James M. Banner Jr. is an independent historian in Washington, D.C. The cofounder of the National History Center, he is now a visiting scholar in the history department of George Washington University. Banner is a coeditor of Becoming Historians (2009), the author of Being a Historian: An Introduction to the Professional World of History (2012), and the editor of Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to Today (2019). His latest book is The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History is Revisionist History (2021). Banner's play, "Good and Faithful Servants," adapted from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson, is under development.
In an era of disputed elections, the presidential elections of 1800 and 1801--one involving voting in each state, the other in the House of Representatives--have new salience. This election, arguably the first "critical election," created a Democratic majority that lasted for 60 years, threatened the constitutional fabric, and laid the groundwork for path-breaking constitutional developments. But there's more to say about it than we know, especially if we focus on the election of 1801, which resolved the deadlocked electoral college vote. Banner also brings to the fore the 1801 election's possible links, personal as well as juridical, to John Marshall's decision in Marbury v. Madison only two years later.