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Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 3477

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Peace with France.]

[Sidenote: Breach in the party.]

The Alien and Sedition Acts had quickly destroyed all Adams's popularity in the Republican party; his later action deprived him of the united support of the Federalists. War with France was pleasing to them as an assertion of national dignity, as a protest against the growth of dangerous democracy in France, and as a step toward friendship or eventual alliance with England. Early in 1799 Talleyrand intimated that a minister would now be received from the American government. Without consulting his cabinet, with whom Adams was not on good terms, the President appointed an embassy to France. Early in 1800 they made a favorable treaty with France: better guarantees were secured for American neutral trade; the old treaties of 1778 were practically set aside; and the claims of American merchants for captures since 1793 were abandoned, This last action gave rise to the French Spoliation Claims, which remained unsettled for nearly a century thereafter, Adams's determination to make peace was statesmanlike and patriotic, but it gave bitter offence to the warlike Federalists. In May, 1800, Adams found his cabinet so out of sympathy that he removed Pickering, Secretary of State, and appointed John Marshall. This meant a formal breach between the Adams and the Hamilton wings of the party.

[Sidenote: Republicans successful.]

The campaign of 1800 thus began with the Federalists divided, and the Republicans hopeful. Hamilton was determined to force Adams from the headship, and prepared a pamphlet, for which materials were furnished by Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury. Aaron Burr, a wily Republican leader, managed to get a copy, published i

t, and spread it broadcast. Adams was re-nominated by a caucus of Federalist members, and C. C. Pinckney was put on the ticket with him. Jefferson was, as in 1796, the candidate of his party for President. For Vice-President there was associated with him Burr, who was able to control the important vote of the State of New York. The result of this coalition was seen in May, 1800, when a New York legislature was elected with a Republican majority; and that legislature would, in the autumn, cast the vote of the State. The Federalists persevered, but South Carolina deserted them, so that both Jefferson and Burr received seventy-three votes, and Adams had only sixty- five. The Federalist supremacy was broken.

[Sidenote: Election by the House.]

Now arose an unexpected complication. There being a tie between Jefferson and Burr, the House of Representatives was called upon to decide between them, its vote being cast by States. Had the majority of the House been Republican, Jefferson would, of course, have received their votes; it was, however, Federalist, and the Federalists thought themselves entitled to choose that one of their enemies who was least likely to do them harm. Obscure intrigues were entered upon both with Jefferson and Burr. Neither would make definite promises, although Burr held out hopes of alliance with the Federalists. Hamilton now came forward with a letter in which he declared that of the two men Jefferson was less dangerous. "To my mind," said he, "a true estimate of Mr. Jefferson's character warrants the expectation of a temporizing rather than of a violent system." After a long struggle the deadlock was broken; Jefferson was chosen President of the United States, and Burr Vice-President.

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