America is nearly at war with Revolutionary France, after that country has been harassing American ships and meddling in our domestic political affairs. Anti-French sentiment is high, but many are vehemently opposed to President Adams’s Alien & Sedition Acts, aimed to deal with internal threats to our security. Federalists consider the measure necessary for security, but Republicans believe it is in place to quell political criticism of the Federalists. War with France looks very likely. The Republicans, traditional fans of France, have begun to cool in their opinion of that country, but they do not want war. High Federalists, believing Britain to be a natural cousin and ally, want war with France. However, Federalist President John Adams and moderate Federalists want peace.
Other major issues are expanded suffrage, Barbary Pirates and the size of the military. Jefferson wants to expand suffrage, attack the pirates, but decrease the size of the military. Adams wants to keep suffrage where it is, pay off the pirates (since they navy is small) and increase the size of the military.
This election differs from later elections in that every candidate is a presidential candidate. Every elector gets two votes to select their #1 and #2 candidate. The man with the most electoral votes after all electors have cast their two ballots becomes president and the man with the second most votes (as long as he’s from a different state than the first place candidate) becomes VP.
The Federalists select three candidates for the presidency, all moderates: Incumbent President John Adams, South Carolina General Charles Coatesworth Pinckney and former Chief Justice John Jay. The strategy is for Adams to receive one vote from every elector choosing a Federalist candidate and then for those same electors to vote for either Pinckney or Jay. This would give Adams the most votes in his party, and would make him president if he gains more EVs than a Republican candidate.
The Republicans fielded only two candidates, which is problematic, since this means one Republican elector will have to vote for a Federalist in order to prevent a tie between the two Republican candidates. Last election’s nominee, and sitting VP, Thomas Jefferson is the preferred choice for Republicans, while former New York Senator Aaron Burr is the preferred running mate.
This election allow for many what-if scenarios:
- What if more major figures jumped into the election? These include: Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton, financier Robert Morris, elitist Gouverneur Morris, ambassador Rufus King, General Henry Lee, neo-High Federalist Fisher Ames, revolutionary Samuel Adams, Northern Republican leader George Clinton, gerrymandering Elbridge Gerry, Republican Party architect James Madison, conservative Republican James Monroe.