Compiled by Kenneth Drexler, Digital Reference Specialist
The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with the presidential election of 1800, including manuscripts, broadsides and government documents. This guide compiles links to digital materials related to the presidential election of 1800 that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on the 1800 election and a selected bibliography
1800 Presidential Election Results
"Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson defeated Federalist John Adams by a margin of seventy-three to sixty-five electoral votes in the presidential election of 1800. When presidential electors cast their votes, however, they failed to distinguish between the office of president and vice president on their ballots. Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr each received seventy-three votes. With the votes tied, the election was thrown to the House of Representatives as required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. There, each state voted as a unit to decide the election.
Still dominated by Federalists, the sitting Congress loathed to vote for Jefferson—their partisan nemesis. For six days starting on February 11, 1801, Jefferson and Burr essentially ran against each other in the House. Votes were tallied over thirty times, yet neither man captured the necessary majority of nine states. Eventually, Federalist James A. Bayard of Delaware, under intense pressure and fearing for the future of the Union, made known his intention to break the impasse. As Delaware’s lone representative, Bayard controlled the state’s entire vote. On the thirty-sixth ballot, Bayard and other Federalists from South Carolina, Maryland, and Vermont cast blank ballots, breaking the deadlock and giving Jefferson the support of ten states, enough to win the presidency." (Source: Today in History, February 17)
Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. While the broadside format represents the bulk of the collection, there are a significant number of leaflets and some pamphlets.
- An address, to the voters for electors of President and Vice President of the United States in the State of Virginia ... The American Republic ticket. [List of electors with districts] Richmond, 26th May, 1800
- Richmond, August 9th, 1800. Sir. We have taken the liberty to advise you, to have the tickets for electors of President and Vice-president of the United States written
- Thoughts, on the subject of the ensuing election, addressed to the party in the state of New-York, who claim exclusively the appellation of federalists ... April 1, 1800
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875
This collection consists of published congressional records of the United States of America from 1774 to 1875.
- Election of President, Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, February 11 to February 18, 1801.
- Thomas Jefferson elected president on the thirty-sixth ballot, Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, February 17, 1801
- Resolution notifying Aaron Burr of his election
as vice president, Annals of Congress, Senate, February 18, 1801.
- Remarks in the Senate of the United States, Congressional Globe, January 31, 1855, vindicating the late James A. Bayard, of Delaware, and refuting the groundless charges contained in the "Anas" of Thomas Jefferson, aspersing his character (1855).
The James Madison Papers, 1723 - 1836
The James Madison Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 12,000 items captured in some 72,000 digital images.
The Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress, 1606-1827
The complete Thomas Jefferson Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 27,000 documents. This is the largest collection of original Jefferson documents in the world. Document types in the collection as a whole include correspondence, commonplace books, financial account books, and manuscript volumes.
A selection of letters from this collection that discuss the election of 1800 includes:
- Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, December 15, 1800, "I understand several of the high-flying federalists have expressed their hope that the two republican tickets may be equal, & their determination in that case to prevent a choice by the H of R..."
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, December 19, 1800, "But I hold the latter impossible, and the former not probable; and that there will be an absolute parity between the two republican candidates."
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, December 26, 1800, “All the votes have now come in, except of Vermont & Kentuckey, and there is no doubt that the result is a perfect parity between the two republican characters."
- Thomas Jefferson to Tench Coxe, December 31, 1800, “The contrivance in the Constitution for marking the votes works badly, because it does not enounce precisely the true expression of the public will."
- Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, February 1, 1801, "It was to be expected that the enemy would endeavor to sow tares between us, that they might divide us and our friends. Every consideration satisfies me you will be on your guard against this, as I assure you I am strongly."
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, February 1, 1801, "I dare not through the channel of the post hazard a word to you on the subject of the election. Indeed the interception and publication of my letters exposes the republican cause as well as myself personally to so much obloquy that I have come to a resolution never to write another sentence of politics in a letter.”
- Thomas Jefferson to Tench Coxe, February 11, 1801, "This is the morning of the election by the H of R."
- Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Smith Barton, February 14, 1801, "This is the fourth day of the ballot, and nothing done..."
- James Bayard to Allen McLane, February 17, 1801, "Mr. Jefferson is our President."
- Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, February 18, 1801, "The minority in the H of R, after seeing the impossibility of electing B..."
- Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., February 19, 1801, "After exactly a week's balloting there at length appeared 10. States for me, 4. for Burr, & 2. voted blanks."
Creating the United States
This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a self–governing country. A section of the exhibition on the election of 1800 contains a selection of letters, documents, and images from the time period.
February 17, 1801
On February 17, 1801, presidential candidate Thomas Jefferson won support of a majority of congressional Representatives displacing incumbent John Adams. Jefferson's triumph brought an end to one of the most acrimonious presidential campaigns in U.S. history and resolved a serious Constitutional crisis.
The American Presidency Project: Election of 1800
The American Presidency Project Web site presents election results from the 1800 presidential election.
The Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration
Presents an original copy of the tally of electoral votes for the 1800 presidential Election, February 11, 1801, from the records of the United States Senate.
Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
The Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia on the Monticello website provides an overview of the presidential election of 1800.
Bayard, Richard H., comp. Documents Relating to the Presidential Election in the Year 1801. Philadelphia: Mifflin and Parry, 1831.
LC Call Number: AC901 .M5 vol. 18, no. 18 [Catalog Record] [Full Text]
Dunn, Susan. Jefferson’s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
LC Call Number: E330 .D86 2004 [Catalog Record]
Ferling, John E. Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
LC Call Number: E330 .F47 2004 [Catalog Record]
Horn, James, Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, eds. The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002.
LC Call Number: E330 .R48 2002 [Catalog Record]
Larson, Edward J. A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign. New York: Free Press, 2007.
LC Call Number: E330 .L37 2007 [Catalog Record]
Sharp, James Roger. The Deadlocked Election of 1800: Jefferson, Burr, and the Union in the Balance. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2010.
LC Call Number: E330 .S53 2010 [Catalog Record]
Weisberger, Bernard A. America Afire: Jefferson, Adams, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800. New York: William Morrow, 2000.
LC Call Number: E330 .W45 2000 [Catalog Record]
Beyer, Mark. The Election of 1800: Congress Helps Settle a Three-Way Vote. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2004.
LC Call Number: E330 .B49 2004 [Catalog Record]
Schlesinger, Arthur M. Jr., ed. The Election of 1800 and the Administration of Thomas Jefferson. Philadelphia: Mason Crest Publishers, 2003.
LC Call Number: JK524 .E355 2003 [Catalog Record]