The election of 1840.Even though Van Buren was blamed for the depression (he was nicknamed “Van Ruin”), the Democrats nominated him for a second term. The Whigs united behind William Henry Harrison and balanced the ticket with John Tyler of Virginia, a Democrat who had broken with Jackson over nullification. While the Whigs did not present a formal platform, the Democrats put a plank in theirs opposing congressional interference with slavery. This was the first time a political party took a position on the “peculiar institution,” and it was done both in response to a growing abolitionist sentiment in the North and simply to reflect the position of the Democratic constituency in the South. But the campaign itself was not about issues. The election of 1840 earned the name the “Campaign of Tomfoolery.” Voters cast their ballots more for personality than anything else. When Democrats made the mistake of saying that all Harrison
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