CHAPTER VIII. FEDERAL SUPREMACY (1793-1801).
The campaign of 1800 thus began with the Federalists divided, and the Republicans hopeful. Hamilton was determined to force Adams from the headship, and prepared a pamphlet, for which materials were furnished by Oliver Wolcott, Secretary of the Treasury. Aaron Burr, a wily Republican leader, managed to get a copy, published it, and spread it broadcast. Adams was re-nominated by a caucus of Federalist members, and C. C. Pinckney was put on the ticket with him. Jefferson was, as in 1796, the candidate of his party for President. For Vice-President there was associated with him Burr, who was able to control the important vote of the State of New York. The result of this coalition was seen in May, 1800, when a New York legislature was elected with a Republican majority; and that legislature would, in the autumn, cast the vote of the State. The Federalists persevered, but South Carolina deserted them, so that both Jefferson and Burr received seventy-three votes, and Adams had only sixty- five. The Federalist supremacy was broken.
[Election by the House.]
Now arose an unexpected complication. There being a tie between Jefferson and Burr, the House of Representatives was called upon to decide between them, its vote being cast by States. Had the majority of the House been Republican, Jefferson would, of course, have received their votes; it was, however, Federalist, and the Federalists thought themselves entitled to choose that one of their enemies who was least likely to do them harm. Obscure intrigues were entered upon both with Jefferson and Burr. Neither would make definite promises, although Burr held out hopes of alliance with the Federalists. Hamilton now came forward with a letter in which he declared that of the two men Jefferson was less dangerous. "To my mind," said he, "a true estimate of Mr. Jefferson's character warrants the expectation of a temporizing rather than of a violent system." After a long struggle the deadlock was broken; Jefferson was chosen President of the United States, and Burr Vice-President.
92. CAUSES OF THE FALL OF THE FEDERALISTS.
[Unpopularity of the Federalists.] [Judiciary Act.]
The electoral majority was small; the Federalists preserved their organization, and had the prestige of twelve years of administration; it was impossible to realize that there never again would be a Federalist president. In the election of 1804, however, they received but fourteen electoral votes altogether (sec. 100). The reasons for this downfall are many, However popular the French war had been, the taxes made necessary by it had provoked great dissatisfaction; and in 1799 a little insurrection, the so-called Fries Rebellion, had broken out in Pennsylvania. The Sedition prosecutions were exceedingly unpopular, The last acts of the party left a violent resentment. In 1801, after it was known that there would be a Republican President with a large majority in both houses of Congress, the Federalists resolved to bolster up their power in the third department of government. A Judiciary Act was therefore passed, creating new courts, new judges, and new salaried officials. All the resulting appointments were made by Adams, and duly confirmed by the Senate, thus anticipating by many years any real needs of the country. A vacancy occurring in the chief-justiceship, Adams appointed John Marshall, one of the few Virginia Federalists; he had made his reputation as a politician and statesman: even Adams himself scarcely foresaw that he was to be the greatest of American jurists.
Still more fatal were the internal dissensions in the party. In 1799 Washington died, and no man in the country possessed his moderating influence, The cabinet, by adhering to Hamilton and corresponding with him upon important public matters, had weakened the dignity of the President and of the party. In the election of 1800 Hamilton, besides his open attack on Adams, had again tried to reduce his vote sufficiently to bring Pinckney in over his head. Adams himself, although a man of strong national spirit, was in some respects too moderate for his party. Yet his own vanity and vehemence made him unfit to be a party leader.
While these reasons may account for the defeat of the Federalists, they do not explain their failure to rise again. They had governed well: they had built up the credit of the country; they had taken a dignified and effective stand against the aggressions both of England and of France. Yet their theory was of a government by leaders. Jefferson, on the other hand, represented the rising spirit of democracy. It was not his protest against the over-government of the Federalists that made him popular, it was his assertion that the people at large were the best depositaries of power. Jefferson had taken hold of the "great wheel going uphill." He had behind him the mighty force of the popular will.