Thomas Jefferson was elected to become the third President of the United States on February 17, 1801, completing the first peaceful transfer of power between political parties in the country's history. His election by the House of Representatives came after a particularly contentious campaign throughout 1800.
Thomas Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr of the Democratic-Republican Party defeated incumbent John Adams and his running mate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of the Federalist Party. The election was set against the backdrop of the French Revolution and the Quasi War (an undeclared, mostly naval war with France.) There were many bitter differences between the parties, including over relations with Great Britain, immigration policy and the power of the federal government.
In the end, no candidate won a majority of the Electoral College votes required to win the presidency outright, and Burr and Jefferson remained in a tie with 73 votes each. This necessitated a 'contingent election' in the House of Representatives where members had to vote on whether Jefferson or Burr would be president. There were 36 ballots in total; in the end, Alexander Hamilton was key to convincing members to vote for Jefferson, who won on February 17, 1801, on the 36th ballot. Jefferson remained president for two terms, until 1809.
Author(s): National Archives
Location signed: USA
Source: National Archives
- 1801-02-17 US House of Representatives breaks electoral college tie by electing Thomas Jefferson as President over Aaron Burr
- 1801-03-04 Thomas Jefferson is the first US President to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
3rd Vice President of the United States
1st US Secretary of Treasury
2nd US President
3rd US President