A magnificent catastrophe

The outcome remained shrouded in doubt long after the voting ended, and as Inauguration Day approached, Congress met in closed session to resolve the crisis. After the electors met in their respective state capitals on December 3,the news A magnificent catastrophe spread of the result: The death of George Washington created additional problems for the Federalist party since many members at the tie were try to draft Washington back into public office.

Absent from the Constitutional Convention while serving in Europe, each supported the new Constitution with reservations; as Adams phrased it, he feared the rise of an aristocracy while Jefferson worried about the possibility of monarchy.

Larson takes up the election of pitting the Federalists against the Republicans for the future of the Constitution and the United States. This election in many ways determined just how democratic a country we would be.

Read more About the author Edward J. In ten states, legislatures chose the electors.

A Magnificent Catastrophe Analysis

Only with reluctance, after backing Burr for 34 indecisive ballots eight states for Jefferson, six for Burr, two split evenly did enough Federalists abstain to hand Jefferson the Presidency.

This election shaped all future lines of battle in American politics. As per Article II of the U. The natural sequel to these events would have been partisan bitterness of the kind that afflicts contemporary American politics. In the rematch between Adams and Jefferson, and the newly forming parties that each represented, the gloves came off with both sides launching into hard-core campaiging for the first time.

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Politics were seldom discussed. So in other words, all the representatives from, say, New Hampshire cast one solitary vote as a collective bloc. Republicans believed that Adams and the Federalists had designs to destroy the Constitution, appoint a president-for-life, and return the nation to monarchy.

George Washington had been a non-contested favorite for president and had never campaigned for the job. This was the House elected ina triumphant year for the Federalists, and its term would not end until the following March. What actually happened was more hopeful.

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Because the Federalists, anticipating this sort of problem, made sure that Pinckney finished slightly behind Adams. For readers who are not well-versed in the history of the Founding Period, this book is an unreliable guide. A bitter partisan battle A magnificent catastrophe Federalist John Adams and Republican Thomas Jefferson, it produced a perplexing tie between Jefferson and his own running mate, Aaron Burr.

Larson has also written over one hundred articles, most of which address topics of law, science, or politics from an historical perspective, which have appeared in such varied journals as The Atlantic, Nature, Scientific American, The Nation, The Wilson Quarterly, and Virginia Law Review.

They were playing a very dangerous game, though, since any vote against Adams could have the unintended consequence of electing Jefferson. Larson observed in A Magnificent Catastrophe: In the summer ofthere was also a threat of a slave revolt in Virginia.

Jefferson supporters were incensed by the gridlock. But then, going into the 36th vote, he decided to abstain. Hence, it would decide who would become President. Best remembered for his eponymous treaty, Jay served as both a Supreme Court justice and as the governor of New York.

Parties were still evolving, and one elector in both Virginia and North Carolina deviated from otherwise solid Jeffersonian blocs by voting for Adams.

James Madison for one could barely contain his schadenfreude. The challenge of the moment spurred Burr to new heights of political creativity.

In total, this unfair clause gave the slave states 14 extra electors. This threw the election into the House of Representatives. From George Washington's first term in office, it was clear that there were two basic ideas about how America should work. Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated three months later.In the bestselling tradition of John Adams and a riveting story of our Founding Fathers Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Larson's masterful account revisits the wild ride that was the presidential election -- an election so convulsive and so momentous that Thomas Jefferson would later dub it 'America's second revolution.'.

A magnificent catastrophe: the tumultuous election ofAmerica's first presidential campaign. [Edward J Larson] -- The presidential election, the last great contest of the founding period, was so convulsive and so momentous for American democracy that Jefferson would later dub it.


Magnificent Catastrophe. The election pitted a grumpy, contentious and brilliant President John Adams against not just another of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, but also Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

In many ways the election intro-duced American politics to partisan. A Magnificent Catastrophe provides one of the finest insights ever written into the history of the founding -- and sometimes faltering -- first steps of our modern democratic republic. Absorbing its story is an essential step toward a deeper and broader understanding of America.

Nov 28,  · In his sobering, yet upbeat, history of the controversial presidential election of"A Magnificent Catastrophe," Edward J.

Magnificent Catastrophe

Larson took a big risk in plowing this familiar ground. At present this site reflects the contents of the published Radio Times BBC listings. We will retain information submitted to us for possible future use, to help fill in gaps in the data and to help us bring the BBC’s broadcast history to life, but we will not be publishing it at this stage.


A magnificent catastrophe
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