Analysis Of A Magnificent Catastrophe By Edward Larson

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Nasty political mud-slinging. Campaign attacks and person insults. These are some of the words used to describe the outrageous election between two very bitter candidates. Although this sounds rather similar to the present-day elections of 2016, it actually describes an election that took place more than two hundred years ago. This shocking election is told by Edward Larson in his narrative of the election of 1800. Edward Larson was born in 1953 and is an American historian and a legal scholar. Larson’s A Magnificent Catastrophe is a novel about the momentous election that happened in 1800 and would eventually lead to the future of democracy. His account of this election is very useful especially for people who are looking for a general view …show more content…
It was angry and dirty, not to mention a crisis ridden contest that seemed to threaten the survival of the nation. He goes into depth about the details of the conflicting ideologies or wild ride that was the election of 1800 between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Larson does an amazing job when he goes into great detail about each candidate’s personality because although at this time, men did not openly campaign, they did “go after” each other viciously. Meaning, although the candidates did not go around state to state clearly declaring their goals and ideas for their presidency, they did bash each other severely just like in politics today. For instance, John Adams was known for being confrontational and obnoxious while Thomas Jefferson was known as temperate and irresponsible. He also has an amazing portrayal of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr expertly spinning their angles by using the politicized newspapers; therefore, reinforcing the political partnership between the candidates and their running mates. Larson says that the election, “Stamped American democracy with its distinctive partisan character” (Larson). Because of the way Larson portrays the theatrical election of 1800 and the intense electioneering of the candidates, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson along with Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, the reader is able to connect politics in the 1800s to …show more content…
Larson noted, “Coming as it did at the sunset of the Enlightenment and the dawn of the Great Revival”, he also added that, “The 1800 campaign occurred at the pivot point of massive cultural forces” (Larson). While the main contradictions revolved around philosophies, Larson made the point that the heart of the election came down to a subtler force: power. He started with an overview of the political landscape which is rather similar to today’s debate between the conservatives and liberals, while it ends on July 4th 1826 years after Thomas Jefferson and John Adams helped circulate the Declaration of Independence. But just before he died, Adams whispered, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” even though he was not aware of his rival’s death hours earlier. Just like the contradiction stated previously, many of the contradictions of the election of 1800 continue because of the dilemmas faced during the election that cannot be resolved. Although Edward Larson included several back stories and background information, all of the info relayed at the start of the novel are put in place to help the reader focus on the front and center topic which was the election of 1800. Larson ends his narrative rather dramatically leaving both Thomas Jefferson’s and John Adams’ legacies to live

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