Andrew Jackson 1767-1845 A brief biography

Road to the Presidency - Part 1 (1822-24)

The first move to bring Jackson back into politics was a resolution by the state legislature "nominating" (though not in the modern sense) Jackson for president, in July 1822. On October 1, 1823, the legislature voted 35 to 25 for Jackson for Senator (Senators were elected by state legislatures until 1913). On December 3, 1823, he moved into O'Neil's boardinghouse in Washington City, with his old friend and military subordinate John Eaton.

The "Junto" as Jackson's political colleagues were called, began the campaign for President with Jackson meetings around the country. His popularity was stunning.

In Summer 1823, a series of letters, appeared in a Philadelphia paper, later to be widely circulated in pamphlet form. Signed Wyoming (symbolizing the far Western frontier?) they were mostly written by John Eaton. They talked about the corruption of the time and the need to return to "Republican Virtue". They identified Jackson with the Founding Fathers, promoted him for the Presidency, and gave some sense of Jackson's ideas on how to run the country.

The party system had all but vanished in America. In 1816, Madison was elected President by an electoral vote of 183-34 with 4 abstentions. In 1820 it was 231-1. The old Federalist party, last in office at the beginning of 1801, was fatally wounded due to its association with opposition to the recent struggle with Britain. "Blue light Federalist", a term of abuse, implied that Federalists had signaled to British ships with blue lights from the New England shores.

The one viable party was know as the "Democratic", "Republican", or "Democratic Republican" party, and sheltered a mixture of tendencies. Those who favored severe limitations on Federal government called themselves "Old Republicans" or "Radicals".

In 1824, a caucus of the democrats in Congress was called to nominate a candidate for President. The idea of a presidential nominating convention was far in the future. The caucus was widely criticized as contrary to democracy, and attendance was extremely low. William Crawford, a "Radical", was nominated though he had just had a severe stroke and could not speak. Three other candidates were put in the field: Jackson, Henry Clay, and John Quincy Adams. Calhoun decided his chances for the presidency were nil that year, and settled for a nearly assured election as Vice President. 

The results were:

  Jackson Adams Crawford Clay
Individual Votes 152,901 114,023 46,979 47,217
Electoral Votes 99 84 41 37

In the U.S., if no presidential candidate has a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives chooses from among the top three. Each state casts one vote as a unit. Henry Clay, in last place, was out of the running. But as Speaker of the house, he did much to eke out an extremely narrow victory for Adams. Then Clay was made Secretary of State - prompting Jackson to call him the "Judas of the West" receiving his "thirty pieces of silver", and making "Corrupt Bargain" the campaign cry of the 1828 election. Clay acted on his conviction as well as in self-interest, since Adams' philosophy was most like his. But the result seemed like such a contravention of the voters' intention that it may have ruined his presidential hopes.