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The Election of 1800 and the Election of 1876

The History and Legacy of the Only Presidential Elections Decided by Congress
Narrated by: Scott Clem
Length: 3 hrs and 11 mins
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Publisher's Summary

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson beat sitting President John Adams, albeit narrowly, and denied Adams the second term he coveted. Adams escaped to Massachusetts and left a curt note about the state of the White House stables behind. No congratulations were exchanged, and the two men did not speak to one another for over a decade afterwards. Jefferson's election to the presidency also left an important electoral legacy. By 1800, the Alien and Sedition Acts had made Adams an unpopular president, especially in the South. Without formal parties to effectively nominate candidates in a president-vice president ticket, the Democratic-Republicans had two nominees: Thomas Jefferson and New York's Aaron Burr, who had been tabbed to serve as Jefferson's vice president. Once the Electoral College cast its ballots, Jefferson and Burr had the same number of electoral votes with 73, while Adams came in third with 65. This was, however, a mix-up. The Democratic-Republican electors were supposed to have one elector abstain from voting for Burr, which would make Jefferson president and Burr vice-president. In the 1800 election, states selected their electors from April until October. The last state to select its electors, South Carolina, selected Democratic-Republicans but neglected to have one voter abstain. The final vote was thus a tie. As the Constitution prescribed, the election was determined in the House of Representatives. This proved problematic as well. The Federalists controlled the House that decided who would be president. With Jefferson as their arch-nemesis, they were hardly happy to support him, and many initially voted for Burr. The first 35 ballots were always a tie between Burr and Jefferson.

©2016 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors

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