Election of 1800
Edward J. Larson analyzes the pivotal presidential election, sometimes referred to as a revolution, of 1800 that established two disparate political parties, challenged the United States Constitution, and threatened the nation’s unity.
Because this was the first time in American history that partisan campaigning was distinctly apparent, it was a significant piece of the election of 1800. When establishing the opposing campaigns of 1800, the article states, “…divided Americans into two distinct partisan camps: the Federalist of President John Adams and Alexander Hamilton –ideological ancestors of modern Republicans- versus the Republicans, or the future Democrats.”
Here it is not only giving information on the situation of the fourth presidential election, but the situation that set the precedent for presidential elections to come. Even “207 years later”, as Larson writes, the political breach on policies and ideas shapes the government of the United States.
The election of 1800 included the race between the following candidates: Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton and Charles Pinckney. After all the votes were calculated “Jefferson and Burr had 73 votes each.”
The election ended in a tie between two members of the same party. As an immediate result of the election’s initial outcome, the Constitution was put to the test. The voting process in place by the Constitution showed its faults with the changing bipartisan mentality of America. This newly discovered weakness “led to the adoption of the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution.”
This amendment prevented a repeat of the election of 1800 by making voting for president and vice president separate. Never again could tie be caused by equal voting by a party. Here the government adapted to the changing fundamentals of the partisan politics of the United States; it shows concern for the good people. In referring to the election of 1800 Larson concludes by making the claim that “…- the nation barely survived such contest.”
He is saying that this event had the potential to crumble the United States. As opposing sides, political parties, emerged America could have separated. George Washington, in his farewell address, urged the country to avoid political parties and remain a cohesive unit; however, as politics evolved it was a natural occurrence for distinct parties to form.
It was up to the American people and government legislators to realize the problem and find a resolution in order to keep the unity of the United States of America. Compromises made by people throughout the election allowed for the choosing of a president, which at some points looked like a position that would never be filled.
The election of 1800 marked the first peaceful transition of power in politics from one opposing party to another. It was unfamiliar territory that confronted the United States who proved to be a lasting nation, resolving conflicts of political parties, Constitutional amendments and keeping everyone as one nation. This revolution of 1800 turned out to be a defining moment for the government of the United States of America.