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Friday, February 3, 2012

February 3 Presidential Losers: John Adams

John Adams, 1800

Another squeaker.  Aaron Burr was Jefferson’s running mate, but got the same number of electoral votes as Jefferson, so the House of Representatives had to decide who would be president: we only missed having a duelist as president by a procedural technicality.  Instead we got another slave owner.  The Federalists – John Adams’ side – said Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans 1 were a passel of radicals out to overthrow the country.  George Washington himself said, "you could as soon scrub the blackamoor white, as to change the principles of a professed Democrat; and that he will leave nothing unattempted to overturn the Government of this Country." These days, of course, political figures don’t compare each other to “blackamores;” we’re too high-toned for that.  We just stick to saying someone’s secretly Muslim.  As for the Democratic-Republicans, they claimed Adams was pro-British.  Another sore point was his administration had enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts which were sort of the Eighteenth Century version of Homeland Security.  Homeland Security is a much nicer-sounding name, but we were a new country and weren’t as good at euphemisms in those days.  The Sedition Act made it an offense to write “scadalously” about the government or certain officials.  Since the act was set to expire the day before Adam’s term ended, it wasn’t hard to guess who those certain officials were.  One man was fined a hundred dollars for remarking he didn’t care if Adams got shot in the ass by a cannon.  The Alien and Sedition Acts also allowed the president to deport any resident aliens if the US were at war with their home country.  This one’s still in effect, and it’s come in really handy, I can tell you, but these legislative accomplishments weren’t enough to keep Adams in for a second term.  Burr’s support proved pivotal in swinging New York’s electoral votes into the Democratic-Republican camp.

Result

Thomas Jefferson: 73
John Adams: 65

1. This was before bumper-stickers, and names didn't have to be as pithy.

1 comment:

  1. "...the Democratic-Republicans were a passel of rascals out to overthrow the country."

    Sadly, that's pretty much the same today...regardless of which part of "Democratic-Republican" you leave out.

    ReplyDelete