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1796 Presidential Election


vcczar

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First: Watch or listen to the video I made for this election that I posted in the private message thread. You need to watch the first video, ask a question, and respond to question to get access to the new video. 

Second: I want you to post one question for the other people in this class about the election. You can post several that they can choose from. This question needs not be bound to 1796. The question could be about the 1796 election in regards to 2023, for instance. I'll likely post follow up questions.

Third: The important documents for the election is the inaugural address of John Adams, and the Fisher Ames oration in favor of the Jay Treaty. 

Fourth: Fun video for this time. John Adams in 1796: 

 

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Solid election. Great example how Washington's choice to keep his vp out of the loop really set up Jefferson to dominate in four years as he could reasonably claim to be nowhere near the decision making process. 

I'll double down on this in 1800 but I think Burr gets a really bad rap. Hamilton has been piling on his character with negative charges since Burr slid into Schuyler's Senate seat. From my understanding, beyond hearsay and attacks from Hamilton, Livingston, the Virginians, and the Clinton cabal, the only thing Burr is at fault for (in 1796) was trying to make it clear that the DR ticket would be effective stewards for the fledgling US. 

Are these actions (open campaigning/networking by a member of the ticket) ever replicated in future 19th century elections? How is a campaign for a governor's race different from the President in 1796? Is it more appropriate to press the flesh, so to speak?

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Questions that have come up for this election:

1) Was it because "gentlemen" did not seek office the reason people did not seek the office of President in those days?  That is what I have heard.  Therefore would you say many would not consider Aaron Burr a gentlemen for seeking the office? 

2) I have heard that really it was Madison who was running the Democratic Republican office not Jefferson so why would Jefferson be given the nod to be the candidate and not Madison?  After all Madison was well known

3) Why did Adams not get rid of the Washington Cabinet?  

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Finally watched all of the video. Here are my questions:

Q1: How comes that it was seen as legitimate for a sitting Chief Justice to broker a political treaty like the Jay Treaty? Why was Jay chosen to craft this deal in the first place? I guess it would be considered improper by today standards for Chief Justice Roberts to get politically involved. Is that explainable by the relative unimportance of the Supreme Court in its early stages? However, when doing research on Louis Brandeis, I quickly realized that he was sent to Zionist conferences in Europe after WWI as a kind of ambassador I would say. So I guess the code of conduct of SC Justices got stricter over the years?!

Q2: You said Jeffersonians would have needed to get the governorship of NY again, to be competitive there again. What support could a governor provide, so the national party would win the state again. Do you think the general public was more inclined back then to listen to an endorsement of a governor?

Q3: Going back to the Jay Treaty. As Jay was hated by so many even in awful ways like having effigies of him being guillotined, I wonder did the people of that time actually label the Jay Treaty as Jay Treaty or was this name derived later on to distinguish this treaty from the many treaties that followed?

Question on the fun videos: Is it just me or does Adams speak with a very British sounding accent? Is that being noted that the historical Adams spoke like that or is the accent used to showcase Adams's closeness to the British?

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On 6/23/2023 at 10:47 AM, matthewyoung123 said:

Given how the nation seemed to be divided, and the electoral vote divided, was there any real hope of having two Federalists as President and Vice-President (or two Democratic-Republicans as Pres/VP)?

  

Maybe if Thomas Pinckney was more of a national figure? I think if Nathaniel Greene had lived, he would've been a good southern Federalist balance with Adams (assuming they were both on board, Greene was a Federalist,  and Greene stayed in Georgia). There just don't seem to have been any southern Federalists with the same pull as Washington. At least until Marshall became secretary of state. 

Jefferson/Burr obviously made it work in 1800, but 1796 folks seemed pretty set on giving Washington's heir apparent a shot. 

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2 minutes ago, 10centjimmy said:

Maybe if Thomas Pinckney was more of a national figure? I think if Nathaniel Greene had lived, he would've been a good southern Federalist balance with Adams (assuming they were both on board, Greene was a Federalist,  and Greene stayed in Georgia). There just don't seem to have been any southern Federalists with the same pull as Washington. At least until Marshall became secretary of state. 

Jefferson/Burr obviously made it work in 1800, but 1796 folks seemed pretty set on giving Washington's heir apparent a shot. 

But Greene was from Rhode Island...he just had his military successes in the South. ;-)

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On 6/22/2023 at 9:35 AM, 10centjimmy said:

Solid election. Great example how Washington's choice to keep his vp out of the loop really set up Jefferson to dominate in four years as he could reasonably claim to be nowhere near the decision making process. 

I'll double down on this in 1800 but I think Burr gets a really bad rap. Hamilton has been piling on his character with negative charges since Burr slid into Schuyler's Senate seat. From my understanding, beyond hearsay and attacks from Hamilton, Livingston, the Virginians, and the Clinton cabal, the only thing Burr is at fault for (in 1796) was trying to make it clear that the DR ticket would be effective stewards for the fledgling US. 

Are these actions (open campaigning/networking by a member of the ticket) ever replicated in future 19th century elections? How is a campaign for a governor's race different from the President in 1796? Is it more appropriate to press the flesh, so to speak?

Have you read Burr by Gore Vidal? Great book.

Open campaigning by a pres candidate doesn't occur until Stephen A Douglas in 1860.

In 1796, president's surrogates are working electors and/or state legislature rather than voters. Gov races are working at voters and/or state legislatures. These all depend upon the state. I think it was more allowable to work more overtly for office at a state level, but not to the degree that we see today.

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On 6/23/2023 at 10:47 AM, matthewyoung123 said:

Given how the nation seemed to be divided, and the electoral vote divided, was there any real hope of having two Federalists as President and Vice-President (or two Democratic-Republicans as Pres/VP)?

  

It was possible, but Hamilton kind of undermined Pinckney by trying to undermine Adams. I also think if Jay had been the VP, he wouldn't have lost any support that Pinckney did. The Southern strategy was necessary to evoke pro-Union, but it wasn't the best strategy for winning. I think an Adams/Jay treaty would have created a more politically militant South early on (esp. b/c Jay Treaty), but Adams/Jay would have seen this ticket elected, I think. 

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22 hours ago, Bushwa777 said:

Questions that have come up for this election:

1) Was it because "gentlemen" did not seek office the reason people did not seek the office of President in those days?  That is what I have heard.  Therefore would you say many would not consider Aaron Burr a gentlemen for seeking the office? 

2) I have heard that really it was Madison who was running the Democratic Republican office not Jefferson so why would Jefferson be given the nod to be the candidate and not Madison?  After all Madison was well known

3) Why did Adams not get rid of the Washington Cabinet?  

1. Those actively seeking office are frequently compared to Caesar. It's a sign of being "power mad." The zeitgeist of the time is of Classical Republicanism. Part of this is that a nation, state, city, or town has their natural leaders, and that they are expected to be recognized for their place in society. The surrogates (allies of candidates) advocate for which recognized leader (candidate) should lead the nation, then recognize leaders (electors) make the selection. Electors being selected by recognized leaders (state legislature). The popular vote starts changing this as we progress into Jeffersonian Republicanism/Democracy. In this form of Republicanism the educated common man has a say. A gentleman is supposed to be humble, almost dramatically so. Think of George Washington who feigned embarrassment and then humility after being named general. It would be like someone going to an interview and not promoting themself, but rather stating that you'll use all energy for the task but that you confess you have limited powers. Today, you wouldn't get the job, but back then you'd be seen as admirable and honest. Someone seeking office may be interested in power more than principle. That was the fear with Burr. 

2. Madison was just more actively networking to build the party. Jefferson was still more of it's philosopher-king. Jefferson, like Washington, didn't want to appear too ambitious. Jefferson was also better known than Madison. I don't think Madison could have won in 1800 the way Jefferson did, as Jefferson had more of a celebrity status. Arguably, Madison probably had not shot at running for president until he got experience as Sec of State under Jefferson. Jefferson had also been Gov of VA. They aren't in the same league at all in 1796 or 1800. 

3. There was no precedence for it. He, like many, were unsure if the Senate had to unconfirm them or not. Washington had compelled people to resign, but he didn't fire anyone (Monroe as Min of France was kind of a firing. GW sent a new envoy and stopped corresponding with Monroe and shifting duties to the new envoy, waiting for Monroe to resign in anger). Adams didn't fire his cabinet members until he was in a fit of anger, so it happened almost on accident.

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21 hours ago, Imperator Taco Cat said:

What made the French think that actively campaigning for Jefferson would not backfire? 

If Jefferson and Adams both wanted to work together why wasn't there a bigger Jefferson/Adams movement?

France and Great Britain were major powers. It would be comparable if the US and USSR were dealing with China in 1948. China was a potentially rising power but at the time it was more of a chess piece in a game between the US and USSR. I don't think France really cared about fall out. It would either work or not work. If it didn't work, US can't do anything about it. If it works, then Great Britain might get bogged down in a Canadian theatre and West Indies theatre of the French Revolution. It was low risk-high reward and probably a 25% chance of success.

2) Movements kind of require people and you don't have many voters. By 1796, the electors are probably 1/3 firmly Federalist, 1/3 firmly Jeffersonians, and 1/3 flexible. You're not really going to get that to work. Adams could have forced it. He could have ignored his cabinet and worked with Jefferson, but Madison strongly support partisanism by this point. There just wasn't enough possibility for this movement. The Quasi-War also pushed JA away from Jefferson futher and vice-versa.

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21 hours ago, Imperator Taco Cat said:

What made the French think that actively campaigning for Jefferson would not backfire? 

I would say, what was the alternative? I guess they simply thought if they try to influence the elcetion they could win or lose, but if they are not going to try campaigning for Jefferson they had already lost for sure. I am also not sure if the general public or the average elector was aware of this support to make backfiring a plausible outcome.

 

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20 hours ago, ConservativeElector2 said:

Finally watched all of the video. Here are my questions:

Q1: How comes that it was seen as legitimate for a sitting Chief Justice to broker a political treaty like the Jay Treaty? Why was Jay chosen to craft this deal in the first place? I guess it would be considered improper by today standards for Chief Justice Roberts to get politically involved. Is that explainable by the relative unimportance of the Supreme Court in its early stages? However, when doing research on Louis Brandeis, I quickly realized that he was sent to Zionist conferences in Europe after WWI as a kind of ambassador I would say. So I guess the code of conduct of SC Justices got stricter over the years?!

Q2: You said Jeffersonians would have needed to get the governorship of NY again, to be competitive there again. What support could a governor provide, so the national party would win the state again. Do you think the general public was more inclined back then to listen to an endorsement of a governor?

Q3: Going back to the Jay Treaty. As Jay was hated by so many even in awful ways like having effigies of him being guillotined, I wonder did the people of that time actually label the Jay Treaty as Jay Treaty or was this name derived later on to distinguish this treaty from the many treaties that followed?

Question on the fun videos: Is it just me or does Adams speak with a very British sounding accent? Is that being noted that the historical Adams spoke like that or is the accent used to showcase Adams's closeness to the British?

1. There weren't really any rules for SC justices. I think by this time Jay was already thinking of leaving the court to run for Gov. Also, if GB is the major power and you want to show commitment for a treaty, you're going to send a top guy. I think it was either Jay or John Adams and Jay was more composed. On another note, while the SC was less important, it was more work. No circuit courts, so they had to travel constantly. This is why turnover was so high early on.

2. The Gov influences the elections in the state legislature and they selected the electors. No popular vote. When I get to 1800, you'll see how central Burr is to Jefferson winning.

3. Good question. I don't know when it started to be called the Jay Treaty.

4. I don't know how people actually sounded back then, but it sort of makes sense. New England was probably like 95% English-descent (no Irish and etc.yet). It doesn't have high rates of German or Scots-Irish. It's only been about 150 years since colonization. On top of this, Adams went to Boston Latin School and Harvard, so there may be classes or expectations on how to speak. The Trans-Atlantic accent, common among the upper class in the Northeast until about 1970s, is called Trans-Atlantic because it can sound British---see FDR, Gore Vidal, George Plimpton, and William F Buckley Jr (although his has something added to it).

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4 minutes ago, Bushwa777 said:

I love Lincoln.  Tried to read 1876 and Burr and could not get through them 

I really liked both Lincoln and Burr, but I thought the Burr book was better. It has all the makings of a movie.

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44 minutes ago, Bloot911 said:

Hamilton, as one of Washington closest Advisor and with Adams being a relatively weak Vice President, seems like he could have easily sold himself as the natural successor to Washington if he had ran, what made him decide to not run

Probably a lack of foreign affairs experience. There was also the Reynolds Affair 

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You compare Adams to Clinton and discuss how Federalists did not care for him and how Hamilton tried to find a candidate to replace him. In 2016 at least, while other issues came up in 2016 there was still a hot primary between Clinton and Sanders. Was there any real talk about replacing Adams or was he such a favorite simply by being Vice president that there wasn't any real movement.

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1 hour ago, 0ccultist said:

You compare Adams to Clinton and discuss how Federalists did not care for him and how Hamilton tried to find a candidate to replace him. In 2016 at least, while other issues came up in 2016 there was still a hot primary between Clinton and Sanders. Was there any real talk about replacing Adams or was he such a favorite simply by being Vice president that there wasn't any real movement.

Hamilton wanted Thomas Pinckney or John Jay to replace Adams. But the only real attempt was to get Pinckney as the Pres and Adams as 3x VP. 

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