The “Revolution” of 1800

When America’s First Ruling Party Deliberately Jailed Its Opponents and Sealed Its Doom in the Process

On April 19, 1800, the administration of President John Adams brought Thomas Cooper—a lawyer, newspaper editor, and political refugee who had fled England to avoid prosecution for his democratic beliefs—to trial in a Philadelphia courtroom.

Twenty-four years earlier, next door in Independence Hall, brave men had declared to King George the right of the people to alter their government. Now, just days before a crucial New York vote in the 1800 presidential contest, Cooper stood charged with having “falsely” published criticisms of Adams’ policies “to arouse the people against the …

Remembering 1876, the Year of the Inconclusive Vote

There Has Never Been Anything Like It Before or Since

We are told that this year’s presidential election is unprecedented in many ways. The American voters are faced with the choice between an unlikely candidate who has been repudiated …

Handle Your Presidential Debates With Care

The Institution of Multiple Meetings Between Presidential Nominees Might Seem Old and Tired, But Such Gatherings Are a New—and Fragile—Phenomenon

Today, presidential debates between candidates are considered fixtures of our political scene. Though they generate the occasional dust-up—like Donald Trump complaining that some of this year’s debates conflict with high-profile …

The Swag—and Swagger—Behind American Presidential Campaigns

From a Coloring Book to a Painted Axe, Election Ephemera Remind Us of Hard-Fought Elections of Yore

America’s founding is rooted in the power of the people to select their own leader. Efforts to sway the vote—via gritty campaigns driven by emotion, piles of cash, and brutal, …

California’s Coming Election Has More in Common With Brexit Than You Think

For a Century, State Politicians Have Relied on Ballot Measures to Achieve Their Political Will, and Come to Rue the Results

Do you think Brexit was a singularly British form of folly, having little to do with California? Think again. California is the global capital of Brexit-style votes, and this …