Thomas Jefferson Papers

Announcement of Election Results, [17 February 1801]

Announcement of Election Results

[17 Feb. 1801]

By Express from the City of Washington ! !

To the EDITORS of the TIMES.

THIS moment the election is decided. Morris, from Vermont, absented himself, so that Vermont was for Jefferson. The four members from Maryland, who had voted for Burr, put in blank tickets. The result was then ten for Jefferson.

I hope you will have the cannon out to announce the news. Yours,

N.B. This was the second ballot to-day. Bayard is appointed ambassador to France.

Tuesday, two o’clock.

Printed (ICN).

The Times: The Times; and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, which was published in Alexandria, Virginia. TJ perhaps did not see the handbill above, which was made up in the newspaper’s office on 17 Feb. and provided many Virginians with their first confirmation of his election. In Fredericksburg on the evening of the 19th, Fontaine Maury saw a copy that was on its way by express messenger to Governor James Monroe in Richmond. The editors of the Times reprinted the announcement in their columns on 18 Feb., omitting the sentence about the Cannon salute. By then cannonades had already taken place in Alexandria, where celebrants fired 16 rounds from an artillery piece brought to the courthouse square on the 17th, and they repeated the tribute from a wharf on the Potomac that evening. Cannon shots also announced the news in Fredericksburg (Alexandria Times, 18 Feb. 1801; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 29 vols. description ends , 17:471).

Bayard is appointed ambassador:in a letter dated 13 Feb., but presented to the Senate on Tuesday, the 17th, John Adams nominated James A. Bayard as minister plenipotentiary to France. The Senate debated the appointment on 18 Feb. and consented to it the next day. On 2 Mch., Adams notified the Senate that the Delaware congressman had declined the appointment “for reasons equally applicable to every other person suitable for the service.” The president concluded that he would leave the appointment of a minister and the conveyance of the Convention of 1800 to France to his successor, that he “may proceed with them according to his wisdom” (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States… to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:380, 382–3, 388). As the single Delaware vote, Bayard had played a pivotal role in breaking the tie between TJ and Burr in the House. On 17 Feb., after the decisive ballot, Bayard wrote Allen McLane, the avowedly Federalist collector at Wilmington: “Mr Jefferson is our President. Our opposition was continued till it was demonstrated that Burr could not be brought in, and even if he could he meant to come in as a Democrat. In such case to evidence his sincerity he must have swept every officer in the U. States. I have direct information that Mr Jefferson will not pursue that plan.” Bayard noted that the New England congressmen had been ready “to go without a constitution and take the risk of a Civil War.” In the end, “Mr J. did not get a Foederal vote. Vermont gave a vote by means of Morris withdrawing—the same thing happened with Maryland. The Votes of S. Carolina and Delaware were blank.” Bayard concluded: “I have taken good care of you, and think if prudent, you are safe.” At some point, TJ received a copy of this letter from Thomas Mann Randolph and noted: “Bayard James A. of Delaware. a copy of a letter from him to Colo. Mc.lane of Delaware, written pending the election between Th:J and A. Burr the original was put by Colo Mc.lane in to the hands of TMR. who made this copy from it” (Tr in DLC, in Randolph’s hand, with TJ’s notation on verso; RC in ViU, addressed: “Allen MClane Esqr Wilmington Delaware,” franked and postmarked; Tr in same, reportedly in the hand of Judge Allen McLane—a descendant—summarized and incomplete, lacks final sentence that concludes “if prudent you are safe”; for the second Tr, see Elizabeth Donnan, ed., Papers of James A. Bayard, 1796–1815 [Washington, D.C., 1915; repr. New York, 1971], 127–8).

TJ may have received the transcript of this letter from his son-in-law in 1806, when depositions were taken regarding the charge that TJ had bargained with Bayard for the presidency, through the offices of Samuel Smith. Randolph was serving as a Virginia congressman at the time. For a discussion of the controversy, see Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time, Boston, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 4:487–93; Joanne B. Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic (New Haven, 2001), 250–3; and Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 2:962–8. TJ was accused of agreeing not to dismiss certain government officers on political grounds alone, specifically McLane and George Latimer, collector at Philadelphia (Malone, Jefferson description begins Dumas Malone, Jefferson and His Time, Boston, 1948–81, 6 vols. description ends , 4:489).

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