1844 United States presidential election

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1844 United States presidential election

← 1840 November 1 – December 4, 1844 1848 →

275 electoral votes of the Electoral College
138 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout79.2%[1] Decrease 1.1 pp
Nominee James K. Polk Henry Clay
Party Democratic Whig
Home state Tennessee Kentucky
Running mate George M. Dallas[a][2] Theodore Frelinghuysen
Electoral vote 170 105
States carried 15 11
Popular vote 1,339,494 1,300,005
Percentage 49.5% 48.1%

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Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Polk/Dallas, Yellow denotes those won by Clay/Frelinghuysen. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

John Tyler

Elected President

James K. Polk

The 1844 United States presidential election was the 15th quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, November 1 to Wednesday, December 4, 1844. Democrat James K. Polk narrowly defeated Whig Henry Clay in a close contest turning on the controversial issues of slavery and the annexation of the Republic of Texas. This is the only election in which both major party nominees served as Speaker of the House at one point, and the first in which neither candidate held elective office at the time.

President John Tyler's pursuit of Texas annexation divided both major parties. Annexation would geographically expand American slavery. It also risked war with Mexico while the United States engaged in sensitive possession and boundary negotiations with the Great Britain, which controlled Canada, over Oregon. Texas annexation thus posed both domestic and foreign policy risks. Both major parties had wings in the North and the South, but the possibility of the expansion of slavery threatened a sectional split in each party. Expelled by the Whig Party after vetoing key Whig legislation and lacking a firm political base, Tyler hoped to use the annexation of Texas to win the presidency as an independent or at least to have decisive, pro-Texas influence over the election.

The early leader for the Democratic nomination was former President Martin Van Buren, but his opposition to the annexation of Texas damaged his candidacy. Opposition from former President Andrew Jackson and most Southern delegations, plus a nomination rule change specifically aimed to block him, prevented Van Buren from winning the necessary two-thirds vote of delegates to the 1844 Democratic National Convention. The convention instead chose James K. Polk, former Governor of Tennessee and Speaker. He was the first successful dark horse for the presidency. Polk ran on a platform embracing popular commitment to expansion, often referred to as Manifest Destiny. Tyler dropped out of the race and endorsed Polk. The Whigs nominated Henry Clay, a famous, long-time party leader who was the early favorite but who conspicuously waffled on Texas annexation. Though a Southerner from Kentucky and a slave owner, Clay chose to focus on the risks of annexation while claiming not to oppose it personally. His awkward, repeated attempts to adjust and finesse his position on Texas confused and alienated voters, contrasting negatively with Polk's consistent clarity.

Polk successfully linked the dispute with Britain over Oregon with the Texas issue. The Democratic nominee thus united anti-slavery Northern expansionists, who demanded Oregon, with pro-slavery Southern expansionists who demanded Texas. In the national popular vote, Polk beat Clay by fewer than 40,000 votes, a margin of 1.4%. James G. Birney of the anti-slavery Liberty Party won 2.3% of the vote. As President, Polk completed American annexation of Texas, which was the proximate cause of the Mexican–American War.


Gag rule and Texas annexation controversies[edit]

Whigs and Democrats embarked upon their campaigns during the climax of the congressional gag rule controversies in 1844, which prompted Southern congressmen to suppress northern petitions to end the slave trade in the District of Columbia.[3][4] Anti-annexation petitions to Congress sent from northern anti-slavery forces, including state legislatures, were similarly suppressed.[5][6] Intra-party sectional compromises and maneuvering on slavery politics during these divisive debates placed significant strain on the northern and southern wings that comprised each political organization.[7] The question as to whether the institution of slavery and its aristocratic principles of social authority were compatible with democratic republicanism was becoming "a permanent issue in national politics".[8][9]

In 1836, a portion of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas declared its independence to form the Republic of Texas. Texans, mostly American immigrants from the Deep South, many of whom owned slaves, sought to bring their republic into the Union as a state. At first, the subject of annexing Texas to the United States was shunned by both major American political parties.[10] Although they recognized Texas sovereignty, Presidents Andrew Jackson (1829–1837) and Martin Van Buren (1837–1841) declined to pursue annexation.[11][12] The prospect of bringing another slave state into the Union was fraught with problems.[13] Both major parties – the Democrats and Whigs – viewed Texas statehood as something "not worth a foreign war [with Mexico]" or the "sectional combat" that annexation would provoke in the United States.[14][15]

Tyler–Texas treaty[edit]

The incumbent President John Tyler, formerly vice-president, had assumed the presidency upon the death of William Henry Harrison in 1841. Tyler, a Whig in name only,[16] emerged as a states' rights advocate committed to slavery expansion in defiance of Whig principles.[17][18] After he vetoed the Whig domestic legislative agenda, he was expelled from his own party on September 13, 1841.[19][20] Politically isolated, but unencumbered by party restraints,[21] Tyler aligned himself with a small faction of Texas annexationists[22] in a bid for election to a full term in 1844.[23][24][25]

Tyler became convinced that Great Britain was encouraging a Texas–Mexico rapprochement that might lead to slave emancipation in the Texas republic.[26][27] Accordingly, he directed Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur of Virginia to initiate, then relentlessly pursue, secret annexation talks[28][29] with Texas minister to the United States Isaac Van Zandt, beginning on October 16, 1843.[30]

Tyler submitted his Texas-U.S. treaty for annexation to the U.S. Senate, delivered April 22, 1844, where a two-thirds majority was required for ratification.[31][32] The newly appointed Secretary of State John C. Calhoun of South Carolina (assuming his post March 29, 1844)[33] included a document known as the Packenham Letter with the Tyler bill that was calculated to inject a sense of crisis in Southern Democrats of the Deep South.[34] In it, he characterized slavery as a social blessing and the acquisition of Texas as an emergency measure necessary to safeguard the "peculiar institution" in the United States.[35][36] In doing so, Tyler and Calhoun sought to unite the South in a crusade that would present the North with an ultimatum: support Texas annexation or lose the South.[37] Anti-slavery Whigs considered Texas annexation particularly egregious, since Mexico had outlawed slavery in Coahuila y Tejas in 1829, before Texas independence had been declared.

The 1844 presidential campaigns evolved within the context of this struggle over Texas annexation, which was tied to the question of slavery expansion and national security.[38][39] All candidates in the 1844 presidential election had to declare a position on this explosive issue.[40][41]


Democratic Party convention and campaign[edit]

1844 Democratic Party ticket
James K. Polk George M. Dallas
for President for Vice President
9th Governor of Tennessee
United States Minister To Russia
Grand National Democratic banner

Martin Van Buren, President of the United States between 1837 and 1841, and chief architect of Jacksonian democracy,[42][43] was the presumptive Democratic presidential contender in the spring of 1844.[44][45] With Secretary of State John C. Calhoun withdrawing his bid for the presidency in January 1844, the campaign was expected to focus on domestic issues. All this changed with the Tyler treaty.[46] Van Buren regarded the Tyler annexation measure as an attempt to sabotage his bid for the White House by exacerbating the already strained North-South Democratic alliance regarding slavery expansion.[47] Calhoun's Packenham Letter would serve to spur Democrats of the South to the task of forcing the Northern wing of the party to submit to Texas annexation,[48] despite the high risk of "aggressively injecting slavery into their political campaign over Texas."[49]

The annexation of Texas was the chief political issue of the day. Van Buren, initially the leading candidate, opposed immediate annexation because it might lead to a sectional crisis over the status of slavery in the West and lead to war with Mexico. This position cost Van Buren the support of southern and expansionist Democrats; as a result, he failed to win the nomination. The delegates likewise could not settle on Lewis Cass, the former Secretary of War, whose credentials also included past service as a U.S. minister to France.

On the eighth ballot, the historian George Bancroft, a delegate from Massachusetts, proposed former House Speaker James K. Polk as a compromise candidate. Polk argued that Texas and Oregon had always belonged to the United States by right. He called for "the immediate re-annexation of Texas" and for the "re-occupation" of the disputed Oregon territory.

On the next roll call, the convention unanimously accepted Polk, who became the first dark horse, or little-known, presidential candidate.[50] The delegates selected Senator Silas Wright of New York for Vice President, but Wright, an admirer of Van Buren, declined the nomination to become the first person to decline a vice presidential nomination. The Democrats then nominated George M. Dallas, a Pennsylvania lawyer.[51]

Martin Van Buren's Hammett letter[edit]

Anti-annexation poster, New York City, April 1844. Albert Gallatin presided over the event.[52]
Martin Van Buren summons spirits to divine the Democratic or Loco Foco prospects for election in 1844.

Van Buren realized that accommodating slavery expansionists in the South would open the Northern Democrats to charges of appeasement to the Slave power from the strongly anti-annexation Northern Whigs and some Democrats.[53] He crafted an emphatically anti-Texas position that temporized with expansionist southern Democrats, laying out a highly conditional scenario that delayed Texas annexation indefinitely.[54][55] In the Hammett letter, published April 27, 1844 (penned April 20),[56] he counseled his party to reject Texas under a Tyler administration. Furthermore, annexation of Texas as a territory would proceed, tentatively, under a Van Buren administration, only when the American public had been consulted on the matter and Mexico's cooperation had been pursued to avoid an unnecessary war.[57][58] A military option might be advanced if a groundswell of popular support arose for Texas, certified with a congressional mandate.[59][60] In these respects, Martin Van Buren differed from Henry Clay, who would never tolerate annexation without Mexico's assent.[61]

With the publication of Clay's Raleigh Letter and Van Buren's Hammett letter, Van Burenite Democrats hoped that their candidate's posture on Texas would leave southern pro-annexationists with exactly one choice for president: Martin Van Buren. In this, they misjudged the political situation.[62] Tyler and the southern pro-annexationists posed a potentially far greater threat than Clay, in that the Tyler-Calhoun treaty would put immense pressure on the northern Democrats to comply with southern Democrats' demands for Texas.[63]

The Hammett letter utterly failed to reassure Middle and Deep South extremists who had responded favorably to Calhoun's Pakenham Letter.[64][65] A minority of the southern Democrat leadership remained obdurate that Northern Democratic legislators would ignore their constituents' opposition to slavery expansion and unite in support of Texas annexation once exposed to sufficient southern pressure.

The extent to which Southern Democrat support for Martin Van Buren had eroded over the Texas annexation crisis became evident when Van Buren's southern counterpart in the rise of the Democratic Party, Thomas Ritchie of the Richmond Enquirer, terminated their 20-year political alliance in favor of immediate annexation.[66][67]

Andrew Jackson calls for annexation of Texas[edit]

Ex-President Andrew Jackson publicly announced his support for immediate Texas annexation in May 1844.[68] Jackson had facilitated Tyler's Texas negotiations in February 1844 by reassuring Sam Houston, the President of Texas, that the U.S. Senate ratification was likely.[69] As the Senate debated the Tyler treaty, Jackson declared that the popular support among Texans for annexation should be respected, and any delay would result in a British dominated Texas Republic that would promote slave emancipation and pose a foreign military threat to the southwest United States.[70]

The former military hero went further, urging all Jacksonian Democrats to block Martin Van Buren from the party ticket and seek a Democratic presidential candidate fully committed to the immediate annexation of Texas.[71] In doing so, Jackson abandoned the traditional Jeffersonian-Jacksonian formula that had required its Northern and Southern wings to compromise on constitutional slavery disputes.

The Texas issue was fracturing Van Buren's support among Democrats and would derail his candidacy.[72][73]

Democratic Party campaign tactics[edit]

Historian Sean Wilentz describes some of the Democrat campaign tactics:

In the South, Democrats played racist politics and smeared Clay as a dark skin-loving abolitionist, while in the North, they defamed him as a debauched, dueling, gambling, womanizing, irreligious hypocrite whose reversal on the bank issue proved he had no principles. They also pitched their nominees to particular local followings, having Polk hint preposterously, in a letter to a Philadelphian, that he favored "reasonable" tariff protection for domestic manufactures, while they attacked the pious humanitarian Frelinghuysen as an anti-Catholic bigot and crypto-nativist enemy of the separation of church and state. To ensure the success of their southern strategy, the Democrats also muffled John Tyler.[74]

Polk furthermore pledged to serve only one term as president. He would keep this promise, and would die less than three months after leaving office.[75]

Senate vote on the Tyler-Texas treaty[edit]

The annexation treaty needed a two-thirds vote and was easily defeated in the Senate, largely along partisan lines, 16 to 35 – a two-thirds majority against passage – on June 8, 1844.[76] Whigs voted 27–1 against the treaty: all northern Whig senators voted nay, and fourteen of fifteen southern Whig senators had joined them.[77] Democrats voted for the treaty 15–8, with a slight majority of Northern Democrats opposing. Southern Democrats affirmed the treaty 10–1, with only one slave state senator, Thomas Hart Benton, voting against.[78]

Three days later, Tyler and his supporters in Congress began exploring means to bypass the supermajority requirement for Senate treaty approval. Substituting the constitutional protocols for admitting regions of the United States into the Union as states, Tyler proposed that alternative, yet constitutional, means be used to bring the Republic of Texas – a foreign country – into the Union.[79]

Tyler and Calhoun, formerly staunch supporters of minority safeguards based on the supermajority requirements for national legislation, now altered their position to facilitate passage of the Tyler treaty.[80] Tyler's attempt to evade the Senate vote launched a spirited congressional debate.[81]

Whig Party convention and campaign[edit]

1844 Whig Party ticket
Henry Clay Theodore Frelinghuysen
for President for Vice President
Speaker of the House
(1811–1814, 1815–1820, 1823–1825)
2nd Chancellor Of New York University
John Tyler, the incumbent president in 1844, whose term expired on March 4, 1845
Political cartoon predicting Polk's defeat by Clay
Grand National Whig banner

Henry Clay of Kentucky, effectively the leader of the Whig Party since its inception in 1834,[82] was selected as its nominee at the party's convention in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 1, 1844.[83][84] Clay, a slaveholder, presided over a party in which its Southern wing was sufficiently committed to the national platform to put partisan loyalties above slavery expansionist proposals that might undermine its north–south alliance.[85][86] Whigs felt confident that Clay could duplicate Harrison's landslide victory of 1840 against any opposition candidate.[87][88]

Southern Whigs feared that the acquisition of the fertile lands in Texas would produce a huge market for slave labor, inflating the price of slaves and deflating land values in their home states.[89] Northern Whigs feared that Texas statehood would initiate the opening of a vast "Empire for Slavery".[90]

Two weeks before the Whig convention in Baltimore, in reaction to Calhoun's Packenham Letter, Clay issued a document known as the Raleigh Letter (issued April 17, 1844)[91] that presented his views on Texas to his fellow southern Whigs.[92] In it, he flatly denounced the Tyler annexation bill and predicted that its passage would provoke a war with Mexico, whose government had never recognized Texas independence.[93] Clay underlined his position, warning that even with Mexico's consent, he would block annexation in the event that substantial sectional opposition existed anywhere in the United States.[94]

The Whig party leadership was acutely aware that any proslavery legislation advanced by its southern wing would alienate its anti-slavery northern wing and cripple the party in the general election.[95] In order to preserve their party, Whigs would need to stand squarely against acquiring a new slave state. As such, Whigs were content to restrict their 1844 campaign platform to less divisive issues such as internal improvements and national finance.[96][97][98]

Whigs picked Theodore Frelinghuysen of New Jersey – "the Christian Statesman" – as Clay's running mate. An advocate of the colonization of emancipated slaves, he was acceptable to southern Whigs as an opponent of the abolitionists.[99] His pious reputation balanced Clay's image as a slave-holding, hard-drinking duelist.[100][101] Their party slogan was "Hurray, Hurray, the Country's Risin' – Vote for Clay and Frelinghuysen!"[102]

Henry Clay's Alabama letter[edit]

On July 27, 1844, Clay released a position statement, the so-called "Alabama Letter." In it, he counseled his Whig constituency to regard Texas annexation and statehood as merely a short phase in the decline of slavery in the United States, rather than a long term advance for the Slave Power.[103] Clay qualified his stance on Texas annexation, declaring "no personal objection to the annexation" of the republic. He would move back to his original orientation in September 1844.[104] Northern Whigs expressed outrage at any détente with the Slave Power and accused him of equivocating on Texas annexation.[105]

Clay's central position, however, had not altered: no annexation without northern acquiescence. Clay's commitment brought Southern Whigs under extreme pressure in their home states and congressional districts, threatening to tarnish their credentials as supporters of slavery.[106][107]

Whig Party campaign tactics[edit]

Historian Sean Wilentz describes some of the Whig campaign tactics:

"The Whigs countered Democratic attacks by revving up the Log Cabin electioneering machinery and redeploying it on behalf of the man they now celebrated as 'Ol'Coon' Clay. They also attacked former House Speaker Polk as nobody who deep down was a dangerous Loco Foco radical...With greater success, the Whigs linked up with resurgent nativist anti-Catholic movement strongest in New York and Pennsylvania, and planted stories that as president, Clay would tighten up immigration and naturalization laws. (Too late, Clay tried to distance himself from the nativists.)" "The Liberty Party added to the confusion...Clay became the object of nasty abolitionist attacks. One notorious handbill, widely reprinted, by an abolitionist minister Abel Brown, denounced Clay as a "Man Stealer, Slaveholder, and Murdurer," and accused him of "Selling Jesus Christ!" because he dealt in slaves. With the campaign to be decided at the electoral margins, Whig managers grew so concerned that, late in the campaign, they concocted a fraudulent letter that supposedly proved that James Birney was secretly working in league with the Democrats, and circulated it in New York and Ohio."[108]

Other nominations[edit]

John Tyler[edit]

Incumbent President John Tyler, the Democratic-Republican Party presidential nominee

After the closed session Senate debates on the Tyler-Texas treaty were leaked to the public on April 27, 1844, President Tyler's only hope of success in influencing passage of his treaty was to intervene directly as a spoiler candidate in the 1844 election.[109] His "Democratic-Republican Party", a recycling of the name of Jefferson's party,[110] held its convention on May 27, 1844, in Baltimore, Maryland, a short distance from the unfolding Democratic Party convention that would select James K. Polk as nominee. Tyler was nominated the same day without challenge, accepting the honor on May 30, 1844. The Tyler delegates did not designate a vice-presidential running mate.[111]

Democratic Party nominee James K. Polk was faced with the possibility that a Tyler ticket might shift votes away from the Democrats and provide Clay with the margin of victory in a close race. Tyler made clear in his nomination acceptance speech that his overriding concern was the ratification of his Texas annexation treaty. Moreover, he hinted that he would drop out of the race once that end was assured, informing Polk, through Senator Robert J. Walker of Mississippi, that his campaign efforts were simply a vehicle to mobilize support for Texas annexation.[112] Tyler concentrated his resources in the states of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, all highly contested states in the election. Securing enough Democratic support, his withdrawal might prove indispensable to Polk.

Polk was receptive as long as Tyler could withdraw without raising suspicion of a secret bargain.[113] To solidify Tyler's cooperation, Polk enlisted Andrew Jackson to reassure Tyler that Texas annexation would be consummated under a Polk administration. On August 20, 1844, Tyler dropped out of the presidential race, and Tylerites moved quickly to support the Democratic Party nominee.[114]

Liberty Party[edit]

The Liberty Party held its 1843 national convention on August 30 in Buffalo, New York, with 148 delegates from twelve states in attendance. James G. Birney, the party's presidential nominee in the 1840 election, was renominated with 108 votes on the first ballot (Thomas Morris and William Jay received 2 and 1 votes respectively). Morris would go on to be nominated for vice-president with 83 votes compared to Gerrit Smith's 22 and Alvan Stewart's 1.[115] The party received 2.3% of the popular vote in the election, which was the highest it ever received.[116]

Joseph Smith[edit]

Joseph Smith, the mayor of Nauvoo, Illinois, and founder of the Latter-day Saint movement, ran as an independent under the newly created Reform Party with Sidney Rigdon as his running mate. He proposed the abolition of slavery through compensation by selling public lands and decreasing the size and salary of Congress; the closure of prisons; the annexation of Texas, Oregon, and parts of Canada; the securing of international rights on high seas; free trade; and the re-establishment of a national bank.[117] His top aide Brigham Young campaigned for Smith saying, "He it is that God of Heaven designs to save this nation from destruction and preserve the Constitution."[118] The campaign ended when he was attacked and killed by a mob while in the Carthage, Illinois, jail on June 27, 1844.[119]


Polk's adoption of Manifest Destiny paid dividends at the polls. No longer identified with the Tyler-Calhoun "southern crusade for slavery", the western Democrats could embrace Texas annexation.[120] The Democrats enjoyed a huge upsurge in voter turnout, up to 20% over the figures from 1840, especially in the Northwest and Mid-Atlantic regions. The Whigs showed only a 4% increase.[121]

The Democrats won Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana and nearly took Ohio, where the concept of Manifest Destiny was most admired.[122] In the Deep South, Clay lost every state to Polk, a huge reversal from the 1840 race, but carried most of the Middle and Border South.[123] Clay's "waffling" on Texas may have cost him the 41 electoral votes of New York and Michigan. The former slaveholder, now abolitionist, James Birney of the Liberty Party, received 15,812 and 3,632 votes, respectively, based on his unwavering stand against Texas annexation.

Celebratory shots rang out in Washington on November 7 as returns came in from western New York which clinched the state and the presidency for Polk.[124] Polk won by a mere 5,106 out of 470,062 cast in New York, and only 3,422 out of 52,096 votes in Michigan.[125] Had enough of these voting blocks cast their ballots for the anti-annexationist Clay in either state, he would have defeated Polk.[126][127] Still, Clay's opposition to annexation and western slavery expansion served him well among Northern Whigs and nearly secured him the election.[128]

As of 2020, Clay was the third of seven presidential nominees to win a significant number of electoral votes in at least three elections, the others being Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Grover Cleveland, William Jennings Bryan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon. Of these, Jackson, Cleveland, and Roosevelt also won the popular vote in at least three elections. Clay and Bryan are the only two candidates to lose the presidency three times.

This is the most recent presidential election where the election took place on different days in different states. It is the only presidential election in which both major party nominees were former Speakers of the House. This was the last election in which Ohio voted for the Whigs. It was also the only presidential election in which the winner, Polk, lost both his birth state of North Carolina and his state of residence, Tennessee, (which he lost by only 123 votes) before Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 presidential election. This was the first of four times that a victorious candidate lost their home state followed by 1916, 1968, and 2016.


Broadside announcing torchlight victory parade in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Polk's election confirmed that Manifest Destiny had majority support in the electorate despite Whig opposition.[129] The annexation of Texas was formalized on March 1, 1845, days before Polk took office. Mexico refused to accept the annexation and the Mexican–American War broke out in 1846. Instead of demanding all of Oregon, Polk compromised. Washington and London negotiated the Buchanan–Pakenham Treaty, which split up the Oregon Territory between the two countries.[130]

Allegations of fraud[edit]

Upon the conclusion of the election, Whig publications were disheartened at Henry Clay's loss against Polk's alleged fraud. The Whig Almanac, a yearly collection of political statistics and events of interest to the party, contained in 1845 a column alleging fraud in Louisiana. It noted that, in one Louisiana parish, Plaquemines, the vote tally exploded from a 240 to 40 vote victory for the Van Buren ticket in 1840 to a 1007 to 37 vote victory for the Polk ticket in 1844. The 970 vote margin was greater than Polk's margin statewide. The 1,007 votes received by Polk exceeded the total number of all white males in the parish in 1840, despite Louisiana having a property requirement to vote. A steward, pilot, and passenger of the steamboat Agnes reportedly said that the ship ferried voters from New Orleans to Plaquemines parish where the steward was pushed by the Captain to vote for the Polk ticket three times, despite not being of voting age. A man named Charles Bruland was seen driven out of the voting booth wounded and bloody after attempting to cast a vote for the Clay ticket in Plaquemines Parish.[131]

Ultimately, these allegations of fraud would not have changed the election (though the Whig Almanac makes a slippery slope argument that if this fraud occurred in Louisiana, it must also have occurred in New York, which had Clay won he would have won the election), as Louisiana switching its vote would make the final count 164 electoral vote for Polk to 111 for Clay.

Electoral results
Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote(a) Electoral
Running mate
Count Percentage Vice-presidential candidate Home state Electoral vote
James K. Polk Democratic Tennessee 1,339,494 49.54% 170 George M. Dallas Pennsylvania 170
Henry Clay Whig Kentucky 1,300,004 48.08% 105 Theodore Frelinghuysen New York[132] 105
James G. Birney Liberty Michigan 62,103 2.30% 0 Thomas Morris Ohio 0
Other 2,058 0.08% Other
Total 2,703,659 100% 275 275
Needed to win 138 138

Source (Popular vote): Leip, David. "1844 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.
(a) The popular vote figures exclude South Carolina where the Electors were chosen by the state legislature rather than by popular vote.

Popular vote
Electoral vote

Cartographic gallery[edit]

Results by state[edit]

Source: Data from Walter Dean Burnham, Presidential ballots, 1836-1892 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1955) pp 247–57.

States/districts won by Polk/Dallas
States/districts won by Clay/Frelinghuysen
James K. Polk
Henry Clay
James G. Birney
Margin State Total
State electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
# % #
Alabama 9 0001361837,401 58.99 9 0004866926,002 41.01 - no ballots 11,399 17.98 63,403 AL
Arkansas 3 9,546 63.01 3 5,604 36.99 - no ballots 3,942 26.02 15,150 AR
Connecticut 6 29,841 46.18 - 32,832 50.81 6 1,943 3.01 - -2,991 -4.63 64,616 CT
Delaware 3 5,970 48.75 - 6,271 51.20 3 no ballots -301 -2.45 12,247 DE
Georgia 10 44,147 51.19 10 42,100 48.81 - no ballots 2,047 2.38 86,247 GA
Illinois 9 58,795 53.91 9 45,854 42.05 - 3,469 3.18 - 12,941 11.86 109,057 IL
Indiana 12 70,181 50.07 12 67,867 48.42 - 2,106 1.50 - 2,314 1.65 140,154 IN
Kentucky 12 51,988 45.91 - 61,249 54.09 12 no ballots -9,261 -8.18 116,865 KY
Louisiana 6 13,782 51.30 6 13,083 48.70 - no ballots 699 2.60 26,865 LA
Maine 9 45,719 53.83 9 34,378 40.48 - 4,836 5.69 - 11,341 13.35 84,933 ME
Maryland 8 32,706 47.61 - 35,984 52.39 8 no ballots -3,278 -4.78 68,690 MD
Massachusetts 12 53,039 40.17 - 67,062 50.79 12 10,830 8.20 - -14,023 -10.62 132,037 MA
Michigan 5 27,737 49.75 5 24,375 43.72 - 3,639 6.53 - 3,362 6.03 55,751 MI
Mississippi 6 25,846 57.43 6 19,158 42.57 - no ballots 6,688 14.85 45,004 MS
Missouri 7 41,322 56.98 7 31,200 43.02 - no ballots 10,122 13.96 72,522 MO
New Hampshire 6 27,160 55.22 6 17,866 36.32 - 4,161 8.46 - 9,294 18.90 49,187 NH
New Jersey 7 37,495 49.37 - 38,318 50.46 7 131 0.17 - -823 -1.09 75,944 NJ
New York 36 237,588 48.90 36 232,482 47.85 - 15,812 3.25 - 5,106 1.05 485,882 NY
North Carolina 11 39,287 47.61 - 43,232 52.39 11 no ballots -3,945 -4.78 82,521 NC
Ohio 23 149,061 47.74 - 155,113 49.68 23 8,050 2.58 - -6,052 -1.94 312,224 OH
Pennsylvania 26 167,447 50.50 26 161,125 48.59 - 3,000 0.90 - 6,322 1.91 331,572 PA
Rhode Island 4 4,867 39.58 - 7,322 59.55 4 107 0.87 - -2,455 -19.97 12,296 RI
South Carolina 9 no popular vote 9 no popular vote no popular vote - - - SC
Tennessee 13 59,917 49.95 - 60,040 50.05 13 no ballots -123 -0.10 119,957 TN
Vermont 6 18,049 36.96 - 26,780 54.84 6 3,970 8.13 - -8,731 -17.88 48,829 VT
Virginia 17 50,679 53.05 17 44,860 46.95 - no ballots 5,819 6.10 95,539 VA
TOTALS: 275 1,339,570 49.54 170 1,300,157 48.09 105 62,054 2.30 - 39,413 1.45 2,703,864 US
TO WIN: 138

States that flipped from Whig to Democratic[edit]

Close states[edit]

States where the margin of victory was under 1%:

  1. Tennessee 0.10% (123 votes)

States where the margin of victory was under 5%:

  1. New York 1.05% (5,106 votes) (tipping point state)
  2. New Jersey 1.09% (823 votes)
  3. Indiana 1.65% (2,314 votes)
  4. Pennsylvania 1.91% (6,322 votes)
  5. Ohio 1.94% (6,052 votes)
  6. Georgia 2.38% (2,047 votes)
  7. Delaware 2.45% (301 votes)
  8. Louisiana 2.6% (699 votes)
  9. Connecticut 4.63% (2,991 votes)
  10. North Carolina 4.78% (3,945 votes)
  11. Maryland 4.78% (3,278 votes)

States where the margin of victory was under 10%:

  1. Michigan 6.03% (3,362 votes)
  2. Virginia 6.1% (5,819 votes)
  3. Kentucky 8.18% (9,261 votes)

Electoral College selection[edit]

Method of choosing electors State(s)
Each Elector appointed by state legislature South Carolina
Each Elector chosen by voters statewide (all other States)


  1. ^ Silas Wright had originally been nominated to serve as Polk's running mate; however, Wright declined the nomination and Dallas was chosen instead.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National General Election VEP Turnout Rates, 1789-Present". United States Election Project. CQ Press.
  2. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 570: Wright declined: "To do otherwise...would have been a renunciation of both his personal loyalties and his highest principles (The convention settled on the conservative...George M. Dallas)."
  3. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 352: "The Gag Rule Controversy had sketched the battle lines" in the approaching crisis over slavery expansion in America and "hardened contestants for the worse crisis looming over expansion in America – and slavery – in the Southwest [i.e. Texas."
    Wilentz, 2008, p. 558: With "the repeal of the gage rule, the conflict" – i.e. whether American republicanism could tolerate American slavery – "moved closer to becoming a permanent issue in national politics."
  4. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 410: "Artificially segregating Whigs' response to gag and Texas crises...hinders awareness that the two issues came to a climax at the same time. The same Congress of 1844-45 which abolished the gag rule admitted Texas."
  5. ^ May 2008, p. 97: "...eight [northern] state legislatures sent Congress petitions warning against [Texas annexation]."
  6. ^ Miller, 1998, p. 285: "There had already been...resolutions by state legislatures that were summarily dismissed on the subject of Texas [annexation'."
  7. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 558: The Gag Rule debates caused "the heightening of sectional tensions in Congress [making] it imperative that [Whigs] find some compromise middle ground in the 1844 campaign...The same was true for Democrats..." Due to the Gag Rule controversies, "Agitation over slavery on both sides was now fair play" and the question arose: "Could American democracy coexist with American slavery?"
  8. ^ Miller, 1998, p. 285: "[I]f the annexation of Texas were to be discussed on the House floor it would certainly lead to a discussion of slavery – exactly the subject slaveholding congressmen wanted to avoid."
  9. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 15: In the early 1840s "it had become clear that an apocalyptic battle was looming between... Union and Slavery... "
  10. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 561: "Texas annexation had long been a taboo subject for Whigs and Democrats alike."
  11. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 560: Jackson was "happy to recognize the new Texas republic but refused to annex it because it could well lead to war with Mexico." An event "both Jackson and Van Buren wanted to avoid
  12. ^ Meacham, 2008 p. 324: "Stephen Austin implored Jackson to militarily support Texas independence 1836. The president commented: "[Austin] does not reflect that we have a treaty with Mexico and our national faith is pledged to support it."
  13. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 148: "There were a number of very good reasons to oppose taking Texas..."
  14. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 560: "...both Jackson and Van Buren would avoid...war with Mexico."
    Freehling, 1991, p. 367: "Jackson was a partisan of annexation...but...delayed..."
    May, 2008, p. 97: "As much as [US President] Jackson wanted Texas, he would not pay the price of a war abroad or at home."
  15. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 367-368: During his presidency, Van Buren considered Texas annexation "potentially poisonous to American Union..."
  16. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 28: "Never truly a Whig, Tyler opposed almost every policy the party stood for."
  17. ^ Holt, 2005, p. 10: Tyler was "...deeply devoted to the perpetuation of slavery..."
  18. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 410: "...Northern Whigs had warned that Texas would be the Slavepower's next outsized demand after the gag rule...Whigs Northern and Southern had loathed Tyler as a slayer of their popular mandate."
  19. ^ Holt, 2005, p. 10: In response to Tyler's vetoes "Whig congressmen and most state Whig organizations formally read Tyler out of the Whig Party."
  20. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 364: Tyler was "almost unanimously excommunicated...from the [Whig] party."
  21. ^ Merry, 2009, p. 67 "[Tyler], refusing to embrace the Whig agenda...had essentially become a president without a party, and a president without a party couldn't govern effectively."
    Finkelman. 2011, p. 28: "The knowledge that he would never gain the Whig presidential nomination liberated Tyler to move forward on annexation..."
  22. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 355-356: "Tyler and his southern advisers "were composed of a few states' rights Whigs and fewer disgruntled Democrats...These alarmists controlled the presidency. They dominated nothing else."
  23. ^ Freehling, 1991, p.402: "Sam Houston's movement away from [annexation by] the United States left the American establishment [i.e. Whigs and Democrats] to avoid the problem. The Tyler administration had to [secure an annexation treaty with Texas] before debate could be compelled in America."
  24. ^ Holt, 2005, p. 10: "...Tyler hit upon the annexation of Texas as an issue on which he might win the presidency in 1844."
  25. ^ May 2008, p. 99: "Tyler desperately wanted to win election in 1844 and believed that acquiring Texas would earn him favor."
  26. ^ Finkelman, 2011, p. 30: "Some southerners argued that Britain would end slavery in Texas and this would lead to slaves fleeing [from US slave states] to the Republic of Texas. The predictions helped the lame-duck Tyler convince a lame-duck Congress to annex Texas."
  27. ^ Holt, 2005, p. 10: "England's repeated attempts to persuade authorities in the Republic of Texas to abolish slavery...influenced him [Tyler]" to seek annexation.
  28. ^ Finkelman, 2001, p. 28-29: "...in 1843 [Tyler] began secret negotiations with Texas."
  29. ^ May 2008, p. 112:"Tyler's furtive negotiations with the Texans..." on the annexation treaty.
  30. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 398: "On October 16 Upshur met with Texas Minister Van Zandt and urged immediate negotiations towards an annexation treaty."
  31. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 408: "On April 22, 1844, the Senate received the pre-treaty correspondence [and] the [Tyler] treaty..."
  32. ^ Finkelman, 2011, p. 29: "A treaty required a two-thirds majority [in the Senate] for ratification."
  33. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 407: "The new Secretary of State [Calhoun] reached Washington March 29, 1844."
  34. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 415: "...Calhoun could only begin to provoke a 'sense of crisis' with southern Democrats", and "The Packenham Letter could rally southern Democrats against the party's northern establishment..."
    May, 2008, p. 113: "The Packenham Letter proved the claims of anit-annexationists and abolitionists that the Texas question was only about slavery - its expansion and preservation - despite Tyler's protestations to the contrary."
  35. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 408: The Packenham Letter "declared the national [Texas] treaty a sectional weapon, designed to protect slavery's blessings from England's documented interference" and "aimed at driving southerners to see England's soft threat in a hard-headed way."
  36. ^ May 2008, p. 112-113: "Calhoun...insisted that the'peculiar institution' was, in fact, 'a political institution necessary to peace, safety and prosperity."
  37. ^ Freehling, 2008, p. 409-410: "Nothing would have made Northern Whigs tolerate the [Packenham] document, and Northern Democrats would have to be forced to swallow their distaste for the accord. Calhoun's scenario of rallying enough slaveholders to push enough Northern Democrats to stop evading the issue was exactly the way the election of 1844 and annexation aftermath transpired."
  38. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 26: "James K. Polk's victory over Henry Clay in 1844 was directly tied to the Texas annexation question."
  39. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 424: Texas "was politically and economically sublime for slavery; and annexationists demanded the soil..."
  40. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 148: "Texas...forced all candidates to declare whether they were for or against annexation"
  41. ^ Wilentz, 2008: "Instantly, the letter became a public litmus test" for both national parties: "support Texas and it pro-slavery rationale and alienate the North, or oppose it and forever lose the South."
  42. ^ Holt, 2005, p. 7: "...Martin Van Buren took the lead in constructing the Democratic Party..."
  43. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 58: "[Van Buren's] vision was indispensable to the rise of the phenomenon we call Jacksonian Democracy."
  44. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 369: Van Buren "seemingly had the Democratic Party's nomination secured" and p. 411: "...cruising towards the nomination..."
  45. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 558: "By early 1844, Martin Van Buren and the Radical Democrats controlled the party's nominating machinery."
  46. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 558-559: "Calhoun's departure from the presidential race in January 1844 appeared to seal Van Buren's nomination" and "The key question" was whether "banking and internal improvement" would suffice as issues to heal party divisions.
  47. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 411 "...a southern roadblock..." to Van Buren's nomination.
  48. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 413: A test to determine "whether southern extremists could pressure moderate Southern Democrats to [in turn] pressure Northern Democrats" into voting for Texas annexation legislation.
    Merry, 2009, p. 787: Van Buren "faced considerable opposition within his own party" to any rejection of Texas annexation, "particularly from southern slaveholders and western entrepreneurs...Now the rupture of the party was unavoidable."
  49. ^ Miller, 1998, p. 484: Italics in original
  50. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 150 "...the original 'dark horse' candidate."
  51. ^ World Book
  52. ^ Crapol, 2006, p. 215: "The capacity crowd in the auditorium listened attentively as the eighty-three-year-old Gallatin spoke passionately against Texas annexation."
  53. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 412: Van Buren "filled his Hammet letter with conditions" obstructing the road to annexation "because Northern Whigs anti-annexationist fury made unconditional annexation too politically risky." p. 429 "Northern Whigs had, by [placating the] South, turned the southern minority into a national majority. Van Buren now urged that the northern majority must rule" the Democratic national party.
  54. ^ Widmer, 2005, p.149: Van Buren stated "in no uncertain terms he was opposed to Texas annexation...He did not foreclose on the future possibility...under the right circumstances..."
  55. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 413: "Van Buren...offered Southerners a delay [on annexation] that would be tolerable to the North."
  56. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 149: "Van Buren wrote out a reply on April 20 that reshaped the campaign..."
  57. ^ Freehling, 1991, p.412: Van Buren's letter "came fused with a pledge to administer annexation...assuming the American majority wanted to risk war", but "repudiated" altogether Tyler's Texas treaty.
  58. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 568: "...the letters thrust was strongly annexation" but he included "a vague concession to the South", whereby mass support for annexation – North and South – might open the door to Texas statehood.
  59. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 149: Van Buren "did not foreclose on the future possibility of accepting Texas under the right circumstances" including military means.
  60. ^ May 2008, p. 113: Van Buren agreed to "accept Texas annexation if it did not mean a war with Mexico, did not exacerbate sectional tensions, and had the clear support of the whole nation."
  61. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 427: "Clay, in contrast [to Van Buren] would halt annexation unless Mexico assented."
  62. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 428: "Van Buren erred...in thinking that delay [in annexation] was tolerable" to Southern Democrats..." "The more threatening foe might be President Tyler, who promoted [immediate annexation]." "[He] also miscalculated later...in thinking that Southern Democrats most dangerous opponent was necessarily Clay, who admittedly offered less on annexation. The more threatening foe might be President Tyler, who offered far more [than Van Buren]"
  63. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 426: "Southern Democrats had long since discovered, particularly in gag rule politics, that enough Northern Democrats would probably cave in, however begrudgingly and resentfully, to southern demands."
  64. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 428: Van Buren's response to Calhoun's Packenham letter "produced a special fury when Southern Democrats scorned his clever stall .
  65. ^ Widmer, 2005, p. 149: "Immediately after the publication of the Hammett Letter, southerners let loose a howl of 'fever and fury' and claimed that it proved he had never been one of them."
  66. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 428: Van Buren "was finished as a candidate in their section."
  67. ^ Brown, 1966, p. 33: "Ritchie and Van Buren, after nearly a quarter century of fruitful political teamwork, would part company..."
  68. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 415: Jackson's support for immediate Texas annexation "lent enormous credibility to Calhoun" after the issuance of the Packenham Letter.
  69. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 404: "Jackson would assure Texas President [Sam Houston] that...annexation could now become a reality." and p. 418: "that a treaty would be ratified."
  70. ^ Freehling,1991, p. 416, p. 417: "Jackson joined Calhoun and Tyler in seeing Texas's vulnerability as England's opportunity" and "if America rejected annexation" Great Britain would preside over the emancipation of Texas slavery and "soon English soldiers" would be occupying the western frontier.
  71. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 415: "Now the old general [Jackson] urged...his supporters to nominate someone other than Van Buren"because he had "failed to see the Texas situation as an immediate crisis."
  72. ^ Merry, 2009, p. 78: "Van Buren's position within the Democratic Party was unraveling."
  73. ^ Holt, 2008, p. 11: Van Buren's supporters "raged that Texas annexation had been used to derail Van Buren's nomination."
  74. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 573
  75. ^ "James K. Polk". HISTORY. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
  76. ^ May 2008, p. 115: The US Senate "voted thirty-five to sixteen to defeat the treaty."
  77. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 431
  78. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 431: "...the Senate rejected the treaty by over two-thirds, 35-16, on June 8, 1844. Whigs voted 27-1 against ratification, Democrats 15-8 for approval. Northern Democrats barely managed a majority against the Slaver power, 7-5, with one abstention; Northern Whigs opposed annexation, 13-0. Southern Democrats affirmed the treaty, 10-1: Southern Whigs said no to Tyler, 14-1"
  79. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 431: "...three days after the treaty was defeated...Tyler urged Congress to admit Texas by simple majorites" in each house.
  80. ^ Finkelman, 2011, p. 29: "...Tyler abandoned his strict constructionist constitutional scruples, which dictated that annexation was possible only by [a Senate approved] treaty."
  81. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 432: "The resulting bitter senatorial confrontation on Tyler's proposed evasion of the two-thirds roadblock was the first public congressional explossion over Texas, the treaty having [initially] been considered in secret session."
  82. ^ Holt, 2005, p. 10: "Clay had engineered the formation of the Whig Party in 1834..."
  83. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 569: The Whig convention "unanimously approved Clay's nomination"..."a thoroughly joyous and exciting affair."
  84. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 569: The Whig convention [of 1844] in Baltimore, which assembled on May 1..."
  85. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 18: "In Congress, the Whigs had blocked Texas annexation, with southern Whigs joining their northern colleagues...who opposed Texas annexation because of slavery."
  86. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 569: The Whig platform "did not even mention Texas..."
  87. ^ Finkelmn, 2011, p. 21: Whigs regarded the election as a "cakewalk", believing Clay would swamp Polk.
  88. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 360:"...Southern Whigs used the same electioneering hoopla in 1844..." as in 1840.
  89. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 18: "In the South, Whigs argued that annexation would harm slavery because a large migration to Texas would raise the price of slaves and lower price of land in the rest of the South."
  90. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 18: "Northern Whigs, joined by some northern Democrats, saw Texas as a great "Empire for Slavery".
  91. ^ Freeling, 1991, p. 427: The "so-called Raleigh letter of April 17, 1844."
  92. ^ Holt, 2005, p 10: Clay declared Texas annexation "fraught with danger to the nation" and would "erode national comity" and "produce a war with Mexico."
  93. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 427: "While Clay concurred with Van Buren on opposing the Calhoun-Tyler [Texas] treaty, the two opponents differed on post-treaty annexation policy."
    Finkelman, 2011, p. 26: "When the 1844 campaign began, Henry Clay was unalterably opposed to annexation."
  94. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 427: "Clay...would halt annexation unless Mexico assented. He would also deny Texas entrance in the Union, no matter whether Mexico agreed, should 'a considerable and respectable portion' of the American people "express 'decided opposition'"
  95. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 426–427: "Southern Whigs thus had to weigh the possibility that Texas might be abolitionized [by Great Britain] against the certainty that campaigning for [Texas] annexation would split their party."
  96. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 568-569: "The Texas issue struck [Clay] as a giant distraction from the real issues...internal improvements, the tariff and the rest of the American System..." and "ratified a four-part unity platform" based on the "American System."
  97. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 353, p. 355, p. 436
  98. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 22: "The Whigs wanted to talk about the tariff and currency, which were no longer exciting issues."
  99. ^ Finkelman, 2008, p. 21: "...as an avid colonizationist [Freylinghuysen's] conservative views on slavery made him acceptable to southerners, and at the convention, almost all southern delegates voted for him." And p. 19-20: "...he was clearly an opponest of the abolitionists."
  100. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 17, p. 21: Freylinghuysen "the perfect northerner to balance the somewhat sordid reputation of the slaveowning, dueling, hard-drinking Clay."
  101. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 569: Freylinghuysen served to "offset Clay's reputation for moral laxity..."
  102. ^ Finkelman. 2011, p. 22: The "less than snappy slogan..."
  103. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 435: "Even anti-slavery American should consent to annexation counseled Clay" because diffusion of slavery south into the tropics would "doom slavery in Texas."
  104. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 435: "Clay admitted he would be glad to see [Texas annexation], without dishonor, without war [and] with the common consent of the American people." And p. 436: "In September...he re-emphasised opposition to annexation..."
  105. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 435: "Northern Whigs, enraged by Clays' newly announced personal preference for Texas, accused Clay of waffling..."
  106. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 437: "In 1844, Whigs stood damned as soft on Texas, therefore soft on slavery."
  107. ^ Holt, 2008, p. 12-13: Fearing to be cast as "soft on slavery" (see Freehling, 1991, p. 437), "southern Whigs could be portrayed as even more ardent champions of slavery in the South than the southern Democrats. As would happen in the future, slavery extension became a political weapon [which] rival parties used to exploit for political reasons..."
  108. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 573
  109. ^ May 2008, p. 113: "Tyler, all hope of success nearly gone, had only one option left – to launch his own party and attempt to act as spoiler in the November presidential contest."
  110. ^ May, 2008, p. 113: "...so-called Democratic-Republican Party; the name a tribute to [Tyler's] beloved Jefferson..."
  111. ^ May 2008, p. 114: Tyler "did not select a running mate."
  112. ^ May 2008, p. 119: "The more Tyler could challenge Polk's chances the more certain he was that Polk would deliver on annexation..."
  113. ^ May 2008, p. 119-120: "All that Polk needed was a mechanism that would allow Tyler to gracefully drop out of the race without reviving suspicions of a corrupt bargain."
  114. ^ May 2008, p. 120: "Tyler supporters easily switched their allegiance to Polk..."
  115. ^ Havel, James T. (1996). U.S. Presidential Elections and the Candidates: A Biographical and Historical Guide. Vol. 2: The Elections, 1789–1992. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 20. ISBN 0-02-864623-1.
  116. ^ National Party Conventions, 1831-1976. Congressional Quarterly. 1979.
  117. ^ Smith, Joseph Jr. (1844). "General Smith's Views on the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States".
  118. ^ Kenneth H. Winn (1990). Exiles in a Land of Liberty: Mormons in America, 1830-1846. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 203., quote on p 203
  119. ^ Carthage Jail
  120. ^ Freehling, 1991, p.437- 438: "Polk partisans called acquisition of Texas and Oregon not a southern but a western concern" and "A presidential campaign for national imperialism divorced from a southern crusade for slavery..."
  121. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 438: "Throughout... Midwestern states, Democrats total popular vote rose 20% between 1840 and 1844, while Whigs rose only 4%"
  122. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 438: "In this northwest [region], Democratic campaigners truly were the Manifest Destiny spokesmen, unfortunately, painted as everywhere, omnipresent in latter-day history textbooks." P. 439: However, "northern voters had nothing like demanded Manifest Destiny."
  123. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 438: "Clay lost every state in the Deep South... but manage to hang on to the five states Harrison had captured in 1840... in the Border and Middle South."
  124. ^ Adams, J.Q.; Waldstreicher, D.; Mason, M. (2017). John Quincy Adams and the Politics of Slavery: Selections from the Diary. Oxford University Press. p. 293. ISBN 978-0-19-994795-9. Retrieved December 2, 2020.
  125. ^ Finkelman, 2011, p. 19: "The northern Democrats could on the explicitly anti-slavery Liberty Party to...possibly siphon off anti-slavery Whig votes."
  126. ^ Wilentz, 2008, p. 574: "Had only a modest proportion of the Liberty Party's New York vote...gone instead to the Whigs, Henry Clay would have been elected president."
  127. ^ Freehling, 1991, p. 438: "The shift of [either] of these states' 41 electoral votes would have transformed a 170-105 Polk Electoral victory into a 146-129 Clay triumph."
  128. ^ Holt, 2005, p. 11-12
  129. ^ Donald T. Critchlow. American Political History: A Very Short Introduction (2015) p.46.
  130. ^ Robert L. Schuyler, "Polk and the Oregon Compromise of 1846." Political Science Quarterly 26.3 (1911): 443-461 online.
  131. ^ "The Whig almanac and United States register for ... 1844–49". HathiTrust. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  132. ^ Frelinghuysen's home state was apparently New York in 1844. See The Journal of the Senate for February 12, 1845. Also note that Frelinghuysen was President of New York University in 1844. There is some contradictory evidence in favor of a New Jersey residency: the National Archives gives his home state as New Jersey and the Journal of the Senate notes that Vermont's electors believed Frelinghuysen to be a New Jersey resident. Frelinghuysen was a New Jersey native and his political career had largely been conducted in New Jersey.


  • Bicknell, John. America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation. Chicago Review Press, 2014.
  • Brown, Richard H. 1966. "The Missouri Crisis, Slavery, and the Politics of Jacksonianism" in Essays on Jacksonian America, Ed. Frank Otto Gatell. (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970).
  • Cheathem, Mark R. Who Is James K. Polk: The Presidential Election of 1844. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2023.
  • Crapol, Edward P. 2006. John Tyler: The Accidental President. The University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill. ISBN 978-0-8078-3041-3
  • Finkelman, Paul. 2011. Millard Fillmore. New York: Times Books
  • Freehling, William W. 1991. The Road to Disunion: Volume I: Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1854. Oxford University Press. 1991. ISBN 978-0-19-507259-4.
  • Henderson, Timothy S. 2007. A Glorious Defeat" Mexico and its war with the United States. Hill and Wang, New York. ISBN 978-0-8090-6120-4
  • Holt, Michael F. 2005. The fate of their country: politicians, slavery extension, and the coming of the Civil War. New York: Hill and Wang.
  • May, Gary. 2008. John Tyler. New York: Times Books/Henry Holt and Co.
  • Meacham, Jon. 2008. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Random House, New York.
  • Miller, William Lee. 1996. Arguing about slavery: the great battle in the United States Congress. New York : A.A. Knopf, 1996.
  • Widmer, Edward L. 2005. Martin Van Buren. New York: Times Books
  • Wilentz, Sean. 2008. The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. W.W. Horton and Company. New York.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chitwood, Oliver Perry (1939). John Tyler, Champion of the Old South.
  • Davies, Gareth, and Julian E. Zelizer, eds. America at the Ballot Box: Elections and Political History (2015) pp. 36–58.
  • Harris, J. George (1990). Wayne Cutler (ed.). Polk's Campaign Biography. University of Tennessee Press.
  • Holt, Michael F. (1999). The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505544-6.
  • McCormac, Eugene I. (1922). James K. Polk: A Political Biography.
  • Nevins, Allan. Ordeal of the Union: Volume I. Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847–1852 (1947).
  • Paul, James C. N. (1951). Rift in the Democracy.
  • Pearson, Joseph W. The Whigs' America: Middle-Class Political Thought in the Age of Jackson and Clay (University Press of Kentucky, 2020).
  • Rayback, Joseph G. Free Soil: The Election of 1848. (1970).
  • Remini, Robert V. (1991). Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union.
  • Roach, George W. "The Presidential Campaign of 1844 in New York State." New York History (1938) 19#2 pp: 153–172.
  • Sellers, Charles Grier Jr. (1966). James K. Polk, Continentalist, 1843–1846. vol 2 of biography.
  • Silbey, Joel H. Party Over Section: The Rough and Ready Presidential Election of 1848 (2009). 205 pp.
  • Smith, Laura Ellyn. "Through the Eyes of the Enemy: Why Henry Clay Lost the Presidential Election of 1844 through the Lens of The Daily Argus of Portland, Maine." Maine History 50.1 (2016): 58-78 online.
  • Wilentz, Sean (2005). "Divided Democrats and the Election of 1844". The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (1st ed.). New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. pp. 566–575. ISBN 0-393-32921-6.
Web sites

Primary sources[edit]

  • Chester, Edward W A guide to political platforms (1977) online
  • Grant, Clement L. "The Politics Behind a Presidential Nomination as Shown in Letters from Cave Johnson to James K. Polk." Tennessee Historical Quarterly (1953): 152–181. online
  • Porter, Kirk H. and Donald Bruce Johnson, eds. National party platforms, 1840-1964 (1965) online 1840-1956

External links[edit]