United States presidential election, 1828

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United States presidential election, 1828
United States
← 1824 October 31 – December 2, 1828 1832 →

All 261 electoral votes of the Electoral College
131 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout 57.6%[1]
  Andrew Jackson.jpg JohnQAdams.png
Nominee Andrew Jackson John Quincy Adams
Party Democratic National Republican
Home state Tennessee Massachusetts
Running mate John C. Calhoun Richard Rush
Electoral vote 178 83
States carried 15 9
Popular vote 642,553 500,897
Percentage 56.0% 43.6%

Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Jackson and Calhoun or Smith, yellow denotes those won by Adams/Rush. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

John Quincy Adams

Elected President

Andrew Jackson

The United States presidential election of 1828 was the 11th quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, October 31, to Tuesday, December 2, 1828. It featured a re-match between incumbent President John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson, who won a plurality of the electoral college vote in the 1824 election. With no other major candidates, Jackson and his chief ally Martin Van Buren consolidated their bases in the South and New York and easily defeated Adams. The Democratic Party merged its strength from the existing supporters of Jackson and their coalition with some of the supporters of William H. Crawford (the "Old Republicans") and Vice-President John C. Calhoun. Jackson was the first president whose home state was neither Massachusetts nor Virginia.

The Tariff of 1828, referred to by its opponents as the Tariff of Abominations, had been signed into law earlier in the year, increasing tariff rates to above 60%. Though it had narrowly passed in the House, it was unpopular with the Southern states as they imported materials and goods from abroad.[2] Jackson and the Democrats opposed the tariff though their politiquing had made it become law,[3] and the unpopularity of the bill led to a division of the vote into two main sections: the Northern, minority Adams vote, and the Southern, majority Jackson vote. Jackson also personally appealed to the Western states, and he carried their electoral votes as well.

The election ushered Jacksonian Democracy into prominence, thus marking the transition from the First Party System (which resulted in the ascendance of Jeffersonian Democracy) to the Second Party System. With the ongoing expansion of the right to vote to most white men, the election marked a dramatic expansion of the electorate, with 9.5% of Americans casting a vote for President, compared with 3.4% in 1824.[4] Historians debate the significance of the election, with many arguing that it marked the beginning of modern American politics with the decisive establishment of democracy and the permanent establishment of a two-party electoral system.[5]


Andrew Jackson won a plurality of electoral votes in the election of 1824, but still lost to John Quincy Adams when the election was deferred to the House of Representatives (by the terms of the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a presidential election in which no candidate wins a majority of the electoral vote is decided by the House of Representatives). Henry Clay, unsuccessful candidate and Speaker of the House at the time, despised Jackson, in part due to their fight for Western votes during the election, and he chose to support Adams, which led to Adams being elected president. A few days after the election, Adams named Clay his Secretary of State, a position which at that time often led to the presidency. Jackson and his followers immediately accused Clay and Adams of striking a "corrupt bargain," and they continued to lambaste the president until the 1828 election.

In a prelude to the presidential election, the Jacksonians bolstered their numbers in Congress in the 1826 Congressional elections; Jackson ally Andrew Stevenson was chosen as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1827 over Adams ally Speaker John W. Taylor.


Democratic Party nomination

Democratic Party (United States)
Democratic Party Ticket, 1828
Andrew Jackson John C. Calhoun
for President for Vice President
Andrew Jackson Daguerrotype-crop.jpg
John C Calhoun by Mathew Brady, March 1849-crop.jpg
Former U.S. Senator from Tennessee
(1797–1798 & 1823–1825)
Vice President of the United States

Within months after the inauguration of John Quincy Adams in 1825, the Tennessee legislature re-nominated Jackson for president, thus setting the stage for a re-match between these two very different politicians three years thence. No nominating caucus was held. Jackson accepted the incumbent Vice-President John C. Calhoun as his running mate. Jackson's supporters called themselves Democrats, and would formally organize the Democratic Party shortly after his election.[6]

National Republican Party nomination

Federalist Cockade.svg
National Republican Ticket, 1828
John Quincy Adams Richard Rush
for President for Vice President
JQA Photo.tif
Richard Rush engraving.png
President of the United States
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

President John Quincy Adams was re-nominated on the endorsement of state legislatures and partisan rallies. No nominating caucus was held. Adams accepted Secretary of the Treasury Richard Rush of Pennsylvania as his vice-presidential running mate. Adams supporters called themselves National Republicans, antecedents of the Whigs.[6]

General election


"Some account of the bloody deeds of General Andrew Jackson," c. 1828

The campaign was marked by large amounts of nasty "mudslinging." Jackson's marriage, for example, came in for vicious attack. When Jackson married his wife Rachel in 1791, the couple believed that she was divorced, however the divorce was not yet finalized, so he had to remarry her once the legal papers were complete. In the Adams campaign's hands, this became a scandal. Charles Hammond, in his Cincinnati Gazette, asked: "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest offices of this free and Christian land?"[7] Jackson also came under heavy attack as a slave trader who bought and sold slaves and moved them about in defiance of modern standards of morality (he was not attacked for merely owning slaves used in plantation work).[8] The Coffin Handbills attacked Jackson for his courts-martial, execution of deserters and massacres of Indian villages, and also his habit of dueling.

For his part, Adams did not escape attack, either. It was charged that Adams, while serving as Minister to Russia, had surrendered an American servant girl to the appetites of the Czar.[7] Adams was also accused of using public funds to buy gambling devices for the presidential residence; it turned out that these were a chess set and a pool table.

Adams' praise of internal improvements in Europe, such as "lighthouses of the skies" (observatories), in his first annual message to Congress, and his suggestion that Congress not be "palsied by the will of our constituents" were given attention in and out of the press. John Randolph stated on the floor of the Senate that he "never will be palsied by any power save the constitution, and the will of my constituents." Jackson wrote that a lavish government combined with contempt of the constituents could lead to despotism, if not checked by the "voice of the people." Modern campaigning was also introduced by Jackson. People kissed babies, had picnics, and started many other traditions during the campaign.

Jefferson's opinion

Thomas Jefferson wrote favorably in response to Jackson in December 1823 and extended an invitation to his estate of Monticello: "I recall with pleasure the remembrance of our joint labors while in the Senate together in times of great trial and of hard battling, battles indeed of words, not of blood, as those you have since fought so much for your own glory & that of your country; with the assurance that my attempts continue undiminished, accept that of my great respect & consideration."[9]

Jefferson wrote in dismay at the outcome of the contingent election of 1825 to Congressional caucus nominee William H. Crawford, saying that he had hoped to congratulate Crawford but "events had not been what we had wished."[10]

In the next election, Jackson's and Adams' supporters saw value in establishing the opinion of Jefferson in regards to their respective candidates and against their opposition.[11] Jefferson died on July 4, 1826.

A goal of the pro-Adams press was to depict Jackson as a "mere military chieftain."[11] Edward Coles recounted that Jefferson told him in a conversation in August 1825 that he feared the popular enthusiasm for Jackson: "It has caused me to doubt more than anything that has occurred since our Revolution." Coles used the opinion of Thomas Gilmer to back himself up; Gilmer said Jefferson told him at Monticello before the election of Adams in 1825, "One might as well make a sailor of a cock, or a soldier of a goose, as a President of Andrew Jackson."[11] Daniel Webster, who was also at Monticello at the time, made the same report. Webster recorded that Jefferson told him in December 1824 that Jackson was a dangerous man unfit for the presidency.[12] Historian Sean Wilentz described Webster's account of the meeting as "not wholly reliable."[13] Biographer Robert V. Remini said that Jefferson "had no great love for Jackson."[14]

Results by county explicitly indicating the percentage of the winning candidate in each county. Shades of blue are for Jackson (Democrat) and shades of yellow are for Adams (National Republican).

Gilmer accused Coles of misrepresentation, for Jefferson's opinion had changed, Gilmer said. Jefferson's son-in-law, former Virginia Governor Thomas Mann Randolph, Jr., said in 1826 that Jefferson had a "strong repugnance" to Henry Clay.[11] Randolph publicly stated that Jefferson became friendly to Jackson's candidacy as early as the summer of 1825, perhaps because of the "corrupt bargain" charge, and thought of Jackson as "an honest, sincere, clear-headed and strong-minded man; of the soundest political principles" and "the only hope left" to reverse the increasing powers assumed by the federal government.[15] Others said the same thing, but Coles could not believe Jefferson's opinion had changed.[11]

In 1827, Virginia Governor William B. Giles released a letter from Jefferson meant to be kept private to Thomas Ritchie's Richmond Enquirer. It was written after Adams' first annual message to Congress and it contained an attack from Jefferson on the incumbent administration. Giles said Jefferson's alarm was with the usurpation of the rights of the states, not with a "military chieftain."[11] Jefferson wrote, "take together the decisions of the federal court, the doctrines of the President, and the misconstructions of the constitutional compact acted on by the legislature of the federal bench, and it is but too evident, that the three ruling branches of that department are in combination to strip their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers reserved by them, and to exercise themselves all functions foreign and domestic." Of the Federalists, he continued, "But this opens with a vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of '76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and moneyed incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry."[16] The Jacksonians and states' rights men heralded its publication; the Adams men felt it a symptom of senility.[11] Giles omitted a prior letter of Jefferson's praise of Adams for his role in the embargo of 1808. Thomas Jefferson Randolph soon collected and published Jefferson's correspondence.


The selection of electors began on October 31 with elections in Ohio and Pennsylvania and ended on November 13 with elections in North Carolina. The Electoral College met on December 3. Adams won almost exactly the same states that his father had won in the election of 1800: the New England states, New Jersey, and Delaware. In addition, Adams picked up Maryland. Jackson won everything else, which resulted in a landslide victory for him.

This was the last election in which the Democrats won Kentucky until 1856 and the last in which the Democrats won South Carolina until 1840. It is also the only election where Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Vermont voted for the National Republicans and the last time that New Hampshire voted against the Democrats until 1856 and the last time Maine did so until 1840. It was also the only election in which an electoral vote split occurred in Maine until the election of 2016.

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote(a) Electoral
Running mate
Count Percentage Vice-presidential candidate Home state Electoral vote
Andrew Jackson Democratic Tennessee 642,553 56.0% 178 John Caldwell Calhoun(Incumbent) South Carolina 171
William Smith South Carolina 7
John Quincy Adams (Incumbent) National Republican Massachusetts 500,897 43.6% 83 Richard Rush Pennsylvania 83
Other 4,568 0.4% Other
Total 1,148,018 100% 261 261
Needed to win 131 131

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. "1828 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved July 27, 2005.  Source (Electoral Vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved July 31, 2005. 

(a) The popular vote figures exclude Delaware and South Carolina. In both of these states, the Electors were chosen by the state legislatures rather than by popular vote.

Results by state

1828 Electoral Map.png
Andrew Jackson
John Quincy Adams
National Republican
State Total
State electoral
#  % electoral
#  % electoral
Alabama 5 0001361816,736 89.89 5 000486691,878 10.09 - 18,618 AL
Connecticut 8 4,448 22.95 - 13,829 71.36 8 19,378 CT
Delaware 3 no popular vote no popular vote 3 - DE
Georgia 9 19,362 96.79 9 642 3.21 - 20,004 GA
Illinois 3 9,560 67.22 3 4,662 32.78 - 14,222 IL
Indiana[17] 5 22,201 56.62 5 17,009 43.38 - 39,210 IN
Kentucky 14 39,308 55.54 14 31,468 44.46 - 70,776 KY
Louisiana 5 4,605 53.01 5 4,082 46.99 - 8,687 LA
Maine 9 13,927 40.03 1 20,773 59.71 8 34,789 ME
Maryland 11 22,782 49.75 5 23,014 50.25 6 45,796 MD
Massachusetts 15 6,012 15.39 - 29,836 76.36 15 39,074 MA
Mississippi 3 6,763 81.05 3 1,581 18.95 - 8,344 MS
Missouri 3 8,232 70.64 3 3,422 29.36 - 11,654 MO
New Hampshire 8 20,212 45.90 - 23,823 54.10 8 44,035 NH
New Jersey 8 21,809 47.86 - 23,753 52.12 8 45,570 NJ
New York 36 139,412 51.45 20 131,563 48.55 16 270,975 NY
North Carolina 15 37,814 73.07 15 13,918 26.90 - 51,747 NC
Ohio[17] 16 67,596 51.60 16 63,453 48.40 - 131,049 OH
Pennsylvania[17] 28 101,457 66.66 28 50,763 33.34 - 152,220 PA
Rhode Island[17] 4 820 22.91 - 2,755 76.96 4 3,580 RI
South Carolina 11 no popular vote 11 no popular vote - SC
Tennessee 11 44,293 95.19 11 2,240 4.81 - 46,533 TN
Vermont[17] 7 8,350 25.43 - 24,363 74.20 7 32,833 VT
Virginia 24 26,854 68.99 24 12,070 31.01 - 38,924 VA
TOTALS: 261 642,553 55.97 178 500,897 43.63 83 1,148,018 US
TO WIN: 131

John Quincy Adams received a similar number of electoral college votes in 1824 and 1828

John Quincy Adams Electoral College Votes
State 1824 1828
Massachusetts 15 15
Connecticut 8 8
New Hampshire 8 8
Rhode Island 4 4
Vermont 7 7
Maine 9 8
New York 26 16
New Jersey 0 8
Maryland 3 6
Delaware 1 3
Illinois 1
Louisiana 2
Total 84 83


Rachel Jackson had been having chest pains throughout the campaign, and she became aggravated by the personal attacks on her marriage. She became ill and died on December 22, 1828. Jackson accused the Adams campaign, and Henry Clay even more so, of causing her death, saying, "I can and do forgive all my enemies. But those vile wretches who have slandered her must look to God for mercy."[7]

When the results of the election were announced, a mob entered the White House, damaging the furniture and lights. Adams escaped through the back and large punch bowls were set up to lure the crowd outside. Conservatives were horrified at this event, and held it up as a portent of terrible things to come from the first Democratic president.[18]

Andrew Jackson was sworn in as president on March 4, 1829.

Electoral College selection

Method of choosing electors State(s)
Each Elector appointed by state legislature Delaware
South Carolina
State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district Maryland, Tennessee
  • Two Electors chosen by voters statewide
  • One Elector chosen per Congressional district by the voters of that district
  • One Elector chosen per Congressional district by the voters of that district
  • Remaining two Electors chosen by the other Electors
New York
Each Elector chosen by voters statewide (all other states)

See also


  1. ^ "Voter Turnout in Presidential Elections". The American Presidency Project. UC Santa Barbara. 
  2. ^ The Causes of the Civil War. 3rd ed. New York: Touchstone, 1991
  3. ^ [1] Taussig, F.W., The Tariff History of the United States, Part I, Fifth Edition, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1910, pages 88, 89, (page 55 in .pdf format)
  4. ^ Kish, J.N. "U.S. Population 1776 to Present". Google Fusion Tables. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  5. ^ David Waldstreicher, "The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828./Vindicating Andrew Jackson: The 1828 Election and the Rise of the Two Party System," Journal of the Early Republic, Winter 2010, Vol. 30 Issue 4, pp 674-678
  6. ^ a b The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents
  7. ^ a b c McClelland, Mac (October 31, 2008). "Ten Most Awesome Presidential Mudslinging Moves Ever". Mother Jones. Retrieved April 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ Mark Cheathem, "Frontiersman or Southern Gentleman? Newspaper Coverage of Andrew Jackson during the 1828 Presidential Campaign," The Readex Report (2014) 9#3 online
  9. ^ Thomas Jefferson to Andrew Jackson, December 18, 1823 Retrieved on November 21, 2006.
  10. ^ Thomas Jefferson to William H. Crawford, February 15, 1825. Retrieved on November 21, 2006.Transcript.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Peterson, Merrill D.. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind, p. 25-27
  12. ^ Webster, Daniel (1857). Webster, Fletcher (ed.), ed. The Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. p. 371. 
  13. ^ Wilentz, Sean. Andrew Jackson (2005), p. 8.
  14. ^ Remini, Jackson 1:109
  15. ^ Peterson, Merrill D.. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind, p. 26. See also: Andrew Stevenson's Eulogy of Andrew Jackson: B. M. Dusenbery (ed.), ed. (1846). Monument to the Memory of General Andrew Jackson. Philadelphia: Walker & Gillis. pp. 250, 263–264. 
  16. ^ Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, Dec. 26, 1825. Peterson characterized this letter as "one of the most influential that Jefferson ever wrote."
  17. ^ a b c d e vote tallies from Counting the Votes website by G. Scott Thomas
  18. ^ Maldwyn A. Jones, The Limits of Liberty, American History, 1607-1992, Second Edition, Oxford University Press, p.139.


  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg (1956). John Quincy Adams and the Union. vol. 2. 
  • Cheathem, Mark. "Frontiersman or Southern Gentleman? Newspaper Coverage of Andrew Jackson during the 1828 Presidential Campaign," The Readex Report (2014) 9#3 online
  • Cole, Donald B. Vindicating Andrew Jackson: The 1828 Election and the Rise of the Two Party System (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Holt, Michael F. (1992). Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln. 
  • Howell, William Huntting. "Read, Pause, and Reflect!!", Journal of the Early Republic, Summer 2010, Vol. 30 Issue 2, pp 293-300; examines the campaign literature of 1828
  • McCormick, Richard P. (1966). The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era. 
  • Parsons, Lynn H. The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Remini, Robert V. (1959). Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party. 
  • Remini, Robert V. (1981). Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Freedom, 1822-1832. 
  • Swint, Kerwin C. (2006). Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time. Praeger Publishers. 
  • Watson, Harry L. (1990). Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America. ISBN 0-374-52196-4. 
  • Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. 

Further reading

  • "A Brief Biography of Andrew Jackson 1767-1845: The Election of 1828". From Revolution to Reconstruction. Retrieved November 15, 2004. 
  • "Election of 1828". U-S-History.com. Retrieved November 15, 2004. 
  • "A Historical Analysis of the Electoral College". The Green Papers. Retrieved March 20, 2005. 

External links

  • Presidential Election of 1828: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress
  • Historian James Parton describes election
  • The 1828 Campaign of Andrew Jackson and the Growth of Party Politics
  • OurCampaigns overview of the popular vote and electoral vote
  • Election of 1828 in Counting the Votes
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