1824 United States presidential election
261 members of the Electoral College
131 electoral votes needed to win
|Turnout||26.9% 16.8 pp|
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Jackson, orange denotes those won by Crawford, green denotes those won by Adams, light yellow denotes those won by Clay. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
House of Representatives votes by state. States in orange voted for Crawford, states in green for Adams, states in blue for Jackson.
The 1824 United States presidential election was the tenth U.S. presidential election. It was held from Tuesday, October 26 to Wednesday, December 1, 1824. Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay and William Crawford were the primary contenders for the presidency. The result of the election was inconclusive (the last such election), as no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote. In the election for vice president, John C. Calhoun was elected with a comfortable majority of the vote. Because none of the candidates for president garnered an electoral vote majority, the U.S. House of Representatives, under the provisions of the Twelfth Amendment, held a contingent election. On February 9, 1825, John Quincy Adams was elected as president.
The Democratic-Republican Party had won six consecutive presidential elections and by 1824 was the only national political party. However, as the election approached, the presence of multiple viable candidates resulted in there being multiple nominations by the contending factions, signaling the splintering of the party and an end to the Era of Good Feelings.
Adams won New England, Jackson and Adams split the mid-Atlantic states, Jackson and Clay split the Western states, and Jackson and Crawford split the Southern states. Jackson finished with a plurality of the electoral and popular vote, while the other three candidates each finished with a significant share of the votes. Clay, who had finished fourth, was eliminated. Because he shared many of Adams's positions on the major issues, he lent him his support, allowing Adams to win the contingent election on the first ballot.
This is one of two presidential elections (along with the 1800 election) that have been decided in the House. It is also one of five in which the winner did not achieve at least a plurality of the national popular vote, and the only U.S. election in which the candidate who had the plurality of votes in the Electoral College did not win the election.
The Era of Good Feelings associated with the administration of President James Monroe was a time of reduced emphasis on political party identity. With the Federalists discredited, Democratic-Republicans adopted some key Federalist economic programs and institutions. The economic nationalism of the Era of Good Feelings that would authorize the Tariff of 1816 and incorporate the Second Bank of the United States portended abandonment of the Jeffersonian political formula for strict construction of the Constitution, limited central government, and primacy of Southern slaveholding interests.
An unintended consequence of wide single-party identification was reduced party discipline. Rather than political harmony, factions arose within the party. Monroe attempted to improve discipline by appointing leading statesmen to his Cabinet, including Secretary of State John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford of Georgia, and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee led high-profile military missions. Only House Speaker Henry Clay of Kentucky held political power independent of Monroe. He refused to join the cabinet and remained critical of the administration.
Two key events, the Panic of 1819 and the Missouri crisis of 1820, influenced and reshaped politics. The economic downturn broadly harmed workers, the sectional disputes over slavery expansion raised tensions, and both events plus other factors drove demand for increased democratic control. Social disaffection would help motivate revival of rivalrous political parties in the near future, though these had not yet formed at the time of the 1824 election.
The previous competition between the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party collapsed after the War of 1812 due to the disintegration of the Federalists's popular appeal. President James Monroe of the Democratic-Republicans was able to run without opposition in the election of 1820. Like previous presidents who had been elected to two terms, Monroe declined to seek re-nomination for a third term. Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins had long-since been dismissed as a viable successor to Monroe due to a combination of health problems and a financial dispute with the federal government, and he formally ruled himself out of making a presidential run at the start of 1824. The presidential nomination was thus left wide open within the Democratic-Republican Party, the only major national political entity remaining in the United States.
|Presidential candidate||Ballot||Vice Presidential candidate||Ballot|
|William H. Crawford||64||Albert Gallatin||57|
|Henry Clay||2||Erastus Root||2|
|John Quincy Adams||2||John Quincy Adams||1|
|Andrew Jackson||1||William Eustis||1|
|William Rufus King||1|
The Congressional caucus nominated Crawford for president and Albert Gallatin for vice president, but it was sparsely attended and was widely attacked as undemocratic. Gallatin had not sought the nomination and soon withdrew at Crawford's request. Gallatin was also dissatisfied with repeated attacks on his credibility made by the other candidates. He was replaced by North Carolina Senator Nathaniel Macon. State legislatures also convened state caucuses to nominate candidates.
Candidates who withdrew before election
All four candidates were nominated by at least one state legislature. Andrew Jackson was recruited to run for the office of the president by the state legislature of Tennessee. Jackson did not seek the task of running for president. Instead, he wished to retire to his estate on the outskirts of Nashville called the Hermitage. However, Jackson was not one to decline such a request.[better source needed]
Candidates drew voter support by different states and sections. Adams dominated the popular vote in New England and won some support elsewhere, Clay dominated his home state of Kentucky and won pluralities in two neighboring states, and Crawford won the Virginia vote overwhelmingly and polled well in North Carolina. Jackson had geographically the broadest support, though there were heavy vote concentrations in his home state of Tennessee and in Pennsylvania and populous areas where even he ran poorly.
Policy played a reduced role in the election, though positions on tariffs and internal improvements did create significant disagreements. Both Adams and Jackson supporters backed Secretary of War John C. Calhoun of South Carolina for vice president. He easily secured the majority of electoral votes for that office. In reality, Calhoun was vehemently opposed to nearly all of Adams's policies, but he did nothing to dissuade Adams supporters from voting for him for vice president.
The campaigning for presidential election of 1824 took many forms. Contrafacta, or well known songs and tunes whose lyrics have been altered, were used to promote political agendas and presidential candidates. Below can be found a sound clip featuring "Hunters of Kentucky", a tune written by Samuel Woodsworth in 1815 under the title "The Unfortunate Miss Bailey". Contrafacta such as this one, which promoted Andrew Jackson as a national hero, have been a long-standing tradition in presidential elections. Another form of campaigning during this election was through newsprint. Political cartoons and partisan writings were best circulated among the voting public through newspapers. Presidential candidate John C. Calhoun was one of the candidates most directly involved through his participation in the publishing of the newspaper The Patriot as a member of the editorial staff. This was a sure way to promote his own political agendas and campaign. In contrast, most candidates involved in early 19th century elections did not run their own political campaigns. Instead it was left to volunteer citizens and partisans to speak on their behalf.
The 1824 presidential election marked the final collapse of the Republican-Federalist political framework. The electoral map confirmed the candidates' sectional support, with Adams winning in New England, Jackson having wide voter appeal, Clay attracting votes from the West, and Crawford attracting votes from the eastern South. This sectionalism is also reflected in the fact that all four candidates had ballot access in only six of the 18 states with a popular vote. Jackson earned only a plurality of electoral votes. Thus, the election was decided by the House of Representatives, which elected John Quincy Adams on the first ballot. John C. Calhoun, supported by Adams and Jackson, easily won the vice presidency.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote[a]||Electoral vote|
|John Quincy Adams[c]||Democratic-Republican||Massachusetts||113,122||30.92%||84|
|William Harris Crawford[d]||Democratic-Republican||Georgia||40,856||11.21%||41|
|Needed to win||131|
|Vice presidential candidate||Party||State||Electoral vote|
|John C. Calhoun||Democratic-Republican||South Carolina||182|
|Nathan Sanford||Democratic-Republican||New York||30|
|Nathaniel Macon||Democratic-Republican||North Carolina||24|
|Martin Van Buren||Democratic-Republican||New York||9|
|Needed to win||131|
Results by state
|John Quincy Adams
|Connecticut||8||no ballots||0||7,494||70.39||8||no ballots||0||1,965||18.46||0||10,647||CT|
|Delaware||3||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||1||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||2||–||DE|
|Georgia||9||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||9||–||GA|
|Kentucky||14||6,356||27.23||0||no ballots||0||16,982||72.77||14||no ballots||0||23,338||KY|
|Louisiana||5||no popular vote||3||no popular vote||2||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||0||–||LA|
|Maine||9||no ballots||0||10,289||81.50||9||no ballots||0||2,336||18.50||0||12,625||ME|
|Massachusetts||15||no ballots||0||30,687||72.97||15||no ballots||0||no ballots||0||42,056||MA|
|New Hampshire||8||no ballots||0||9,389||93.59||8||no ballots||0||643||6.41||0||10,032||NH|
|New Jersey||8||10,332||52.08||8||8,309||41.89||0||no ballots||0||1,196||6.03||0||19,837||NJ|
|New York||36||no popular vote||1||no popular vote||26||no popular vote||4||no popular vote||5||–||NY|
|North Carolina||15||20,231||56.03||15||no ballots||0||no ballots||0||15,622||43.26||0||36,109||NC|
|Rhode Island||4||no ballots||0||2,145||91.47||4||no ballots||0||200||8.53||0||2,345||RI|
|South Carolina||11||no popular vote||11||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||0||–||SC|
|Vermont||7||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||7||no popular vote||0||no popular vote||0||–||VT|
Breakdown by ticket
|Electoral votes for President|
|John C. Calhoun||182||99||74||2||7|
|Martin Van Buren||9||–||–||9||–|
|(No vote for vice president)||1||–||1||–||–|
1825 contingent election
As no presidential candidate had won an absolute electoral vote majority, the responsibility for electing a new president devolved upon the U.S. House of Representatives, which held a contingent election on February 5, 1825. As prescribed by the Twelfth Amendment, the House was limited to choosing from among the three candidates who received the most electoral votes: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and William Crawford; Henry Clay, who had finished fourth, was eliminated. Each state delegation, voting en bloc, had a single vote. There were 24 states at the time, thus an absolute majority of 13 votes was required for victory.
Clay detested Jackson and had said of him, "I cannot believe that killing 2,500 Englishmen at New Orleans qualifies for the various, difficult, and complicated duties of the Chief Magistracy." Moreover, Clay's American System was closer to Adams's position on tariffs and internal improvements than Jackson's. Even if Clay had wished to align with Crawford over Jackson, which was highly unlikely in any event since Clay's policy differences with Crawford were even deeper, especially on matters of the tariff, and the fact Crawford had been in poor health, no path to victory was evident.
Ignoring the nonbinding directive of the Kentucky legislature that its House delegation choose Jackson, the delegation voted 8–4 for Adams instead. Clay used his political influence in the House to motivate House delegations in states where he had won at least a voting plurality to vote for Adams. Thus, Adams was elected president on the first ballot, with 13 states, followed by Jackson with seven, and Crawford with four.
Balloting in the contingent election
|February 9, 1825|
|John Quincy Adams||13||54.17|
|William H. Crawford||4||16.67|
Adams' victory shocked Jackson, who, as the winner of a plurality of both the popular and electoral votes, expected the House to choose him. Not long before the contingent House election, an anonymous statement appeared in a Philadelphia paper, called the Columbian Observer. The statement, said to be from a member of Congress, essentially accused Clay of selling Adams his support for the office of Secretary of State. No formal investigation was conducted, so the matter was neither confirmed nor denied. When Clay was indeed offered the position after Adams was victorious, he opted to accept and continue to support the administration he voted for, knowing that declining the position would not have helped to dispel the rumors brought against him.
By appointing Clay his Secretary of State, President Adams essentially declared him heir to the presidency, as Adams and his three predecessors had all served as Secretary of State. Jackson and his followers accused Adams and Clay of striking a "corrupt bargain", and the Jacksonians would campaign on this claim for the next four years, ultimately helping Jackson defeat Adams in 1828.
Electoral College selection
|Method of choosing electors||State(s)|
|Each elector chosen by voters statewide|
|Each elector appointed by state legislature|
|State divided into electoral districts, with one elector chosen per district by the voters of that district|
- The popular vote figures exclude Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, South Carolina, and Vermont. In all of these states, the Electors were chosen by the state legislatures rather than by popular vote.
- Jackson was nominated by the Tennessee state legislature and by the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania.
- Adams was nominated by the Massachusetts state legislature.
- Crawford was nominated by a caucus of 66 congressmen that called itself the "Democratic members of Congress".
- Clay was nominated by the Kentucky state legislature.
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- Ammon, 1958, p. 5: "Most Republicans like former President [James] Madison readily acknowledged the shift that had taken place within the Republican party towards Federalist principles and viewed the process without qualms." And p. 4: "The Republicans had taken over (as they saw it) that which was of permanent value in the Federal program." And p. 10: "Federalists had vanished" from national politics.
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- Brown, 1966, p. 23: The amalgamated Republicans, "as a party of the whole nation ... ceased to be responsive to any particular elements in its constituency. It ceased to be responsive to the South." And "The insistence that slavery was uniquely a Southern concern, not to be touched by outsiders, had been from the outset a sine qua non for Southern participation in national politics. It underlay the Constitution and its creation of a government of limited powers ..."
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- Ammon, 1971 (James Monroe bio) p. 463: "The problems presented by the [consequences of promoting Federalist economic nationalism] gave an opportunity to the older, more conservative [Old] Republicans to reassert themselves by attributing the economic dislocation to a departure from the principles of the Jeffersonian era."
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- Wilentz, 2008, p. 252: "Both the panic and the Missouri debates underscored in different ways the overriding question of democracy as Americans perceived it. In economic matters, the questions arose primarily as a matter of privilege. Should unelected private interests, well connected to government, be permitted to control, to their own benefit, the economic destiny of the entire nation?"
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