Thursday, March 7, 2013

Day 40, March 7

Thomas Jefferson was attacked by ministers who accused him of being an "infidel" and an "unbeliever." A Federalist cartoon depicted him as a drunken anarchist." 

The president of Yale warned that if Jefferson came to power, "we may see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution." A Connecticut newspaper warned that his election would mean "murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced."

Adams supporters also claimed that Jefferson’s election would result in a civil war, that he would free the slaves, and that he was an atheist. As for his supporters, they were “cut-throats who walk in rags and sleep amid filth and vermin.” In other words, Adams’s supporters thought that Jefferson partisans were part of the 47 percent.

Jefferson fans returned the favor in kind. Adams was known in anti-Federalist papers as “His Rotundity.”* The Aurora, a pro-Jefferson Philadelphia paper run by Ben Franklin’s outspoken young grandson, called him “old, querulous, bald, blind, crippled, toothless Adams.”

When Jefferson won the election, the Federalist Party was irreparably weakened.  Around this same time, the long-standing animosity between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton came to a head.

The duel was the final skirmish of a long conflict between Democratic-Republicans and Federalists. The conflict began in 1791 when Burr captured a senate seat from Philip Schulyer, Hamilton's father-in-law, who would have supported Federalist policies. (Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury at the time.)

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