The Election of 1800; Breaking the Tie (pages 297–298)

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Who won the election of 1800?

Two parties had candidates in the presidential election of 1800. They were the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. The Democratic- Republicans argued that the Federalists’ Alien and Sedition Acts violated the Bill of Rights. The Federalists called the Democratic-Republicans radicals—people who take extreme political positions. The Federalists’ candidate, President John Adams, lost the election. But there was a tie between two Democratic-Republican candidates—Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.

According to the Constitution, the House of Representatives had to choose between Burr and Jefferson. The Federalists, however, still controlled the House of Representatives. It was true that the Democratic-Republicans wanted Jefferson as their president. Even so, the Federalists would decide the winner. Members of the House of Representatives voted 36 times before finally electing Jefferson as president. Burr became vice-president.

1. How was the election of 1800 decided?

The Talented Jefferson; Jefferson’s Philosophy (pages 298–299)

What were Jefferson’s thoughts about the country?

Thomas Jefferson was one of the United States most talented presidents. He was a skilled violinist, horseman, and amateur scientist. Jefferson was also an architect. He helped in the planning and design of Washington, D.C. Jefferson loved to read, too. His book collection became the core of the Library of Congress.  As president, Jefferson tried to unite Americans by promoting a common way of life. He wanted the United States to be a nation of independent farmers. He did not like the crowded city life he had seen in Europe. He believed that a nation of independent farmers would have strong morals and good democratic values. As president, Jefferson lived a simple life. He believed in a modest role for the central government, too.

2. What kind of nation did Jefferson want?

Undoing Federalist Programs; Marshall and the Judiciary (pages 300–301)

Why did Jefferson have little power over the courts?

Jefferson thought that the central government should have less power than it did under the Federalists. He sought to end many Federalist programs.

Jefferson asked Congress—now controlled by his party—to let the Alien and Sedition Acts end. It did, and Jefferson released people imprisoned under the acts. Congress also ended many taxes passed by the Federalists, including the whiskey tax. The loss of tax moneys lowered the government’s income. To save money, Jefferson reduced the number of government employees and the size of the military.

Jefferson also tried to replace the financial system set up by Federalist Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s system relied on a certain amount of government debt. He thought that people who were owed money by their government would make sure that the government was run well. Jefferson, however, was against public debt. He worked hard to reduce the amount of money the government owed.

Jefferson had less power over the courts. Under the Judiciary Act of 1801, John Adams had appointed as many Federalist judges as he could before Jefferson took office. This meant that the new Democratic-Republican president faced a firmly Federalist judiciary. Adams had also appointed Federalist John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Marshall served as Chief Justice for over 30 years. During that time, the Supreme Court upheld federal authority and strengthened the federal courts.

3. How did the Judiciary Act of 1801 affect Jefferson’s power over the courts?

Marbury v. Madison (page 301)

What was the ruling in Marbury v. Madison? 

Before Jefferson took office, President Adams had selected a man named William Marbury for a job in Washington, D.C. But when Jefferson took office, his Secretary of State, James Madison, refused to give Marbury his job. Marbury sued, and the case went to the Supreme Court. In the case known as, Marbury v. Madison, John Marshall ruled that the law under which Marbury sued was unconstitutional—that is, it went against the law of the Constitution. Marbury did not get his job.

The Supreme Court had decided against Marbury. But the Court’s decision had another result. By declaring a law unconstitutional, the Court established the principle of judicial review. This principle says that the Supreme Court is the branch of government that has the power to say exactly what the Constitution means. If the Supreme Court says that a law goes against the Constitution, then that law cannot be put into effect.

4. How did Marshall rule in Marbury v. Madison?

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