Focus Point - The Original Election Drama

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. It was a presidential election filled with drama and bitter partisanship, whose dead heat ending was broken only after a long struggle. And it's not the one you're thinking of. It was the election of 1800.

1800 marked the first contested presidential election in American history. George Washington's inaugurations were essentially coronations, and John Adams's a succession. But in 1800, two parties, two philosophies of government squared off in the persons of John Adams and his Vice President and former friend Thomas Jefferson. There wasn't merely factional difference -- there was real hatred between those who thought maintaining the federal government meant protecting the social order and those who viewed government with suspicion, fearing monarchy lurking around the corner.

How we survived the election and what it did to our system of government makes a fascinating story. It's been told by Bernard Weisberger in a book called "America Afire." I missed its original release last year, but it's out in paperback. Reading it makes you realize election 2000 was a walk in the park.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, why socialized medicine won't work.