Founding Brothers

  • Election of 1796: This was the twentieth anniversary of the birth of America as a nation. There were now sixteen States because Tennessee was admitted to the Union that year. Washington stated in September he would not seek a third term and this led to a major election year.
  • Washington: He was the first president and people were now alarmed because he would not seek a third term. He entered and left the presidency as the most revered man in America. Americans now looked to other leaders who had Revolutionary credentials.
  • Adams: He was the first vice president, a Federalist, and believed in a strong central government. Adams was a once good friend with Jefferson, but politics separated their friendship. Adams won the election of 1796 and Jefferson, his opponent, became vice president because the 12th Amendment did not yet exist. He became the first president that had to deal with party politics. He once offered Jefferson to act as his co-president, but this offer was declined. Hamilton and Adams were both Federalists, but did not like each other. He feared the creation of a large standing army because it could be used for tyranny, but finally raising a 15,000 man army.
  • Jefferson: He was the first secretary of state, a Republican (Democratic-Republican), and believed government should be small. He was a once cordial friend to Adams, but this friendship ended because of political differences. The Constitution made the second place finisher vice president because the twelfth amendment did not exist yet. Many Americans considered him a French sympathizer.
  • political parties: Federalists and Republicans were the first two organized factions in America. Although not mentioned in the Constitution, party politics began during Washington's presidency. Hamilton was the leader of the Federalists and Jefferson was the leader of the Republicans.
  • Madison: He encouraged his close friend and fellow Republican Thomas Jefferson to run for president as the opponent to John Adams.
  • cabinet: Adams inherited a cabinet that was more loyal to Hamilton. Washington began the tradition of selecting individuals to lead executive departments that would advise the president.
  • Hamilton: He was the leader of the Federalists and a political foe of Adams. He earned a poor reputation because of an affair with Maria Reynolds. Although he admitted to having the affair, he stated he did not abuse his political power, nor steal money from the treasury.
  • France: The French Revolution was fought from 1789 to 1799. France was disappointed that America did not loan them money because they had supported the United States financially during the American Revolution.
  • Jay Treaty: In 1795, America signed the Jay Treaty, which declared American neutrality between France and England. France was outraged because this treaty ignored the Franco-American Treaty of 1788. By 1797, Adam's cabinet cried for war with France. This was a treaty between the United States and Great Britain that promoted ten years of mostly peaceful trade between the two countries. Alexander Hamilton created most of the terms of the treaty and John Jay was the chief negotiator. Washington gave reluctant support to this treaty.
  • XYZ Affair: This diplomatic event strained relations between France and the United States. X, Y, and Z were nicknames given to three French agents who were later revealed as Jean Conrad Hottinguer, Pierre Bellamy and Lucien Hauteval. The French agents demanded 50,000 pounds sterling, a $12 million loan from the United States, a $250,000 personal bribe to French foreign minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, and a formal apology for comments made by President John Adams if the United States wanted to continue peace negotiations.
  • Quasi-War: By 1797, Adam's cabinet cried for war with France; this was an undeclared war between 1798 and 1800. The war was a huge political disaster for Republicans because they often sympathized with France. This war strengthened Federalist political influence and power. General Washington was called to lead an army of 15,000 and he chose Hamilton as his second in command.
  • War Hawk: These were congressmen who wanted to create a standing army of 50,000 soldiers. The term is still used to describe one who seeks war on a country or region.
  • Abigail: She offered lots of advice and council to her husband John Adams throughout his presidency and life. One issue she poorly advised her husband on was his decision to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts.
  • Alien & Sedition Acts: These acts sent away foreigners and jailed journalists. Republicans stated these acts violated the constitutional right of free speech. Fourteen journalists were arrested by 1799 for publishing information directed against Adams and his administration. These acts politically damaged the credibility of John Adams.
  • muckraker: This is a writer who investigates and publishes truthful reports to advocate reform. James T. Callendar was arrested and charged with sedition because of his written words during the Quasi-War.
  • Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions: These Resolves were secretly written in 1798 by Jefferson and Madison to argue that States had the right and duty to declare unconstitutional any acts of Congress that violated the Constitution of the United states. These Resolves argued for States' rights. Jefferson went as far as to threaten secession, but Madison moderated this stance.
  • Dec. 14, 1799: This is the day and year that George Washington died. It was a date of great mourning because Washington was beloved by Americans because of his great leadership during the birth and infancy of the American republic. Washington was 67 and caught a cold probably during a snowstorm while riding around his five-hour trip around Mount Vernon. Henry Lee eulogized Washington by saying, "To the memory of the Man, first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Americans were never as unified after the death of Washington.
  • Election of 1800: The capitol was moved to Washington D.C prior to this election. This was a vicious election where Federalists and Republicans made numerous libelous allegations. Jeffersonians portrayed Adams as a monarchist. Adams disbanded the standing army and purged his cabinet of Hamilton loyalists by firing his Secretary of State. Hamilton wrote a harsh pamphlet against John Adams that outraged many of his followers and later exposed the weaknesses within the Federalist camp. The election was a tie and was sent to the House of Representatives to decide. After losing the election, Adams went home and did not speak to Jefferson for another eleven years.
  • Aaron Burr: He appealed to Republicans and some Federalists and was a popular New York Senator. Although he had served under Washington during the Revolutionary War, Washington did not have faith in the principles of Burr. Hamilton disliked Burr and gave his support to Jefferson, feeling his political enemy was still a man of honor. He became the third vice president.
  • Electoral College: Burr and Jefferson tied with 73 votes, while Adams had 65. Burr remained silent on the presidential issue, which sent the election to go to the House of Representatives. The House argued for six days and Hamilton threw all of his support to get Jefferson elected. During the 36th round of voting in Congress, Jefferson became the third President of the United States.