Nov 25, 2014 - Sale 2368

Sale 2368 - Lot 245

Price Realized: $ 6,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,000
"THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN A SWEAT" (PRESIDENTS--1800 CAMPAIGN.) Tracy, Uriah. An important letter on the contentious 1800 election. Autograph Letter Signed as a United States Senator for Connecticut, to recently resigned Secretary of War James McHenry. 2 manuscript pages on one sheet, 12 3/4 x 7 3/4 inches; disbound along left edge, 1-inch repaired tear on top edge, separations just starting along folds. (MRS) Washington, 30 December 1800

Additional Details

This letter traces the latest developments in the complex and contentious presidential election of 1800, which made Bush v. Gore look like a Sunday picnic. Uriah Tracy (1755-1807) and his correspondent McHenry were both Federalists opposed to the candidacy of Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 election. McHenry had served in the cabinet of Jefferson's rival Adams, although he had been forced to resign after undermining the president. By the time Tracy sent this update, the two Democratic-Republican candidates Jefferson and Burr had finished dead even in the Electoral College ahead of the Federalist Adams, throwing the election into the hands of the House of Representatives, who were to tally one vote per state. Tracy, whose party had already lost the contest, took what pleasure he could in seeing the Jefferson supporters in a state of confusion: "It is now officially ascertained that Jefferson & Burr have each 73 votes for Prest. & Vice Prest., and that the Democrats are in a sweat, is also ascertained, but not officially, unless you consider my assertion as official. They are in the most violent state of apprehension, for fear Burr will be chosen, or at any rate that Jefferson will not. . . . It is really pleasant to see the Democrats in such a rage for having acted with good faith, they swear they will never do it again, & mutually criminate each other for having done so now." He expected Burr to emerge victorious: "Burr is a cunning man. If he cannot outwit all the Jeffersonians I do not know the man." Speaking for his own Federalist party, Tracy seemed to embrace Burr with a shudder over their old enemy Jefferson: "The Federalists say, they like not either of the Candidates, but as the anti's have brought them forward, they will take the least of two evils."
This letter is a well-known inside source on one of the most important elections in American history. It was published in 1907 in The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry, 483-4, and has been quoted in many histories since. A full transcript is provided. Provenance: Swann sale, 26 September 1996, lot 217 to Milton R. Slater.