Tony duncan's Reviews > Adams Vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800

Adams Vs. Jefferson by John Ferling
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's review
Dec 20, 2009

really liked it
Read in October, 2009

An excellent look at history from the perspective of the dynamics between two pivotal leaders of The US.

Jefferson and Adams become very close friends and seemed to cement that friendship while in Europe as envoys for Washington's Administration- Adams in England and Jefferson in France. )According to the book Jefferson actively supported the french revolution as ambassador). Jefferson would visit England when he could as a source of solace form his work.
Jefferson, while he inherited a large estate, was rather bad with money was in debt for many many years but would never let that effect his living in the style to which he was accustomed. Adams was a fairly frugal man, who worked his way up on his own to become a well respected lawyer in Boston.
Interestingly Jefferson became of champion of the common man and limited government, while Adams as a federalist was a supporter of strong government and the financial interests of the country.
jefferson and Adams became strong antagonists over a number of important issues, including the fiscal policies of Hamilton and the lack of US willingness to stand up to the british and support the french when war broke out in Europe.
When Adams won election in 1792 the divisions became pretty set and jefferson became the leader of the republican party, and went into active opposition. the federalists pushed through the alien and sedition act which horrified jefferson and a variety of differences made the enmity between the two grow.
There are a host of perspectives and issues dealt with in the book, especially the election procedures and the vilification of opponents that became standard by the election of 1800.
Jefferson was portrayed as a radical who would bring the horrors of the french revolution to the US, who would destroy the country and create an evil despotic country. Adams and the federalist were portrayed as monarchists who would create a government that would take all freedom from the states and oppress the people and support the commercial class and the rich at the expense of the average hard working american, Neither portrayal was true, but in hindsight the fears of big government and an oppressive corporate economy have both come true.
I was fascinated at the similarity between the charges brought against jefferson and Obama. Jefferson was touted as being the evil socialist of his day, in much the same way as Obama continues to be demonized.

the other issue that I found interesting is that the political arguments of the time seem to be based on real ideology and policy, and not on corruption and lobbying and marketing that characterizes curent political debates

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