washington. His version of Washington was a wrath-prone, cold-hearted, inflexible man with a 2nd rate mind (albeit a powerful 2nd rate mind) who read mostly agricultural journals and English history. Furthermore, Washington was conversationally rather pedestrian and a poor speaker in public address. Overall, his Washington was not a man that was really capable of generating new ideas. Jefferson also admitted that Washington was wise and pure. Keep in mind that this criticism comes from a first rate mind.
  • The author states that historian Joseph Ellis believed that the wise Franklin, brilliant Hamilton, well-read Adams, intellectually sophisticated Jefferson, and politically astute Madison all considered Washington their “unquestioned superior.” This isn’t elaborated on. Perhaps inwardly they could not see themselves having been successful in leading a ragtag army for 8 years against a first-rate power and maintaining sectional harmony while serving as president of the Constitutional Convention. There was something Washington had that they did not.
  • Jefferson, despite being a partisan, was more avoidant than confrontational. He was repulsed by personal conflict. This was probably a primary factor in Jefferson’s reluctance to be his party’s leader. I’ll add that I think this played a role in Jefferson’s relatively moderate rhetoric as president. I don’t think Jefferson’s personality would help him in a 21st century election. We don’t tend to elect reserved, conflict-averse intellectuals who are critical of Christianity.
  • William Maclay of PA, who was arguably the leading radical Jeffersonian Republican, thought Jefferson an odd man. According to Maclay, Jefferson was prone to ceaseless rambling in private and was too quiet and awkward in public. Furthermore, Jefferson was stiff when he moved, lounged to leisurely when he sat, and wore clothes that were too small for him. Maclay, who was critical of about every Founding Father, thought Jefferson wasn’t dignified enough for a high-profile political office. I should note that Maclay was a rather disagreeable sort who seemed averse to powerful figures, especially if they were connected to a federal government. I see Maclay as a sort of godson of George Mason, who I see as the godfather of Libertarianism. Mason, Maclay, and later John Randolph, and much later Ron Paul are all sort of in the same mold. For Maclay, Jefferson wasn’t Jeffersonian enough.
  • Some thought the split ticket of Adams as President and Jefferson as VP would help in harmonizing the country. The author notes optimism from Elbridge Gerry and John Adams himself. Gerry makes sense because he was hard to define politically. Adams was more of an independent Federalist than a true Federalist.
  • The diplomatic crisis with France, which evolved into the Quasi-War, ended hopes for a harmonious Adams-Jefferson administration.
  • Adams wanted appoint Madison to a peace commission to resolve the crisis with France. This appointment appear to have been a gesture to Jefferson. However, Madison refused the position because, as he told Jefferson, that their party would be blamed if diplomacy failed. Federalists also rejected a Madison appointment on partisan grounds. Many of the cabinet members loyal to Hamilton threatened to resign if Hamilton were appointed.
  • Adams inherited Washington’s cabinet because there was no precedence for removing cabinet officers, aside from compelling them to resign. Adams ended up with many cabinet members that were more loyal to Hamilton than to him. Ultimately, Adams cabinet, according to the author, forced Adams to rejoin the partisan camp.
  • Some Federalists pushed Adams to declare war. Hamilton apparently wasn’t one of them, but he thought Adams wasn’t being aggressive enough.
  • The author describes Adams’s Sec of War, James McHenry, and Sec of Treasury, Oliver Wolcott Jr, as “literally spies for Hamilton.” Adams’s Sec of State, Timothy Pickering, was also a cabinet foe of Adams, but he was more independent of Hamilton. As stated above, Adams felt he hadn’t the precedence to remove them, and as he would later regret, he kept them on for much longer than he should have. The author seems to put the prime cause of Adams’s 1800 defeat on his impossible relations with his cabinet.
  • Albert Gallatin is mentioned as the Jeffersonian Republican leader in the US House during this time. He is not the Speaker, which was then a title that had little power.
  • Hamilton welcomed the crisis with France as he thought it would make the country more patriotic and destroy Jeffersonian Republicanism for their attachment to France.
  • Adams was frequently unpopular during his presidency, but early on, the crisis with France and the rise of patriotism made John Adams popular with most citizens.
  • John Adams deported only three French citizens from the US, ignoring cries from arch-Federalist Sec of State Pickering to deport more of them.
  • Robert Goodloe Harper, a Hamilton ally, was a leading advocate of the Sedition Act, since he believed that the common enemy of both the US and England was France, and that France controlled a network of American traitors in the US. In his opinion, the Sedition Act was maintaining domestic stability.
  • I may have overlooked it in the book, but it is worth pointing out to any readers that the leading Jeffersonian Republican newspaper man, Benjamin Franklin Bache, editor of the Aurora and grandson of Benjamin Franklin, was one of the few people arrested on the charges of “Sedition.” Bache’s paper was the leading instrument in attacking John Adams and the Federalists. His arrest gave some credit to the theory that the act was passed to suppress political opponents. Bache died before his trial a few months later at age 29 from the yellow fever epidemic that hit Philadelphia. On an side note, Benjamin Franklin had a lot of notable descendants. Many of them were generals and admirals. One descendent helped draft the Texas Constitution in 1845. US Sen. Daniel Brewster of MD, serving from 1963-1969, and US Rep. & Gov Mike Castle, who was holding office as late as 2011, were also descendants.
  • According to the author, both Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans expected a formal declaration of war against France following the XYZ Affair.
  • While John Adams opted not to recommend a declaration of war following the XYZ Affair, his wife, Abigail, was upset that Congress did not declare war on France.
  • Sec of State Timothy Pickering was arguably the leading advocate for war and for an alliance with England. According to the author, Pickering has about every disagreeable personality trait one could have, completely self-serving, disloyal, antagonistic, etc. The author states that Washington, who had appointed Pickering to State, had first offered the job to six other people first. The author is of the opinion that Pickering was one of the worst people to select for Sec of State. Adams eventually set a precedents by firing Pickering for disloyalty, but also probably for limited talent and personality flaws.
  • Sec of Treasury Oliver Wolcott and Sec of War James McHenry, despite being Hamilton allies, opposed declaring war on France.
  • Hamilton and his allies had advocated expanding the army for some time, especially as war with France seemed likely. Adams offered Washington the top spot to lead the army, which the former president accepted. Washington then wanted Hamilton as 2nd in command. As Washington’s leadership was more symbolic, this meant allowing Hamilton to lead the army. Adams refused, offering Henry Knox, the former Sec of War and Rev War general. Adams’s cabinet, influence by Hamilton, opposed Knox as 2nd in command, as did Washington who threatened to resign. As such, Adams reluctantly allowed Hamilton to become the officer likely to lead a war with France.
  • Adams, possibly in an attempt to be bipartisan during a crisis, planned to make Jeffersonian Republicans Aaron Burr and Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg–both officers in the Rev War–as generals. However, Washington, Hamilton, etc. rejected Adams’s efforts. It’s clear that the theory that the president has total control over the executive branch did not exist in the time of Adams. One could hardly imagine a cabinet or general vetoing President Obama or President Trump.
  • While the author pairs the Sedition Act with other notorious civil rights violations, such as the Japanese internment camps and McCarthy hearings, he notes that at the time it wasn’t clear what the impact of the law would be.
  • John Taylor of Caroline is mentioned as a notable radical Jeffersonian Republican at this time for his systematic political philosophies. Taylor seems to be the first to advocate secession–or at least the threat of secession–as an opposition strategy to the federal government. The author notes that Jefferson had considered this extreme, but that he was converted after the Alien & Sedition Acts. Taylor also favored expanding suffrage so that more people could vote and hold office, the concept of “rotation in office” so that people don’t hold office for too long, and a requirement that laws always be renewed periodically rather than enacted forever until repealed or replaced.
  • Jefferson and Madison wrote the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798 in reaction to the Alien & Sedition Acts. These documents mark the starting point of the vicious States Rights fight that would culminate in the Civil War, in my opinion. Jefferson and Madison advocated that states have the right to nullify federal law if the state believed a federal law was unconstitutional. These resolution also created the “Principles of ’98,” which became the main theme of the radical wing of the Jeffersonian Republicans, eventually led by the eccentric John Randolph of Roanoke.
  • John Breckinridge introduced Jefferson’s anonymous Kentucky Resolution. Naturally, the sitting VP could not introduce his own document opposing the administration that he was technically a part of. Breckinridge was the grandfather of John C. Breckinridge, who would become Buchanan’s VP, the 1860 Southern Democrat nominee, and a Confederate general and Confederate cabinet officer. The author notes that the elder Breckinridge altered Jefferson’s resolution–probably fearing it was too extreme–calling on Congress to quickly repeal the Alien & Sedition Acts, rather than calling on Kentucky and other states to nullify the laws.
  • Jefferson was apparently disappointed that Madison’s Virginia Resolutions was so half-hearted compared to the Kentucky Resolutions. While Breckinridge tamed Jefferson’s KY Resolution when he introduced it, John Taylor of Caroline applied Jefferson’s radical language to Madison’s resolution when he introduced it to VA. It makes sense that Madison would be tamer–or more hesitant. Despite being the lead architect in building a party around Jefferson, he was often moderate. Madison was one of the leading figures in creating the US Constitution in the first place–that is in creating a union. He was, at first, an ally of the Washington administration, and wrote Washington’s first draft of his farewell address. When running for president, he was moderate enough that he would be challenged by the more radical James Monroe. As president, he would moderate enough that more Federalists switched over to the Jeffersonian Republican Party, although this started with Jefferson’s own moderation as president and would be followed by Monroe’s even greater moderation after Madison’s presidency.
  • This really isn’t elaborated on to give enough context, but the author implies that the Federalists responded to the two resolutions by playing on Southern white male fears that slaves would commit sexual violence on white women. The next paragraph is less specific, and probably should have been stated first and then followed by this specific example, otherwise it reads as the major opposition point. Federalists argue that the repeal would lead to chaos and disorder.
  • Overall, it seems John Taylor of Caroline was livid with Jeffersonian Republican complacency. Few rallied behind the Resolutions.
  • Hamilton appears to have become radicalized in reaction to the Resolutions. He called for a stronger judiciary, and more laws to crack down on sedition and slander against the federal government. Even more bold was his advocacy of an amendment to subdivide larger states. His prime target was Virginia. My guess is he would have tried to compel a gerrymandering of the state so that there would be more Federalists states than Jeffersonian states carved out of the one Virginia. Interesting that West Virginia would break off during the Civil War anyway. Despite Hamilton’s influence on his party, he was ignored, as was usually the case when he was at his most extreme.
  • Federalists knew they couldn’t win the 1800 election without some support in the South. As such, they promoted their few Southern members, such as George Washington (who would die Dec 1799, never to see the 19th century), Patrick Henry (who would also die in 1799), John Marshall, and Rev War general Daniel Morgan–all Virginians.
  • Washington, soon to be dead, persuaded Patrick Henry, soon to be dead, to run for office in the Virginia legislature. Perhaps, had Henry lived, he would have inspired more Southerners to stay with the Federalists.
  • Unlike many war-eager Federalists, Pres. Adams believed the French wanted a diplomatic resolution, so he sent William Vans Murray to France to launch the beginning of diplomatic efforts. Vans Murray had some influence in the 1796 elections for Federalists. Adams’s might have been motivated to send a diplomat when the relatively non-partisan Elbridge Gerry (ironic as he is the namesake for gerrymandering) returned from France and made a case that peace negotiations would be welcome. Federalists, rejected Adams’s nomination of Vans Murray, believing that Vans Murray would be too tolerant of the French, even though he was a Federalist. In reaction, Adams threatened to resign as president, which would have made VP Jefferson president. This compelled Senate Federalists to accept Vans Murray, but as a compromise Adams allowed Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth and Patrick Henry to join the diplomatic efforts. Henry, who would soon die, would be replaced by Federalist Governor of North Carolina William Davie.
  • Possibly in reaction to the Resolutions, Hamilton was firmly pro-war by early 1799. Additionally, he was Washington’s 2nd in command and the defacto general-in-chief since Washington was too old to actively command. Hamilton’s first strategy after declaring war was to grab the Spanish territories of France and Louisiana. Spain was allied to France, and Hamilton used the pretext of national security for the sake of land grabbing and strengthening federal authority. According to the author, the primary motive might have been personal glory.
  • Adams feared Hamilton was going to use the army to overthrow the government and replace it with a monarchial government–possibly as a province of Great Britain–with Hamilton heading. Abigail Adams thought Hamilton would attempt to become an American Napoleon Bonaparte if given the army. I think Abigail Adams’s fear was more likely. If Hamilton got his wishes–declaration of war, invasion and takeover of Spanish Louisiana and Spanish Florida, and a victory against France–then it would be possible that Hamilton would have the leverage and popularity to force himself to power, either unconstitutionally or extra-constitutionally.
  • Hamilton was so distraught with Adams’s peace efforts, which would include dismantling of Hamilton’s army, that he attempted to convince Washington to come out of retirement and run for a 3rd term in 1800.
  • Jefferson, while becoming increasingly supportive of John Taylor of Caroline’s theories in the wake of the Alien & Sedition Acts, was convinced by Madison that secession over the crisis was too extreme. Jefferson allowed that secession should not be considered except for repeated unconstitutional violations. The author states that a major role for Madison in his friendship with Jefferson, was keeping Jefferson’s innate radicalism in check. This makes me realize that Hamilton hadn’t a Madison of his own. I think John Quincy Adams would have been a good counter-balance, but Hamilton ruined any chances he could have had in forging a smooth relationship with the Adams family.
  • The Federalist strategy for the 1800 election was to hold the states they won in 1796 and expand support in the South. They had shown the ability to do that in elections in 1798 and 1799. Jeffersonian Republicans hoped to hold the South, compete in the middle states, and get lucky somewhere in New England. It looked liked PA and MD would once again be key battleground states.
  • New York was also key to Jeffersonian Republican 1800 election strategy. This meant the VP choice would likely have to be Aaron Burr or George Clinton. Burr was the necessary choice. It appeared George Clinton was once again going to run for governor. Meanwhile, Burr was organizing every Jeffersonian Republican superstar in NY to run for office, regardless if they belonged to his faction, Clintons, or Robert Livingston’s faction. Burr hoped than an impressive roster of Republicans would convert enough voters to take the state permanently out of the hands of Hamilton, John Jay and Rufus King. It also seems that Burr positioned himself as the most important an in NY for 1800, basically assuring a #2 spot with Jefferson. While Beckley in 1796 was the first proto-campaign manager, Burr probably foreshadowed a modern campaign manager even more.
  • Hamilton knew Burr’s scheme meant doom for the Federalists in New York and likely for Federalists in the presidential election, so he had a scheme of his own, even if it might risk a civil war. Hamilton attempted to convince Governor John Jay that Federalists survival hinged on making one bold move: abruptly change the method of NY state elections to make it difficult for Jeffersonian Republicans to have a fair shot at future elections. New York did not have a popular vote for the presidential election. Controlling the legislature meant controlling who won NY in the 1800 election. Hamilton also argued to Jay that making this controversial move would be justified to prevent an atheist and fanatic (Jefferson, in his opinion) from getting control of the state. John Jay, although a Federalist, was too honest and reasonable to go along with Hamilton’s strategy. I remember reading in one book that Hamilton approached Jay to nullify the elections. If this is a different incident than the one I just mentioned, then it was for state elections just prior to this one or perhaps Hamilton made a last attempt to have Jay cancel the electoral college vote. The incident I had read might be the same as the one in this book, as the next chapter of this book hints at Hamilton’s failure to convince Jay to overturn the elections.
  • The failed governor nominee for PA’s 1799 gubernatorial election, Federalist James Ross also had a scheme to secure PA for the Federalists. He hoped to take the vote away from the people and hand it to a Commission that would take its members in such a way that Federalists would outnumber Jeffersonian Republicans. However, even Federalists saw this as dangerous to the Republic. One such opponent was VA Federalist John Marshal, the future Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
  • In 1796, Hamilton attempted to replace Adams as the Federalist nominee with Thomas Pinckney, who he saw as more pliable and more helpful in competing with Jefferson in the South. While his plan didn’t materialize in 1796, he still had hopes for his plan working again in 1800. This time with Thomas Pinckney’s brother, Charles Coatesworth Pinckney–another South Carolinian Rev War general with diplomatic experience.
  • At the Federalist Caucus, which decided the presidential ticket, the caucus decided not to distinguish between who was on the top of the ticket–Adams or Pinckney. One was Hamilton’s influential opposition to Adams as president. However, I think Federalists may have been desperate, and thought letting electors choose who they preferred at the top of the ticket might dissuade any from voting Jefferson or Burr. Hamilton emphasized unity as the only way to defeat Jefferson, despite Hamilton’s own overt opposition to Adams. What he means, then, is everyone must unify behind Hamilton’s own strategy. It appears no other Federalist candidates were discussed.
  • Jefferson’s nomination was probably unanimous, even though he had lost the last election. The debate focused on Burr as the VP. However, some preferred George Clinton who was believed to have even greater appeal in NY and NJ. However, Clinton was running for governor again. I assume Clinton had more appeal partially because Clinton better represented the state of NY, while Burr better represented NYC. Albert Gallatin was sent to NY to vet both Clinton and Burr. Clinton was found to be reluctant and hinting at retirement, while Burr was all energy and activity. Following Gallatin’s report, Burr was made the unanimous pick for VP. While the Federalists did not determine who was Pres or VP on their ticket, the Jeffersonian Republican caucus clearly selected Jefferson over Burr as the presidential nominee.
  • Leading up to the election, Adams was clearly done with Hamilton having any part of his destiny. He set a precedence by firing Sec of State Timothy Pickering and Sec of War James McHenry, both more loyal to Hamilton than to Adams. McHenry was convinced Adams had gone insane after telling him that he would rather serve as VP under Jefferson than receive help from Hamilton. Adams referred to Jefferson as “infinitely better” and “wiser” than Hamilton.
  • Adams pardoned most of those involved in the Fries Rebellion. Pickering assumed Adams did this to win support of Jeffersonian, especially in PA, and potential secure a spot as Jefferson’s VP. The pardons became a reason many Federalists wanted an alternate Federalist to Adams.
  • Following the firings of Pickering and McHenry, Hamilton went on an all out attack on Adams. Hamilton had had three cronies in the cabinet, Adams reduced this to one: Sec of Treasury Oliver Wolcott Jr. Hamilton declared that both Jefferson and Adams were dangers to the country, and Charles Coatesworth Pickney was the best hope for Federalists. He urged Adams be replaced by a Pinckney once more.
  • Hamilton’s strategy of getting Pinckney elected as president was simple. He would used his influence to get both Adams and Pinckney votes in New England (Adams wouldn’t need much help here), then he would allow Southerners to pick Pinckney and anyone else they wished. Under the old election rules, this would have given Pinckney more votes than Adams. The more difficult part is assuring that Pinckney got more votes than Jefferson.
  • Hamilton hoped the election would get thrown to the US House, since winning it outright seemed less likely. He had hopes that the Federalist majority in the US House–if maintained–would eagerly pick Pinckney over the wayward Adams.
  • The author notes that Abigail Adams picked up early that Hamilton was trying to replace Adams with Pinckney. She believed it was still the case when Hamilton was in New England, claiming to support the reelection of Adams. Abigail Adams also preferred Jefferson as a candidates–president or VP–to Pinckney. She had known Jefferson for years and Pinckney appears to be unknown to her aside from his name.
  • With both major parties working against him, Adams became the first president to go to the people to defend his record. He had virtually no allies to help him, and this was a desperation move. The author states that this did not set a precedence for incumbents campaigning on their behalf. This was an outlier and probably came off as too self-centered at the time. Jefferson followed the normal course for candidates and let others campaign for his behalf. Jefferson’s campaign was via letters to surrogates like Madison who would then go out and fight for Jefferson.
  • The major tactic used against Jefferson was the charge that he was a radical Jacobin that was more interested in France than in the United States. Similarly, Adams was charged with being a monarchist (pro-British) and being a tyrant (Alien & Sedition Act). Pinckney was attacked for being a monarchist as well; however, he also had to deal with charges of having “limited talents” and being a likely pawn for Hamilton.
  • Jefferson feared that the Haitian Revolution, which would ultimately see former slaves toss out their French slave masters, would inspire a similar revolution in the US south. Other slaveholders probably had similar thoughts, and Hamilton hoped to use this fear to bolster the Federalists as the party of order and security.
  • Hamilton attacked Adams in a pamphlet, partially defending himself from charges Adams made against Hamilton. Many Federalists, including dictionary man Noah Webster, was aghast at Hamilton’s disloyalty. I’m sure Hamilton burned some bridges permanently by attacking a Federalist incumbent with the election winding down. There are three theories why Hamilton acted this way: 1) Hamilton was so desperate that all of his political instincts got away from him. 2) He wanted Jefferson to win, perform badly as president, and give him time to rebuild the party more securely in his own image. 3) This was another strategy to get Pinckney at the top of the ticket. The author things that Hamilton’s attack was exclusively personal: Adams had taken Hamilton’s army away from him and fired two of his cronies from the cabinet (This latter point is my addition).
  • The author thinks that Hamilton was greatly strengthened by having Washington as his champion. With Washington’s death in Dec 1799, Hamilton’s split with Adams, Hamilton’s loss of his army, Hamilton lost much of his foundation for leadership. I should note for readers that Hamilton was not even holding office and had not for years. Jeffersonian strategy would soon lock out any Federalist from having much influence in New York. Hamilton was hardly trustworthy to people of his own party. Hamilton, who was still only in his mid-40s, was quickly becoming politically impotent.
  • The election took so long to get the electoral votes to counted that Adams and Jefferson remained tied long after election day. It was presumed South Carolina would decide the election. I assume the Federalists thought they’d have a solid chance here with Pinckney as a candidate, but Jefferson defeated Pinckney’s brother in SC in the previous election. Even more hurtful for Federalists chances was the the primary organization efforts for Jeffersonian Republicans in the state were led by the Pinckney brothers’ 2nd cousin, also named Charles Pinckney, who had recently been governor of SC.
  • As VP, it was Jefferson’s job to read the electoral vote totals since he was also President of the Senate. Jefferson was no doubt shocked to learn that he and Burr tied in first place. Adams was a not too distant third place with one more vote than Pinckney. Jay received 1 vote, probably to make sure Adams had one more vote than Pinckney. One Jefferson Republican was supposed to also vote for someone else besides Burr so that Jefferson would be at the top of the election results. The tie meant that the election would go to the US House for a decision. This old election system would be changed in the next election to prevent this from happening again.
  • The US House, which would decide the election, was led by a Federalist majority.
  • Burr showed no signs of hinting to the US House that he was the VP and not an option for president. Jefferson apparently attempted to win Burr’s endorsement by offering him a more influential and exciting position in the administration. The VP had little influence or power at this time. However, Burr knew that accepting this offer would mean pulling out of the presidential race in the US House. Nevertheless, Burr wrote Jefferson a letter stating he was interested in such an offer and that he had no designs to subvert Jefferson as president. However, Burr did not actively do anything in response to the letter. The author states that many think Burr was trying to both keep his allegiance to Jefferson while also keeping his options open.
  • Federalist Robert Goodloe Harper, usually a Hamilton ally, was urging Federalists to support Burr over Jefferson, even though both he and Jefferson were Southerners. Harper and other pro-Burr Federalists probably saw Burr more akin to them than Jefferson, and they also believed that Burr was more likely to be controlled for this reason. Burr, especially as a Northerner, would have to acknowledge that Federalists helped him become president. It seems some Federalists thought Burr would be compelled to run a Federalist administration if they win him the presidency. While not mentioned, I think the obligation probably comes more from the fact that Burr was supposed to be the VP. This was well-known. Federalists would have to break with the intentions of the electors that voted for Jefferson and Burr to make Burr president.
  • Gouverneur Morris, a New York Federalist, heard of Federalist plans to block any election decision in the House, which according to Morris, would make the President pro tempore of the US Senate the president. This office was held by the Federalists. I’m surprised Hamilton didn’t come up with this plan. The President pro tempore office seems to have changed hands often. Uriah Tracy held the office until Nov 16th, John E. Howard until Nov 27, vacant until February 28 when James Hillhouse was elected to the position. Therefore, there was a long period when the election was undecided and there was no next in line in the event of a failed US House decision. Federalists likely would have selected someone among the US Senate in time, but if not, the next in line was Speaker of the House and Federalist Theodore Sedgwick of Massachusetts. Jefferson and Madison were aware of this strategy back in December. Federalists met to discuss the strategy, but they couldn’t agree on anything. Strangely, Hamilton opposed taking the election out of the US House. In this, Adams agreed with Hamilton.
  • Some paranoid Jeffersonian Republicans believed Hamilton would rouse up the military, secure the arsenals, and take power by force, while the presidency was still undecided.
  • Hamilton was alarmed once he learned Federalists were moving to make Burr the president. Despite his longtime animosity with Jefferson, he disliked Burr even more. All of a sudden Hamilton is comparing the virtues of Jefferson and the depravities of Burr. Hamilton advocated reaching a deal with Jefferson whereby he would agree to continue Hamiltonian economics, avoid war with Britain (or France), increase the US navy, and keep most of the Federalists currently in executive branch offices in their offices. Hamilton, quickly losing his influence, was mostly ignored.
  • Pro-Burr Federalists aimed to convince Jeffersonian Republicans in the middle states to switch their support from Jefferson to Burr. Some Federalists (James Bayard of DE is mentioned) used the promise of offices in a Burr administration to switch allegiances from Jefferson to Burr.
  • Nine votes were needed by the US House delegations to secure the nomination for president since the electoral college vote was tied. On the first ballot, Jefferson received 8 votes, Burr received 6, and 2 votes were not counted since the states were not in agreement. Through thirty-three ballots the results were basically the same.
  • As the balloting continued, Jefferson arrived at the White House to convince Adams to prevent the Federalists from launching a “coup.” Jefferson, in my opinion, was both worried and desperate that the presidency would be thrown to a Federalist Senate pro tempore or to Federalist Speaker Sedgwick. Alternatively, he may have feared a Federalist-controlled Burr. Adams was upset that Jefferson came to him, possibly still hurt that Jefferson beat him in the election. Adams response was that Jefferson had the power to end the deadlock by giving assurances to the Federalists. Adams made a proposal similar to the agreements that Hamilton proposed that Burr make–keep the financial institutions, keep the US navy, and keep Federalist office-holders in office. Jefferson told Adams that he would not “capitulate” to Federalists and would not take office unless he could exercise his own judgment. By the next day, Jefferson was telling James Monroe that Federalists had learned that Jefferson would not negotiate the terms of his presidency. As governor of Virginia, James Monroe was preparing his state’s militia for a possible civil war with the Federalist government.
  • Some Jeffersonian Republican newspapers were of the opinion that if the House did not decide the election by March 4th (when the new term began in 1801), then the federal government would be disbanded.
  • On February 16, 1801 with less than a month before election day, and 35 inconclusive ballots, some Federalists had had enough of voting. Federalist James Bayard of DE declared that the attempt to make Burr president has clearly failed and that taking the election out of the US House and handing it to a Federalist office holder could destroy both the Union and the Constitution. Bayard upset many in his party and the Federalists as a whole still maintained support for Burr, at least for the rest of the day. Bayard’s influence rests on that he was the only member of the DE delegation. Therefore, he only had to reach agreement with himself. On Feb 17, the next day, enough Federalists joined Bayard in either not voting or casting blank ballots, so that Jefferson’s supporters could win the state delegations. Ultimately, Jefferson got 10 votes (1 more than needed), Burr kept 4 votes from New England states, and DE and SC voting for no one. Bayard had been the critical player in both inaugurating the Burr plot and ending it.
  • While Jefferson would not make a deal with Federalists to earn their support in the election. There is some evidence, according to the author, that Jefferson may have made a deal with Bayard, but this rests primarily on Jefferson keeping some Federalist institutions (the bank and the navy) and some Federalist officeholders from DE. I’m not convinced, and I feel the author isn’t solidly convinced either. I read somewhere, I think, that Hamilton attempted to influence Bayard to allow Jefferson to win. If this is the case, this makes more sense.
  • During the US House fight, Burr was strangely inactive. One would expect him to be involved, but he may thought that staying in NYC “above the fray” would help him. Nevertheless, Jefferson quickly grew to disliked Burr, partially because of the deadlocked election. It didn’t take long until Jefferson decided to find a replacement for Burr in the 1804 election.
  • Adams’s presidency ended on a high note as he secured peace with France. This coupled with his peaceful transfer of power to an opposing party (the first time this happened in US History) are two of the more positive moments of his presidency. This election is sometimes called the Revolution of 1800. There would never be a Federalist president again.
  • It’s worth reminding readers that Burr would kill Hamilton, and soon Burr would be scandaled out of public life for alleged treason (Burr Conspiracy). While still holding the office of VP, Burr decided to run for governor but was thwarted by a brutal mudslinging and slanderous campaign led by Hamilton, which was crucial to Burr’s obscure opponent winning the governorship of NY. This, and not Hamilton’s support of Jefferson over Burr during the House elections, was trigger for the infamous duel. Although, a lot of things piled up. I read in one book that Hamilton’s son was the divorce lawyer for Burr’s estranged wife many decades later.
  • The 1800 election was very close in the electoral college, although not so much in the popular vote. However, the popular vote only existed in very few places, so the total support cannot be accurately estimate. However, I’m inclined to believe Jefferson would have won a straight popular vote. Jeffersonian Republican victory over Adams in the electoral college was possible only because of the three-fifths compromise which inflated the electoral college votes in the slave states. Had all states been treated equally, John Adams would have won reelection. Northern Federalists detested this imbalance.

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