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Who I Would Have Supported For President—1824-1852

This is the second entry of my Who I Would Have Supported For President series. The first part covered 1788-1820. This entry will consider 1824-1852.

In these years, I would have been looking for support of abolition, an active federal government that unified the country with roads and canals, and just treatment of Native Americans.

1824 marked a turning point away from the so-called Era of Good Feelings of almost non-existent political competition for the White House, and the awarding of electoral votes by state legislatures. What replaced these things was much greater partisanship, and the awarding of electoral votes based on the legitimacy of the popular vote.

Here is how I would have voted 1824-1852—

1824—This election might have been the first time I would have been very enthusiastic for my pick. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams  was an advocate of internal improvements and a foe of slavery.

Adams won the race in the House of Representatives in what’s termed the “Corrupt Bargain.” Campaign rival Henry Clay of Kentucky gave Adams his support after no candidate won an Electoral Vote majority on Election Day. Adams later appointed Clay as his Secretary of State. This enraged Andrew Jackson of Tennessee who had won the most popular votes in the four-way race of 1824.

Adams was at one time a man of the future in his views and policies, while also a man of the past as a son of John Adams and a former Federalist.

1828—I would have supported President Adams for reelection. Sadly, he never had a chance. Andrew Jackson was the easy winner. This was a triumph of the average man and as such a kind of progress. It was also a victory for small and inadequate government in the expanding nation, for the interests of slaveholders and, for many Native Americans, a death sentence.

1832—With hesitation, I would have backed Henry Clay against Jackson. Though President Jackson would have scored some points for his slapping down of John Calhoun (above) and South Carolina in the Nullification Crisis. This was an assertion of national government at the expense of states rights. It was not, however, a blow against slavery. Clay was a champion of more helpful and active federal government with his “American System.” He offered little on the other issues I would have liked to have seen addressed. Jackson won the election.

1836—There was little to be be glad about in 1836. Vice President Martin Van Buren of New York offered, somewhat implausibly , more Jacksonian empowerment of the everyman. The Whig opposition was divided between three regional candidates in the hope of denying Van Buren an Electoral College win and forcing the election into the House.  It was an ineffective strategy that offered little hope. Van Buren won. ( Van Buren was both a political organizer and thinker who played a large role in the development of political parties in the United States. He is worth further study.)

1840—This election offered the choice of another term for the states rights Democrat Van Buren, or accepting the notion that Whig William Henry Harrison (Tomb below. I’ve been there many times.) of Ohio was for common back woodsman. The Panic of 1837 left Van Buren vulnerable and he lost. Since in an effort to keep Southern support Whigs had done nothing on slavery,  I would not have been with Harrison.

1844— This election would be first time I’d have the chance to support a third-party candidate in protest of the inaction of the two major parties on slavery. Liberty Party nominee James Birney of New York would have won my vote over both Democrat James K. Polk of Tennessee and Whig Henry Clay. Birney ended up with 2.3% of the vote.

Some might have argued that Polk’s support for the annexation of Texas and extension of slavery this implied should have been reason enough to vote for Clay. Clay opposed annexation. But by this point I would have had been more than tired of waiting on slavery.

Polk won the election and started the unnesscary Mexican-American War. Would I have been wiser to have gone with Clay? These type questions would extend all the way up to Ralph Nader’s day.

1848—Again I would have voted on the issue of slavery. Martin Van Buren, of all people, was the nominee of the Free Soil Party. His running mate was Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts. Adams was the son of J.Q. Adams.

Van Buren was on whatever side of the a question that would keep him in the political game. I’m sure I would seen him for what he was. Yet by 1848 slavery was the only question left. ( Indian Removal should have been on the same level. But it was not.)

Whig Zachary Taylor of Louisiana won the election. The Free Soil ticket won 10%.

The Liberty party was better on slavery that the Free Soil party. I would have been disappointed by the step backwards. The Liberty party was for abolition while Free Soilers focused on stopping the expansion of slavery.

1852—By 1852 the nation was dividing strongly along sectional lines. The Compromise of 1850 was the leading issue. But whatever side of the Compromise you were on in the conventional sense, you still supporting slavery. Abolition was not on the table for the major parties.

I would have voted for Free Soil candidate John Hale of New Hampshire. Mr. Hale won just under 5%. The winner was Democrat Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire. Mr. Pierce was a terrible President.

What Hath God Wrought–The Transformation of America, 1815-1848is a Pulitzer Prize winning account of most of the period covered in this post.

David Leip’s Atlas of U.S Presidential Elections is a great source to see how the people voted in the elections referenced above.

(Slavery was the biggest issue in the United States in 1852.)

Next up will be my picks for President 1856-1876.

October 20, 2008 Posted by | Who I Would Have Supported For President | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

John Q. Adams Won Presidency With 31% Of Vote in 1824—In My Darker Moments About Democracy, This Warms My Heart

In the famous “corrupt bargain” election of 1824, John Quincy Adams won the election even though he won only 30.9% of the popular vote.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

In a four-way race, Mr. Adams (photo above) finished second to Andrew Jackson in the popular vote total.

Final popular results were Mr. Jackson of Tennessee 41%, Mr. Adams of Massachusetts 31%, Henry Clay of Kentucky 13%, and William Crawford of Georgia 11%.

31% is the lowest popular percentage ever received by a successful candidate for the Presidency. 

Because no candidate won a majority of the electoral college, the race went to the House of Representatives. ( Here is information about the Electoral College including what happens when no candidate wins an electoral vote majority.)

In the House, Mr. Jackson’s arch-rival, Henry Clay, gave his support to Mr. Adams. This allowed Mr. Adams to win the election in the House. Mr. Clay was subsequently selected by Mr. Adams to serve as Secretary of State. The position of Secretary of State was seen then as a stepping stone to the Presidency.

The charge was made, denied by both President Adams and Secretary Clay of a “Corrupt Bargain.” The allegation was that a deal had been cut exchanging Mr. Clay’s support for the Secreatry of State’s office.

Corrupt Bargain or not, Andrew Jackson easily defeated President Adams in 1828 by a margin 0f 56%-44%.

Some days, when I am down on the people, I take a small measure of satisfaction from this 31% President. He made all those Indian-hating, slave-keeping Jacksonians wait another four years. 

Abe Lincoln won the White House with 39.9% of the vote in his 1860 four-way race. Mr. Lincoln ,however, won enough electoral votes on Election Day. Mr. Lincoln’s total is the second lowest percentage total for a winning candidate.

I believe in democracy, but sometimes, as we all realize, the majority gets it wrong.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Best Popular Vote Results In Presidential Election History

Who has had the best vote totals in the history of Presidential elections?

There have been 46 Presidential elections where the popular vote was tabulated and used to allocate electoral votes.

( Lyndon Johnson won many votes in his 1964 election.)

The first popular vote for President was held in 1824. Andrew Jackson won the popular count but lost the election in the House of Representatives to John Quincy Adams. This was the election of the so-called Corrupt Bargain.

Here are ten highest percentages won by a candidate for President since 1824 along with the number of votes tabulated for all candidates.—( The links to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs are very good.)

1. 61.1%—Lyndon Johnson, 1964, 70.6 million votes.

Four years ahead of the rise of the right.

2. 60.8%—Franklin Roosevelt, 1936, 45.7 million votes

A New Deal for Democrats after years of Republican domination.

3. 60.7%—Richard Nixon, 1972,  77.7 million votes.

“Nixon’s The One” until his resignation less than two years later.

( Warren Harding)

4. 60.3%—Warren Harding, 1920, 27.8 million votes

In the first year women could vote, a return to “normalcy.”

5. 58.5%—Ronald Reagan, 1984, 92.6 million votes

Mourning in America—for 41.5% of voters at least.

6. 58.2%—Herbert Hoover, 1928, 36.8 million votes

Republican fortunes would soon crash.

7. 57.4%—Franklin Roosevelt, 1932, 39.7 million votes

Any port in a storm.

8. 57.4%—Dwight Eisenhower, 1956, 62.0 million votes

His Vice President would do even better 16 years later.

9. 56.4%—Theodore Roosevelt, 1904, 13.5 million votes

Bully for the bully.

10. 56.0%—Andrew Jackson, 1828, 1.1 million votes

No corrupt bargain this time around. No candidate would win a higher percentage for 76 years.

June 17, 2008 Posted by | History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Terrible—Jim Bunning Sits At Same Senate Desk Used By Henry Clay

 

I read recently that the terrible far-right Senator from Kentucky, Jim Bunning, now sits at the desk used by the great Kentucky Senator Henry Clay.  Clay was also Speaker of the House and Secretary of State under John Quincy Adams.

This is a travesty.

It would be as if George W. Bush lived in same White House as did Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

This happens you say?

Well…It’s awful.

Senator Bunning once said about himself—“Let me explain something. I don’t watch the national news, and I don’t read the paper. I haven’t done that for the last six weeks. I watch Fox News to get my information.”

Time Magazine said about Bunning, a former baseball pitcher—“Bunning shows little interest in policy unless it involves baseball.” 

Time rated Mr. Bunning as one of the five worst senators.

Some member of the Senate should come around when nobody is looking and hide the Clay desk so it cannot be used by Mr. Bunning.

Henry Clay lived from 1777 until 1852. He is considered one of the greatest of all United States Senators.

The best book I am aware of about Clay is Robert Remini’s Henry Clay–Statesman For The Union.

Here is the link to Clay’s home Ashland in Lexington, Kentucky.     

Here is a good link for a history of Clay’s life in public affairs.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

February 11, 2008 Posted by | Books, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments