THE TURNING POINT by Frank van der Linden


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Subtitled Jefferson's Battle for the Presidency, this well documented but badly arranged book deals with a dynamic and often neglected period in American history: the presidential campaign of 1800 and Jefferson's victory over Aaron Burr. The campaign was a virulent one, with John Adams, the unpopular and emotionally unstable President, Jefferson, the Vice-President, philosopher and astute politician, and the able and unscrupulous opportunist, Aaron Burr, struggling for the office, and with Alexander hamilton playing an important part in the battle. Largely through Burr's manipulations the election resulted in a tie, which threw the final decision to the House of Representatives; here Burr misplayed his hand and lost to Jefferson by one vote. This account of long-past political manuevers is combined with the previously unpublished love-letters of Margaret Bayard, whose cousin cast the deciding vote against Burr, and her future husband, Samuel Harrison Smith, an editor. In part the letters reflect the domestic life and political tensions of the time, but their inclusion brings an added jerkiness to an already disjointed narrative. An important addition to the annals of early American politics but a book for reference rather than for sustained reading, this lengthy volume will find its chief appeal among historians of the period.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1962
Publisher: David McKay