The election of 1828 was between incumbent John Quincy Adams and challenger Andrew Jackson. The two men had fought a bitter election contest in 1824. John Quincy Adams was the son of a President. He had served the country as Secretary of state, and he believed it was his turn to be the next President. To the establishment, Adams was a known entity, whereas Jackson was an unknown wildcard. Jackson was a populist favorite and was better liked by voters, but not better liked by Washington insiders or establishment politicians.
The result of the 1824 contest was that Andrew Jackson won a plurality of the popular votes and of the electoral votes. But neither candidate won a majority of the electoral votes so the election was thrown into the House of Representatives.
John Quincy Adams made a deal with the speaker of the House, Henry Clay, to appoint Clay as Secretary of State if Clay could persuade the House to elect him as President. Clay delivered the House for Adams, Adams became President, and Clay became Secretary of State.
Andrew Jackson believed that Adams had stolen the election that he had rightfully won. He immediately began planning for an 1828 rematch. The 1828 contest was a bitter election and is sometimes described as the dirtiest Presidential election in US history.
|1||Both||Andrew Jackson was a populist candidate who was popular with the electorate but not popular with other elected officials. Politicians of the day believed that if Jackson won, the White House and “Washington City” would be overrun by the unwashed, uncouth masses.|
|2||1828||Jackson’s wife Rebecca had originally married very young. She believed her first husband had divorced her before she met Jackson. He had not, so when she married Jackson technically she became a bigamist and Jackson became an adulterer. Adams accused Rebecca of being a loose woman of loose morals, too loose to occupy the White House.|
|3||1828||Adams had been ambassador to Russia. There were rumors that he had provided a girl to the Russian Czar. Jackson’s campaign made hay with that rumor.|
|4||1828||Adams believed that campaigning directly was demeaning to the office of the Presidency and was reluctant to do it. He was generally perceived as aloof and|
|6||1828||Jackson had killed one man in a duel and had fought other duels. As a brilliant general, he had turned the tide of the war of 1812 in the Battle of New Orleans. As part of the military campaign, he had overseen military trials in which the accused and convicted men were executed.|
|7||Both||Adams father, John Adams, was the second US President.|
|8||1828||Jackson believed that even though he had won a plurality of both the popular vote and the electoral vote, Adams had made a backroom deal with Henry Clay to win the presidency in the House of Representatives. Jackson was probably correct about this, as Adams appointed Henry Clay to be his Secretary of State.|
|9||1828||Jackson’s wife was still married to her first husband when she married Jackson, which made her a bigamist and an adulterer.|
|10||1828||Andrew Jackson was well known as having a violent temper. He had fought multiple duels. His opponents predicted dire consequences if a man with so little self-control became President.|
Despite the establishment’s dire predictions of calamity if Jackson was elected, he won the 1828 rematch in a landslide, and he went on to win re-election easily in 1832. Today we recognize this “violent man with a violent temper” as the founder of the Democratic party.
Truly there is nothing new in politics. The 2016 election is an almost perfect carbon copy of the fierce contest of 1828. The only question remaining is whether history will repeat itself and the populist candidate this year will once again win by a wide margin.