The 1828 election involved perhaps the longest presidential campaign in American history, Jackson loyalist, Martin Van Buren, began building the first mass political machine in Anerican politics--earning him the title of "the Little Magician". The new Democratic Party and Jackson swept the election. Van Buren worked to obtain the support for influential politicans in every state. Jackson was already enormously popular in the West. Van Buren worked to build his popularity in the East. A major effort was made to establish pro-Jackson newspapers in every state. This was arguably one of the dirtiest campaigns in American history. Jackson and his wife were viciously attacked. And this time Jacksonian newspapers answered back with outrageouos charges of their own. Jackson's victory ushered in the Age of Jackson--the only president to have an an entire era of American history named after him. And it marked a fundamental shift in American politics. America until this time had drawn its presidents and other leaders largely from the elite. Jackson with a Scotts-Irish backwoods had a very humble childhood. His rise in American politics thus reprresented a major shift in American politics. Not only were the people to elect their leaders, but leaders would also become leaders themselves. The vicious campaign charges against Jackson echoed in the Eaton Affair and destroyed the relationship between Jakson and his Vice President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. This was probably a factor in the in the Nulification Crisis.
Andrew Jackson outpolled John Quincy Adams in 1824. He and his loyalists were outraged when the House of Represenatives in partbecause of the influence Henry Clay, who hated Jackson, awarded the presidency to Adams. President-elect Adams, a few day later named Clay his Secretary of State. This was a position that up until that time had been a lunching post for future presidents. Charges of the "corupt deal" filled American newspapers for the next 4 years. Jackson devoted himself for the nexyt 4 years to winning the presidency in the next election. The 1828 election involved perhaps the longest presidential campaign in American history.
Jackson loyalist, Martin Van Buren, began building the first mass political machine in Anerican politics--essentially constructing the modern Democratic Party. The party was called the National Democrats as the old Democratic-Republican Party founded by Jeffereson began to unravel. This achievement earned him the title of "the Little Magician". Van Buren worked to obtain the support for influential politicans in every state. Jackson was already enormously popular in the West. Van Buren worked to build his popularity in the East. A major effort was made to establish pro-Jackson newspapers in every state. Jackson's popularity helped to build a political alliance between small farmers abd the urban working class. The farm vote was particularly importabtvbecause it was not until the end of century that the urban population exceeded that of rural areas.
The Election of 1828 was a rematch of 1824. The nominating process changed. The nominations were not r made by Congressional caucuses. Instead, conventions and state legislatures made the nominatins. John Quincy Adams was re-nominated by political groups which began caling themselves National Republicans. They also nominated Secretary of the Treasury Richard Rush for vice-president. The Democratic Republicans, soon shorteed to Democrats, nominated Jackson. They nominated John C. Calhoun of South Carolina for vice president. As an indication of the political realignment underway, Calhoun had been Presidet dam's vce president.
The election of 1828 pitted two of the most different candidates of any Ameuican presidential election--the diplomat and the warrior. Adams was perhaps the most accomplished diplomat in American history and perhaps the best qualified president in American history. At the time, most presidents reached the office through the State Department. This was how Adams who had been President Monroe's Secretary of State was nominated and elected (1824). Adams was extremely bright and well educated. He worked with his father as a teenager during the Revolution when Adams was appointed minister to France. He knew Thomas Jefferson before the split with his father and the Marquis de Lafayette. After the Revolution, he received several ambasadorial appointments. President Washingtion appointed him ambassador to the Netherlands and Portugal. His father appointed him ambassador to Pruusia. President Monroe appointed him amssador to Tsarist Russia. He won elected office as senator from Massachusetts, but turned down a supreme court appointment. But, it was a secretary of state (foreign minister) that Adams excelled. He managed to establish Americ's claim to the Pacific northwest, acquired Florida (here Jackson was involved), and played acentrl role in issuing the Monroe Doctrine. Jackson has never been described as a diplomat. He wa a headstrong delist. He was also largely uneducated in sharp contrast to Adams. Jackson rather than coming from the Patrician class came from the Scotts-Irish backwoods. He is one of the most noted warriors in American history. He defeated the Creek Indians opening the way for serrlement of the southeast and more impressively handed the British an unexpected defeat at New Orleans. This was critical because before the railroads, New Orleans controlled the commerce of the entire Mississippi Basin, meaning all of the United States west of the Apalachins. Aklthough the battle of New Orleans was fought after a peace treaty was signed, historians might wonder just what the British would have done had they seized the port.
There were substantial issues involved in the campaign. President Adams strongly backed the National Bank of the United States. He also favored high tariffs and supported appropriating federal funds for internal improvements. Jackson was a opponent of the Nationsl Bank, seeing it as a northeastern institution victimizing rural and western nterests. He wanted to lower tariffs and was less willing to fund Federal internal improvement Jackson's popularity was based on his image as a military hero. His supporters used the "Hunters f Kentucky:, a Battle of New Orleans anthem as the campaign song. Despite the importance of these issues, personal issues dominated the campaign. [Parsons] Jackson ran as a populist. His supporters promoted his heroic image. They also painted Presdent Adams as a representative of the "ruling class". He was attacked for living in "kingly pomp and splendor" in the White House. Jackson opponets saw himas a threat to the Reublic and democracy. His critics charged that he was uneducated and reckless. The 1828 election was was arguably one of the dirtiest campaigns in American history. The campaign was dominted by personal attacks more than actual issues. Jackson and his wife were the major issue and were viciously attacked. Rachel Jackson was the only First Lsdy to figure so prominantly in an electin campign. The issue was the lregality of the marriage. When Jackson married, both he and Rachel thought that she was divorced. The divorce in actuality had not yet been finalized. As a reslt, they had to remarry once the legal papers were actually completed. The Jackson haters and the Adams campaign attempted to turn this into a scandal. The chargeswere brutal. A sample pamphlet read: “Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband to be placed in the highest offices of this free and christian [sic] land?” Jackson who wasn't all that accepting to criticism aimed at him, was outraged at the attacks on Rachel. And there were plenty of charges aimed at Jackson himself. Coffin Handbills sharply critized Jackson for his military courts martial and execution of deserters, for his massacres of Indian villages, and for his habit of dueling. This time Jacksonian newspapers answered back with charges of thir own, some equally outrageous as the attacks on Rachel. The Jacksonian newspapers charged that while Minister (Ambassador) to Russia that he had procured a sevant girl to satisfy the sexual appeties of the Tsar. And then there was the chsarge that he used public funds to pyrchase gambling devices for the White House. These turned out go be a chess set and pool table. Other attacks were for traveling on Sunday and having premarital relations with his wife. They also attacked Jackson as a murderer for executing deserters. His marriage to his wife was also attacked as due to a technicality his wife was and adulter when she was initially with him. projects.
Jackson's luster as a war hero was unaffected by the press campign against him. Charges that he was uneducated proved of littkle value in a country that was steadily mved towrd democracy. Most voters were aso uneducated. Some states in 1828 still did not conduct a popular vote to choose electors for the Electoral College, but most did. Adams won the identical states (the New England states, New Jersey, and Deleware) that his father had carried in the close election of 1800. The United States, However, had grown since 1800 and many western states had entered the Union. The new Democratic Party built by Van Buren and Jackson swept the rest of te nation. Jackson not only carried the states Jefferson had won in 1800, but he carried all of the new western states. It was a landslide for Jackson. He carried the big northeastern states of New York and Pennsylvania as well as the entire South and West. He won 56 percent of the popular vote, earning 178 electoral votes to Adams' 83 electoral votes.
Presidential elections are held every 4 years. Many have pren to be of only minor importance. Others have marked major shifts in American history--what might be called seminal elections. The election of 1789 and 1800 were two such elections. The election of 1828 was the next such seminal eclection. It was important for several reasons. It marked a major shift toward poular democracy. The election was the first to be decided by popular vote and it was a major step toward demoratizing the political process. One historian writes, "The election of 1828 modernized American politics. A two-party mass democracy replaced the patrician republic created by the Founders." [howe] The next seminal election would be the 1860 which would further democratize the political process by leading to the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.
Rachel Jackson was not well as the electin campaign began in 828. She cmplained of chest pains. She was deeply hurt and humiliated by the attacks on their marriage. She died December 22, 1828. Jackson nrever forgave those who had attacked his marriage, blameing Rahel's death on them. He wasquoted as saying, “I can and do forgive all my enemies. But those vile wretches who have slandered her must look to God for mercy.”
A vast throng of people assembled at the Capitol for their hero's innaguration. He had emerged victorious over the "intrigues of te airistocracy". The crowd mobed him after the inaguration and he found temprary refufe inside the Capitol. He then set off on a white horse for the White House. It seemed like all of humanity converged on the White House at this time. A small receoption had been planned. It was specificall been planned to be more modest than what was seen as President Adams "levees" which the Jacksonians had criticised as elitist, even regal. A historian describes the results, ""Barrels of orange puch had been prepared, but as the waiters opened the doors to carry the out, the mob spotted themand rushed forward to seize them. The 'most paingful confrontation prevailed' as waiters and guests collided. Pails of liquor splashed to the floor, glasses fell and were smashed or stepped on, and such mayhem ensued 'that wine and ice creams could not be brought out to the ladies,'" [Remini, pp. 177-78.] And it was down hill from there.
Jackson's victory ushered in the Age of Jackson--the only president to have an an entire era of American history named after him. It was a transfoirmationasl election. The Democratic Party that Jackson and Vasn Burnen built would dominate American elections until the 1860 belkection and the Civil War (1861-65). Jackson created a coalition of small farmers and thge urban wirking class. The 1828 elrction marked a fundamental shift in American politics. America until this time had drawn its presidents and other leaders largely from the elite. Jackson with a Scotts-Irish backwoods had a very humble childhood. His rise in American politics thus reprresented a major shift in American politics. Not only were the people to elect their leaders, but leaders would also become leaders themselves. The vicious campaign charges against Jackson echoed in the Eaton Affair and destroyed the relationship between Jakson and his Vice President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. This was probably a factor in the in the Nulification Crisis.
Howe, Daniel Walker.
Parsons, Lynn Hudson. The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828.
Remini, Rovert V. Andrew Jackson: And the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832 Vol. II (Harper & Row: New York, 1981), 469p.
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