Why is the election of 1800 considered a turning point in American history?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The election of 1800 is considered a turning point in history because it marked the first time that power was peacefully transferred from one political party to another. The sitting president, John Adams, was defeated for re-election and the Democratic-Republican, Thomas Jefferson, was elected by the House of Representatives after no candidate received a majority in the electoral college. Although this has been accomplished many times in U.S. history without incident, this first time was remarkable as historically, transfers of power from one ideology to another were often accompanied by violence. The electoral campaign between Adams and Jefferson had been particularly bitter and vociferous; however there was no violence and Jefferson took office peacefully. In a conciliatory note, Jefferson commented in his inaugural address:

We are all Republicans—we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.

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