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August 28, 2009
Massachusetts politics and the John Jay standard
The Federalist Paupers blog finds an interesting historical parallel for the situation in Massachusetts today, trying to rig the rules for choice of an interim senator to fill our Ted Kennedy's seat.
On the off-chance that Governor Patrick might have second thoughts about his participation in this (and on the even remoter chance that this blog-post reaches his desk) I refer him to the fine example set by Gov. John Jay of New York when he encountered a similar situation in 1800. That spring, New York Republicans won a startling victory over the Federalist incumbents in the state assembly and senate elections, largely due to the unparalleled politicking of Aaron Burr. Since New York's electoral college would be selected by the new legislature - and since winning New York was the key to Vice President Jefferson's electoral strategy later that year - the election had incredible national ramifications.Federalists, especially Alexander Hamilton, were horrified. Hamilton had worked as tirelessly as Burr had during the election - the two of them often debated publicly that winter and both spent election day literally running from polling station to polling station - though without the former's political ingenuity or light touch. But besides his personal humiliation at the polls, Hamilton was genuinely concerned about the fate of the country under Jefferson, whom he believed (and believed with reason) would drag the country into war with Britain and ruin the country's finances. [....]Jay, though also worried about the implications of a Jefferson presidency, was disgusted by his friend's request. He never responded, and simply filed the letter away with a brief note:Proposing a measure for party purposes which it would not become me to adopt.History is watching, Governor Patrick. Take note.