March 4, 2019

AT FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING OF THIS DAY IN 1801, JOHN ADAMS QUIETLY LEFT THE WHITE HOUSE AND HEADED HOME TO MASSACHUSETTS: It was a significant moment in American history—the first time a sitting President had lost a bid for re-election. Jefferson was to be inaugurated later that day. It was hardly obvious and inevitable that the transition would go smoothly after the bitter contest that preceded it.

Several historians have suggested that Adams left early because he believed his presence might provoke violence; others reasoned that Jefferson never invited him to attend the ceremony and Adams, too proud to ask his successor, departed as a courtesy. One scholar even speculated that Adams simply needed a full day’s time to make the forty-nine mile trip to Baltimore [on the public coach] before heading home to Massachusetts. Regardless of the motive, Adams’s decision to accept the election results and yield power peacefully set an important precedent for future presidential transitions.

Thus a tradition of a dignified transition was firmly set. I hear there is a rumor afoot that Trump will stage a military coup rather than yield power if he is defeated in 2020. It’s remarkable what idiocy folks on the Left will believe these days.

I’ll let others judge how dignified the transition from Obama to Trump has been.

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