Our cliffhanger presidential race is being compared to the 1876 contest in which Rutherford Hayes lost the general election while winning, barely, in the Electoral College. But the campaign of 1800 -- the first contested presidential election -- offers more important lessons about America's political culture.
It was another neck-and-neck race, as Vice President Thomas Jefferson edged out federalist John Adams but tied Aaron Burr for electoral votes. A divided House of Representatives had to pick a winner and, after some backroom politics, the federalists backed Jefferson...
Behind the religious clamor, however, lie a remarkably enlightened view of church and state: the assumption that religion was essential to democratic government. In France, the revolutionaries had vowed to "strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest." But the American Revolution produced a nation that joined religious and political liberty at the hip; any threat to one imperiled the other.
For the complete article go to the Heritage Foundation website.