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The presidential election of 1804 found Jefferson at the full tide of his success and popularity. His foreign policy had been approved by large majorities in both Houses of Congress. The reports of the exploits of our gallant sailors in the Mediterranean filled American hearts with pride. Our revenues were so swelled by duties on our imports that we were able to pay the current expenses of the government, civil and military, the interest on the Louisiana stock, three million, six hundred thousand dollars on the principal of the debt, and still have a balance in the treasury, September 30, 1804, of nearly five million dollars, without resorting to increased taxation. Harmony reigned in Congress and the cabinet.
In the country at large Republicanism had been growing steadily. With the sole exception of Matthew Lyon, of Vermont, the electors of the New England States had cast their votes solidly against Jefferson in the great contest of 1801. Four years later Connecticut alone remained faithful to the waning Federalist cause. Factious opposition to the Louisiana Purchase, jingo patriotism to stir up war in the Western settlements, sarcastic toasts at banquets to the "limitation of Virginia's domination by the Constitution or by the Delaware,”
tachment of his small army into a region which was in dispute between the United States and Spain without the authorization of those who were responsible.”
desperate plans to join New York, New Jersey, and Delaware with New England in a secessionist movement, through appeals to the ambition of the discontented Burr, all resulted in nothing except the defeat of Burr for the governorship of New York and his murderous revenge on Alexander Hamilton on the duelling-ground at Weehawken Heights.
Jefferson declared that it was his “decided purpose,” when he entered the presidency, to retire at the end of one term to a life of tranquillity. But early in 1804 he wrote to Governor McKean, of Pennsylvania: “The abominable slanders of my political enemies have obliged me to call for [a] verdict from my country in the only way it can be obtained.” He therefore allowed himself to be nominated by a Congressional caucus, with George Clinton, of New York, for his running mate. The Federalists, without the formality of a nomination, agreed to vote for C. C. Pinckney, of South Carolina, and Rufus King, of New York. The Twelfth Amendment was ratified and proclaimed before the election, providing for the specific designation of President and Vice-President on the ballots, and thus obviating either of the electoral anomalies of 1797 and 1801. Seventeen States voted, Ohio having been admitted into the Union in 1802. The result of the contest was never in doubt, but the completeness of Jefferson's victory was a surprise. His Federalist opponent carried only the two States of Connecticut and Delaware, which, with a little help from Maryland, gave them fourteen votes in the electoral college to one hundred and sixty-two for Jefferson and Clinton. No other President, with the exception of Washington, has ever received so complete an indorsement of his administration or 80 universal an expression of the confidence of the American people.
Jefferson believed that he had "brought over" the great body of Federalists to Republicanism; but he had in reality gone far more than half-way to meet them. He had more than redeemed the pledge of his inaugural address to "preserve the general Government in its whole constitutional vigor.” He had endowed it with extra-constitutional vigor. The Jefferson of the Kentucky Resolutions seemed a figure of the dim past. The “Virginia school” had protested all through the closing years of the eighteenth century against the assumption of undelegated powers by the central government, but four years of power had wrought such a change that the Federalists were now asking within what limits the “Virginia domination” could be restrained. A President who took it upon himself to double the area of the United States by purchase, to incorporate a foreign population into our body politic and accept a dictatorship over them, to decide from his own private researches the limits of territory in dispute between this country and Spain,
to send a force of soldiers and explorers through the region belonging to a friendly power, to threaten to join our nation in marriage "to the British feet and nation” without asking the consent of either, to advise Congress to "cast metaphysical subtleties behind them” and take the risk of supporting an executive who had confessedly “done an act beyond the Constitution”-such a President was hardly less a Federalist than Washington or Adams.
THE STRUGGLE FOR NEUTRALITY
Peace is our passion. (Jefferson to Sir John Sinclair, June 30, 1803.)
It would have been well for his peace of mind if Jefferson had swallowed the "abominable slanders” of his enemies and returned to his beloved Monticello at the end of his first administration, for his second term was a "sea of troubles.” The triumph of 1804 he took to be the harbinger of a long period of harmony and prosperity, when Republicanism should have put down all things under its feet. Writing to General Heath in December to rejoice with him over the “conquest” of New England, he said: "All will now come to rights. ... The new century opened itself by committing us on a boisterous ocean, but all is now subsiding; peace is smoothing our path at home and abroad; and if we are not wanting in the practice of justice and moderation our tranquillity and prosperity may be preserved until increasing numbers shall leave us nothing to fear from abroad. With England we are in a cordial friendship; with France in the most perfect understanding; with Spain we shall be always bickering, but never at war till we seek it. Other na