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The History of America



 

Chapter V - Republicans Triumph

 

Republicans Triumph


 
     By the time of the presidential election of 1800, Republican protest against Federal policies reached its peak. The Federalists, reeling from attacks on the Alien and Sedition Acts, were farther weakened by the death of Washington in 1799 and the infighting between Adams and Hamilton over war against France. Adams' decision to seek a peaceful settlement with France ended his chances for reelection because it split the Federalists and angered many Americans who wanted to punish the French. Jefferson narrowly defeated Adams by eight electoral votes. However, the actual election had to be decided in the House of Representatives since Jefferson's running mate, Aaron Burr, received the same number of as votes he did - seventy three. While many Federalists preferred Burr, Hamilton campaigned for Jefferson, saying he at least had "some pretension to character." Burr, embittered by Hamilton's remarks, would later kill him in a duel after Hamilton labeled Burr a traitor and cost him the election as governor of New York in 1804. Jefferson was elected, but it took thirty-six ballots. As a result of this tangle, in 1804 the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution changed the method of voting in the electoral college to allow for a party ticket.
 
     Federalists relentlessly opposed Jefferson, and one Federalist newspaper hysterically predicted that Jefferson's election would bring "dwellings in flames, [gray hairs] bathed in blood, female chastity violated and children writhing on the pike and halberd." Yet the Federalist's excessive fears never materialized. No revolutionary change occurred in public policy, nor did a bloodbath drench the transfer of power between parties. The Federalists, never again to hold the reins of national powers did fire one last salvo before relinquishing their authority. The Judiciary Act passed on March 4 of 1801 created new court positions which Adams filled with Federalists in several "mid-night appointments."
 
     By 1800 the United States had survived financial difficulties, controversial foreign wars and spiteful political infighting. The Republican view of government had prevailed, and as a result, during Jefferson's administration the country would move toward a decentralized economy, minimal government and maximum freedom "of action and mobility." Such freedoms, of course, could not extend to citizens who had no voice in the political process, including many thousands of slaves and women who yearned for liberty and participation in this new republic.
 
 


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