American President is legitimately the most powerful and influential person of the world. That is why United States Presidential election is always a critical and crucial ordeal for United States in particular and for the rest of the world in general. There are many notable presidential elections in the history of United States; some set a new direction for the republic while some proved to be crucial for the very existence of the country. Among such pivotal presidential elections, Presidential election of 1828 is considered as the dirtiest presidential election ever (Swint, 2006).
As mentioned earlier, 1828’s presidential election is considered as the dirtiest election ever. The roots of the dirty play lie in the presidential election of 1824. Andrew Jackson, the Senator from Tennessee was one of the candidates of Presidency in 1824. The three other candidates were John Quincy Adams, the Secretary of State, William H. Crawford, the Secretary of Treasury and Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House. Neither of the candidates acquired the clear majority in the election; Andrew Jackson had 99 electoral votes, John Quincy Adams had 84 and Crawford had 41 votes. Henry Clay was eliminated from the campaign because he had only 37 electoral votes. According to the twelfth amendment of US Constitution, it was then became the responsibility of the House of Representatives to select the President (Ward, 1962).
Andrew Jackson was not liked or considered by most as a suitable candidate for the Presidency. His opponents, the elite class and the bureaucracy thought that he did not possess the proper training and capability to lead the nation and thus was incompetent for the highest political office. His close competitor in the election campaign John Quincy Adams and his supporters even distributed forged documents to prove his illiteracy (Ward, 1962).
Jackson, however, being a war hero, was very popular among masses but this popularity did not help him to obtain a clear electoral vote majority. Henry Clay, who was thrown out of presidential race, put his entire political weight to make Adams the President. Jackson and his supporters called it a ‘foul play’ and blamed Clay to give his support to Adams on the promise of getting Secretary of State’s position. This Clay – Adams connection worked in their favor and Adams became the Sixth President of United States (Ward, 1962).
Election Campaign of 1828
From the very day Adams became the President of United States, Jackson and his close band of friends, started a campaign to shatter the image of Adams and his government. Adams and his team had also fought and replied back with equal vindictiveness. They had portrayed Jackson as a short-tempered murderer and said that Jackson took deep pleasure in killing Indians. John Binns, the Editor of Philadelphia Democratic Press, who was a close ally of Adams, had published a “coffin handbill” and widely distributed it. This handbill proclaimed that Jackson was a murderer who executed six militiaman of his command on the charges of robbery and mutiny. The handbill said that actually these men had completed their military services and wanted to return back home (Swint, 2006).
To counter this, Jackson and his allied forces attacked Adams for being an aristocrat who lived all of his life on government’s expense. As Adam’s and his team termed Jackson illiterate and uneducated, Jackson termed Adams to be ‘too educated for the common man’. Jackson also said that Adams manners, language and etiquettes are only meant for the upper class, while he himself represented the common American (Swint, 2006).
Jackson was going to the heights to call Adams a pimp and a gambler. He blamed Adams to supply an American Prostitute Martha Godfrey to Russian Czar Alexander I when he was working as a Minister to Russia. He also charged Adams to use $25, 000 of public money to purchase gambling devices for his residence (Swint, 2006).
In retaliation, Adams administration accused Jackson to be involved in adultery. They said that Jackson married his wife Rachel before she got divorce from her husband Captain Lewis Robards. Rachel, was so much insulted during the campaign that she died in a sudden heart attack. Adams administration had continued their personal assault of Jackson by commenting that his mother was a prostitute who was brought in to the United States by British soldiers where she married a man from whom Jackson was born (Swint, 2006).
Elections of 1828
For the Presidential elections of 1828, Jackson parted way from his old Democratic Republican Party and established his own political party, i. e. the Democrat Party. It was the first elections of United States when compiled voter’s list and printed ballot papers were used. Andrew Jackson had won the Presidential election of 1828 and became the seventh President of United States due to the well-organized campaigning of his party (Ward, 1962).
Jackson’s ostentatious character had helped him to win the election because the election campaigning of both the parties were based on the personal issues. Jackson’s victory was hailed by many as the victory and rise of a common man in United States politics (Ward, 1962).