Monday, September 26, 2011

Adams vs. Jefferson

Adams and Jefferson were friends who found themselves separated by the birth of political parties. Adams is portrayed as the erudite conservative who lives within his means and desires to cling to old traditions. Jefferson comes across as the brash Hollywood type who appeals to the masses, while at the same time holding slaves, philandering and consuming significantly beyond his means. Though the book is about the election of 1800, the majority of the time is spent covering the earlier history of these political figures, with the actually election only appearing at the end of the book. This gives time ample time to cover Adam's presidency, with Jefferson serving as the vice-president. The 1800 election is informative in that allowed for a peaceful transition of power from one faction to another. With the tied Republican election decided in the Federalist house, there were plenty of chances for anarchy and political shenanigans to take over. But somehow, it all worked out. (And the constitution was soon reworked to allow for the inevitable political parties. The book provides a nice account of these men as people of their time. Alexander Hamilton also comes across as a man "behind" much of the extreme Federalist ideals - and somebody that is feared by Adams and Jefferson alike. In the end, after their presidencies, Adams and Jefferson rekindled their friendship via mail, and both died on the 4th of July.

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