There were four elections held before the Constitution was amended. In the first two elections under Article II partisan politics were not involved in electing Washington, he got one of each Electors two ballots, both time, he was elected unanimously. Adams came in second and became Vice-president twice. It didn’t take long for a political division to arise that haunts us to this day.
The great divide was instigated by two of our founding Fathers, Jefferson and Madison, They went out into the states in a clandestine manner under the guise of a botany expedition to organizing support against Hamilton and Adams because of their difference of opinion on several issues. They were against the way Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury was going about setting up the Country’s monetary system. They also feared the monarchical thinking of Adams, they thought if he ever became President he would try to hold the office for life. The action taken by Jefferson and Madison organizing to do Hamilton and Adams in, is responsible for Jefferson getting credit for creating the first National Political Party as we know them today, which was called the Democratic-Republican Party, that was shorten to the Republican Party and in the mid 1820’s became the Democrat Party of today.
How could Jefferson and Madison effectively campaign against Hamilton and Adams in the states? My theory is, the only way the states could help in this matter is, if they could persuade the states to appoint Presidential Electors sympathetic to their cause. This would have the effect of eliminating Adams from becoming President, which would make Jefferson the likely President who then could eliminate Hamilton from the scene. Any effort to taint the selection and the vote of the Presidential Electors equates to jury-rigging, but, what the heck! This thought will in all probability be considered just another nutty conspiracy theory. But, it’s a theory that has become a proven law. Proven by the statutes in every state that taints the decision of every Elector. This process had to begin sometime; if not then when? Although I believe Jefferson’s intentions were honorable, it must be remembered that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
At an earlier time, Jefferson was reported to have said, “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all." Did Jefferson betray himself and his Country by his involvement in creating its political division?
Lincoln once said, ”a nation divided against itself can not stand”, he may have gotten that from Matthew, Mark and Luke who reported the same thing, and they went on a little further to indicate lt would be laid waste and made desolate. The political groups whose existence we tolerate and affiliate ourselves with, makes us a Nation Divided.
Only after two elections, in the election of 1796, partisan politics were on the scene. Adams a Federalist got the most votes and a majority of those that cast ballots and became president. Jefferson a Democratic-Republican came in second and was elected Vice-president. This is the one and only time when men of two different factions where elected to the two top offices. Or, should I say tolerated by them.
The election of 1800 is when things got way out of hand. The two parties that came into existence conspired to run their candidates for President and Vice-president as a team, they made Charles Pinckney the mate of Adams and Burr the mate of Jefferson. This was said to have been done, to prevent the election of members of two different parties from being elected to the two top offices again. Running mates went against the intent of the Framers. No one had the right to participate in circumvent the Constitution in this way; particularly these two men who helped form it. By 1800 the “Spirit of 76” was dead. The great political divide was in full force and effect. The saying, “United we stand divided we fall”, was on the way down its predicted path. We have became divided, we will fall, and that’s the truth, as God, Lincoln, and I see it,
The election of 1800 became unglued because of a tie vote between Jefferson and his mate Burr. This tie vote was an anomaly caused by the running mate scheme. They both got 73 votes, the most, and a majority of the number of Electors that cast ballots, and as was called for in Article II; “and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President;” If one Elector that voted for Jefferson would have voted for anyone other then Burr, as happened with Adams and his mate, it would have eliminated the tie vote and the fiasco that followed.
The election of 2000 was a walk in the park compared to the one of 1800. The House electing Jefferson President and Burr Vice-president should have been just a formality, it wasn’t. The Federalist felt they where in a position to have a little fun with Jefferson, their biggest nemesis, by making Burr President. But, they came up with a more demented idea for Jefferson, they thought up a scheme to get rid of him altogether. The Federalist controlled the House to the point where they could keep either man from getting a majority of states to be elected President. They believed if they had a Mexican stand off, where no one got a majority of states, they then could pass a bill naming their own man for President. This idea eventually became flawed for the want of a volunteer, an opinion was formed that anyone accepting the position would come up the height of a head shorter within twenty-four hours. It took six days, thirty-six ballots, with one overnight session before the political partisan House did what was right, by electing Jefferson President. Hamilton the top Federalist was mainly responsible for resolving the crisis. Doing what was right may have been very detrimental to Hamilton’s health. If Burr was elected President, it’s unlikely that the duel between these two men, that resulted in Hamilton’s death, would have ever occurred.
The conduct of the House in deciding the election showed the divisiveness and dangers of partisan politics. It had the potential for causing a Constitutional crisis and/or civil war. At least two states were getting their militias in a state of readiness if the House did not do the proper thing and elect Jefferson President. Although this happened in a time when communications were slow and primitive there was a lead time in predicting what the official Electoral vote count might be, which gave the politicos time to scheme, connive and conspire to formulate their crazy plan. What took me aback the most is how at this early date the Presidential Electors lost their independence and, the Country its innocent by became under the control of the two party system. Despite the antics of the political partisan House the Constitution worked. So why was it changed? It wasn’t flawed, it was the politicos that were flawed, but, by the next election it was amended.