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Lot 2: Adams, John. Autograph document signed ("John Adams") as Vice President

Historical Document Auction 52H

Platinum House

by Profiles in History

November 15, 2012

Calabasas Hills, CA, USA

Live Auction
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  • Adams, John.  Autograph document signed (
  • Adams, John.  Autograph document signed (
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Description:

Adams, John. Autograph document signed ("John Adams") as Vice President, 1 page (8 x 10 in.; 203 x 254 mm.), "Philadelphia," 4 January 1797. Beneath Adams' writing is a secretarial note stating, "The distance from Philad. to Frankfort, Ky. is 790 miles." The document is accompanied with a statement signed by Charles Bunall, Assistant Postmaster General, stating the distance from Philadelphia to Frankfort and the route taken for the delivery so the government could pay the courier. Reinforced at bottom two folds; paperclip stains at upper left.

Vice President John Adams accepts the Electoral College votes of Kentucky from the Election of 1796 that saw him become the second President of the United States.

Adams writes in full: "Received of Mr. Joseph Davis a packet containing the notes of the Electors of the State of Kentucky for President and Vice President of the United States. Witness my hand John Adams".

The election of 1796, which saw John Adams become President and Thomas Jefferson Vice President, was the only election in the nation's history in which the President and Vice President were from two different parties. The particularly acrimonious and close election of 1796 exposed many of the potential flaws in the electoral system and prompted the first Congressional proposal that the President and Vice President be voted for separately by electors. Adams, who won by only three electoral votes, unfortunately found Kentucky's four electoral votes split between the Republican candidates, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. With incumbent President George Washington having refused a third term in office, incumbent Vice President John Adams became the candidate on the Federalist Party ticket with former Governor Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina as the next most popular Federalist. Their opponents were former Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson along with Senator Aaron Burr of New York on the Democratic-Republican ticket. At this point, each man from any party ran alone, as the formal position of "running mate" had not yet been established. Although Adams won the presidency, Thomas Jefferson received more electoral votes than Pinckney and was elected Vice President according to the prevailing rules of electoral balloting.

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