The Founders Worried too, About Foreign Meddling in Our Elections

From History New Network by Jeanne Abrams author of First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, and Dolley Madison and the Creation of an Iconic American Role (New York University Press, 2018):

In December of 1787, leading American statesmen Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were both stationed in Europe on behalf of their fledgling country. Adams had been named the first U.S. minister to Great Britain in February, 1785 and Thomas Jefferson served as minister to France from 1785 to 1789. Comrades during the Revolutionary War, during their time in Europe, the two men were still good friends, although when they later returned to the United States their relationship fractured over radically different political outlooks. But when the Adamses left France after a residence of only eight months for another three years in England, John’s wife, future First Lady Abigail Adams, called Jefferson “one of the choicest ones of the earth.”

In 1787, the new United States Constitution was being debated in Philadelphia, and both Jefferson and Adams followed developments closely from afar. In an oft- quoted letter written by Adams to Jefferson on December 6, 1787, Adams referred to the “Project of the new Constitution,” and the various objections both men had to the evolving document. Adams famously declared “You are afraid of the one – I, of the few.” Jefferson detested the institution of monarchy and was concerned that the installation of a powerful executive would overturn the principles of the American Revolution and create a quasi-monarchy. Adams, on the other hand, feared the creation of an elite aristocracy in the form of senators. Because of his concern about such a possible oligarchy, Adams therefore maintained “I would have given more power to the President and less to the Senate,” and he advocated for a strong executive.

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