Elections and the Development of Political Parties

Documents in this section address state and national elections and political organizing. Following independence, many Americans adopted differing views of the relationship between the federal government and the states, and of new economic and foreign policies. These spurred the growth of political parties, culminating in the tumultuous election of 1800 and the passage of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution.

To George Washington, 23 May 1792

Vol. 23:535-541

Jefferson opposes the fiscal policy of the Treasury Department in this milestone document in the history of the American party system showing the antagonism between Jefferson and Hamilton.

To Philip Mazzei, 24 April 1796

Vol. 29:81-83

Writing as a private citizen, Jefferson expresses his criticism of the Federalist party The letter's subsequent unauthorized publication, often appearing out of context, haunts him for the rest of his life.

From Thomas McKean, 10 January 1801

Vol. 32:432-436

Jefferson learns of the electoral tie between him and fellow Republican candidate Aaron Burr The selection of the next president will be determined by vote in the House of Representatives.

Reports of Balloting in the House of Representatives, 12 February 1801

Vol. 32:578-581

Jefferson updates his friends in Virginia on the suspenseful electoral impasse after repeated balloting in the House of Representatives Not until the 36th ballot taken five days later did Jefferson know he had been selected the next president of the United States.

From Elizabeth House Trist, 1 March 1801

Vol. 33:115-116

A long-time friend freely communicates her sentiments, offers her opinions on John Adams, and congratulates Jefferson on his election as president.

First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1801

Jefferson expresses his political creed in this statement of republican principles with his unifying and conciliatory exhortation, "we are all republicans: we are all federalists."

Remonstrance of the New Haven Merchants, 18 June 1801

Vol. 34:381-384

Some Connecticut merchants challenge the removal of a Federalist collector at New Haven and the subsequent appointment of a Republican whom they deem inadequately qualified for the position They interpret Jefferson's inaugural address as implying presidential appointments would be merit-based without regard to party.

From Elijah Boardman, 18 June 1801

Vol. 34:377

A Connecticut resident cautions Jefferson that both political parties expect to share in the plums of political appointment.