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 the New Haven Merchants, 12 July 1801

Vol. 34:554-558

Jefferson clarifies misunderstandings over his removal policies, acknowledging the burden of presidential appointments and the reality of political parties.

To Levi Lincoln, 26 August 1801

Vol. 35:145-147

Jefferson comments on the "dreadful operation" he must perform in finding offices for members of his party who feel that they had been denied jobs and influence in previous administrations.

To Elbridge Gerry, 3 March 1804

Vol. 42:580

Jefferson informs Gerry that he will seek a second term as president to help consolidate his party's gains and resist the "unbounded calumnies" of diehard Federalists.

To John Wayles Eppes, 4 June 1804

Vol. 43:534-535

Jefferson writes to his son-in-law about his intentions to honor his grandchildren’s land inheritance at Pantops, encloses a letter received from Abigail Adams, and asserts that his only disagreement with John Adams was over the “midnight appointments.”

Second Inaugural Address, 4 March 1805

Vol. 45:625-663

Jefferson affirms the general principles of his presidency and expresses hope that the nation can achieve a complete "union of sentiment."