Presidential Elections

The Electoral College

How did the electors finally choose Jefferson?

When the election of 1800 was thrown into the House of Representatives, a num ber of Federalists schemed to elect Aaron Burr as president. In order to do this, they had to defeat Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson with a majority of votes. To beat Jefferson, a number of Federalists planned to vote for Burr, even though he was a Democratic-Republican. In the end, one man was responsible for Jefferson’s victory: his old political rival, Federalist Alexander Hamilton. Because Hamilton thought that Burr would make a poor ruler and thus could not support his party’s choice due to principle, he persuaded enough Federalists to cast their votes for Jefferson. Never one to forgive an offense, in 1804 Vice President Burr shot and killed his rival Hamilton in a duel. Scholars cite the election of 1800 as one of the most colorful in American his-tory—especially given its ultimate conclusion.


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