1828 United States presidential election
261 members of the Electoral College
131 electoral votes needed to win
|Turnout||57.6% 30.7 pp|
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 1828 United States presidential election was the 11th quadrennial presidential election. It was 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 Democratic Party. Both parties were new organizations, and this was the first Presidential election their nominees contested. Unlike in 1824, Jackson defeated Adams, marking the start of Democratic dominance in Federal politics.
In 1824, with four major candidates running for President as members of only one national party, Jackson had won a plurality both of the electoral vote and of the popular vote from among the 18 states whose voters chose Presidential electors. However, with the open support of House Speaker Henry Clay, Adams won the subsequent contingent election in the House of Representatives under the Twelfth Amendment. Many Jackson supporters perceived that his loss, though Constitutional, was unfair and contrary to the popular will, accusing Adams and 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. Intensifying political rivalry between supporters and opponents of Jackson fractured the once-dominant Democratic-Republican Party. Jackson and allies such as Martin Van Buren and Vice President John C. Calhoun laid the foundations of the Democratic Party, while supporter, states had recently expanded voting rights to nearly all white men in nearly all elections. For example, in 1824, state legislatures chose Presidential electors in six states, but by 1828, four had transitioned to voter choice. Also, while nationally organized parties had fielded rival candidates before, 1828 was the first election in which broadly qualified voters effectively chose the President from between nominees of two national parties, whose candidates or electors consistently appeared on all ballots. With greater perceived and real impact, voter participation grew, with 9.5% of Americans casting a vote for President, compared with 3.4% in 1824.
Jackson was aided by the passage of the Tariff of 1828. Denounced by opponents as the "Tariff of Abominations," the unpopular tariff and the greater charisma and popular appeal of Jackson helped him dominate the South and West. Adams swept New England but won only three other small states. Jackson became the first President whose home state was neither Massachusetts nor Virginia, while Adams was the second to lose re-election, following his father, John Adams. The election marked the rise of Jacksonian Democracy and 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 by removing key barriers to voter participation and establishing a stable two-party system.
While Andrew Jackson won a plurality of electoral votes and the popular vote in the election of 1824, he lost to John Quincy Adams as 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 a contingent election in 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 on the first ballot.
A few days after the election, Adams appointed Clay his Secretary of State, a position was held by Adams and his three immediate predecessors prior to becoming president. Jackson and his followers promptly accused Clay and Adams of striking a "corrupt bargain," and 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, with Jackson ally Andrew Stevenson chosen as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1827 over Adams ally Speaker John W. Taylor.
Jacksonian Party nomination
|Jacksonian 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. Calhoun would decline the invitation to join the Democratic Party, however, and instead formed the Nullifier Party after the election; the Nullifiers would remain largely aligned with the Democrats for the next few years, but ultimately broke with Jackson over the issue of states' rights during his first term. No congressional nominating caucus or national convention was held.
Anti-Jacksonian Party nomination
|Anti-Jacksonian Party 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.
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.
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, but Jackson won everything else, which resulted in a landslide victory for him in the electoral college.
The Democratic Party in Georgia was hopelessly divided into two factions (Troup vs. Clark). Both factions nominated Jackson for President, and the election was primarily a test of strength of these two factions, with the JQA Electors running a poor third. The winning slate, which received a 3,000 vote majority, was not pledged to any Vice Presidential Candidate. Consequently, seven of the nine Presidential Electors who voted for Jackson for President chose William Smith for Vice President.
With this in mind, Jackson won the popular vote by 12.3%, but the result was far closer than it appeared, as a shift of 20,000 votes in Kentucky, New York and Ohio would have won Adams the election, while a shift of 12,500 votes in New York, Ohio and Louisiana would have left both Calhoun and Rush short of the 131 electoral votes required to win the vice-presidency, forcing a contingent election for vice-president in the Senate.
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||55.97%||178||John Caldwell Calhoun (incumbent)||South Carolina||171|
|William Smith||South Carolina||7|
|John Quincy Adams (incumbent)||National Republican||Massachusetts||500,897||43.63%||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 was traumatized 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."
Andrew Jackson was sworn in as president on March 4, 1829. After the inauguration, a mob entered the White House to shake the new president's hand, damaging the furniture and lights. Jackson 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.
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)
- First inauguration of Andrew Jackson
- History of the United States (1789–1849)
- Jacksonian democracy
- 1828 United States House of Representatives elections
- 1828 and 1829 United States Senate elections
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- Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, Dec. 26, 1825. Peterson characterized this letter as "one of the most influential that Jefferson ever wrote."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 1828 United States presidential election.|
- United States presidential election of 1828 at the 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