American System: 1815–1824

U.S. Presidential Election of 1824

Election of 1824

The House of Representatives resolved the confused election of 1824, and John Quincy Adams became the new president amid claims of an alleged "corrupt bargain."

By 1824 the Era of Good Feelings in politics was ending because of disagreements over tariffs and the role of the federal government. The election of 1824 was a confused election. The weakening of the National Republican party, the increase in the number of states, and considerable population growth all influenced the election. In addition, the Founding Fathers were no longer running the country. Also, it was common in politics in the early 1800s for the sitting president to express his choice of successor. However, President James Monroe did not, leaving the presidential campaign wide open. Consequently, four men ran for the presidency in 1824: John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, William Crawford, and Andrew Jackson.

Jackson received the largest part of the popular vote, the vote cast by all voters in a state or nation. Adams was second, Clay was third, and Crawford was fourth. But according to the Constitution, it is the vote in the Electoral College that decides elections, and electoral vote ultimately determine the winner of a presidential election. Again, Jackson received the most electoral votes, Adams was second, Crawford third, and Clay fourth. But none of the candidates received a required and necessary majority of the total number of votes in the Electoral College. The decision, therefore, went to the House of Representatives as established in the 12th Amendment. The 12th Amendment calls for the House of Representatives to choose among the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. This eliminated Clay, and Crawford was not really a major contender because of illness. The election in the House of Representatives came down to two candidates: Jackson and Adams.

Jackson argued he won the election since he received the most popular votes and the most votes in the Electoral College. He did not actively seek the votes of House members. Adams, however, did and even had a private meeting with Clay, who was Speaker of the House. What was discussed in the meeting is not known, but the result was that on February 9, 1825, the House of Representatives elected Adams president on the first ballot. He won 84 electoral votes, and Jackson won 99. Once sworn in as president, Adams appointed Henry Clay secretary of state. Jackson's supporters immediately claimed a deal had been made between Adams and Clay for Clay to influence House members to vote for Adams. Jackson supporters dubbed it the "corrupt bargain." Jackson, however, went on to win the 1828 presidency against Adams.

1824 Presidential Election Results

Political Party Presidential Nominee Electoral College Popular Vote
Democratic-Republican John Quincy Adams 84 113,122
Democratic-Republican Andrew Jackson 99 151,271
Democratic-Republican William H. Crawford 41 40,856
Democratic-Republican Henry Clay 37 47,531