Creating a Nation

Essay by awesomeman281College, Undergraduate December 2008

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Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, with an emphasis on liberty, rule of law, popular sovereignty and the civic virtue practiced by citizens. Republicanism always stands in opposition to any form of dictatorship or tyranny in the political realm. More broadly, it refers to a political system that protects liberty, especially by incorporating a rule of law that cannot be arbitrarily ignored by the government. As John Adams put it, “They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men.” Much of the literature deals with the issue of what sort of values and behavior by the citizens is necessary if the republic is to survive and flourish; the emphasis has been on widespread citizen participation, civic virtue, and opposition to corruption. Jefferson’s political position was very good considering the way he played it all out.

The issues of the election of 1800 were heating up.

The campaign attacks, counterattacks and personal insults were getting nasty. These familiar components were at the center of the election of 1800. Not only was it new, but also some of its most important leaders, including Alexander Hamilton and Henry Lee, even questioned whether it would last. They were in favor of a decentralized federal government, granting more power to individuals and the states. Jefferson’s popularity led to the Federalists' eventual defeat and after Hamilton’s fatal duel with Aaron Burr, the party was no more.

The final outcome is very difficult to explain. Adams faced substantial opposition within his own party. Hamilton opposed Adams reelection and schemed to have Pinckney, Adams Vice Presidential candidate receive more electoral votes and thus become President. The election was settled when the New York legislature became dominated by supporters of Jefferson, thus providing him with 12 key electoral votes.