Adams vs. Jefferson

by John Ferling

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 212

Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 is the story of the first contentious election in the United States. This non-fiction account uses primary resources to narrate what led to the election. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were once aligned politically. However, Adams became the leader of the Federalist Party and advocated for centrality in the government. Jefferson was the leader of the Republican Party and fiercely opposed the Federalists. It was his belief that core values of the American Revolution were being lost. Jefferson advocated for a smaller government that was led by the people (of course, to him, this was limited to white men). What pursued was a grueling race, filled with drama and backstabbing. Alexander Hamilton published a letter outlining all of his disappointments in Adams, the leader of his own party. Ultimately, in this book, Ferling focuses on the repercussions this election had on American elections. It was the first election in the country that truly tested the electoral college. The vote came down to the count of a handful of ballots. It became so outrageous that the Republican Party threatened to declare a civil war if their candidate was not elected. Jefferson did end up winning, and Adams left Washington, too devastated to stay until the inauguration.

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