The Election of 1828 (September November 1828)



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Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)

The Election of 1828 (September - November 1828)
The presidential election of 1828 witnessed a landslide victory in the electoral college, and an overwhelming triumph in the popular vote, for Andrew Jackson. His victory had been four years in the making, as his supporters had been working to achieve it since John Quincy Adams had been chosen president in the disputed election of 1824.

Since the House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams to be president in February 1825, Jackson and his supporters alleged that Adams had won the presidency through a "corrupt bargain." They believed Henry Clay had agreed to use his political strength in the House to ensure Adams's election in exchange for the cabinet post of secretary of state. Jackson supporters characterized Adams's and Clay's plans for internal improvements and other policies of economic development as signs the two were under the sway of a corrupt, wealthy elite. Key to the ongoing campaign during Adams's presidency was a political alliance between Vice-President John C. Calhoun and Senator Martin Van Buren. Calhoun and Van Buren saw that by wedding Jackson's popularity to traditional Jeffersonian principles of state sovereignty and limited national government, they could create a truly national political movement. The emerging party was called the Democratic Republicans or simply, the Democratic Party. Its slogan was "Jackson and Reform."

Emphasizing Jackson's status as a war hero, characterizing every Adams policy as inherently corrupt or anti-republican, and fixating on the "corrupt bargain" of 1824, Jackson's partisans had a winning campaign strategy. Pro-Jackson papers designed to mobilize the rank-and-file appeared in nearly every state. Adams supporters responded in kind. Attacks on the two candidates became very vivid and personal, with Adams supporters questioning the legitimacy of Jackson's marriage, the morals of his wife, and status as a war hero. Jackson supporters vilified Adams personally, in one account accusing him of providing the Czar of Russia with American prostitutes.

The voting took place throughout the autumn of 1828. Jackson defeated Adams by over 135,000 popular votes (out of a little over 1.1 million cast), but Jackson won 178 electoral votes to Adams's 83. Adams won the New England states, New Jersey, Delaware, and parts of Maryland and one vote from Illinois. Every other state and elector went for Jackson. The election was significant, as it demonstrated that the Jacksonian Democrats had developed the closest thing yet seen to a modern political party, with political machinery adept at reaching and mobilizing a broad mass of voters. This aggressively popular politics allowed Jackson to claim that his presidency marked the triumph of the "common man." Party-based politics would come to dominate American political life following the Jackson presidency.




Source: Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832 (New York: Harper & Row, 1981)

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