United States presidential election, 1828
All 261 electoral votes of the Electoral College
131 electoral votes needed to win
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Jackson and Calhoun or Smith, light yellow denotes those won by Adams/Rush. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
The United States presidential election of 1828 was the 11th quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, October 31, to Tuesday, December 2, 1828. It featured a re-match of the 1824 election, as President John Quincy Adams of the National Republican Party faced Andrew Jackson of the nascent Democratic Party. Unlike in 1824, Jackson defeated Adams, marking the start of Democratic dominance in federal politics. Adams was the second president to lose re-election, following his father, John Adams.
Jackson had won a plurality of the electoral and popular vote in the 1824 election, but had lost the contingent election that was held in the House of Representatives. In the aftermath of the election, Jackson's supporters accused Adams and Henry Clay of having reached a "corrupt bargain" in which Clay helped Adams win the contingent election in return for the position of Secretary of State. After the 1824 election, Jackson's supporters immediately began plans for a re-match in 1828.
As the once-dominant Democratic-Republican Party collapsed, Jackson and allies such as Martin Van Buren and Vice President John C. Calhoun laid the foundations of the Democratic Party. Opponents of Adams coalesced around Jackson, and, unlike the 1824 election, the 1828 election became a two-way contest. Adams's supporters rallied around the president, calling themselves National Republicans in contrast to Jackson's Democrats. Jackson's cause was aided by the passage of the Tariff of 1828, referred to by its opponents as the Tariff of Abominations, which raised tariffs on imported materials and goods from abroad. With the ongoing expansion of the right to vote to most white men, the election marked a dramatic expansion of the electorate, with 9.5% of Americans casting a vote for President, compared with 3.4% in 1824.
Passage of the unpopular tariff helped Jackson carry much of the South, and Jackson also swept the Western states. Adams swept New England but won only three states outside of his home region. Jackson became the first president whose home state was neither Massachusetts nor Virginia. The election ushered Jacksonian Democracy into prominence, thus marking the transition from the First Party System to the Second Party System. Historians debate the significance of the election, with many arguing that it marked the beginning of modern American politics with the decisive establishment of democracy and the permanent establishment of a two-party electoral system.
Andrew Jackson won a plurality of electoral votes in the election of 1824, but still lost to John Quincy Adams when the election was deferred to the House of Representatives (by the terms of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a presidential election in which no candidate wins a majority of the electoral vote is decided by the House of Representatives). Henry Clay, unsuccessful candidate and Speaker of the House at the time, despised Jackson, in part due to their fight for Western votes during the election, and he chose to support Adams, which led to Adams being elected president. A few days after the election, Adams named Clay his Secretary of State, a position which at that time often led to the presidency. Jackson and his followers immediately accused Clay and Adams of striking a "corrupt bargain," and they continued to lambaste the president until the 1828 election.
In the aftermath of the 1824 election, the national Democratic-Republican Party collapsed as national politics became increasingly polarized between supporters of Adams and supporters of Jackson. In a prelude to the presidential election, the Jacksonians bolstered their numbers in Congress in the 1826 Congressional elections; Jackson ally Andrew Stevenson was chosen as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1827 over Adams ally Speaker John W. Taylor.
Democratic Party nomination
|Democratic Party Ticket, 1828|
|Andrew Jackson||John C. Calhoun|
|for President||for Vice President|
|Former U.S. Senator from Tennessee
(1797–1798 & 1823–1825)
Vice President of the United States
Within months after the inauguration of John Quincy Adams in 1825, the Tennessee legislature re-nominated Jackson for president, thus setting the stage for a re-match between these two very different politicians three years thence. Congressional opponents of Adams, including former William H. Crawford supporter Martin Van Buren, rallied around Jackson's candidacy. Jackson's supporters called themselves Democrats, and would formally organize as the Democratic Party shortly after his election. In hopes of uniting those opposed to Adams, Jackson ran on a ticket with sitting Vice President John C. Calhoun. No congressional nominating caucus or national convention was held.
National Republican Party nomination
|National Republican Ticket, 1828|
|John Quincy Adams||Richard Rush|
|for President||for Vice President|
President of the United States
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
President Adams and his allies, including Secretary of State Clay and Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, became known as the National Republicans. The National Republicans were significantly less organized than the Democrats, and many party leaders did not embrace the new era of popular campaigning. Adams was re-nominated on the endorsement of state legislatures and partisan rallies. As with the Democrats, no nominating caucus or national convention was held. Adams chose Secretary of the Treasury Richard Rush, a Pennsylvanian known for his protectionist views, as his running mate. Adams, who was personally popular in New England, hoped to assemble a coalition in which Clay attracted Western voters, Rush attracted voters in the middle states, and Webster won over former members of the Federalist Party.
The campaign was marked by large amounts of nasty "mudslinging." Jackson's marriage, for example, came in for vicious attack. When Jackson married his wife Rachel in 1791, the couple believed that she was divorced, however the divorce was not yet finalized, so he had to remarry her once the legal papers were complete. In the Adams campaign's hands, this became a scandal. Charles Hammond, in his Cincinnati Gazette, asked: "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest offices of this free and Christian land?" Jackson also came under heavy attack as a slave trader who bought and sold slaves and moved them about in defiance of modern standards of morality (he was not attacked for merely owning slaves used in plantation work). The Coffin Handbills attacked Jackson for his courts-martial, execution of deserters and massacres of Indian villages, and also his habit of dueling.
For his part, Adams did not escape attack, either. It was charged that Adams, while serving as Minister to Russia, had surrendered an American servant girl to the appetites of the Czar. Adams was also accused of using public funds to buy gambling devices for the presidential residence; it turned out that these were a chess set and a pool table.
Jackson avoided articulating issue positions, instead campaigning on his personal qualities and his opposition to Adams. Adams avoided popular campaigning, instead emphasizing his support of specific issues. Adams's praise of internal improvements in Europe, such as "lighthouses of the skies" (observatories), in his first annual message to Congress, and his suggestion that Congress not be "palsied by the will of our constituents" were given attention in and out of the press. John Randolph stated on the floor of the Senate that he "never will be palsied by any power save the constitution, and the will of my constituents." Jackson wrote that a lavish government combined with contempt of the constituents could lead to despotism, if not checked by the "voice of the people." Modern campaigning was also introduced by Jackson. People kissed babies, had picnics, and started many other traditions during the campaign.
Hunters of Kentucky
Jackson supporters used this Battle of New Orleans anthem as their campaign song.
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Thomas Jefferson wrote favorably in response to Jackson in December 1823 and extended an invitation to his estate of Monticello: "I recall with pleasure the remembrance of our joint labors while in the Senate together in times of great trial and of hard battling, battles indeed of words, not of blood, as those you have since fought so much for your own glory & that of your country; with the assurance that my attempts continue undiminished, accept that of my great respect & consideration."
Jefferson wrote in dismay at the outcome of the contingent election of 1825 to Congressional caucus nominee William H. Crawford, saying that he had hoped to congratulate Crawford but "events had not been what we had wished."
In the next election, Jackson's and Adams's supporters saw value in establishing the opinion of Jefferson in regards to their respective candidates and against their opposition. Jefferson died on July 4, 1826.
A goal of the pro-Adams press was to depict Jackson as a "mere military chieftain." Edward Coles recounted that Jefferson told him in a conversation in August 1825 that he feared the popular enthusiasm for Jackson: "It has caused me to doubt more than anything that has occurred since our Revolution." Coles used the opinion of Thomas Gilmer to back himself up; Gilmer said Jefferson told him at Monticello before the election of Adams in 1825, "One might as well make a sailor of a cock, or a soldier of a goose, as a President of Andrew Jackson." Daniel Webster, who was also at Monticello at the time, made the same report. Webster recorded that Jefferson told him in December 1824 that Jackson was a dangerous man unfit for the presidency. Historian Sean Wilentz described Webster's account of the meeting as "not wholly reliable." Biographer Robert V. Remini said that Jefferson "had no great love for Jackson."
Gilmer accused Coles of misrepresentation, for Jefferson's opinion had changed, Gilmer said. Jefferson's son-in-law, former Virginia Governor Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., said in 1826 that Jefferson had a "strong repugnance" to Henry Clay. Randolph publicly stated that Jefferson became friendly to Jackson's candidacy as early as the summer of 1825, perhaps because of the "corrupt bargain" charge, and thought of Jackson as "an honest, sincere, clear-headed and strong-minded man; of the soundest political principles" and "the only hope left" to reverse the increasing powers assumed by the federal government. Others said the same thing, but Coles could not believe Jefferson's opinion had changed.
In 1827, Virginia Governor William B. Giles released a letter from Jefferson meant to be kept private to Thomas Ritchie's Richmond Enquirer. It was written after Adams's first annual message to Congress and it contained an attack from Jefferson on the incumbent administration. Giles said Jefferson's alarm was with the usurpation of the rights of the states, not with a "military chieftain." Jefferson wrote, "take together the decisions of the federal court, the doctrines of the President, and the misconstructions of the constitutional compact acted on by the legislature of the federal bench, and it is but too evident, that the three ruling branches of that department are in combination to strip their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers reserved by them, and to exercise themselves all functions foreign and domestic." Of the Federalists, he continued, "But this opens with a vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and moneyed incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry." The Jacksonians and states' rights men heralded its publication; the Adams men felt it a symptom of senility. Giles omitted a prior letter of Jefferson's praise of Adams for his role in the embargo of 1808. Thomas Jefferson Randolph soon collected and published Jefferson's correspondence.
The selection of electors began on October 31 with elections in Ohio and Pennsylvania and ended on November 13 with elections in North Carolina. The Electoral College met on December 3. Adams won almost exactly the same states that his father had won in the election of 1800: the New England states, New Jersey, and Delaware. In addition, Adams picked up Maryland. Jackson won everything else, which resulted in a landslide victory for him.
This was the last election in which the Democrats won Kentucky until 1856 and the last in which the Democrats won South Carolina until 1840. It is also the only election where Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont voted for the National Republicans and the last time that New Hampshire voted against the Democrats until 1856 and the last time Maine did so until 1840. It was also the only election in which an electoral vote split occurred in Maine until the election of 2016.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote(a)||Electoral
|Count||Percentage||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Electoral vote|
|Andrew Jackson||Democratic||Tennessee||642,553||56.0%||178||John Caldwell Calhoun(Incumbent)||South Carolina||171|
|William Smith||South Carolina||7|
|John Quincy Adams (Incumbent)||National Republican||Massachusetts||500,897||43.6%||83||Richard Rush||Pennsylvania||83|
|Needed to win||131||131|
Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. "1828 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved July 27, 2005. Source (Electoral Vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 31, 2005.
Results by state
|John Quincy Adams
|Delaware||3||no popular vote||no popular vote||3||-||-||-||DE|
|South Carolina||11||no popular vote||11||no popular vote||-||-||-||SC|
John Quincy Adams received a similar number of electoral college votes in 1824 and 1828
Rachel Jackson had been having chest pains throughout the campaign, and she became aggravated by the personal attacks on her marriage. She became ill and died on December 22, 1828. Jackson accused the Adams campaign, and Henry Clay even more so, of causing her death, saying, "I can and do forgive all my enemies. But those vile wretches who have slandered her must look to God for mercy."
When the results of the election were announced, a mob entered the White House, damaging the furniture and lights. Adams escaped through the back and large punch bowls were set up to lure the crowd outside. Conservatives were horrified at this event, and held it up as a portent of terrible things to come from the first Democratic president.
Andrew Jackson was sworn in as president on March 4, 1829.
Electoral College selection
|Method of choosing electors||State(s)|
|Each Elector appointed by state legislature||Delaware|
|State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district||Maryland, Tennessee|
|Each Elector chosen by voters statewide||(all other states)|
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- The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents
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- Thomas Jefferson to Andrew Jackson, December 18, 1823 Retrieved on November 21, 2006.
- Thomas Jefferson to William H. Crawford, February 15, 1825. Retrieved on November 21, 2006.Transcript.
- Peterson, Merrill D.. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind, p. 25-27
- Webster, Daniel (1857). Webster, Fletcher (ed.), ed. The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 371.
- Wilentz, Sean. Andrew Jackson (2005), p. 8.
- Remini, Jackson 1:109
- Peterson, Merrill D.. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind, p. 26. See also: Andrew Stevenson's Eulogy of Andrew Jackson: B. M. Dusenbery (ed.), ed. (1846). Monument to the Memory of General Andrew Jackson. Philadelphia: Walker & Gillis. pp. 250, 263–264.
- Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, Dec. 26, 1825. Peterson characterized this letter as "one of the most influential that Jefferson ever wrote."
- vote tallies from Counting the Votes website by G. Scott Thomas
- Maldwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty, American History, 1607-1992, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, p.139.
- Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1956). John Quincy Adams and the Union. vol. 2.
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- Howell, William Huntting. "Read, Pause, and Reflect!!", Journal of the Early Republic, Summer 2010, Vol. 30 Issue 2, pp 293-300; examines the campaign literature of 1828
- McCormick, Richard P. (1966). The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era.
- Parsons, Lynn H. The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 (2009) excerpt and text search
- Remini, Robert V. (1959). Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party.
- Remini, Robert V. (1981). Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832.
- Swint, Kerwin C. (2006). Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time. Praeger Publishers.
- Watson, Harry L. (1990). Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America. ISBN 0-374-52196-4.
- Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln.
- "A Brief Biography of Andrew Jackson 1767-1845: The Election of 1828". From Revolution to Reconstruction. Retrieved November 15, 2004.
- "Election of 1828". U-S-History.com. Retrieved November 15, 2004.
- "A Historical Analysis of the Electoral College". The Green Papers. Retrieved March 20, 2005.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to United States presidential election, 1828.|
- United States presidential election of 1828 at Encyclopædia Britannica
- Presidential Election of 1828: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress
- Historian James Parton describes election
- The 1828 Campaign of Andrew Jackson and the Growth of Party Politics
- OurCampaigns overview of the popular vote and electoral vote
- Election of 1828 in Counting the Votes