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From Bullets to Ballots: The Election of 1800 and the First Peaceful Transfer of Political Power

Historical Documents

In the USA, even more clearly than in other modern democracies, the establishment of religious freedom preceded the establishment of party politics:

Alexander Hamilton explains his economic policies:

Thomas Jefferson sounds out public opinion about congressional acceptance of Hamilton’s policies among old Anti-federalists, and asserts that it is important for the government to pay “more attention to the general opinion” about its policies:

In 1787, James Madison had written about parties (“factions”) and public opinion in The Federalist:

Madison adjusts his earlier views on parties and public opinion, and advances a republican critique of Hamilton’s policies:

In private, Jefferson and Hamilton vie with each other for President Washington’s support:

President Washington warns Americans about the excesses of partisanship:

President Adams warns Americans about partisanship influenced by foreign powers, and denies that he has any anti-republican opinions:

Jefferson reassures Republicans by explaining why their principles and natural electoral advantages will soon prevail:

The Federalist-controlled Congress legislates against the communication of false and scandalous statements about the federal government:

Two state legislatures protest against the Sedition Act and other actions of the federal government, and invite other state governments to join in their protest:

Jefferson’s platform for the Republican party, reaffirming his confidence that the “unquestionable republicanism of the American mind will break through the mist under which it has been clouded”:

President Jefferson reflects on the partisan “contest of opinion” of the decade leading to the electoral Revolution of 1800, and explains “the essential principles” that will shape his administration:

Jefferson expresses confidence in public opinion and “public indignation” to protect “the union of sentiment” that increasingly supports the Republican party’s administration of the government:

Looking back again on the peaceful electoral “Revolution of 1800,” Jefferson asserts the political superiority of the popularly elected branches of government to the judiciary, although (and because) “the people” are not “independent of moral law”:

Abraham Lincoln tries to persuade Americans not to abandon ballots for bullets:

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