Democratic Party: Andrew Jackson (Tennessee) and John Calhoun (South Carolina)
National Republican Party: John Quincy Adams (Massachusetts) and Richard Rush (Pennsylvania)
Jackson and Calhoun: 642,000 popular votes; 178 electoral votes.
Adams and Rush: 500,000 popular votes, 83 electoral votes.
The “corrupt bargain” of the 1824 presidential election, which swung the vote to John Quincy Adams, promised a difficult four years for the activist Adams as president. The beleaguered Adams tried to push an aggressive agenda through Congress, including extensive internal developments like the Cumberland National Highway, but faced a hostile House and Senate that was in no mood to accommodate such a drastic increase in spending. Adams’ “corrupt bargain” proved to overshadow any accomplishments during his administration and fueled the creation of the Democratic Party, around General Andrew Jackson. Jackson was frustrated by the congressional deal that kept him out of office in 1824 and managed to bring together angry supporters of Adams and Jackson, states’ rights activists, workers, and farmers across the country to form this new party. The end of the congressional caucus system came in 1824. Jackson was nominated by the Tennessee state legislature while Adams, under the newly named National Republican Party, was nominated by the state party conventions.
The campaign was particularly brutal, especially from Adams’ surrogates who went after Jackson’s personal life. Allegations of adultery with his current wife while she was married to her first husband, brutality during the War of 1812, and behavioral swings were meant to paint Jackson as an unsavory character unfit for the presidency. However, little of substance came out of the National Republican campaign because Jackson kept his answers general enough as not to give away how he would govern. The Democrats, on the other hand, utilized grassroots methods like leafleting, large campaign events, and party newspapers distributed by enthusiastic supporters to speak to the issues. The Democratic platform included the ending of property qualifications for voting, lower prices for Western public lands to encourage movement westward, and a decreased tariff to encourage more trade. But Jackson was not above slinging mud, however, and railed against Adams’ aristocratic manner and his anti-populist mentality. Certainly, these issues demonstrated Jackson’s populist agenda but his War of 1812 heroism and the wrong done to him in 1824 seemed to be more important to the American people than his policy agenda.
The popular vote in 1828 was three times that of 1824, as decreased voting restrictions and higher voting populations meant a greater turnout. Adams stood little chance of winning this election against a strong Democratic mobilization effort and Jackson ended up winning 56% of the popular vote. The Democratic ticket won two times the electoral votes as Adams, making sure that Jackson would have a strong mandate for leadership going into the White House. Jackson became the first president elected west of the Appalachian Mountains and won the entire South and West, as well as winning New York.