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The Election of 1824

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The William Blount faction of Tennessee politics wanted to nominate Jackson for the Presidency soon after his return from Florida. The faction convinced the legislature to back Jackson. To groom him for higher office, the Blount group ran him for the U.S. Senate again–defeating the current leader of the Sevier faction as an added bonus. Jackson won by a vote in the legislature, and he set off for Washington again.

Jackson's service in the Senate–twenty-six years after his first term in that body–showed that he had gained little knowledge of the political process but had measurably advanced in political ability. He quietly mended his relationships with several key Senators and worked behind the scenes to advance his Presidential quest.

Jackson's candidacy for President gained several key backers early on. Pennsylvania signed on and other key states in the North and South also signaled their support. Jackson's appeal was almost universal: he stood as an example of the everyman, an orphan who overcame humble beginnings in the backwoods of the Carolinas to became a self-made businessman and war hero. Jackson faced two main opponents: John Quincy Adams from Massachusetts and William H. Crawford of Virginia, who had been seeking the Presidency since 1816. Others, such as Henry Clay of Kentucky, were also-rans. In 1823, Crawford suffered a stroke, and though it initially looked like he might drop out of the race, he ended up persevering.

In the fall of 1824, Jackson decisively won a plurality of the election, with his 152,901 votes topping Adams's 114,023, Clay's 47,217, and Crawford's 46,979. None of the candidates, however, won a majority in the Electoral College–Jackson earned ninety-nine votes, Adams eighty-four, Crawford forty-one, Clay thirty-seven–and the election was thrown into the House of Representatives as the Twelfth Amendment dictates. In this scenario, each state delegation received one vote and the winner had to receive a majority of thirteen states. Clay, as the fourth candidate, was eliminated.

A frantic behind-the-scenes battle for the Presidency began. Every candidate and his supporters buttonholed members of Congress and crusaded in the press to win the election. To receive Clay's support, Adams secretly promised Clay a position as Secretary of State. Jackson tried making similar deals with Crawford, and Clay's supporters even floated a similar deal with Jackson–even though Clay had made his deal with Adams. In January, Clay announced his support of Adams, denying that he had been promised anything in return.

On February 9, 1825, the voting in the House began. Adams held twelve states, Jackson had seven and Crawford held four. Crawford positioned himself as the swing candidate, and New York held firm as the swing state. Adams won the election on the first ballot, though, when a single delegate in New York switched to Adams.

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