Lately I have noticed how this year’s presidential election is starting to bare a resemblance to presidential elections from the past, particularly 1824 and 1828.
In the 1824 election, the fledgling Democratic-Republican Party held a congressional caucus to determine its nominee, who turned out to be Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford. Due to the increased unpopularity of the caucus system, the other potential nominees of the Democratic-Republican Party refused to withdraw from the race. They consisted of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, and Speaker of the House Henry Clay. Meanwhile, Andrew Jackson had also emerged as a candidate, viewed by some as representing the Common Man (while his opponents were seen as aristocratic power brokers).
Calhoun would soon drop out of the race (and thus would eye a future bid for the presidency), while Crawford suffered a stroke, which in turn crippled his campaign (although he remained a candidate). When the results came in on Election Day, Jackson had the lead in the popular vote (43.1 %- short of a majority), and had the lead in the Electoral College with 99 votes. Adams had 84, Crawford had 41, and Clay had 37. Since none of the candidates had the required number of electoral votes to win the election, the House of Representatives had to choose from the top three candidates (as required by the Twelfth Amendment). Clay, despite being eliminated from the race, would have the influence to determine the winner. He met privately with Adams, and afterward got the votes needed to give the presidency to Adams. Some people speculated that Clay saw Adams as the more experienced candidate, while others believe he was determined to keep Jackson (a rival westerner) out of the White House, and still others claim he saw Adams as a way to advance his own political career.
Perhaps the last of these theories is correct, because not long after Clay declared Adams to be the winner, Adams announced that Clay would be his Secretary of State (which was usually seen as a steppingstone to the presidency). Jackson’s supporters claimed that a “Corrupt Bargain” had taken place, and thus the stage was set for the 1828 election.
When the 1828 election came around, it was Adams (whose presidency had been plagued by the Corrupt Bargain accusations) versus Jackson. In addition to the fallout from the 1824 election, both candidates engaged in mudslinging at each other, including Jackson’s reputation for dueling and Adams allegedly procuring a young American girl for the pleasure of Tsar Alexander I when he served as American Minister to Russia. When the election results came in, it was Jackson who emerged the winner. Jackson’s inauguration would be attended by hundreds (perhaps thousands) of frontiersmen with little regard for manners. Such supporters of Jackson cheered wildly when he was sworn in, and stormed the White House during the reception in order to catch a glimpse of their hero (trashing the place in the process). The spectacle was referred to as “King Mob”.
The reason I am comparing the elections of 1824 and 1828 to this year’s election is due to the attacks both Hillary and the Donald have unleashed on each other, Hillary Clinton’s previously serving as Obama’s Secretary of State during his first term (and after losing to Obama in the primary), speculation by some people that neither candidate might get the 270 electoral votes for the presidency due to some people’s not supporting either candidate (e.g. contested conventions, preferences for Third Party or Independent candidates), and claims of the system’s being rigged (which appears to be the case).
Could this year’s election be a repeat of 1824? Only time will tell.
Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election_in_Virginia,_1824; public domain