Theater One Presents
A Celebration of Our National Holiday
“The Reconciliation of John Adams
and Thomas Jefferson (1812-1826)”
A Staged Reading in Two Acts
The limited tickets available have already been sold.
In the Fahs Room at UUSS
In the 1796 election Jefferson was Adams’ nearest political opponent for the presidency and he became vice president as first runner up by default. The distinguished historian, David McCullough, explains in his masterwork, John Adams, what transpired in 1800. “That the contest for the presidency in 1800 was to be unlike any of the three preceding presidential elections was clear at once. For the first (and last) time in history, the President was running against the Vice President. The two political parties had also come into their own with a vitality and vengeance exceeding anything in the country’s experience. Further, under the Alien and Sedition Act of 1798 anyone openly criticizing the President ran the risk of being fined or sent to prison.”
At the conclusion of this acrimonious election, after 36 ballots in the House of Representatives, Jefferson’s total votes overcame Aaron Burr who became vice president, leaving Adams odd-man out, quite bitter about the outcome. John’s adversary behind the scenes was Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist as was John, except that Hamilton had his own agenda. In those days candidates were elected by total number of electoral votes, not by political party or slate, that idea not being conceivable to the Framers of the Constitution. The electoral anomaly was not corrected until Amendment XII was ratified in 1804. Bitterness set in, and the Adams-Jefferson friendship lapsed. Twelve years later a reconciliation was effected and the correspondence was resumed, to the great relief of their Revolutionary War colleagues, particularly Unitarian Dr. Benjamin Rush, who had endeavored to heal the breach.
On January 1, 1812, John Adams laid aside the acrimony of the 1800 election and wrote a conciliatory letter to Thomas Jefferson who promptly responded. This friendly gesture resulted in a vigorous correspondence that continued almost until the very day of their deaths—July 4, 1826.
Betty Crockford, Script Compiler and Director