The American Revolution of 1800

How Jefferson Rescued Democracy from Tyranny and Faction- and What This Means Today

Dan Sisson (Author) | Thom Hartmann (Author)

Publication date: 09/15/2014

The American Revolution of 1800
In this brilliant historical classic, Dan Sisson argues that Thomas Jefferson thought democratic revolutions would be necessary from time to time to break the grip of autocratic factions on the government. That is how Jefferson saw the election of 1800—and the lessons for today couldn't be more obvious.

Most historians celebrate Jefferson's victory over Adams in 1800 as the beginning of the two-party system, but Jefferson would have been horrified by this interpretation. Drawing on the understanding of faction, revolution, and conspiracy reflected in the writings of the Founders, Sisson makes it clear that they, like Jefferson, envisioned essentially a nonparty state.

Jefferson believed his election was a peaceful revolution by the American people overturning an elitist faction that was stamping out cherished constitutional rights and trying to transform our young democracy into an authoritarian state. It was a transfer of power back to the people, not a change of parties. Sisson maintains Jefferson would regard our current two-party system as a repudiation of his theory of revolution and his earnest desire that the people as a whole, not any faction or clique, would triumph in government. The ideals of the American Revolution were in danger until this “Revolution of 1800,” to which we owe the preservation of many of our key rights.

With contributions by Thom Hartmann that bring out the book's contemporary relevance, this fortieth-anniversary edition contains new insights and reflections on how Jefferson's vision can help us in our own era of polarization, corruption, government overreach, and gridlock.

Read more and meet author below



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Overview

In this brilliant historical classic, Dan Sisson argues that Thomas Jefferson thought democratic revolutions would be necessary from time to time to break the grip of autocratic factions on the government. That is how Jefferson saw the election of 1800—and the lessons for today couldn't be more obvious.

Most historians celebrate Jefferson's victory over Adams in 1800 as the beginning of the two-party system, but Jefferson would have been horrified by this interpretation. Drawing on the understanding of faction, revolution, and conspiracy reflected in the writings of the Founders, Sisson makes it clear that they, like Jefferson, envisioned essentially a nonparty state.

Jefferson believed his election was a peaceful revolution by the American people overturning an elitist faction that was stamping out cherished constitutional rights and trying to transform our young democracy into an authoritarian state. It was a transfer of power back to the people, not a change of parties. Sisson maintains Jefferson would regard our current two-party system as a repudiation of his theory of revolution and his earnest desire that the people as a whole, not any faction or clique, would triumph in government. The ideals of the American Revolution were in danger until this “Revolution of 1800,” to which we owe the preservation of many of our key rights.

With contributions by Thom Hartmann that bring out the book's contemporary relevance, this fortieth-anniversary edition contains new insights and reflections on how Jefferson's vision can help us in our own era of polarization, corruption, government overreach, and gridlock.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Dan Sisson

Dan Sisson was born in Washington, DC, and educated at St. John's College Prep in the city. Following his military service, he received his BA from California State University at Long Beach and his MA and PhD from the Claremont Graduate School and The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, where he was in residence for six years. He has taught at colleges and universities from California to Alaska, been a politician— running for Congress in 1976, a journalist in Alaska, a writer for Field & Stream magazine, where for 13 years he described the many outdoor adventures he had with his son, Alan, in Oregon and Alaska. He currently teaches at Eastern Washington University as an adjunct in the Engineering Department and lives in the mountains of eastern Washington with his wife, Karen, in a near-full-sized replica (90 percent) of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello that he built himself. His forthcoming book, a work in history and political theory, is to be titled The First American Coup d'Etat.



Visit Author Page - Thom Hartmann

Thom Hartmann is the host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk radio program and an internationally syndicated daily TV program. More people listen daily to the Thom Hartmann Program than any other progressive talk show in the nation. Talkers Magazine named Thom Hartmann as the 8th most important talk show host in America, and the #1 most important progressive host, in their "Heavy Hundred" ranking.

He is also a four-time Project Censored-award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is the author of over twenty books, including Screwed, Cracking the Code, Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight: The Fate of the World and What We Can Do Before It's Too Late, We the People: A Call to Take Back America, and What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return to Democracy.

Find out more at www.thomhartmann.com.

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Table of Contents

Introduction by Thom Hartmann
1. The Idea of a Non-Party State
2. The Idea of Revolution
3. The Idea of Revolution: Conspiracy and Counterrevolution
4. The Principles of the American and French Revolutions
5. The Politics of Faction
6. Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Threats to the First Amendment
7. The Politics of the Revolution of 1800: Prelude
8. The Politics of the Revolution of 1800: Revolution
Afterword by Thom Hartmann
Notes
Acknowledgments
About the Authors

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Endorsements

“Practical Thomas Jefferson thought big thoughts about periodic revolutions against tyranny and concentrated power to abuse the people. His relevance now, as Dan Sisson's book and Thom Hartmann's commentary inspire, connects with the entrenching deteriorations and deprivations of today's America. To heed Jefferson's wisdom is to call for another mindful revolution at the ballot box and in the civil arena, which can come from the determined hands of we the people.”
—Ralph Nader

“Since I grew up in Lexington, the birthplace of the Revolution, it's always a thrill to hear retold the story of the ideas that animated our forebears. They are ideas that—in the time of the Koch brothers—we need held up for all to see.”
—Bill McKibben, President, 350.org, and author of The End of Nature

“Deepening inequalities—economic, political, and cultural—drive growing appetites for systemic change. Thinking turns again toward revolution when piecemeal reforms prove too difficult and rare and when those we do achieve prove vulnerable and temporary. Our rethinking of revolution can learn valuable lessons from Dan Sisson's classic about the last time revolution was on America's agenda.”
—Richard D. Wolff, Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst

“Through this deep dive into early US history, Hartmann and Sisson draw our attention to a crucial distinction between a politics of ideas in search of liberty and prosperity for all and one centered on a factional competition for power.”
—David Korten, Board Chair, YES! Magazine, and author of When Corporations Rule the World

“This is a fascinating account of our country's early history that has clear relevance to the politics of today.”
—Dean Baker, Codirector, Center for Economic and Policy Research, and coauthor of Getting Back to Full Employment

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