Andrew Jackson's Unruly Rise to the Presidency
In what many have called the dirtiest presidential election ever, Andrew Jackson reigned supreme over John Quincy Adams in the election of 1828. For the first time in a political campaign, the main focus was to slander the reputation of the opponent. Issues seemed to be disregarded in favor of personal attacks upon the individual. The days of standing for office and remaining silent towards the American public before elections took place were over. The election of 1828 focused on insults, name calling, and heckling between the candidates and their parties.
The War of 1812 threatened to destroy the young nation's pride. Washington had been burned to the ground, the Hartford Convention was in session, and rumors of a British armada had east coast cities beginning to panic. Into this atmosphere of gloom and doubt burst the news of Andrew Jackson's crushing victory over the British in New Orleans. "The brilliant and unparalleled victory at New Orleans, has closed the war in a blaze of Glory and the nation agreed with him that Jackson's victory placed America on the very pinnacle of fame." Jackson had lifted the pride and the spirit of nationalism in previously frustrated Americans, and thus, became a national hero.
Jackson's military triumphs led to suggestions by friends that he become candidate for president, but he disavowed any interest, and political leaders in Washington assumed that the flurry of support for him would prove temporary. The campaign to make him president, however, was kept alive by his continued popularity and was carefully nurtured by a small group of his friends in Nashville, who combined devotion to the general with a high degree of political astuteness. In 1822 these friends maneuvered the Tennessee legislature into a formal nomination of their hero as a candidate for president. In the following year this same group persuaded the legislature to elect him to the U.S. Senate--a gesture designed to demonstrate the extent of his popularity in his home state.
The election of 1824 had failed to determine President James Monroe's successor because the electoral ballots were split among four candidates, none of whom had a majority. According to the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, the House of Representatives was required to select the chief executive from among the three men with the highest electoral count. In 1824 these three included the Senator from Tennessee, Andrew Jackson, who had 99 electoral votes; the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, with 84 electoral votes; and the Secretary of the Treasury, William H. Crawford, who received 41 electoral votes. Henry Clay, who was the fourth candidate, was eliminated since this total electoral count reached only 37 votes. Jackson also took a commanding 40,000 popular vote lead over the second highest candidate, John Adams.
According to the followers of Adams, Jackson's candidacy was a...