Thomas Jefferson Replaces John Adams As President
On February 17, 1801, presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson won support of a majority of congressional Representatives displacing incumbent John Adams.
Jefferson's triumph brought an end to one of the most acrimonious presidential campaigns in U.S. history and resolved a serious Constitutional crisis.
Republican Jefferson defeated Federalist John Adams by a margin of 73 to 65 electoral votes. When presidential electors cast their votes, however, they failed to distinguish between the office of president and vice president on their ballots. Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr each received 73 votes. With the votes tied, the election was thrown to the House of Representatives. There, each state voted as a unit to decide the election.
As the Democratic-Republican candidate in 1796 he lost to John Adams, but had enough electoral votes to become Vice President (1797–1801). He wrote a manual of parliamentary procedure, but otherwise avoided the Senate.
With the Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war with France, underway, the Federalists under John Adams started a navy, built up the army, levied new taxes, readied for war, and enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. Jefferson interpreted the Alien and Sedition Acts as an attack on his party more than on dangerous enemy aliens; they were used to attack his party, with the most notable attacks coming from Matthew Lyon, congressman of Vermont. He and Madison rallied support by anonymously writing the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which declared that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it by the states. The Resolutions meant that, should the federal government assume such powers, its acts under them could be voided by a state. The Resolutions presented the first statements of the states' rights theory, that later led to the concepts of nullification and interposition.