This is the second in a multi-part series on Presidential campaign
collectibles from the Nov. 7, 2016, monthly issue of
Presidential campaign banners, badges, tokens and medals and more
date back nearly 200 years, each item a window into a campaign and an
age. Depending upon the presidential campaign and candidate being
considered, the items available may cost only a few dollars each, or
as much as thousands of dollars regardless of condition. For the race
of 1800, the available collectibles are few and rare.
The presidential election of 1800 was a particularly uncomfortable
one in political circles, pitting Vice President Thomas Jefferson
against the president he was currently serving under, John Adams.
Jefferson described his campaign as “The Revolution of 1800.” The
contest marked the first shift of the balance of power from one
political party to another.
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Jefferson campaigned on a platform of promises to govern based on a
decentralized government and trust in the people to govern themselves
— tenets that the founding fathers had established.
Jefferson carried these principles in his own war against Adams. The
campaign of 1800 marked the emergence of the two-party system, pitting
Adams’ Federalists again Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans.
In May 1800, the Federalist Senators and Representatives nominated
Adams and Charles C. Pinckney as their party’s candidates, while the
opposition selected Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr as their standard
bearers. Burr agreed only after he received assurances that all party
electors would support him along with Jefferson.
There was deep dissatisfaction in the American populace with Adams,
who with his Federalists, propelled the country into an undeclared
naval war with France, according to Walsh. Jefferson and his
supporters believed Adams’ actions and those of his supporters
contradicted democratic principles.
While attacking each other on the issues the nation faced, Adams and
Jefferson also took to personally attacking one another.
Adams’ Federalists asked voters: “Look at your houses, your parents,
your wives and your children. Are you prepared to see your dwellings
in flames, hoary hairs bathed in blood, female chastity violated, or
children writhing on the pike and the halberd? ... Great God of
compassion and justice, shield my country from destruction.”
Jefferson took the bitter attacks to a whole new level, hiring a
writer to pen the barbs against his opponent Adams.
One of those barbs suggested Adams was a “hideous hermaphroditical
character which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the
gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”
According to the Summer 1976 issue of the American Political Items
Collectors' periodical, APIC Keynoter, the electoral vote, when
counted, showed 73 votes for Jefferson, 73 for Burr, 64 for Adams, 64
for Pinckney and one for John Jay. One of the electors from Rhode
Island had cast his second vote for Jay.
Since Jefferson and Burr received the identical number of electoral
votes, resolution of the election of 1800, according to the U.S.
Constitution, had to be decided by the House of Representatives, with
each state having one vote each.
Resolution of the election would not be decided until the spring of
1801, by the House, which enjoyed a Federalist majority. Since there
were 16 states, nine votes would be needed to decide the election’s
According to the APIC Keynoter, Federalists saw an
opportunity to block Jefferson from the White House by steering the
electors toward Burr. Alexander Hamilton, who would become the
nation’s first Treasury secretary, opposed the plan, considering Burr
to be “a man completely devoid of scruples.” On Feb. 17, 1801, on the
36th ballot taken, 16 days after the first, Jefferson received 10
votes, giving him the presidency, and Burr, the vice presidency. Burr
blamed Hamilton’s interference and behind-the-scenes maneuvering with
steering the necessary votes to Jefferson. Burr got his revenge July
11, 1804, when he shot and killed Hamilton in duel.
Despite Jefferson’s election, one shred of Federalist power
remained. Just before the end of his term as president, Adams
appointed John Marshall as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, a
position he held until 1835.
Because of the bitterness of the 1800 campaign, Congress passed the
12th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution dictating that the nominee
with the second highest popular vote total would no longer
automatically be elected vice president.
So what is collectible?
Nothing considered to be a campaign item from the 1800 election is
available to collect, according to renowned political items experts
Rex Stark and Alan Weinberg. Any collectibles associated with that
presidential race are considered extremely rare.
Among these are a hand-colored banner depicting Jefferson, an
example of which is in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of
Also extremely rare are the U.S. Mint struck silver Jefferson
inaugural medal and the 38-millimeter copper Adams inaugural medal
pattern dated 1800 and created in anticipation of Adams winning re-election.
Extant examples of the Adams and Jefferson pieces are few and far
between and valued in the tens of thousands of dollars even in lower
levels of preservation.
The Adams piece was made by and signed by Aaron M. Peasley, a
Massachusetts die maker.
The Jefferson inaugural medal, struck in silver, bronze and white
metal versions, was designed and engraved by John Reich.
Read our entire series so far on collecting Presidential election materials:
The presidential election that
might have been the nastiest on record
: So nasty were the personal attacks between Jackson and the
incumbent, John Quincy Adams, during the 1828 campaign that Jackson
blamed the stress of the attacks for contributing to the death of
The election of 1800 saw a number
of firsts among American presidential races
: The presidential election of 1800 was a particularly
uncomfortable one in political circles, pitting Vice President
Thomas Jefferson against the president he was currently serving
under, John Adams.
Abraham Lincoln faced
more than one opponent in the 1860 presidential election
: While it is not uncommon today for political candidates in state
and national contents to stump in any small community that will host
them, during the 1860 campaign the tactic was considered somewhat tacky.
Sounds like jewelry, so
why was a ‘cross of gold’ not considered a good thing in 1896?
: The hotly contested presidential race of 1896 pitted former Ohio
Gov. William McKinley, a Republican, against Democratic contender
and perennial presidential wannabe William Jennings Bryan.
How Theodore Roosevelt helped
deliver the White House to Woodrow Wilson
: The 1912 election witnessed the establishment of a new political
entity, Roosevelt’s Progressive Party, also dubbed the Bull Moose Party.
Four-time winner Franklin Roosevelt
generates opposition collectibles
: The election of 1932 put Democrat and former New York
governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt into the White House for the
first of his unprecedented four terms.
The 2016 presidential election
hitting new heights, or depths, of nastiness
: Campaign collectibles are trying to promote the 2016 presidential
candidates amid all the mudslinging.