Friday, January 4, 2008
1800: The First REAL Presidential Election
Hello everyone! Sorry for being absent so long. Christmas break and moving to a new apartment have kept me very busy.
As I was watching the Iowa Caucus last night (yes, I have no life and no boyfriend, so I was relegated to watching the Iowa Caucus of all things) I started wondering about presidential elections during the colonial period. As we all know, George Washington was the unanimous choice for president in both of his terms. There was simply nobody that could match his credentials. In 1796, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were the candidates. For the most part, the election was very timid. Neither candidate really got involved (which was common of 18th century politics).
In 1800, however, Jefferson and Adams clashed on virtually every issue and fiercely sought the office of the presidency. For Jefferson, the presidency was a quest to get America on the "right" track. In his mind, the Federalists had taken too much control from the people. In many ways, Jefferson's rhetoric sounds very familiar to one Barack Obama.
Adams, on the other hand, believed that the Federalists were indeed on the right track, and that he had led the nation adequately in his first term. the passage of the Alien & Sedition Acts (which many have compared to our current Patriot Act), earned Adams a negative reputation from the Democratic-Republicans.
After a very lengthy campaign, Jefferson emerged victorious. Federalists screamed foul, since Jefferson had only won the election thanks to the 3/5 Compromise. In fact, several northern leaders demanded a reelection. Jefferson himself faced a difficult challenge of surpassing Burr for the presidency (who had received just as many votes in the 1800 election since elections were done very differently in those days). Here is how the voting broke down by state:
In the end, Jefferson emerged as the candidate for change, and the election of 1800 went down as the first REAL election in American history.