Adams vs. Jefferson

by John Ferling

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 315

Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 (Pivotal Moments in American History) is a nonfiction book by John Ferling. The first prominent theme of the book is an analysis of John Adams's and Thomas Jefferson's separate campaigns during the 1800 presidential elections. The other major theme of Ferling's book is the iconic status of both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Both statesmen gained popular support during the American Revolution and enjoyed support after the revolution. Ferling details both Adams's and Jefferson's personal histories and respective political careers. Ferling's analysis is objective and doesn't hesitate to detail the negative aspects of both their respective personalities and political philosophies.

Another theme of the book is an examination of the two men's past friendship and how that friendship gradually deteriorated. This personal history between the two American legends gives further context and added dimensions to the tension of the 1800 presidential election.

The political philosophies and practices of their respective parties are also explored. The different parties in the US government had contradictory visions on how the newly founded nation should be run administratively and what ambitions the United States should pursue going forward.The issue was of great importance during the 1800 elections, and each of the two statesmen became representatives of these differing political visions.

Another theme is the interjection of Alexander Hamilton, who published rhetorical attacks against John Adams, the leader of his own party. This book shows the tensions not only between the two parties—which escalated to the Republicans threatening the Federalists with civil war—it also shows the turmoils within each of the political parties.

Another theme is the resentment John Adams felt toward Thomas Jefferson after the latter's victory. Adams's bitterness was so high that Adams left Washington, DC, before the inauguration because he did not want to shake Thomas Jefferson's hand. Overall, the book illustrates the early origins of modern-day America's political tension.

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