The election of 1800 marked the beginning of a 28-year period during which Republicans dominated national politics. Jefferson’s party won easily, in part because of the public outrage over the Federalist Alien and Sedition Acts; in many ways, the acts proved the undoing of the Federalist Party. The election was a protracted affair. All of the Republican electors had voted for both Jefferson and Burr, so that both candidates earned the same number of electoral votes for president. Burr, who had been backed by the Republican Party as vice president, now had as legitimate a claim to the presidency as Jefferson did. The task of choosing the president fell to the House of Representatives. After seven days and thirty-six ballots, the House selected Jefferson. To prevent future election deadlocks of this sort, the Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, changed the election process so that candidates must be clearly listed as either running for president or vice president. Jefferson described his victory as the “Revolution of 1800.” He believed that the Republican victory over the Federalists was “as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form.” Unlike the Federalists, who had pushed for a strong central government and had favored industrial and commercial interests, the Jeffersonian Republicans aimed to limit central government in favor of states’ rights and individual liberties, and favored an agrarian republic over an urban, industrialized one. Once in office, Jefferson cut back on federal expenditures and federal bureaucracy. He persuaded Congress to cut almost all internal taxes, and balanced the cut with reductions in military expenditures and other government endeavors. For income, the government relied mostly on land sales and customs duties. Midnight Judges and Judicial Review
Before the end of his term, John Adams appointed a number of Federalists judges to federal court positions in an effort to mitigate the upcoming Republican rule. Adams signed the judges’ commissions during his final few hours in office—hence the name “midnight judges” or “midnight appointments.” One such appointment was Federalist William Marbury as justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. But Adams failed to deliver Marbury’s commission on time. Marbury, in response, asked the Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus to force Jefferson’s secretary of state, James Madison, to deliver the commission and accept the appointment. In February 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall and the court denied Marbury’s request, ruling that Congress had overstepped its constitutional bounds by giving the Supreme Court the authority to issue such a writ in the first place (Congress had issued such authority in the Judiciary Act of 1789). The Marbury v. Madison ruling was the first time that the Supreme Court declared an act of Congress to be unconstitutional. Chief Justice John Marshall’s ruling in the case of Marbury v. Madison asserted the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review and marked the first time the Supreme Court declared an act of Congress unconstitutional. The Louisiana Purchase
In 1800, France acquired the Louisiana Territory from Spain. Fearing that the new French ruler, Napoleon, had plans to build an empire in the Americas, Jefferson sent negotiators to France in an attempt to purchase the territory. The envoy found that Napoleon had abandoned his plan for a colonial empire, in part because a massive slave revolt in Haiti, led by Toussaint L’Ouverture, had severely depleted Napoleon’s forces. Napoleon thus agreed to sell all of the Louisiana territory in order to finance French efforts in the war in Europe. After some negotiation, the price was set at $15 million in April 1803. With the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. gained a massive, uncharted piece of land, nearly doubling the country’s size for the price of thirteen and a half cents per acre. The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled...
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