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Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800
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Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,554 ratings  ·  135 reviews
It was a contest of titans: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two heroes of the Revolutionary era, once intimate friends, now icy antagonists locked in a fierce battle for the future of the United States. The election of 1800 was a thunderous clash of a campaign that climaxed in a deadlock in the Electoral College and led to a crisis in which the young republic teetered on ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published October 20th 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2004)
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Cavak There's no simple answer to this really since there were multiple bones. Some of them are:

*Fashion laws after British imperialism (known) vs. Do our o…more
There's no simple answer to this really since there were multiple bones. Some of them are:

*Fashion laws after British imperialism (known) vs. Do our own thing (unknown)
*Unified government oversight vs. Leave it up to federal needs
*Restrict the press vs. Keep the free press
*For the aristocrats vs. For the local working class
*War abroad vs. Stay at home

What this election did was start the tone for future American elections, in which political parties are named, candidate speeches and parades are made to the public, and candidates have a field day shooting one another's moral character and competency in the printed media. Even the idea of swing states and rigging elective votes started with this election.(less)

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Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Ferling brings these two larger-than-life icons of American history back to life in a big way. Reading Adams Vs. Jefferson you feel as if you're actually getting to know them, not only their public personas as politicians, but also as men.

Personally I'm not sure I'd like either of them 100% through and through. I guess that can be said about most everyone to some extent. There's always one niggling quality about a person that doesn't jell with your own outlook on life, but in this case both of
Emily Ross
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very easy book to read, very informative and a lot more understandable than other historical books concerning the same topic. Ferling is a good writer, and an easy-ish read in general, but his bias towards Adams can be felt in the reading.
Brad Hart
Sep 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Very good book. The author did a good job caturing the punch and counter punch campaigning style of Adams and Jefferson. If you think politics are dirty today, then give this book a chance! You will quickly see that it is nothing new.
Gary Hoggatt
The United States presidential election of 1800 was a bitterly-contested and wild affair. In historian John Ferling's 2004 book Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, Ferling attempts to chronicle this story, but unfortunately he gets frequently sidetracked and spends much more time setting the scene for the election of 1800 than he does actually discussing it.

The main players in this drama are, naturally, John Adams, second President of the United States after being elected in 17
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it

”Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800″ was written by John Ferling (the author of biographies I’ve already read and reviewed on both George Washington and John Adams). Though “Adams vs. Jefferson” is is not really a presidential biography, I nevertheless decided to read it as part of this journey, wondering if it might serve as a nice bridge between our second and third presidents (it does), and looking forward to reading something a bit “d
Colleen Martin
Someone needs to tell John Ferling that a history book is supposed to stick to the facts and be free of both bias and conjecture, because evidently he wasn't aware of that. This wasn't so much a lesson in early American political history as it was a fawning love sonnet to Thomas Jefferson and his ideological beliefs, as well as a character assassination of John Adams. The further I got into the book, the angrier I became - Ferling casts aspersions left and right about Adams, from his political d ...more
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Felt very long for such a short book, mostly because Ferling padded the book so strongly with information going back much further than 1800 (that might be considered unnecessary). It wasn't a bad book, but I was surprised how little I got out of it considering I didn't know much about the Election of 1800. It's not a bad book - 3 means Average - but it didn't really move me much and I have a feeling I'll have forgotten about it in a few weeks. ...more
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any1 interested in what real people Founding Fathers were
great book about what may have been most important election in american History which still has an affect on our country even today

already learned more about who all the characters were in terms of their personalities, frailties, ambitions and backgrounds as well as their competing political philosophies which still are in play today.
Jon Gautier
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
My second Ferling book, and it is clear that he is a must read: scholarly, incisive, and a compelling writer. I hope eventually to read everything by him. This short book is another “inside baseball” type, about, as the title proclaims, post-revolutionary politics. The last part is a detailed recounting (electoral joke!) of the 1800 election, including charts (!), and maps showing states, electoral votes, house votes and so on. I almost felt like I was watching CNN on election night. This is not ...more
Read this with America Afire Jefferson, Adams, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800. Both books document the campaign of 1800 that resulted in the election being thrown into the House of Representatives. The campaign was ugly. War service of the candidates was an issue then as now, with opponents reminding the electorate (white property owners only then) that Thomas Jefferson had sat out the revolution at home in Monticello.

Thomas Jefferson had hired James Callender, a British immigrant to wr
Mar 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were firm friends when they both served as enovys to Europe--Jefferson to France and Adams to England. However that changed during Washington's first administration as Adams, the first Vice President, and Jefferson, the first Secretary of State, increasingly became identified with rival political factions. In 1796, the first presidential election without George Washington on the ballot, maneuvering in the Electoral College ended with the unholy alliance of John Ad ...more
May 02, 2016 rated it liked it
As America (and much of the world) endures the obnoxious spectacle that is the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, it is easy to look back in time and believe that previous elections were somehow more civilized. Reading the story of the Presidential election of 1800 between then-President John Adams and his former close friend Thomas Jefferson, one realizes that partisan politics and nasty campaigns are nothing new. Author John Ferling did a reasonable job of attempting to help readers understand t ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it liked it
My goal was to finish this book before the election & I managed it with one day to spare.

It's a history book, so if you're into that sort of thing, you'll probably enjoy this. There's a lot of great research in this book & it tells the story of all the key players, none of whom come out looking quite as high & honorable as most Americans like to think of them. My husband recommended I read this because as we think of the election of 2016 as a horribly dark & negative entity, the truth is that t
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The election of 1800 was probably the most important in American history. This contest established peaceful transfer of parties between parties as a normal part of . In addition, the two contestants were not only two noteworthy Founding Fathers but also the sitting president and vice president. Add to that the fact that they were former (and future) friends. Finally, throw in the vice presidential candidate with his own designs on power and you have a story that would not be believed as fiction. ...more
May 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: history fans.
Shelves: history
This was the first history book I read for fun, when I was a sophomore in college. I liked it a lot, although I admit it is probably something only history buffs would really be interested in.
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I like any book that essentially describes Alexander Hamilton as a hip happenin' political giant. ...more
Sep 24, 2011 marked it as to-read
My father's review:
Biographers tend to become wrapped up in their subject and create an impression that this one is the best of all. "The American Sphinx" by Ellis is the reverse. It lays bare Jefferson's enigmatic inconsistencies. "Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800" examines the history of the United States up to and through the election of 1800. Thus, it is examining the events of the period, not the persons, except as they are causes of, or are affected by those events. The
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was fascinating to me for two major reasons. First because Aaron Burr is an ancestor in our family tree. I knew he came in second in the presidential election. Back then the winner of the election became president and the runner up became vice president. Aaron Burr became the third vice president in the election, so he came in second. SO...Why oh Why is the title of this book Adam vs Jefferson then? It seems it should have said Jefferson vs Burr. I hope I caught your interest, so you'l ...more
Ash Jogalekar
Mar 04, 2019 rated it liked it
One of the big benefits of studying history is that it allows us to put the problems of our own age in perspective. As rancorous as the elections of 2000, 2008 or 2016 may have been, the country has been there before. The election of 1800 was a microcosm of so many things that we wrestle with now; partisan squabbling, "fake news" and defamation, vote rigging, rumors and innuendos, outsized personalities, key issues dividing the country.

Ferling's book is an informative account of this election. O
Rachel Nelson
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
The election of 1800. Wow, if you think that the elections of 2000 of 2016 were crazy, you should just hear about the one in 1800! I figured that as a social studies education major, I should probably be reading more nonfiction on my own time. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and my desire to make nonfiction a part of my reading habits.

Ferling has a way with making these political giants come alive. It was so interesting to not just hear about the struggle between Feder
Gary Schantz
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent book. Initially I read another book on this very subject: A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign and found it be very dry.

This book was completely the opposite and it has made me a fan of John Ferling. I plan to read more of his books in the future.

As far as why I feel this book is so good and Larson's was bad. Both books had to tell the hows and whys of the reasons each state voted the way they voted based on the r
Anno Nomius
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics
A great book for both history buffs and non history buffs. History has judged the two men but if I was to judge them now, I would regard Adam as the true leader, a solid man and Jefferson a good speech writer and I would go as far as saying with a colorful personality when compared to Adams.
The stories of the founding fathers and the politics of the time resonates with what is happening around the world today. Back then as today the USA did not want to interfere in other countries and look aroun
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Ferling describes a fascinating period in the history of the fledgling United States when John Adams was the second President, representing the Federalists, and Thomas Jefferson was his Vice President representing the Republicans. The Federalists who were in favor of a strong national government, central bank, army and navy, overreach with the Alien and Sedition Acts leaving the way open for a swing of opinion to the Republicans who wanted less government interference but more control by the com ...more
Chris Junker
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Much is made in the media and everyday conversation of how divided the country is and how nasty politics has become. The story this book tells is interesting in its own right but especially because of how similar the campaign of 1800 was to our present politics, abundant in fake news, and extremely nasty, even between erstwhile comrades like Jefferson and Adams. Furthermore many of the issues that divided them are strikingly similar right down to the rhetoric used to argue them. you would not ha ...more
Kevin Kirkhoff
I recently read some comments about the wild and wooly election of 1800. Adams vs Jefferson. The gloves come off. If you think things are crazy now, just wait until you read about the 1800 election.
I was ready for some amazing stuff that would make TMZ blush.
It's true that Jefferson and Adams were best buddies, but had a falling out. But nothing I'd call a wild election cycle with oodles of slander and scandal.
I will say this was an interesting book. Very informative. It takes you roughly fro
Betty Confetti
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tomes are written about these two men, and the beautify of this account by Ferling is that it provides tons of information about them in about 200 pages of writing. Through the prism of the 1800 election, one comes to understand Harry Truman's comment, "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." Mostly, that in the early days of America...when we thought it was about statesmanship and standing on pedestals, this incredible election is a lot like the elections of today. At times unpredictabl ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a great book about these two founding fathers, Adams and Jefferson, and the circumstances that caused the election of 1800 to become one of the most controversial elections in the history our nation. Ferling does an amazing job with all the background history of the 5 major players vying to become president. He then goes into all the events that lead up to the election and explains in detail why Jefferson became our third president. Historically accurate and enlightening book about the begi ...more
Miles Smith
Ferling's brisk narrative and outstanding prose keep this account of the election of 1800 interesting and engaging. Historiographically it's important because he sees Jefferson's greatness is his pen, not necessarily in his politics. Ferling clearly favors the Jeffersonian legacy--the author admits to being a disciple of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal--but he's an honest scholar and despite my preferences for the High Federalists I came away rethinking certain historical dispositions and po ...more
Bargain Sleuth Book Reviews
The first half of the book is the political events leading up to the election, the second half actually focuses on the election. Even though this book was just over 200 pages, I felt it could be a lot shorter. There were a lot of page-long paragraphs that didn't need to be that length.

There's a fair amount of supposing: Jefferson or Adams "probably" did this or that. And it is clear the author, like many historians, has a serious case of hero worship of Jefferson, and does everything possible to
Brett Van Gaasbeek
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a very comprehensive and detailed account of one of the most consequential and tumultuous elections in American history. Ferling does a good job of presenting the gravity of the election and the flow of events. The one negative is that he gets bogged down by some minute details to the storyline that slow the book to a crawl and don't do much to clarify or color the main points of the book. Still a solid read for anyone interested in the time period or presidential politics and a ver ...more
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John E. Ferling is a professor emeritus of history at the University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he is the author of several books, including "A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic", "Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence", and his most recent work, "The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Politi ...more

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