Jefferson's Second Revolution by Susan Dunn
The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism

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Synopsis

The election of 1800 was a revolution in the modern sense of a radical new beginning, but it was also a revolution in the sense of a return to the point of origin, to the principles of 1776. Federalist incumbent John Adams, and the elitism he represented, faced Republican Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson defeated Adams but, through a quirk in Electoral College balloting, tied with his own running mate, Aaron Burr. A constitutional crisis ensued. Congress was supposed to resolve the tie, but would the Federalists hand over power peacefully to their political enemies, to Jefferson and his Republicans? For weeks on end, nothing was less certain. The Federalists delayed and plotted, while Republicans threatened to take up arms.
In a way no previous historian has done, Susan Dunn illuminates the many facets of this watershed moment in American history: she captures its great drama, gives us fresh, finely drawn portraits of the founding fathers, and brilliantly parses the enduring significance of the crisis. The year 1800 marked the end of Federalist elitism, pointed the way to peaceful power shifts, cleared a place for states’ rights in the political landscape, and set the stage for the Civil War.
 

About Susan Dunn

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Susan Dunn is professor of French literature and the history of ideas at Williams College. She is the author of numerous critically acclaimed articles and books in political theory and historical literary criticism, and she has been the recipient of fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others.
 
Published September 9, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 385 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction

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In other words, a second revolution instead of civil war.

Sep 09 2004 | Read Full Review of Jefferson's Second Revolution...

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Sister Revolutions, 1999), “offered voters a forceful platform and an aggressive agenda for change” in the place of the scandal-plagued Federalist administration of John Adams—resisting, for instance, the Sedition Act of 1798, an Ashcroftian piece of legislation “designed to smother opposition to...

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Publishers Weekly

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In her take on the election of 1800, historian Dunn (co-author with James MacGregor Burns of The Three Roosevelts , etc.) also offers a dramatic account of the nation's struggle to establish political legitimacy, but with a sharper emphasis on the triumph of Jefferson and his populist ideals.

Aug 02 2004 | Read Full Review of Jefferson's Second Revolution...

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