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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

Many Presidents Have Died Early In Their Terms—President Palin

When a President has died in office, it has often been quite early in his term. This has often made a big difference in American history.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

The first President to die in office, William Henry Harrison, expired just a month into his term. Harrison died in 1841. President Harrison, at 68 the oldest President to that point, was a Whig. His Vice President, John Tyler, was a representative of the Southern planter class picked to help balance the ticket and not in full agreement with the Whig mainstream. As President, Tyler pursued policies, such a veto of a national bank, that greatly distressed Whig leaders such as Henry Clay.

President Zachary Taylor passed on in 1850 after serving just 17 months of his term. He was succeeded by Millard Filmore

Abe Lincoln’s (above)1865 assassination occurred just a month into his second term. His Vice President, Andrew Johnson (below), who had not been Lincoln’s first term VP, had very different views than Lincoln on Reconstruction, and how the South and Southerners should be handled after the Civil War.

Here is a stark difference between the person elected President and the person elected Vice President. The United States got one month of a great President and just under four years of a terrible President. And black folks got a century of Jim Crow.  

James Garfield was shot in the first year of his term in 1881. He died a few months later. Garfield’s successor, Chester Arthur, might well have been an improvement. President Arthur sought Civil Service reform and was surprisingly independeant despite a reputation as a machine politician.

William McKinley was shot and killed in the first year of his second term in 1901. McKinley’s Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, who like Andrew Johnson had not been the first term VP, was a very different man than McKinley.

Franklin Roosevelt was shot at in 1933 in the time between his election and inauguration. Roosevelt’s Vice President-elect, John Nance Garner was far more conservative than F.D.R. You might never of had a New Deal if Garner had become President instead of Roosevelt.

Roosevelt would later die in the first weeks of his fourth term. Vice President Harry Truman who had not been VP in the first three F.D.R terms, took the White House and did a pretty good job.  

Also, Ronald Reagan was shot and seriously wounded in his first year as President in 1981.

Let’s say you are less than a hardcore Republican, yet are still considering voting for 72 year old John McCain. American history shows us that you may feel you’re voting for Mr. McCain, but that what you really may get is President Sarah Palin.

October 2, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Fact Of The Day, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oldest Presidential Nominees

Who have been the oldest candidates for President? 

Senator John McCain will be 72 on Election Day 2008. This makes him the second oldest first-time major party nominee in Presidential election history. Here are first-time major party Presidential nominees nominated at age 65 or older. Listed after the name is the candidate’s age on Election Day and the year of the election. At the end of each listing is the lifespan of the candidate.    

( Please click here for a list of the youngest Presidents)

Bob Dole

1. Bob Dole 73,1996–Senator Dole finally got his turn as Republican nominee. Lost to Bill Clinton. ( 1923- )

2. John McCain, 72, 2008—Republican running against man who would be one of our youngest Presidents. (1936-)

3. Ronald Reagan,  69, 1980—Oldest man to win a Presidential election. Renominated at age 73. This Republican beat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale in 1984. (1911-2004)

Staute of William Henry Harrison in Downtown Cincinnati

4. William Henry Harrison, 67, 1840–Harrison ran as regional nominee of Whigs as part of a failed plan to defeat Martin Van Buren in 1836. In 1840 Harrison was nominee of entire party. He was elected but died one month into his term. Beat Mr. Van Buren. (1773-1841)

Lewis Cass

5. Lewis Cass, 66, 1848—Democrat was longtime territorial Governor of Michigan and a Secretary of War to Andrew Jackson. Lost to Whig Zachary Taylor. (1782-1866)

6. James Buchanan, 65, 1856—A Democrat who would have been a lousy President at any age. Watched helplessly as Union fell apart.  Defeated Republican John Fremont.  (1791-1868)

Others have reached age 65 in the years between a first nomination and a subsequent nomination.

These men are—

George H.W. Bush—68 when renominated in 1992. Lost to then Governor Clinton  ( 1924- )

Henry Clay—67 at time of final failed attempt in 1844. Lost to James Polk. (1777-1852)

Dwight Eisenhower 66 when winning second term in 1956 . Beat Adlai Stevenson. (1890-1969)

Andrew Jackson—65 for second term win in 1832. Beat Henry Clay. ( 1767-1845)

John Adams—65 in failed 1800 reelection bid. Lost to Thomas Jefferson. (1735-1826)

(Please click here for a list of the best popular vote totals in a Presidential election.)

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments