The Framers had viewed political parties with suspicion, but by the s party politics had taken root—and with it the interests of party organizations began to exert influence. In the Federalist Party supported John Adams for president, but it split its vote such that Jefferson, the Democratic-Republican candidate, earned the second greatest number of votes, thereby securing the post of vice president electors cast two ballots originally without designating a presidential or vice presidential choice. Adams thus governed during his presidency with the leader of the opposition as his vice president. The election was a rematch between Adams and Jefferson, and to forestall the recurrence of the same situation from the election, the parties sought to ensure that all their electors were united. As in the previous elections, there was no popular vote. Instead, the state legislatures appointed electors, and the Democratic-Republicans swept most of the South, including all the electors from Georgia , Kentucky , South Carolina , Tennessee , and Virginia , while Adams ran strong in the northeast, capturing all the electoral votes from Connecticut , Delaware , Massachusetts , New Hampshire , New Jersey , Rhode Island , and Vermont. With Burr, a New Yorker, on the ticket, Jefferson won that state, and the electors from the remaining states Maryland, North Carolina , and Pennsylvania split their votes. The Federalists, realizing the potential for a tie, arranged for one of their electors, from Rhode Island, to cast a ballot for John Jay.
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The period of the early American republic, in particular, was a fierce and fractious time in our political history, with highly charged debates over the very foundation of self-rule and constitutional government. To conclude this brief cycle of columns, I want to take a look at the first and most consequential electoral crisis in American history: the election of On Dec. The last two years had been among the most tumultuous in the life of the young nation. Rising tensions with France brought paranoia, anti-French feeling and fears of armed conflict. It was against this backdrop, in , that President Adams and the Federalist Party turned their eyes toward their Democratic-Republican critics in the press. Faced with public contempt and slander in a society where politics were still personal and where, the historian Gordon S.
Politics and society in the early nineteenth century
Nasty political mud-slinging. Campaign attacks and counterattacks. Personal insults. Outrageous newspaper invective. Dire predictions of warfare and national collapse.