Adams vs. Jefferson by John Ferling
The Tumultuous Election of 1800

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Synopsis

It was a contest of titans: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two heroes of the Revolutionary era, once intimate friends, now icy antagonists locked in a fierce battle for the future of the United States. The election of 1800 was a thunderous clash of a campaign that climaxed in a deadlock in the Electoral College and led to a crisis in which the young republic teetered on the edge of collapse.
Adams vs. Jefferson is the gripping account of a turning point in American history, a dramatic struggle between two parties with profoundly different visions of how the nation should be governed. The Federalists, led by Adams, were conservatives who favored a strong central government. The Republicans, led by Jefferson, were more egalitarian and believed that the Federalists had betrayed the Revolution of 1776 and were backsliding toward monarchy. The campaign itself was a barroom brawl every bit as ruthless as any modern contest, with mud-slinging, scare tactics, and backstabbing. The low point came when Alexander Hamilton printed a devastating attack on Adams, the head of his own party, in "fifty-four pages of unremitting vilification." The stalemate in the Electoral College dragged on through dozens of ballots. Tensions ran so high that the Republicans threatened civil war if the Federalists denied Jefferson the presidency. Finally a secret deal that changed a single vote gave Jefferson the White House. A devastated Adams left Washington before dawn on Inauguration Day, too embittered even to shake his rival's hand.
With magisterial command, Ferling brings to life both the outsize personalities and the hotly contested political questions at stake. He shows not just why this moment was a milestone in U.S. history, but how strongly the issues--and the passions--of 1800 resonate with our own time.
 

About John Ferling

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John Ferling is Professor of History at the State University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he has appeared in many documentaries and has written numerous books, including John Adams: A Life, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, and Jefferson in the American Revolution, and the award-winning A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic.
 
Published July 30, 2004 by Oxford University Press, USA. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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McCullough depicts Jefferson as lazy, a spendthrift, always in debt and always in trouble, whereas Adams never rested and never spent a penny without good reason, a holdover from the comparative poverty of his youth.

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Kirkus Reviews

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For those still pondering the presidential election of 2000, and looking that of 2004 in the eye, comes this knotty tale from the days of the Founders.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Adams vs. Jefferson:The Tumul...

Publishers Weekly

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Historian Ferling presents the highly eventful life and times of the second president.

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Publishers Weekly

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Warring ideologies, polarizing debate and ugly name-calling ("fanatic," "libertine," "atheist"): sound familiar? Well, it's not the election of 2

Aug 02 2004 | Read Full Review of Adams vs. Jefferson:The Tumul...

USA Today

The 2004 campaign may seem tame after historian Ferling's riveting account of the 1800 presidential race.

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Nights and Weekends

This election led to the 12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it laid the groundwork for the Civil War, it was first time that a member of the opposition party had ousted the sitting president without bloodshed, and it killed the political career of Alexander Hamilton—confidant to George Wash...

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Project MUSE

Only once does he gratuitously mischaracterize the words of a major player, when he says that Vice President Adams wrote to Jefferson in January 1796 to say that he envied his friend's retirement at Monticello and planned to leave office himself in 1797, adding that Jefferson probably did not bel...

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