Election of 1800 Aftermath

I hope the aftermath of the current presidential election is not as chaotic as the outcome of the election of 1800.  Initially the outcome of the election was clear-cut enough.  Jefferson defeated Adams, garnering 73 electoral votes to 67 for Adams.  Then the circus began.  When the electoral college met, the Republicans planned that their electors would cast 73 votes for Jefferson and 72 for Aaron Burr.  The reason for this was that under the Constitution as originally drafted, the candidate who received the highest number of electoral votes would be president, and the candidate who came in second would be vice-president.  Each elector could vote for two candidates.  The Republicans bungled the vote, and Burr and Jefferson each received 73 votes!  With a tie the election would be decided in the House of Representatives.


Burr, without a doubt the most unscrupulous major political figure in American history, seized the opportunity to attempt to become president instead of Jefferson.  From February 11-17, 1801 the House cast 35 ballots and seemed deadlocked.  Almost all Federalists supported Burr.    Jefferson received the support of 8 states, by majority vote of each state delegation, one state short of the necessary majority.  The stalemate seemed destined to stretch on indefinitely until Alexander Hamilton stepped in.  Hamilton had no love for Jefferson, but he truly despised Burr, his arch rival in New York politics, who he regarded as a dangerous demagogue.  Hamilton convinced enough Federalists to switch their support for Jefferson, with Jefferson becoming president with the votes of ten state delegations, one more than necessary. (more…)

Published in: on November 12, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Election of 1800 Aftermath  
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Burr v. Jefferson


Go here to see a video of a debate between Jefferson and Burr.  Ah if only such a debate had occurred in reality.  Rarely have two men despised each other more than Jefferson and Burr, and a face to face debate would have been vastly entertaining!  Although I think Jefferson would have won on substance, I think Burr would have easily won on style.  Burr was a noted orator, and Jefferson always confessed that he had no talent in regard to oratory.  Personally I regard Aaron Burr as one of the great blackguards of American history, but I would note that there is an Aaron Burr Association that proves the adage that everyone has a defender.

Published in: on July 9, 2010 at 5:32 am  Comments Off on Burr v. Jefferson  
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United States v. Aaron Burr

The above video was produced by PBS under contract from the United States Judicial Conference in 1976 as part of the bicentennial celebrations.

Aaron Burr’s trial for treason started on May 1807 and lasted for six months.  Burr’s machinations in the West are still mysterious, but the evidence certainly was lacking that he had engaged in treason.  Treason, a charge that had been used against the Founding Fathers by the British, was set forth with precision in the Constitution:

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted. (more…)

Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 5:46 am  Comments Off on United States v. Aaron Burr  

The Duel

My co-blogger at The American Catholic, Dave Hartline, has a very good post about Alexander Hamilton and his duel with Aaron Burr:



Like many intellectual men in Revolutionary America and Western Europe, Alexander Hamilton bought into the Deist ideas of a Creator, but certainly not a Creator who needed a Son to rise from the dead or perform miracles, and certainly not the continuous miracle of the Eucharist. Most leaders of the American Revolution were baptized Anglicans who later in life rarely attended Sunday services, the exception being George Washington.  The first President was the rare exception of a Founding Father who often attended Anglican-Episcopal Services, though he occasionally did leave before Holy Communion, which many intellectuals in the colonies (and most of England) decried as “popery.”

Hamilton was a unique man, who unlike many of the Revolution was not born in the colonies, but in the Caribbean and was born into poverty at that. He was practically an orphan as his father left his mother and she subsequently died from an epidemic. At a young age Hamilton showed so much promise that the residents of Christiansted, St Croix (now the American Virgin Islands) took up a collection to send him to school in New England. As a child, Hamilton excelled at informal learning picking up on what he could from passersby and those who took the time to help him. In August of 1772,  a great hurricane hit the Caribbean. Hamilton wrote about it in such vivid detail that it wound up being published in New York.

It was at this point that the residents of Christiansted answered the local Anglican pastor’s request and enough money was raised to send Hamilton to school in the colonies. While in school, Hamilton would excel and wound up in the Revolutionary Army as a young officer. By the time of Yorktown, General Washington thought enough of the 24 year old to have him lead a charge on one of the redoubts of Yorktown. It was here that the “Young Americans” and their French counterparts on land and sea, overwhelmed the British and the world turned upside down.

Hamilton would truly shine after the war. Some say he was the greatest mind in the colonies; almost single handedly creating the American economic system.  However, Hamilton and his Federalist mindset were cut of a different cloth than that of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. After the war, Jefferson and Franklin became smitten with the French Revolution and their leaders. It was Franklin, who years before the American Revolution sponsored the infamous Voltaire at a Mason initiation ceremony in Paris, while Franklin was criss-crossing Europe, already a one man invention machine seemingly known to all.

Fast forward a few decades; Jefferson, Franklin and many other Founding Fathers rejoiced in the French Revolution. Remember though Jefferson was a Deist, Franklin was so far to the theological left that he urged Jefferson to take the phrase “We hold these views to be sacred,” out of the Declaration of Independence, some 17 years before the onset of the French Revolution. The phrase was replaced with, “We hold these views to be self evident.” It seems sacred was too “religious” for Franklin. Though a few Diest principals united some leaders of both Revolutions, there was little else that brought the two together. Unlike some of their Deist national leadership, the American people were religious people who were repulsed by mob violence. They had seen enough violence in the long struggle for freedom and there would certainly not be any displays of sacrilege.

Unlike Franklin and Jefferson, Hamilton and many other Federalists were repulsed by the violence of the guillotine. Perhaps only Catholics of the newly created America could truly understand the evil of the French Revolution, as thousands of their fellow believers, rich and poor, clergy and laity were brutally murdered. In addition, there was the sacrilege committed by mobs against holy sites using clubs, fires and prostitutes to defile famous French churches.

Hamilton’s life after Yorktown (and the events of the French Revolution) was spent piecing together the US economy. One can truly see the genius in Hamilton when one considers how hard it was for newly independent colonial nations to get on their feet following liberation from their British and French colonial masters, at the end of World War II. The mind can scarcely fathom what it must have been like in the 1700s, for the newly created United States, with no world aid or United Nations to assist in the cause of nation building.  Where would the United States be without Hamilton?

As the 1800s dawned and the rage against God slowly receded in France and other “Enlightenment influenced citadels,” many were having second thoughts on their “worldviews.” Sadly for Hamilton, it took his dying hours for him to realize the error of his ways. For many years Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were involved in political and personal squabbles. Perhaps Washington wasn’t big enough for the two egos of Vice President Aaron Burr and the creator of the American Economic system, Alexander Hamilton. Both agreed to a duel in New Jersey, on July 11, 1804. Though Burr was rumored to be a poor shot with a pistol, Hamilton was hit in the duel. (more…)

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 5:36 am  Comments Off on The Duel  
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Got Burr?

A comedic follow up to Paul’s  post here on Alexander Hamilton.  Alternate history has always fascinated me.  What if Hamilton hadn’t been killed by Burr at that fateful duel on July 11, 1804?  Could he have led a revival of the Federalist Party?  Would he have finally achieved his lifelong ambition of military glory in the War of 1812?  If he had become a national hero in the War of 1812, would I now be blogging about President Hamilton?  So many possibilities snuffed out by the well aimed pistol of the worthless Burr.

Published in: on February 28, 2010 at 6:19 am  Comments Off on Got Burr?  
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