News and Events
Law School Hosts Ed Larson Book Signing
The Pepperdine Law School will host a book signing and reception celebrating the publication of A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 5 p.m. in the Appellate Courtroom. Commentary on the book will be provided by Akhil Reed Amar, Southmayd Professor of Law at Yale Law School, and W. David Baird, dean and Howard A. White Professor of History at Pepperdine University’s Seaver College. For additional information and to RSVP, please contact Margaret Barfield at (310) 506-4653.
In his newest book, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign (Simon & Schuster, Free Press; September 18, 2007; $27.00), acclaimed author and winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History, Edward J. Larson, Hugh and Hazel Darling Professor of Law, tells the story of the closest-ever presidential election, which pushed our democracy to the brink of breakdown and transformed our politics forever. The book has already been favorably reviewed by The New Yorker and will be reviewed by other illustrious publications including The New York Times Book Review, Christian Science Monitor, American Scholar, and American History.
The book recounts how the rivalry and vitriol between the Federalists and the Republicans in the emergence of the 19th century surpassed the competitive nature of even today’s political climate. The Federalists would stop at almost nothing to retain power and preserve their vision of America in the face of radical Republicanism, wielding the Alien and Sedition Acts to shutter opposition newspapers, creating a domestic army, and agitating for launching a war with France. Republicans countered by tarring Adams and the Federalists as monarchists who would destroy American democracy. Due to Jefferson’s unyielding support of the French Revolution, the Federalists raised the specter of the horrifying reign of terror unfolding at that time and the threat of its spread to America.
The election of 1800 ushered in the party system, drawing the lines of partisan battle that would reshape our politics, while also preserving the institution of democracy. In his account, Larson tells the story of this epic election battle that was so influential to the future of American democracy that Thomas Jefferson deemed it “the second American revolution.”
Edward J. Larson is a professor of history and holds the Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. Prior to joining the Pepperdine School of Law, Professor Larson was the Russell Professor of History and Talmadge Professor of Law at the University of Georgia. The author or coauthor of eleven books, he is the recipient of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in History for his book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion. His other books include Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory; Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands; Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution; Sex, Race, And Science: Eugenics in the Deep South; and his co-authored The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison.