By Jeffrey L. Pasley. ISBN 978-0-7006-1907-8. Copyright 2013. Hardcover with 516 pages including 19 black and white illustrations, notes, bibliographic essay, and index.
Finalist for the 2014 George Washington Book Prize.
The election of 1796 was America’s first contested presidential election. At that time, political parties were frowned upon, there was no national vote and the candidates did not even participate! The public images of Adams and Jefferson were created by supporters and detractors in the press with newspaper editors, minor officials, now forgotten congressmen, and individual elector candidates all taking a leading role in the politics of the day.
The election is depicted here as a rough draft of the democratic presidential contests to come. It set the geographic pattern of New England competing with the South at the extremes of American politics, and established the basic ideological dynamic of a liberal, rights-spreading American left arrayed against a conservative, society-protecting right, each with its own competing model of leadership.