The Presidential Election of 1825


Both judgment and interest showed Clay the way he should lean. Crawford, incapacitated through health, was out of the question, and the choice was between the other two. Adams was an educated man, Jackson's training was chiefly obtained from frontier conditions. Adams was experienced in public affairs at home and abroad, Jackson was a good fighter and a passable head of a military district, but his temper was violent, he could not make a speech, and in his only administrative office, governorship of Florida, he had, through lack of ordinary tact, allowed affairs to get into a most unnecessary muddle. Between two such men, who could hesitate who had the interest of the country at heart? Moreover, Clay's future interests pointed to Adams, who was really unpopular in the North and would hardly be able to perpetuate his leadership more than four years. In the readjustment of parties, which was inevitable, it was more likely that the older states of the North would unite with Clay, popular in the Northwest, than with Jackson, popular in the Southwest. Clay was now the most outspoken champion of the tariff. Was it not more natural for him to expect support in the North, where the manufactures were rapidly increasing, than in the South, where they could not hope to succeed ? All these arguments were urged upon him by the friends of Adams, from the time congress met early in December. He seems to have made up his mind from that time, but he said nothing. Meanwhile the friends of Jackson besought him to favor their candidate as a Western man and as the candidate who had the highest number of votes in the recent election. To all their appeals he gave good-humored attention, but was careful to promise nothing.

The number of states was then twenty-four, and the successful candidate must have a majority, or thirteen. Crawford had four state without dispute, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and Delaware, the heart of the old Virginia group. Adams had seven. to Congress. New England and Maryland, the old federalist stronghold. Jackson had Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi representing the new Southwest, South Carolina, a result of his cooperation with Calhoun, and Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which he and Calhoun had wrung from the ancient combination. This group was rather incongruous, and had no other common bond than its opposition to the Virginia school, from which its component parts had formerly received little recognition. Jackson also had Indiana, for local reasons, which gave him a total of seven. Of the other six Clay was able to control four, Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri, and Louisiana, Illinois, with only one representative, hung for a time in the balance, and then came over to Adams, who, with Clay's four, now had twelve states, and lacked only one of a majority; and that one was New York, whose delegation in the house was badly divided.

Half of New York's delegation were for Adams, the rest for Jackson and Crawford. The leader of the Crawford men was Van Buren, then a senator. He hoped the state's vote would remain divided on the first ballot. Thus there would be no choice on that ballot, which would give him opportunity at a later time to cast the New York vote for Adams and secure for himself the honor of president-maker. It was a shrewd scheme, and if successful, would have lessened Clay's prestige. But at the last moment one of Crawford's New York supporters, General Van Rensselaer, changed to Adams, which gave that state to the New Englander and made him president on the first ballot. Much seems to have depended on this action ; for if Van Buren could have delivered the Crawford group to Adams, they must have supported his administration for a while, possibly for a long time. As it was, they remained unattached for a year, and then joined the opposition. In 1828 they were, under Van Buren's leadership, an important element of the party which followed Jackson.

Website: The History
Article Name: The Presidential Election of 1825
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: A Short History of the United States by John Spencer Bassett, Ph.D. The Macmillan Company 1913
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