United States and American History: 1801

About the history of the United States in 1801, the conflict in Tripoli, John Marshall and the Supreme Court, Jefferson elected by the House of Representatives.


-The 1st undeclared U. S. war. Conflict with the North African port city of Tripoli began when the Pasha of Tripolitania cut down the flagpole at the U. S. Consulate, after the U. S. refused to pay tribute to pirates along the Barbary Coast. Later, on the night of February 16, 1804, Lieut. Stephen Decatur and his daredevil crew slipped aboard the captured American ship Philadelphia as it lay docked in Tripoli harbor, knifed the guards, set the ship afire by using gunpowder, and rowed safely away. Finally, in 1805, the U. S. consul in Tunis, William Eaton, collected a rabble army in Egypt-consisting of 38 Greeks, 300 Arabs, a dethroned pasha, and 7 marines under Lieut. Preston N. O'Bannon-and marched 600 mi. across the desert to attack Tripoli from the rear. The phrase "To the shores of Tripoli" in the U. S. Marines' hymn refers to this incident.

-Josiah Bent of Milton, Mass., introduced hard water crackers in New England, where they enjoyed widespread popularity.

Jan. 20 John Marshall was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court. This tall, lanky Virginian, raised on the frontier, made decisions establishing the right of the Federal courts to annul as unconstitutional laws passed by Congress (Marbury v. Madison), and to annul a State law because it conflicted with a Federal one (McCulloch v. Maryland).

Feb. 17 Thomas Jefferson became the 1st President to be elected by the House of Representatives. This came about as a result of the 1st and only tie in a presidential election. Jefferson and Aaron Burr both received 73 electoral votes, which threw the election into the House. Here Hamilton came out strongly against Burr, calling him "a cold-blooded Cataline" and "a profligate; a voluptuary...without doubt insolvent." (Thus began the feud that resulted in the famous Burr-Hamilton duel 3 years later.) Six days of balloting and 36 ballots later, Jefferson was elected 3rd President of the U. S.

Mar. 4 Jefferson became the 1st President inaugurated in Washington, D. C. In his Inaugural Address he called for:

.... a wise and frugal Government which shall restrain men from injuring one another....and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned...

It was here that Jefferson coined the expression "entangling alliances," words commonly attributed to Washington:

Peace, commence, and honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none.

-Jefferson abolished social affairs at the White House. He received callers in his working clothes: a tattered brown coat, corduroy breeches, wool (not silk) hose, and down-at-the-heels carpet slippers. Most sophisticated and versatile of the Presidents, he invented both a plow and a swivel chair, sorted mammoth bones on the White House floor, edited his own version of the Bible, played the fiddle, and designed Monticello ("Little Mountain").

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