The mudslinging took a turn for the worse when Jefferson paid a journalist to write that John Adams was a mentally unbalanced
hermaphrodite. Adams spread the word that a Jefferson victory would mean murder,
rape, and robbery in the streets.
The “revolution...of 1776,” Jefferson would later say, had determined the form of America’s government; he believed the election of 1800 would decide its principles. “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of Man,” he wrote.
Jefferson was not alone in believing that the election of 1800 was crucial. Federalist Alexander Hamilton, who had been George Washington’s secretary of treasury, believed that it was a contest to save the new nation from “the fangs of Jefferson.” Federalists and Republicans appeared to agree on one thing only: that the victor in 1800 would set America’s course for generations to come, perhaps forever