Election of 1824

The Election of 1824 clearly showed that the "era of good feelings" had come to an end. All the candidates were Democratic-Republicans, but personal and sectional interests outweighed political orthodoxy. The candidates included:

  • John Quincy Adams, son of a Federalist president, represented the interests of the Northeast (high protective tariff) and was the leading contender

  • Henry Clay of Kentucky shared political views with Adams, but they held one another in contempt — the rigid New Englander versus the hard-drinking Westerner

  • Andrew Jackson, a Senator from Tennessee and military hero, drew Western support from Clay despite the fact that his political views were not well-known

  • William H. Crawford of Georgia was born in Virginia and hoped to continue the "Virginia Dynasty;" he held to the old-line Republican view of limiting the role of the central government, but was still the congressional power brokers' favorite

  • John C. Calhoun of South Carolina harbored presidential aspirations, but backed out in the hope of securing the vice presidency.
When results were tallied it was evident that Clay had siphoned-off enough votes from Adams to deny him an electoral majority. Adams finished with 84 votes, Jackson 99, Crawford 41 and Clay 37.

Election of 1824
Candidate

Party

Electoral
Vote

Popular
Vote

Presidential

John Quincy Adams (MA)

Democratic-Republican

84

115,696

Henry Clay (KY)

"

37

47,136

Andrew Jackson (TN)

"

99

152,933

William H. Crawford (GA)

"

41

46,979

Vice Presidential

John C. Calhoun (SC)

"

182

Nathan Sanford (NY)

"

30

Nathaniel Macon (NC)

"

24

Andrew Jackson (TN)

"

13

Martin Van Buren (NY)

"

9

Henry Clay (KY)

"

2

Votes not cast

1

The Twelfth Amendment (adopted in 1804 following the disputed Election of 1800) provided that elections in which no candidate received a majority should be decided by the House of Representatives from among the top three candidates. Clay was out of contention and Crawford was an unlikely prospect because of a serious illness.

Jackson clearly expected to win, figuring that the House would act to confirm his strong showing. However, Clay, as Speaker of the House, used his influence to sway the vote to Adams. Although they were not close, Clay knew that he and Adams shared a common political philosophy; Clay also knew that Jackson was an avowed opponent of the Bank of the United States, a vital component of the American System. Clay also was not interested in doing anything to further the career of the hero of New Orleans, his main rival in the West.

Adams prevailed on the first ballot in the House of Representatives and became the nation's sixth president. His subsequent appointment of Henry Clay as Secretary of State led to angry charges of a "corrupt bargain."

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