The Pre-Civil War Era (1815–1850)

History
Summary

Adams and Jackson: 1824–1833

Summary Adams and Jackson: 1824–1833

Events

  • 1824

    Presidential election of 1824 (Adams vs. Jackson) is disputed

  • 1825

    House of Representatives chooses Adams for the presidency

  • 1828

    Congress passes “Tariff of Abominations”

    Jackson is elected president
  • 1829

    John C. Calhoun publishes “South Carolina Exposition and Protest”

  • 1832

    Jackson thwarts attempt to re-charter Bank of the United States

    Congress passes Tariff of 1832Jackson is reelectedSouth Carolina Nullification Crisis
  • 1833

    Congress passes Compromise Tariff of 1833

    Congress passes Force Bill
    • Key People

    • John Quincy Adams

      Sixth U.S. president; won disputed election against Andrew Jackson

    • John C. Calhoun

      Vice president to both Adams and Jackson; major voice of the South in national politics

    • Henry Clay

      Kentuckian statesman; major voice of the West in national politics; orchestrated Compromise Tariff of 1833

    • Daniel Webster

      Massachusetts senator; major voice of the Northeast in national politics

    The Election of 1824

    The Era of Good Feelings was definitely over by the time the 1824 election rolled around. Controversy over the Missouri Compromise and Monroe Doctrine, combined with the depression that followed the Panic of 1819, undermined national unity. Five candidates—all of them Democratic-Republican—ran for the presidency that year.

    Initially, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams was the strongest candidate. Also popular was Speaker of the House Henry Clay. Then, in the summer of 1824, General Andrew Jackson threw himself into the race. Although he had little political experience, he became the dominant candidate because he was the most popular man in the country. In the end, Jackson received more popular votes than the others, but no candidate won enough electoral votes to become president.

    The “Corrupt Bargain”

    As was the case in 1800, the House of Representatives had to elect the next president. Because of Clay’s last-minute support, the House chose Adams. But when Adams then named Clay his secretary of state, Americans were outraged. Most of the American presidents up to this point had served previously as secretaries of state, and the position was commonly regarded to be the stepping-stone to the presidency. Jacksonites thus clamored that Adams had won only because of a “corrupt bargain” with Clay. His reputation ruined, Adams remained politically impotent throughout his four years.

    Growing Sectionalism

    The election of 1824 was different from previous elections in that support for candidates was highly sectional. In the late 1700s, Federalists and Democratic-Republicans alike drew support from the North as well as the South. Then, during the Era of Good Feelings, most Americans identified with the Democratic-Republicans. In 1824, however, this unity had disappeared: Adams carried New England solidly, while Jackson relied on the South and West. The results of the 1828 election were similarly divided by region.

    Regionalism vs. Federalism

    Akin to the growing sectionalism in the United States was the emerging power struggle between regionalism and federalism. President Jackson was the embodiment of federal power. Though a Democrat, he firmly believed that the federal government should have the final say over the states. He also demonstrated on numerous occasions that he felt the presidency to be the strongest of the three branches of government.

    On the other hand, sectional politicians were emerging as well. Henry Clay from Kentucky became the voice of the West, lobbying to improve western infrastructure to facilitate transportation and help the growing agricultural economy. Clay’s ally Daniel Webster, from Massachusetts, was the primary advocate for the North, campaigning for infrastructure as well as higher protective tariffs to help Northern manufacturers. The primary voice of the South was the states’ righter John C. Calhoun.

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