Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"


the newspaper. She accused Jefferson of planning a "French Government–at least a licentious one, without doubt" echoing the words of the Centinel. On December 3, the day the electors met in the states to select the next president, the paper admonished:

On this day, the electors in all the United States will decide whether our country shall continue to enjoy the wise and efficient administration of the last twelve years; and all the blessings which have emanated therefrom; or whether the reign of innovation and wild experiment shall commence:– Whether the ship of state which has so long obeyed the helm of self government shall pursue in safety her prosperous voyage, or whether she shall be tossed at random "on the tempestuous sea of licentious liberty.15
Louisa's use of the words "licentious" to describe Republicanism, and "annihilate" rather than reject (the treaty) suggests that the Centinel, which used the same words, was a primary source of her political information. The paper used absolute language as an editorial device, but Louisa's use of the words appeared sincere.

The presidential election of 1800 was unlike any other in American history. Conducted under the constitutional provision that the president and vice president should be the first and second place winners of electoral votes, the political parties vied for control of the first and second place votes. Incumbent John Adams was supported by the Federalist party which favored diplomatic ties to Great Britain, a strong military, and limited expansion into western lands. Vice President Thomas Jefferson was favored by the Democratic Republicans, who wanted alliance with France, feared that a standing army could be used to curb individual freedom, and wanted access to free land in the west.16  Partisan newspapers published attacks on opposition candidates, often in the form of anonymous letters to editors. Federalists accused Democratic Republicans of being Jacobins, while Republicans accused Federalists of being monarchists.

15. Park, Diary, December 26, 1800; Columbian Centinel, Wednesday, December 3, 1800.
16. Weisberger, America Afire, 66-77.
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