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Election of 1832
Civil War Encyclopedia >> Politics
Populist President Andrew Jackson sailed to his second term in the Election of 1832, defeating opponent Henry Clay by reiterating the same themes that brought him to the presidency in the Election of 1828. Two other men, John Floyd (father of John Buchanan Floyd) and William Wirt also garnered electoral votes, although Floyd was not a candidate.
Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun, his Vice-President from 1828-1832, had a bitter falling out that would result in the Nullification Crisis, so Jackson decided to replace him with New Yorker Martin van Buren, who had been Secretary of State until the Peggy Eaton Affair. Calhoun thought that he had ended van Buren's political career early in 1832 when as President of the Senate Vice President Calhoun cast a tie-breaking vote against van Buren's appointment as British minister.
Jackson liked van Buren for many reasons. The New Yorker proved to be a shrewd manager, getting George Crawford's men to join Jackson after Crawford withdrew in the Election of 1824. Van Buren then turned his efforts towards the organization of the Democratic Party before the Election of 1828. Friends and enemies alike called him the "little magician" for his ability to create a political process where none existed. The Congressional caucuses, which ended with after the Election of 1824, were replaced with state caucuses.
Van Buren also brought a significant contingent of his New York supporters to the Jackson camp for the Election of 1828. Jackson appreciated this support especially since his major opponent was New Englander John Quincey Adams. During Jackson's presidential run in 1828 van Buren was seeking the office of governor of New York, which he won, but only served two months when Jackson tapped him to be Secretary of State. The relationship between the backwoods Tennessee general and the New York politician grew closer over the next four years, so when Jackson needed a replacement for Calhoun he chose van Buren for both political and personal reasons.
Henry Clay, on the other hand, could not have been more against Andy Jackson. From the time Jackson was an "indian fighter," Clay had serious problems with the man. Clay believed Jackson had usurped the power of Congress by declaring a personal war against the Indians, specifically the Creek Red Sticks in 1814. Jackson marched men from Georgia, Tennessee and Clay's home state of Kentucky against the Creek in response to the Indian attack on Fort Mims.
Clay's involvement in the "Corrupt Bargain" of 1824 sealed the Clay-Jackson feud. Clay, at least according to Jackson supporters, gave the election to John Quincy Adams in exchange for the Secretary of State position in Adams' Cabinet. Clay's run in 1832 as a National Republican is considered by most historians to be the start of the Whig Party and returned America to a two-party system.
William Wirt was a third-party candidates, nominated by single issue political party, the Anti-Masons. The party felt the Freemasons were controlling the United States. South Carolina, rather that add its electoral vote to Clay's margin, and one of the few remaining states who refused to popularly elect a President, turned its votes over to John Floyd, who was then governor of Virginia and a strong advocate of states rights.
Henry Clay ran on a platform of internal improvements and protective tariffs, themes he had backed throughout his career and that would become mainstays in the Northern faction of the Whig Party. Clay also wanted to continue the national bank, which he helped put through Congress in 1816. Jackson made it clear as early as 1829 that he wanted to end the bank when its charter came up for renewal in 1836. This would be the biggest point of contention during the campaign.
Clay also spoke out against the "spoils" system that Jackson instituted. When Jackson got in office he simply terminated hundreds of appointees in federal jobs throughout the government claiming that "To the victor belongs the spoils," replacing them with his political cronies.
In defense of his tariffs, Clay dreamed up the concept of the American system (of protective tariffs) versus the British colonial system of free trade. Clay claimed that the British free trade system brought about seven years of economic downturn prior to 1824 including the Panic of 1819 and the resulting depression. He also claimed that the American system that grew out of the Tariff of 1824 was responsible for the economic growth of the past 7 years. Southern senators were quick to point out that the American system had benefited the northern industrialists but not the southern planters.
When Election Day came in November, Jackson won 219 electoral votes, Clay 49, Floyd had 11 and Wirt had 9.
Election of 1836
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Election of 1832 was last changed on - November 21, 2007
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