1800.027: A Vindication of the General Ticket Law.

Published: 1800

Full Title: A vindication of the general ticket law, passed by the legislature of Virginia, on the 18th day of January, 1800. Respectfully inscribed to Edmund Pendleton, president of the Court of Appeals.

Author: Franklin [pseudonym].

Place Issued: Richmond

Issuing Press: Samuel Pleasants

Description: 24 pgs.; 22 cm. (8vo).


The Republican-controlled Assembly of December 1799 enacted a statute that altered the selection of presidential electors; formerly, individuals pledged to a particular presidential candidate competed in each congressional district in the state for election to the electoral college; the new law provided for the state-wide election of a group of electors pledged to a particular candidate – the so-called ticket – so representing the majority of voters in the state rather than those in each congressional district. This alteration effectively limited the influence of Virginia Federalists by diluting their majorities in the party's urban/mercantile strongholds with the votes of Republicans in the rural/agrarian areas of the state. The law was challenged unsuccessfully in the state's courts, leading to its introduction as a campaign issue in the spring 1800 elections for the next General Assembly. This essay was a key tool in countering Federalist arguments that the law was tyrannical and anti-democratic. Most surviving copies are bound with a second letter of vindication (1800.028) addressing persistent Federalist charges that Jefferson had mismanaged the state as governor during the British invasion of the spring of 1781, and had evinced cowardice by retiring from office while warfare continued in Virginia. Evans listed each letter separately, while noting that he thought the second letter was always "affixed" to the first, despite differing pagination. Yet the separate survivals of copies of each letter show that both circulated independently from one another, even as they were most often paired together, as in the copies that Evans saw. Swem followed Evans by listing both letters as one imprint under one entry number.

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