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 rematch 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.
With the collapse of the Federalist Party, four members of the Democratic-Republican Party, including Jackson and Adams, had sought the presidency in the 1824 election. Jackson had won a plurality (but not majority) of both the electoral vote and popular vote in the 1824 election, but had lost the contingent election that was held in the House of Representatives. In the aftermath of the election, Jackson's supporters accused Adams and Henry 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. After the 1824 election, Jackson's supporters immediately began plans for a rematch in 1828, and the Democratic-Republican Party fractured into the National Republican Party and the Democratic Party during Adams's presidency.
The 1828 campaign was marked by large amounts of "mudslinging", as both parties attacked the personal qualities of the opposing party's candidate. Jackson dominated in the South and the West, aided in part by the passage of the Tariff of 1828. Adams swept New England but won only three other small states. With the ongoing expansion of the right to vote to most white men, the election marked a dramatic expansion of the electorate, with 9.5% of Americans casting a vote for president, compared with 3.4% in 1824. Several states transitioned to a popular vote for president, leaving South Carolina and Delaware as the only states in which the legislature chose presidential electors.
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. 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. Adams was also the first of three elected presidents to lose the popular vote in two consecutive elections, the next two being Benjamin Harrison in the late 19th century and Donald Trump in the early 21st century. Martin Van Buren also lost the popular vote twice in 1840 and 1848 after winning both the popular and electoral vote in the 1836 United States presidential election.
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 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
|1828 Jacksonian Party ticket|
|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 rematch 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
|1828 Anti-Jacksonian Party ticket|
|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 joy 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 on the same day as his predecessor, John Adams, Adam's father.
A goal of the pro-Adams 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, in 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 plowman 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 the same states that his father had won in the election of 1800 (the New England states, New Jersey, and Delaware) and Maryland, but Jackson won all other states and won the election in a landslide.
The Democratic Party in Georgia was hopelessly divided into two factions (Troup and Clark) at the time. Despite this, both factions nominated Jackson for President, with the election being primarily a test of the strength of these two factions - the Adams electors ran a very poor third, with just 3.21% of the vote. 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.
This was the first election in American history in which the incumbent president lost re-election despite winning a greater share of the popular vote than they did the previous election. This would not happen again until 2020.
This was the last election in which the Democrats won Kentucky until 1856. 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.
It was also the only election in which an electoral vote split occurred in Maine until the election of 2016, the first election in which the winning ticket did not have a north–south balance, and the first election in which two northerners ran against two southerners.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote(a)||Electoral
|Count||Percentage||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Electoral vote|
|Andrew Jackson||Democratic||Tennessee||638,348||55.33%||178||John Caldwell Calhoun (incumbent)||South Carolina||171|
|William Smith||South Carolina||7|
|John Quincy Adams (incumbent)||National Republican||Massachusetts||507,440||43.98%||83||Richard Rush||Pennsylvania||83|
|Needed to win||131||131|
Source (Popular Vote): Dubin, Michael J. United States Presidential Elections, 1788-1860 Source (Electoral Vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 31, 2005.
(b) The other vote was from Georgia where two slates pledged to Jackson, representing factions of the party, ran. The winning slate was Jackson with Smith - the Troup Faction - and the other was Jackson with Calhoun - the Clark faction. Many sources combine the vote when reporting the Georgia results, but this is legally incorrect.
Results by state
|States/districts won by Jackson/Calhoun|
|States/districts won by Adams/Rush|
|John Quincy Adams
|Delaware||3||no popular vote||no popular vote||3||-||-||-||DE|
|South Carolina||11||no popular vote||11||no popular vote||-||-||-||SC|
States where the margin of victory was under 1%:
- Maryland 0.5% (232 votes)
States where the margin of victory was under 5%:
- New York 2.9% (7,849 votes)
- Ohio 3.28% (4,143 votes)
- New Jersey 4.26% (1,829 votes)
States where the margin of victory was under 10%:
- Louisiana 6.02% (523 votes)
- New Hampshire 8.2% (3,384 votes)
Tipping Point State:
- Kentucky 11.08% (7,840 votes)
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|
|State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district|
|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
- "Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections". The American Presidency Project. UC Santa Barbara.
- Dubin, Michael (2002). United States Presidential Elections, 1788-1860. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 42–51. ISBN 9780786464227.
- Kish, J.N. "U.S. Population 1776 to Present". Google Fusion Tables. Retrieved February 10, 2015.
- David Waldstreicher, "The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828./Vindicating Andrew Jackson: The 1828 Election and the Rise of the Two Party System," Journal of the Early Republic, Winter 2010, Vol. 30 Issue 4, pp 674-678
- Enten, Harry (January 10, 2021). "How Trump led Republicans to historic losses". CNN. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
- Yenne, Bill (2016). The Complete Book of US Presidents. Voyageur Press. ISBN 978-0-7603-5007-2.
- Deskins, Donald Richard; Walton, Hanes; Puckett, Sherman (2010). Presidential Elections, 1789-2008: County, State, and National Mapping of Election Data. University of Michigan Press. pp. 88–90.
- Waldstreicher, David (2013). A Companion to John Adams and John Quincy Adams. John Wiley & Sons. p. 320.
- McClelland, Mac (October 31, 2008). "Ten Most Awesome Presidential Mudslinging Moves Ever". Mother Jones. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
- Mark Cheathem, "Frontiersman or Southern Gentleman? Newspaper Coverage of Andrew Jackson during the 1828 Presidential Campaign," The Readex Report (2014) 9#3 online
- Thomas Jefferson to Andrew Jackson, December 18, 1823 Retrieved on November 21, 2006.
- Thomas Jefferson to William H. Crawford, February 15, 1825. Retrieved on November 21, 2006.Transcript.
- Peterson, Merrill D.. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind, p. 25-27
- Webster, Daniel (1857). Webster, Fletcher (ed.). The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 371.
- Wilentz, Sean. Andrew Jackson (2005), p. 8.
- Remini, Jackson 1:109
- Peterson, Merrill D.. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind, p. 26. See also: Andrew Stevenson's Eulogy of Andrew Jackson: B. M. Dusenbery, ed. (1846). Monument to the Memory of General Andrew Jackson. Philadelphia: Walker & Gillis. pp. 250, 263–264.
- Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, Dec. 26, 1825. Peterson characterized this letter as "one of the most influential that Jefferson ever wrote."
- Norwich Courier, December 3, 1828,
- vote tallies from Counting the Votes website by G. Scott Thomas Archived 2018-01-01 at the Wayback Machine
- Maldwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty, American History, 1607-1992, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, p.139.
- Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1956). John Quincy Adams and the Union. vol. 2.
- Cheathem, Mark R. Andrew Jackson, Southerner (2013)
- Cheathem, Mark R. The Coming of Democracy: Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson (2018)
- Cheathem, Mark R. "Frontiersman or Southern Gentleman? Newspaper Coverage of Andrew Jackson during the 1828 Presidential Campaign," The Readex Report (2014) 9#3 online
- Cole, Donald B. Vindicating Andrew Jackson: The 1828 Election and the Rise of the Two Party System (2009) excerpt and text search
- Heidler, David S., and Jeanne T. Heidler. The Rise of Andrew Jackson: Myth, Manipulation, and the Making of Modern Politics (2018)
- Holt, Michael F. (1992). Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln.
- Howell, William Huntting. "Read, Pause, and Reflect!!", Journal of the Early Republic, Summer 2010, Vol. 30 Issue 2, pp 293–300; examines the campaign literature of 1828
- McCormick, Richard P. (1966). The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era.
- Parsons, Lynn H. The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 (2009) excerpt and text search
- Remini, Robert V. (1959). Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party.
- Remini, Robert V. (1981). Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832.
- Swint, Kerwin C. (2006). Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time. Praeger Publishers.
- Watson, Harry L. (1990). Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America. ISBN 0-374-52196-4.
- Ward, John William.(1955) Andrew Jackson, Symbol for an Age. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln.
- "A Brief Biography of Andrew Jackson 1767-1845: The Election of 1828". From Revolution to Reconstruction. Archived from the original on 2008-02-22. Retrieved November 15, 2004.
- "Election of 1828". U-S-History.com. Retrieved November 15, 2004.
- "A Historical Analysis of the Electoral College". The Green Papers. Retrieved March 20, 2005.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to United States presidential election, 1828.|
- 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 Archived 2018-01-01 at the Wayback Machine