Ballots Rather Than Bullets

Overview

The Declaration of Independence asserts that government is legitimate only when the people consent to it. The election of 1800 demonstrated the legitimacy of the American system of government because the people were able to assert their will and change the government, according to the strictures of the Constitution. With the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency, the American people effected a change of government without firing a shot.

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Larry P. Arnn is the twelfth president of Hillsdale College, where he is also a professor of politics and history. He received his B.A. from Arkansas State University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from the Claremont Graduate School.