|UNIT 11: POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE EARLY REPUBLIC
SETTING THE STAGE: LAUNCHING THE NEW REPUBLIC The 50 years following the drafting of the Constitution were a time of great change for the United States. By 1838, a total of 13 new states had joined the original 13, as shown on the map below. New territory had been added to the republic as well. The nation’s first 50 years also saw the birth of the first political parties, another war fought with Great Britain, and the election of the nation’s first western president. In addition, transportation links had been built, and many of the nation’s American Indians had been relocated west of the Mississippi River.
Along with new states and territories came a steady increase in population, as the graph below shows. Seven presidents served in office from 1789 to 1837, beginning with George Washington and ending with Andrew Jackson. Both men came to the presidency as military heroes—Washington from the American Revolution and Jackson from the War of 1812.
In this unit, you will learn about key events that took place during the administrations of Washington through Jackson. Some of those events are listed below.
1789: George Washington takes the oath of office as the first president of the United States in New York City, the nation’s capital at the time.
1794: An army led by President Washington crushes the Whiskey Rebellion, an uprising by some frontier farmers who resisted paying certain taxes.
1800: John Adams, the nation’s second president, is the first president to live in Washington, D.C., the new capital city, in the still-unfinished White House.
1814: In a conflict between the United States and Great Britain known as the War of 1812, British forces capture Washington, D.C. The British burn the White House, the Capitol building, and other government buildings. During the War of 1812, U.S. forces turn back a British attack on Baltimore, Maryland. The Americans’ defense of Fort McHenry inspires Francis Scott Key to write "The Star–Spangled Banner, " which later becomes the country’s national anthem.
1815: An American army led by General Andrew Jackson defeats the British in the Battle of New Orleans. It is the final battle of the War of 1812. It is also the greatest U.S. victory of the war and it makes Jackson a national hero.
1825: The Erie Canal opens. Begun in 1817, the canal creates a water route connecting Lake Erie and the Hudson River. Its success sets off a canal-building boom in the United States. You can locate the Erie Canal on the map titled "Growth and Change in the United States, 1789-1839." It is located in the state of New York.
1828: Andrew Jackson of Tennessee is elected the nation’s seventh president. He is the first president to come from a state other than Virginia or Massachusetts.
1838–1839: Troops round up the remaining Cherokee in the East and move them west along a route that becomes known as the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is shown on the map on the opposite page. It is located in the southern United States.
SECTION 1 INTRODUCTION The illustration to the left shows four leaders in the first government formed under the Constitution. On the far right stands former Continental army general George Washington, who had been lured out of retirement to serve as the nation’s first president. Seldom has a leader seemed more reluctant [reluctant: to have hesitation or an unwillingness to do something] to take power. “My movements to the chair of government,” he wrote on leaving home, “will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit [criminal] who is going to the place of his execution.”
Henry Knox sits opposite Washington. During the American Revolution, this Boston bookseller became a general and Washington’s close friend and adviser. When Washington became president in 1789, he made Knox his secretary of war.
Take a close look at the other two men portrayed here. Alexander Hamilton, who stands beside the president, served as Washington’s secretary of the treasury. Thomas Jefferson, who stands behind Knox, served as secretary of state. It was his job to manage relations between the United States and other countries.
Washington chose Hamilton and Jefferson for these positions because of all they had in common. Both were strong patriots. Both had served their country during the war—Hamilton in the Continental army and Jefferson in the Continental Congress. Both had brilliant minds.
But for all they had in common, the two men were opposites in many ways. Hamilton dressed with great care. Jefferson was sloppy with clothes. Hamilton moved with precision. Jefferson slouched. Hamilton was a doer who moved briskly from task to task. Jefferson was a thinker who took time to explore ideas.
As you will discover, Hamilton and Jefferson soon became political rivals. Their rivalry eventually gave rise to the nation’s first political parties, which had different visions for the new nation
SECTION 2 LAUNCHING THE NEW GOVERNMENT On April 30, 1789, George Washington took the oath of office as the first president of the United States. After his inauguration, Washington addressed both houses of Congress. He asked Congress to work with him to put into place “the wise measures on which the success of this government must depend.” At times, his hands shook so much that he had trouble reading his speech.
The Debate over Washington’s Title Washington had reason to be nervous. The first Congress was deeply divided. Some members were eager to build a strong national government. Others were just as eager to limit the power of the new government. These differences showed up immediately in a debate over what title to use when addressing the president.
Vice President John Adams pointed out that European heads of government had titles like “Your Excellency” that showed respect for their office. The president, he argued, should have a similar title. Supporters of a strong national government agreed.
Others argued that such titles smelled of royalty and had no place in a democracy. A few members of Congress joked that the rather plump Adams should be given the title “His Rotundity” (His Roundness). The debate finally ended when Washington let it be known that he preferred the simple title “Mr. President.”
Setting Up the Executive Branch Next, Congress turned to the task of creating executive departments. As Washington had feared, arguments broke out at once over what those departments should be and what powers they should have.
Congress eventually approved three departments. The Department of State was set up to handle relations with other countries. The Department of War was established to defend the nation. The Treasury Department was set up to oversee the nation’s finances [finances: the money that a person, company, or nation has, and how it is managed] . Congress also created an attorney general to serve as the president’s legal adviser and a postmaster general to head the postal system.
Washington chose men he trusted —such as Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Henry Knox—to fill these positions. He often met with them to ask for their ideas and advice. The heads of the executive departments came to be known as the president’s cabinet.
SECTION 3 WASHINGTON AS PRESIDENT The most critical problem facing the new government was a lack of funds. The national treasury was empty. Congress had the power to raise funds through taxes. But its members argued endlessly about what to tax and by how much. In 1791, Congress finally agreed to place an excise tax on whiskey and other luxury goods, such as carriages. An excise tax is a tax on the production or sale of a product.
The Whiskey Rebellion Settlers living west of the Appalachian Mountains reacted angrily to the tax. Western farmers found it too costly to transport their grain across the mountains to sell in eastern cities. Instead, they distilled their bulky wheat into whiskey, which could be shipped more cheaply. Many farmers complained that the tax made their whiskey too expensive, and they refused to pay it.
To end these protests, Congress lowered the excise tax in 1793. Most farmers began to pay up, but not the tax rebels of western Pennsylvania. In 1794, these “Whiskey Boys” tarred and feathered tax collectors who tried to enforce the law.
Alexander Hamilton and George Washington saw the Whiskey Rebellion [Whiskey Rebellion: a revolt by farmers in 1794 against an excise tax on whiskey] as a threat to the authority of the national government. At Hamilton’s urging, Washington led 13,000 state militia troops across the mountains to crush the rebels. Faced with overwhelming force, the rebellion ended.
Thomas Jefferson thought that the idea of sending an army to catch a few tax rebels was foolish. Even worse, he believed, was that Hamilton was prepared to violate people’s liberties by using armed force to put down opposition to government policies.
The French Revolution Meanwhile, the nation was caught up in a debate over events in France. In 1789, the French people rebelled against their king. The leaders of the French Revolution dreamed of building a nation based on “liberty, equality, and fraternity [brotherhood].” Three years later, France became a republic and declared “a war of all peoples against all kings.”
Many Americans were thrilled by the French Revolution. This was especially true of Jefferson and his followers, who began calling themselves Democratic-Republicans, or simply Republicans. The Republicans saw the French Revolution as part of a great crusade for democracy.
In time, news from France caused supporters of the revolution to change their opinion. Cheered on by angry mobs, France’s revolutionary government began beheading wealthy nobles. Some 20,000 men, women, and children were killed.
Hamilton and his followers, who called themselves Federalists, were appalled by the bloodshed. Many Federalists were themselves wealthy. After hearing about the fate of wealthy families in France, they began to fear for their own safety, wondering whether such terrors could happen in the United States. “Behold France,” warned one Federalist, “an open hell . . . in which we see . . . perhaps our own future.”
Washington’s Farewell Address The growing division between Republicans and Federalists so disturbed Washington that he agreed to run for a second term as president in 1792. He was the only person, Hamilton and Jefferson told him, who could keep the nation together.
Near the end of his second term, Washington announced that he would not run again. Before leaving office, the president prepared a message that became known as Washington’s Farewell Address [Washington’s Farewell Address: George Washington’s parting message to the nation, given in 1796, in which he warned of threats to the nation’s future] . In it, he reminded Americans of all that bound them together as a people. “With slight shades of difference,” he said, “you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together.”
Next, Washington warned of two threats to the nation’s future. One of those threats was problems the nation was having with other countries. The other threat was the “spirit of party.” It was natural for people to hold different opinions, Washington said. But he warned against the dangers of passionate loyalty to parties. If fighting between parties was not controlled, it could tear the young nation apart.
Despite his worries for the future, Washington had much to be proud of as he left office. The new government was up and running. The nation was growing so fast that it had added three new states: Kentucky, Tennessee, and Vermont. Most of all, Washington had steered his government safely through quarrelsome times. He left the nation united and at peace.
SECTION 4 ALEXANDER HAMILTON AND THE FEDERALIST PARTY George Washington’s warnings did not stop the rise of political parties in the young nation. The Federalist Party appeared first during the debates over the ratification of the Constitution. Its most influential leader was Washington’s energetic treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton.
Personal Background Hamilton was born in the West Indies and raised on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. When Hamilton was 13, a devastating hurricane struck the island. Hamilton wrote a vivid description of the storm that impressed all who read it. A few St. Croix leaders arranged to send the talented teenager to New York, where he could get the education he deserved. Once in America, Hamilton never looked back.
Hamilton’s blue eyes were said to turn black when he was angry. But most of the time they sparkled with intelligence and energy. With no money or family connections to help him rise in the world, he made his way on ability, ambition, and charm.
George Washington spotted Hamilton’s talents early in the American Revolution. Washington made the young man his aidede-camp, or personal assistant. Near the end of the war, Hamilton improved his fortunes by marrying Elizabeth Schuyler, who came from one of New York’s richest and most powerful families. With her family’s political backing, Hamilton was elected to represent New York in Congress after the war. Later, he served as a delegate from New York to the Constitutional Convention.
View of Human Nature Hamilton’s view of human nature was shaped by his wartime experiences. All too often, he had seen people put their own interests and desire for personal profit above the cause of patriotism and the needs of the country. “Every man ought to be supposed a knave [scoundrel],” he concluded, “and to have no other end [goal] in all his actions, but private interest.”
Most Federalists shared Hamilton’s view that people were basically selfish and out for themselves. For this reason, they distrusted any system of government that gave too much power to “the mob,” or the common people. Such a system, said Hamilton, could only lead to “error, confusion, and instability.”
Views on Government Federalists believed that “the best people” —educated, wealthy, public-spirited men like themselves—should run the country. Such people, they believed, had the time, education, and background to run the country wisely. They could also be trusted to make decisions for the general good, not just for themselves. “Those who own the country,” said Federalist John Jay bluntly, “ought to govern it.”
Federalists favored a strong national government. They hoped to use the new government’s powers under the Constitution to unite the quarreling states and keep order among the people. In their view, the rights of states were not nearly as important as national power and unity.
Hamilton agreed. Having grown up in the Caribbean, Hamilton had no deep loyalty to any state. His country was not New York, but the United States of America. He hoped to see his adopted country become a great and powerful nation.
Views on the Economy Hamilton’s dream of national greatness depended on the United States developing a strong economy. In 1790, the nation’s economy was still based mainly on agriculture. Hamilton wanted to expand the economy and increase the nation’s wealth by using the power of the federal government to promote business, manufacturing, and trade.
Before this could happen, the new nation needed to begin paying off the huge debts that Congress and the states had accumulated [accumulated: to increase in quantity or size over time] during the American Revolution. In 1790, Hamilton presented Congress with a plan to pay off all war debts as quickly as possible. If the debts were not promptly paid, he warned, the government would lose respect both at home and abroad.
Hamilton’s plan for repaying the debts was opposed by many Americans, especially in the South. Most southern states had already paid their war debts. They saw little reason to help states in the North pay off what they still owed.
To save his plan, Hamilton linked it to another issue: the location of the nation’s permanent capital. Both northerners and southerners wanted the capital to be located in their section of the country. Hamilton promised to support a location in the South if southerners would support his debt plan. The debt plan was passed, and the nation’s new capital—called the District of Columbia—was located in the South, on the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia.
Next, Hamilton asked Congress to establish a national bank. Such a bank, Hamilton said, would help the government by collecting taxes and keeping those funds safe. It would print paper money backed by the government, giving the nation a stable currency. Most important, the bank would make loans to businesspeople to build new factories and ships. As business and trade expanded, Hamilton argued, all Americans would be better off.
Once again, Hamilton’s proposal ran into heavy opposition. Where in the Constitution, his opponents asked, was Congress given the power to establish a bank? In their view, Congress could exercise only those powers specifically listed in the Constitution.
Hamilton, in contrast, supported a loose construction [loose construction: a broad interpretation of the Constitution, meaning that Congress has powers beyond those specifically given in the Constitution] , or broad interpretation, of the Constitution. He pointed out that the elastic clause allowed Congress to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper” for carrying out its listed powers. Since collecting taxes was one of those powers, Congress could set up a bank to help the government with tax collection.
After much debate, Hamilton was able get his bank approved by Congress. Once established, in 1791, the Bank of the United States helped the nation’s economy grow and prosper.
Views on Great Britain and France When the French Revolution began, Hamilton hoped that it would lead to the “establishment of free and good government.” But as he watched it lead instead to chaos and bloodshed, his enthusiasm for the revolution cooled.
When war broke out between France and England in 1793, most Federalists sided with Great Britain. Some were merchants and shippers whose business depended on trade with America’s former enemy. Others simply felt more comfortable supporting orderly Great Britain against revolutionary France.
Hamilton favored Great Britain for yet another reason. Great Britain was all that he hoped the United States would become one day: a powerful and respected nation that could defend itself against any enemy.
SECTION 5 THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY Alexander Hamilton’s success in getting his plans through Congress alarmed Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Republicans. In Jefferson’s view, almost everything Hamilton did in the name of putting the United States on the path to greatness was instead a step down the road to ruin. The two men held very different views on almost everything.
Personal Background Jefferson was born in Virginia to an old and respected family. One of ten children, he was gifted with many talents. As a boy, he learned to ride, hunt, sing, dance, and play the violin. Later, he carried a violin with him in all his travels.
Jefferson was also a gifted student. When he entered college at age 16, he already knew Greek and Latin. He seemed to know something about almost everything. He once wrote that “not a sprig of grass [is] uninteresting to me.” This curiosity would remain with him all his life.
With land inherited from his father, Jefferson set himself up as a Virginia tobacco planter. Like other planters, he used slaves to work his land.
Once he was established as a planter, Jefferson entered Virginia politics. As a politician, he lacked the ability to make stirring speeches. Instead, Jefferson wrote eloquently [eloquently: to express ideas or feelings in a way that is moving and well-spoken] with a pen. His words in the Declaration of Independence and other writings are still read and admired today.
View of Human Nature Jefferson’s view of human nature was much more hopeful than Hamilton’s. He assumed that informed citizens could make good decisions for themselves and their country. “I have so much confidence in the good sense of man,” Jefferson wrote when revolution broke out in France, “that I am never afraid of the issue [outcome] where reason is left free to exert her force.”
Jefferson had great faith in the goodness and wisdom of people who worked the soil—farmers and planters like himself. “State a [problem] to a ploughman [farmer] and a professor,” he said, and “the former will decide it often better than the latter.”
Views on Government Republicans favored democracy over any other form of government. They had no patience with the Federalists’ view that only the “best people” should rule. To Republicans, this view came dangerously close to monarchy, or rule by a king.
Republicans believed that the best government was the one that governed the least. A small government with limited powers was most likely to leave the people alone to enjoy the blessings of liberty. To keep the national government small, they insisted on a strict construction [strict construction: a narrow interpretation of the Constitution, meaning that Congress has only those powers specifically given in the Constitution] , or interpretation, of the Constitution. The Constitution, they insisted, meant exactly what it said, no more and no less. Any addition to the powers listed in the document, such as the creation of a national bank, was unconstitutional and dangerous.
Along with advocating for a weak national government, Republicans favored strong state governments. State governments, they argued, were closer to the people, and the people could control them more easily. Strong state governments could also keep the national government from growing too powerful.
Views on the Economy Like most Americans in the 1790s, Jefferson was a country man. He believed that the nation’s future lay not with Federalist bankers and merchants in big cities, but with plain, Republican farmers. “Those who labor in the earth,” he wrote, “are the chosen people of God, if ever He had a chosen people.”
Republicans favored an economy based on agriculture. They opposed any measures, such as the national bank, designed to encourage the growth of business and manufacturing. In their view, the national bank was not only unconstitutional, but against farmers. While the bank was happy to loan money to businesspeople to build factories and ships, it did not make loans to farmers to buy land.
Views on Great Britain and France Another topic over which Republicans and Federalists had heated arguments was the French Revolution. Most Americans favored the revolution until it turned violent and led to war. As you have read, most Federalists then turned against the new French republic and sided with Great Britain. For this change of heart, a Republican newspaper called the Federalists “British bootlickers,” implying that they were weak and eager to please the British.
Despite the violence of the revolution, most Republicans continued to support France. While regretting the bloodshed, they argued that the loss of a few thousand aristocrats was a small price to pay for freedom. For their loyalty to France, Republicans were scorned in a Federalist newspaper as “man-eating, blood-drinking cannibals.”
In 1793, the French government sent Edmond Genêt (zhuh-NAY) to the United States as its new official representative. Genêt preferred to be called “Citizen Genêt.” French revolutionaries adopted this title to emphasize the equality of all people. His mission was to convince Americans that they should join France in its war against Great Britain.
Republicans welcomed Citizen Genêt as a conquering hero. Large crowds cheered him as he traveled about the country. In Philadelphia, the nation’s temporary capital, a great banquet was held in his honor.
When Genêt formally presented himself to President George Washington, he expected another warm and enthusiastic reception. Washington, however, did not want to be drawn into war with Great Britain. His response to Genêt was cool and dignified.
Genêt began making speeches against the president. These attacks on Washington brought thousands of Genêt’s supporters into Philadelphia’s streets. “Day after day,” recalled Vice President John Adams, the protesters “threatened to drag Washington out of his house, and . . . compel [the government] to declare war in favor of the French revolution.”
This was too much, even for Jefferson. Calling Genêt “hotheaded . . . disrespectful, and even indecent toward the President,” Secretary of State Jefferson asked the French government to recall its troublesome representative.
SECTION 6 THE PRESIDENCY OF JOHN ADAMS When the framers of the Constitution created the Electoral College, they imagined that the electors would simply choose the two best leaders for president and vice president. That was how the nation’s first two presidential elections worked. By the third election in 1796, however, it was clear that political parties had become part of the election process.
The Republicans supported Thomas Jefferson for president that year. His support came mainly from farmers in the South and West. The Federalists supported John Adams, who appealed to lawyers, merchants, ship owners, and businesspeople in the North. When the electoral votes were counted, John Adams was elected president by just three votes. Jefferson came in second, making him vice president. The nation’s new top two leaders were political leaders from opposing parties.
The Alien and Sedition Acts At first, President Adams tried to work closely with Jefferson. “Party violence,” Adams found, made such efforts “useless.” Meanwhile, Federalists in Congress passed four controversial laws known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. They argued that these laws were needed as protection against foreigners who might threaten the nation. In fact, the real purpose of the Alien and Sedition Acts was to make life difficult for the Federalists’ rivals, the Republicans.
Three of the laws, the Alien Acts, were aimed at aliens, or noncitizens. The first law lengthened the time it took for an immigrant to become a citizen with the right to vote—from 5 to 14 years. Since most immigrants voted Republican, Jefferson saw this law as an attack on his party. The other two Alien Acts allowed the president to either jail or deport aliens who were suspected of activities that threatened the government. Although these laws were never enforced, they did frighten a number of French spies and troublemakers, who then left the country.
The fourth law, known as the Sedition Act, made sedition [sedition: the crime of encouraging rebellion against the government] —encouraging rebellion against the government—a crime. Its definition of sedition included “printing, uttering, or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious [hateful] writing” against the government, Congress, or the president. Alexander Hamilton approved of this law, believing that it would punish only those who published lies intended to destroy the government.
Instead, the Sedition Act was used to punish Republican newspaper editors who insulted President Adams in print. One, for example, called him “old, querulous [whiny], bald, blind, crippled, toothless Adams.” Twenty-five people were arrested under the new law. Ten of them were convicted of printing seditious opinions.
The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions Republicans viewed the Sedition Act as an attack on the rights of free speech and free press. Since the federal government was enforcing the act, Republicans looked to the states to protect these freedoms.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison drew up a set of resolutions [resolutions: statement of a formal decision agreed on by a group] , or statements, opposing the Alien and Sedition Acts and sent them to state legislatures for approval. They argued that Congress had gone beyond the Constitution in passing these acts. States, therefore, had a duty to nullify [nullify: to refuse to recognize a federal law. This action by a state is called nullification.] the laws—that is, to declare them to be without legal force.
Only two states, Virginia and Kentucky, adopted the resolutions. The arguments put forward in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were based on the states’ rights theory [states’ rights theory: the theory that rights not specifically given to the federal government by the Constitution remain with the states] of the Constitution. This theory holds that rights not specifically given to the federal government remain with the states. Of these, one of the most important is the right to judge whether the federal government is using its powers properly.
When no other states approved the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, the protest died. The states’ rights theory, however, was not forgotten. It would be raised and tested again in the years ahead.
The New National Capital In 1800, the federal government moved to the city of Washington in the District of Columbia. Most of the government’s buildings were still under construction. President Adams’s wife, Abigail, described the new “President’s House” as a “castle” in which “not one room or chamber is finished.” She used the large East Room for hanging laundry, as it was not fit for anything else.
SECTION 7 THE ELECTION OF 1800 The move to Washington, D.C., came in the middle of the 1800 presidential election. Once again, Republican leaders supported Thomas Jefferson for president. Hoping to avoid the strange outcome of the last election, they chose a New York politician named Aaron Burr to run as his vice president.
The Federalists chose John Adams to run for reelection as president. Charles Pinckney of South Carolina was selected to run for vice president. Some Federalists would have preferred Alexander Hamilton as their presidential candidate. But the Caribbean-born Hamilton was not eligible to run, as the Constitution requires the president to be a U.S.-born citizen.
The Campaign The candidates outlined their campaign issues early. Jefferson supported the Constitution and states’ rights. He promised to run a “frugal and simple” government. Adams ran on his record of peace and prosperity.
The campaign, however, centered more on insults than on issues. Republican newspapers attacked Adams as a tyrant. They even accused him of wanting to turn the nation into a monarchy so that his children could follow him on the presidential throne.
Some Federalist newspapers called Jefferson an atheist. An atheist is someone who denies the existence of God. Jefferson, these newspapers charged, would “destroy religion, introduce immorality, and loosen all the bonds of society.” Frightened by these charges, some elderly Federalists buried their Bibles to keep them safe from the “godless” Republicans.
The Divided Federalists Hamilton and his followers refused to support Adams because of disagreements over the president’s foreign policy. “We shall never find ourselves in the straight road of Federalism while Mr. Adams is President,” stated Oliver Wolcott, one of Hamilton’s close allies.
As the campaign heated up, Hamilton worked feverishly behind the scenes to convince the men chosen for the Electoral College to cast their presidential ballots for Pinckney over Adams. Pinckney seemed more likely than Adams to value Hamilton’s advice and his firm Federalist principles. With Pinckney as president, Hamilton believed that he would be able to personally guide the United States into the new century.
SECTION 8 A DEADLOCK AND A NEW AMENDMENT When the Electoral College voted early in 1801, it was clear that John Adams had lost the election. But to whom? Under the Constitution, each elector cast two votes, with the idea that the candidate finishing second would be vice president. All of the Republican electors voted for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The result was a tie between them.
Breaking the Tie In the case of a tie, the Constitution sends the election to the House of Representatives. There, each state has one vote. Burr could have told his supporters in the House to elect Jefferson president, as his party wanted. Instead, he remained silent, hoping the election might go his way. When the House voted, the result was another tie.
In the presidential election of 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr received the same number of electoral votes. After almost a week of deadlock in the House of Representatives, Jefferson was elected president. The Twelfth Amendment was ratified in 1804 to prevent such ties in the future.
After 6 days and 35 ballots, it was Federalist Alexander Hamilton who broke the deadlock. He asked his supporters in the House to vote for Jefferson. Of the two Republicans, he said, “Jefferson is to be preferred. He is by far not so dangerous a man.” The tie was broken, and Jefferson was elected president.
In 1804, the Twelfth Amendment was added to the Constitution to prevent such ties. The amendment calls for the Electoral College to cast separate ballots for president and vice president. If no presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives chooses a president from the top three candidates. If no candidate for vice president receives a majority, the Senate chooses the vice president.
A Peaceful Revolution The election of 1800 was a victory for Jefferson and his Republican Party. But it was also a victory for the new system of government established by the Constitution. In other countries, power changed hands by means of war or revolution. In the United States, power had passed from one group to another without a single shot being fired.
SUMMARY In this chapter, you read about the beginnings of political parties in the United States.
The New Government Under Washington George Washington took office as president in 1789. In 1794, he ended the Whiskey Rebellion, a farmers’ protest against taxes.
Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists Hamilton and the Federalists favored a strong national government. They supported a loose construction of the Constitution. They also favored using the government’s power to support business, manufacturing, and trade. Alarmed by the violence of the French Revolution, the Federalists favored Great Britain in its war with France.
Thomas Jefferson and the Republicans Jefferson and the Republicans championed states’ rights and an economy based on agriculture. They supported a strict construction of the Constitution. Republicans saw the French Revolution as a step toward democracy and attacked the Federalists’ support for Great Britain.
The Presidency of John Adams During Adams’s presidency, Federalists used the Alien and Sedition Acts to attack Republicans. In response, Republicans urged states to nullify these laws.
The Election of 1800 and the Twelfth Amendment Adams lost the election of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson after the Federalists broke a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. In 1804, the Twelfth Amendment was added to the Constitution to prevent such ties.