This is the 52nd presidential election. The fourth was held in 1800. President John Adams, a Federalist, ran against his vice president, Thomas Jefferson, a Democratic-Republican.

Adams' four years in office had been a time of rising taxes and debt. Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr of New York (where Adams' Federalist Party was strong), defeated Adams and C.C. Pickney.

Their respective electoral vote totals were 73, 73, 65 and 64. Electors did not differentiate their votes as presidential and vice presidential then. Burr said he wanted his electors to vote Jefferson, but they didn't, so the tied election went to the House of Representatives.

There lame duck Federalist representatives voted not for Adams but for Burr. For 35 ballots the outcome was: Jefferson eight states, Burr six, and two divided. Not a majority. Finally, thanks in part to Maryland Federalists abstaining, Jefferson was elected 10-6, with Burr chosen vice president.

Overlooked in this bizarre drama was the fact that for the first time the executive power of the new nation had been transferred peacefully from one party to another.

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