Andrew Jackson 1767-1845 A brief biography

The 1828 Presidential Election

The 1828 presidential election was one of the dirtiest ever, and Jackson believed, with some reason, that his wife Rachel was driven to an early grave by charges of immorality.

All of Jackson's high-handed actions as General were brought up. One notable example was the "Coffin Handbill" featuring pictures of 6 coffins, and describing one-sidedly the story of some soldiers that Jackson had court-martialed and executed. Naturally, Jackson's record of dueling made good print for the opposition. 

The most remarkable thing about the Jackson's side though was an unprecedented level of political organization. The new democratic organization kept in close correspondence, built a network of party newspapers, and created all sorts of spectacles, parades and identifying devices. 

Symbols of "Old Hickory" were everywhere. Large hickory poles erected in town squares or smaller ones attached to signs, steeples, and fore and aft on steam boats. In New York there was a parade a mile long. Hickory brooms also stood for 'Hickory' sweeping out the filth of corruption.

A different sort of campaigning went on in congress, where Jackson supporters played to the Northeastern manufacturing interests by passing high protective tariffs. Jackson favored tariffs for raising revenue, if kept within fairly modest bounds, as well as to protect industries vital to the country's defense. Jackson walked a thin line on this matter, saying he was for a "judicious tariff" and getting some ridicule for this.

The South was adamantly anti-tariff, and prominent South Carolinians were on the verge of proclaiming a right to "Nullify" offensive national laws, with a threat of succession if Washington intervened by force.

Yet they supported Jackson. Why? Southerners must have seen Jackson as the least of two evils against the Adams-Clay alliance. And Adams was the very stereotype of New England with its disdain for the slave states and the poorly educated South and West. The Democrats also expected Vice President Calhoun from South Carolina to wield great influence. Calhoun was secretly very deeply involved with the most extreme anti-tariff men, the "Nullifiers".

During the campaign, Jackson was mostly out of sight, as was thought proper for a presidential candidate. He was very much involved in the running of the campaign, corresponding with hundreds of local Jackson committees. He did appear at a New Orleans celebration of his victory over the British - the largest public demonstration ever in the US, and unsurpassed for many years.

On election day, in some places, Jackson men marched en masse to the polls, in a celebratory parade. An astonishing fact is that the number of voters counted nearly quadrupled over 1824. Four of the 24 states, including New York, took away property requirements for voting, so that basically all white males could vote. In addition, Jackson was saying "Vote for us if you believe the people should govern". In other words, Democrat meant just what the word implied. Adams' words about not being "palsied by our constituents" certainly reinforced this message.

In December, it had become obvious that Jackson won the election in a landslide. The count was 178 to 83 electoral votes, or 647,276 to 508,064 electoral votes.

Then tragedy struck. Rachel Jackson had heart pains all through 1828. She seemed to lose much of her will to live from what she knew of the vicious press attacks. One exceptionally bad attack, lead to a sharp decline, and death in a matter of days. Supposedly the attack was brought on by shock over a certain political pamphlet, causing her to collapse in hysterics. She died on December 23.