Professor Ed Larson’s Book, “A Magnificent Catastrophe,” Named Among Five Best on Presidency Battles — Wall Street Journal

January 3, 2020 | Professor Edward J. Larson‘s book, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign, is listed first in the Wall Street Journal article, “Five Best: Michael Medved on Battles for the Presidency.” A Magnificent Catastrophe was published in 2007.

Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal:

The first fiercely fought, partisan presidential campaign emerged, in 1800, as the most chaotic, vicious and unpredictable political battle in the nation’s history. The disorder stemmed in part from the Constitution’s misbegotten design for the Electoral College (later revised in 1804 by the 12th Amendment). The old system opened the door to mischief from both parties: Members of the ruling Federalists plotted to divert electoral votes from their own incumbent, John Adams, so that Adams’s running mate, Charles C. Pinckney (never party to the plot), would win the White House. Before the balloting, Alexander Hamilton savaged Adams, the standard-bearer of his own party, with a public letter denouncing “the disgusting egotism, the distempered jealousy, and the ungovernable indiscretion of Mr. Adams’s temper.” On the other side, Thomas Jefferson and his distracted Democratic-Republicans failed to ensure that at least one of their electors would not vote for their vice-presidential candidate, the unscrupulous New Yorker Aaron Burr. This error placed Burr in an unprecedented tie with Jefferson, which sent the election to the House. Edward J. Larson expertly navigates these thickets of plot and counterplot, allowing readers to grasp the fears of the Founding Fathers that their newly adopted Constitutional system could collapse in its infancy.

The complete article may be found here (subscription required)

A Magnificent Catastrophe may be found at