As a final chapter in his quest for financial stability in America, Jackson announced in December 1834 that the nation would by debt-free on January 1, 1835–the only time in American history that the government did not owe anyone anything. Jackson distributed the surplus back to the states, as he had promised in his first message to Congress nearly eight years before. The election of 1836 seemed to many in the nation to be only a formality. Jackson remained wildly popular across the nation, and when he expressed a desire to see Van Buren win, the nation readily agreed. Van Buren won 170 electoral votes, compared to twenty-four for all of his opponents combined. In his farewell address to the country, Jackson reminded the people, "eternal vigilance
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