By John Ferling
It used to be a competition of titans: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, heroes of the innovative period, as soon as intimate neighbors, now icy antagonists locked in a fierce conflict for the way forward for the USA. The election of 1800 was once a thunderous conflict of a crusade that climaxed in a impasse within the Electoral university and resulted in a challenge during which the younger republic teetered at the fringe of cave in.
Adams vs. Jefferson is the gripping account of a turning aspect in American historical past, a dramatic fight among events with profoundly varied visions of the way the country might be ruled. The Federalists, led by means of Adams, have been conservatives who favorite a powerful crucial executive. The Republicans, led by way of Jefferson, have been extra egalitarian and believed that the Federalists had betrayed the Revolution of 1776 and have been backsliding towards monarchy. The crusade itself used to be a barroom brawl every piece as ruthless as any sleek contest, with mud-slinging, scare strategies, and backstabbing. The low element got here whilst Alexander Hamilton revealed a devastating assault on Adams, the top of his personal celebration, in "fifty-four pages of unremitting vilification." The stalemate within the Electoral university dragged on via dozens of ballots. Tensions ran so excessive that the Republicans threatened civil warfare if the Federalists denied Jefferson the presidency. ultimately a mystery deal that modified a unmarried vote gave Jefferson the White residence. A devastated Adams left Washington ahead of sunrise on Inauguration Day, too embittered even to shake his rival's hand.
With magisterial command, Ferling brings to existence either the outsize personalities and the hotly contested political questions at stake. He exhibits not only why this second was once a milestone in U.S. historical past, yet how strongly the issues--and the passions--of 1800 resonate with our personal time.
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Extra info for Adams Vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 (Pivotal Moments in American History)
With this kind of approach to ideas, the degree of consistency and devotion to principles become less important, and indeed the major issues of motivation and responsibility over which historians have disagreed become largely irrelevant. ” Men become more the victims than the manipulators of their ideas, as their thought unfolds in ways few anticipated, “rapid, irreversible, and irre sistible,” creating new problems, new considerations, new ideas, which have their own unforeseen implications. In this kind of atmosphere the Revolution, not at ﬁrst desired by the Americans, takes on something of an inevitable character, moving through a process of escalation into levels few had intended or perceived.
And they have thus found themselves entangled in the same kind of explanation used by the original antago nists, an explanation, despite obvious reﬁnements, still involved with the discovery of motives and its corollary, the assessing of a personal sort of responsibility for what happened. While most of the neo-Whig histori ans have not gone so far as to see conspiracy in British actions (although some have come close),35 they have tended to point up the blundering and stupidity of British ofﬁcials in contrast to “the breadth of vision” that moved the Americans.
While most of the neo-Whig histori ans have not gone so far as to see conspiracy in British actions (although some have come close),35 they have tended to point up the blundering and stupidity of British ofﬁcials in contrast to “the breadth of vision” that moved the Americans. If George III was in a position of central responsi bility in the British government, as English historians have recently said, then, according to Edmund S. ” By seeking “to deﬁne issues, ﬁx responsibilities,” and thereby to shift the “burden of proof ” onto those who say the Americans were narrow and selﬁsh and the empire was basically just and beneﬁcent, the neo-Whigs have attempted to redress what they felt was an unfair neo-Tory bias of previous explanations of the Revolution; 36 they have not, however, challenged the terms of the argu ment.