The Age of Jackson. 1824-1840. The Election of 1824. The death of the Federalists left the Republican Party unchallenged at the national level.
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The death of the Federalists left the Republican Party unchallenged at the national level.
In February of 1824 a small group of congressional Republicans held a caucus where they selected William Crawford of Georgia as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party.
Supporters of Andrew Jackson challenged the caucus as elitist and undemocratic.
The Tennessee state legislature promptly nominated Jackson while the Kentucky legislature nominated Clay. Factionalism within the nation’s remaining political party further emerged with a group of New England Republicans nominating John Quincy Adams.
Buoyed by his fame as a war hero, Jackson received far more popular votes and electoral votes than his three rivals.
However, Jackson failed to win a majority of the electoral vote. As a result, the election was thrown to the House of Representatives where the next president was to be chosen from among the top three vote getters in accordance with the provisions of the 12thAmendment.
As Speaker of the House, Clay was in a unique position. Although he had finished fourth in the election and was thus disqualified from consideration, Clay held sway in the House and could influence the choice of the next president.
Clay harbored personal animus toward Jackson who he deemed unfit for the presidency. Although Clay was not personally close to Adams, the two men were aligned politically on issues such as federal funding of internal improvements.
Clay’s influence prevailed and in the vote in the House of Representatives Adams was elected president.
Upon taking office, Adams appointed Clay his secretary of state- the cabinet position that Adams and his three predecessors had held before becoming president.
Jackson and his angered supporters were outraged and accused Adams and Clay of having struck a “corrupt bargain,” a secret back room deal that thwarted the will of the people by cheating Jackson out of presidency.
Jackson and his followers immediately began a campaign to wrest the Presidency from Adams in 1828.
The “corrupt bargain” cast a cloud over the stormy presidency of Adams as he clashed with supporters of Jackson over internal improvements and aid to manufacturing.
Well aware that he would face hostility in Congress, Adams nevertheless proclaimed in his first Annual Message a spectacular national program. He proposed that the Federal Government bring the sections together with a network of highways and canals, and that it develop and conserve the public domain, using funds from the sale of public lands. In 1828, he broke ground for the 185-mile Chesapeake & 0hio Canal.
Adams also urged the United States to take a lead in the development of the arts and sciences through the establishment of a national university, the financing of scientific expeditions, and the building of an astronomical observatory. Jacksonian critics declared such measures exceeded constitutional limitations on Congressional authority.