Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Stolen Election and the Corrupt Bargain

     Viewers of the political thriller House of Cards will probably not be surprised to learn that political intrigue is as old as the Republic.

     The presidential election of 1824 was one of the most hotly contested elections in the nation’s history.  The Federalist Party had dissolved and the United States found itself in the unique position of having only one political party, the Democratic Republicans.  Sadly, this brief period of political unity within the country would be short-lived as members of the Party began to divide into factions.

     What made the election of 1824 so unique was that the four top contenders for the highest office of the land were all favorite son candidates.  Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, was supported by the South, West, and mid -Atlantic.  Henry Clay found some support in the West, but hoped to garner support in the South and East.  William Crawford was supported by the East, while John Quincy Adams was supported by New England. 

     When the final vote in the Electoral College was made, Andrew Jackson had the most votes with ninety-nine.  John Quincy Adams came in second with eighty-four.  William Crawford came in third with forty-one and Henry Clay rounded out the list with thirty-seven.  The presidential election went to the House of Representatives for a decision, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.  As it was written in the Constitution, only the top three candidates could have their names submitted to Congress for a vote to determine the next president of the United States.  Since he came in fourth place, Henry Clay was automatically eliminated.

     To the surprise of most, the House of Representatives elected John Quincy Adams president of the United States.  Rumors of a “corrupt bargain” spread over the capital city.

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