CHAPTER XV. THE ELECTION OF 1824 (1822-1825)

As we have seen, [Footnote: See above, chap. x.] the dissensions in Monroe's cabinet approached the point of rupture by the spring and summer of 1822, when the spectacle was presented of the friends of the secretary of the treasury making war upon the measures of the secretary of war, and even antagonizing the president himself. Crawford's followers gained the name of the "radicals," and declared as their principles, democracy, economy, and reform. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 56; Mass. Hist. Soc., Proceedings, XIX., 40.] Professing to represent the pure Jeffersonian republicanism of the "Revolution of 1800," they appealed to the adherents of the Virginia school of politics for support. [Footnote: Edwards, Illinois, 489.] Jefferson, although refusing to come out openly, was clearly in sympathy with Crawford's candidacy: he believed that the old parties still continued, although under different names, and that the issue would finally be reduced to a contest between a northern and a southern candidate.

"You see," said he, in a letter to Gallatin, "many calling themselves Republicans and preaching the rankest doctrine of the old Federalists. One of the prominent candidates [Adams] is presumed to be of this party; the other [Crawford] a Republican of the old school, and a friend to the barrier of state rights, as provided by the Constitution against the danger of consolidation." [Footnote: Jefferson, Writings (Ford's ed.), X., 235; cf. 225-227, 237, 261, 264, 280.] Pennsylvania and New York, he thought, would decide the question, and the issue would depend upon whether or not the "Missouri principle" became involved.

At this time parties and principles were still plastic. This is illustrated by a letter written in the spring of 1823 to Monroe, by John Taylor, of Caroline, the leading exponent of the orthodox Virginia tenets of state sovereignty. The writer was evidently stirred by the recent publication, in Calhoun's Washington organ, of a series of letters signed A. B., [Footnote: Edwards, Illinois, 525; National Intelligencer, April 21-23, 1823; Am. State Papers Finance, V., 1-145.] in which Crawford was denounced for corrupt dealings with the banks, collusion with slave-traders, and intrigues in general. Calhoun himself had just ended a visit with Taylor when the latter wrote, bitterly condemning the "example of obtaining the presidency by crafty intrigues and pecuniary influence," as tending to transfer power to a moneyed aristocracy. Neither Calhoun nor Adams, in his opinion, was open to this objection, and neither of them, he thought, would prefer a protective tariff to a navy as a means of national defense. While he admitted his ignorance of Adams's views on the subject of division of power between the federal and state governments, he declared that Calhoun had no advantage on this point, for although the latter professed to consider the distribution of powers between the states and the central authority as "a distinguishing pre-eminence in our form of government," yet, in the opinion of Taylor, he destroyed "this pre- eminence by endowing the federal government with a supremacy over the state governments whenever they come in conflict." This was important testimony, following immediately on Calhoun's visit, and coming from the pen of a man who was primarily interested in the question.

In spite of these objections, which would seem to be insuperable from the point of view of this distinguished expositor of state sovereignty, Taylor was ready to take the initiative in a movement against Crawford, if Monroe, Jefferson, and Madison agreed. Although as between Calhoun and Adams, he intimated that "the Missouri question" made a distinction of considerable weight, [Footnote: Taylor to Monroe, April 29, 1823, Monroe Papers, MSS. in Cong. Libr.; cf. "Farmer's" attacks on Crawford as a protectionist, in Richmond Enquirer, noted in Niles' Register, XXIV., 306. See Calhoun to Gouverneur, April 28, 1823, N. Y. Publ. Libr., Bulletin, 1899, p. 324; Adams, Memoirs, VI., 356.] he did not press the point. James Barbour, the other senator from Virginia, also seriously thought of supporting Adams, [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 242, 450-452; see also Taylor's interview with Adams, May 26, 1824, ibid., 356, 357.] and it is clear that the secretary of state at this time was not regarded as unsafe in the Old Dominion. In the spring and summer of 1823, however, Crawford seemed to be clearly in the lead. He was supported by a well-organized press, which took its tone from the Washington newspapers; and until Calhoun, in retaliation, established a paper of his own to denounce Crawford's management of his department, he had effective control of the most influential organs of public opinion. [Footnote: Ibid., 47, 56, 57, 60, 62-64, 66.] He was a master of political manipulation; but among his rivals were men of almost equal skill in this respect.

Clay was again chosen speaker, on his return to the House of Representatives in December, 1823, by a triumphant majority, and, as the session advanced, he and Calhoun, with all the arts of fascinating conversation, plied the old and new members. At this critical period in his campaign, Crawford was overwhelmed by a stroke of paralysis (September, 1823), which wrecked his huge frame and shattered his career. Shut in a darkened room, threatened with blindness and the loss of speech, bled by the doctors twenty-three times in three weeks, unable to sign his official papers with his own hand, he was prevented from conducting his own political battle. But he kept his courage and his purpose, concealing his real condition from all but his most trusted intimates. Not until April, 1824, was he able to attend cabinet meetings, and within a month after that he suffered a relapse, which prevented his active participation in his duties until the fall. [Footnote: National Intelligencer, September 15, 1824; Life of W. W. Seaton, 160; King, Life and Corresp. of King, VI., 539; Adams, Memoirs, VI., 130, 270, 275, 356, 357, 387, 428, 435, 439; Univ. of North Carolina, James Sprunt Hist. Monographs, No. 2, pp. 69, 71; Edwards, Illinois, 492.]

Adams had the New England scruples against urging his cause personally, and took the attitude that the office of president should come from merit, not from manipulation. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, IV., 64, 242, 298, V., 89, 129, 298, 525; Dwight, Travels, I., 266.] Moreover, he saw that the practice of soliciting votes from members of Congress would render the executive subservient to that body. Although his uncompromising temper unfitted him for the tactics of political management, he was an adept in the grand strategy of the contest, and he noted every move of his adversaries. His replies to attacks were crushing, for he had the gift of clear and forcible exposition. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, V., 361, 496- 535, VI., 116-118; King, Life and Corresp. of King, VI., 475; Gallatin, Writings, II., 246.] But his greatest strength in the presidential contest lay in the fact that he was the only promising northern candidate.

Early in the campaign, Calhoun commented on the fact that five candidates were from the slave-holding states - a circumstance which, in his opinion, would give Adams great advantages if he knew how to improve them. [Footnote: Edwards, Illinois, 492.] Naturally, therefore, Adams gained the influential support of Rufus King, the chief antagonist of the slave section. At first decidedly hostile, King's final adhesion was given to him, not out of personal regard, but because he believed that the public should be aroused against "longer submission to a Southern Master.... He is the only northern Candidate, and as between him and the black Candidates I prefer him." [Footnote: King, Life and Corresp. of King, VI., 508, 510.] Steadily Adams increased his following in reluctant New England. [Footnote: Niles' Register, XXIII., 322, 342; Clay, Private Corresp., 98; Adams, Memoirs, VI., 235.] In New York he had an element of strength in the fact that the population was nearly evenly divided between the natives of that state and the settlers from New England. Of the delegation from the state of New York in the seventeenth Congress, for example, those who were born in New England were about equal to those born in the state itself. Nearly forty per cent, of the members of the New York constitutional convention of 1821 were born in New England. [Footnote: King, Life and Corresp. of King, VI., 413; Carter and Stone, Reports of New York Convention, 637; Force, Calendar (1823).] The adhesion of ex- Speaker Taylor, another of the champions of restriction in the Missouri struggle, furnished an able manager in New York.

Even the attitude of Van Buren was for a time in doubt, for he would gladly have retired from politics to accept a place on the bench of the supreme court of the United States; but Adams and King pressed his candidacy for this position in vain upon the president, and Van Buren finally gave his full support to Crawford. [Footnote: King, Life and Corresp. of King, VI., 512-517, 518-527; Adams, Memoirs, VI., 168, 173; Crawford to Van Buren, August 1, 1823, Van Buren Papers (MSS.); Am. Hist. Assoc., Report 1904, p. 178.] So little did Adams appreciate the popular movement that was gathering about Jackson's name, that he advised his followers to support the "Old Hero" for the vice-presidency, "a station in which the General could hang no one, and in which he would need to quarrel with no one. His name and character would serve to restore the forgotten dignity of the place, and it would afford an easy and dignified retirement to his old age." [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 333.] In January, 1824, on the anniversary of the victory of New Orleans, Adams gave a great ball, attended by over a thousand people, in honor of his rival. [Footnote: Ibid., 220; Sargent, Public Men and Events, I., 48-51.]

After Jackson's return from the governorship of Florida, in 1821, his star steadily rose in the political horizon. His canvass was conducted by his neighbor, Major Lewis, who was one of the most astute politicians in American history, able subtly to influence the attitude of his volcanic candidate and to touch the springs of political management. On July 20, 1822, the legislature of Tennessee formally nominated the general for the presidency. [Footnote: Parton, Jackson, III., 20; Niles' Register, XXII., 402.]

This gave the signal of revolt by the states against the congressional caucus. Clay rallied his own forces, and in 1822 and 1823 was nominated [Footnote: Niles' Register, XXIII., 245, 342; Ohio Monitor, January 4, 1823; National Republican (Cincinnati), January 14,1823; King, Life and Corresp., VI., 487; Clay, Private Corresp., 70. ] by members of the legislatures of Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, and Louisiana. [Footnote: National Intelligencer, April 12, 1823; Ky. Reporter, April 21. 1823.] Alabama nominated Jackson; and Mississippi, by a tie vote, proposed both Adams and Jackson. [Footnote: McMaster, United States, V., 68.] These nominations by states showed that, however the west might be divided, it was a unit in resistance to the selection of a president by a combination of congressmen. It was believed that the spirit of the Constitution was violated by this method, which made the executive depend on the legislative body for nomination; and that a minority candidate might win by the caucus. This became the rallying cry of Jackson, whose canvass was conducted on the issue of the right of the people to select their president; [Footnote: Sargent, Public Men and Events, I., 57; Parton, Jackson, III., 17, 40, 41.] and the prevalent discontent and industrial depression made the voters responsive to this idea. The movement was one of permanent significance in American history, for it represented the growth of democracy, and led the way to the institution of the national nominating convention.

In the fall of 1823, Tennessee returned Jackson to the Senate, having chosen him over one of the prominent leaders of the Crawford party, and, shortly afterwards, the legislature sent to the other states a vigorous resolution, asking them to unite in putting down the congressional caucus. [Footnote: Parton, Jackson, III., 21; Niles' Register, XXV., 114, 137, 197, 292; McMaster, United States, V., 60; Tyler, Tylers, I., 341; Richmond Enquirer, January 1, 6, 13, 1824.] In Virginia and many other states the Tennessee resolutions gave rise to agitation which strengthened the popular feeling against congressional dictation. [Footnote: McMaster, United States, V., 60-62, 64; Dallinger, Nominations, 19 n., 54.] Although Adams at first considered the congressional caucus as one of the "least obnoxious modes of intrigue," he also finally threw his influence against the system and announced that he would not accept a nomination by that body. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 191, 236.]

Realizing that, in spite of his illness, Crawford could command the largest following in Congress, the friends of all the other candidates united their forces in an effort to prevent the meeting of the caucus. Already it was evident to the Georgian's supporters that the only thing that could bring him the victory was insistence upon party unity and discipline, and on February 14, 1824, sixty-six of the two hundred and sixteen Democrats in Congress gathered for the last congressional caucus which nominated a president. That these were practically all Crawford men was shown by his nomination with only four opposing votes. [Footnote: Dallinger, Nominations, 19; Niles' Register, XXV., 388-392, 403; Hammond, Pol. Hist, of N.Y., II., 149; McMaster, United States, V., 64; Life of W.W. Seaton, 173; Annals of Cong., 18 Cong., I Sess., I., 358.] Gallatin had been persuaded to return from Paris, and he received the nomination for vice-president, in order to hold the state of Pennsylvania in Crawford's column; but it proved a forlorn hope, for this old companion-in-arms of Jefferson found Pennsylvania "Jackson mad."

Calhoun, seeing that he had lost the northern state on which he had founded his hopes of success, and despairing of making inroads upon Crawford's southern forces after the congressional caucus, sought his political fortunes in an alliance with his rival. [Footnote: Clay, Private Corresp., 87.] The result was that, in a state nominating convention held at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (March 4, 1824), Jackson was almost unanimously nominated by that state for president, and Calhoun was named for the vice-presidency. In vain the managers of Crawford sought to throw discredit upon Jackson by the publication of his correspondence with Monroe, in which he had pleaded for recognition of the Federalists; [Footnote: Parton, Jackson, II., 357, III., 20; Monroe, Writings.] the letters added to his strength, and finally Gallatin was induced to withdraw from the unequal contest, in order that an attempt might be made to persuade Henry Clay to accept the vice-presidency under Crawford. [Footnote: Gallatin, Works, II., 297-300; Adams, Life of Gallatin, 604; Clay, Private Corresp., 100-103; Sargent, Public Men and Events, I., 57.]

The conflict was not entirely a matter of personal politics. Jackson had raised the popular movement against the congressional caucus into a distinct issue - the right of the people to choose their own president. Clay's "American system" of internal improvements and the protective tariff furnished others. We have seen that these subjects were hotly debated in Congress during the spring months of 1824. As the pre-eminent champion of these interests, Clay had a large following in the states of the Ohio Valley, as well as in New York The early popularity of Calhoun in Pennsylvania was also due, in part, to his record as a friend of tariff and internal improvements. Upon that subject, on July 3, 1824, he gave an exposition of his constitutional principles to Garnett, of Virginia, in which he showed some tendency to moderate his position. [Footnote: Houston, Nullification in S. C., 143.] When interrogated upon his views in respect to the tariff, Jackson replied, in a letter to Coleman, avowing himself a moderate protectionist and a supporter of the doctrine of the promotion of manufactures in order to create a home market; and in the Senate he voted for the tariff of 1824, and in favor of internal improvements. [Footnote: Parton, Jackson, III., 34, 35; Niles' Register, XXVI., 245; Wheeler, Hist, of Cong., II., 231.] Crawford was embarrassed by the need of reconciling his southern support with his following in the middle states upon these subjects. While his treasury reports indicated a preference for a revenue tariff, they were sufficiently ambiguous to create opposition in the south and a loss of support in the north. The issue of internal improvements he evaded by professing himself in favor of a constitutional amendment, for which he tried in vain to secure the support of his friends in the Georgia legislature. [Footnote: King, Life and Corresp. of King, VI., 496, 500; Niles' Register, XXIV, 306; Gilmer, Sketches, 294.]

Adams announced that his policy with reference to the opposing interests of the country was "conciliation, not collision"; but he declared that there was no constitutional question involved, either in the tariff or in internal improvements, [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 353, 451; cf. 343.] and he was frankly in favor of the latter, while he professed himself satisfied with the tariff of 1824, as a reasonable compromise between the conflicting interests. If changed at all, he believed that the tariff should be reduced. An attempt was made to bring him into disrepute in the south for his negotiation of a convention in 1824 with England for the international regulation of the slave-trade. This subject had been forced upon his reluctant attention early in his career as secretary of state. While he was willing to join in declaring that traffic piracy, he was very proud of his record as a steadfast opponent of the right of search in any form. It was too valuable political capital to be given up, even if he had not espoused the cause with all his energy. To all propositions, therefore, for conceding the right of search of suspected slavers, Adams had turned a deaf ear, as he did to proposals of mixed courts to try cases of capture. But in the convention of 1824, declaring the slave-trade piracy under the law of nations, he had offered to concede the right of British vessels to cruise along our coasts to intercept slavers, and this clause the Senate struck out, whereupon England refused to ratify it.[Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 321, 338, 345; Monroe, Writings, VII., 22; King, Life and Corresp. of King, 571, 572; DuBois, Slave Trade, 139, 140.]

On the whole, however, while candidates were forced to declare themselves on important questions, and while there were distinct sectional groupings in Congress, which revealed conflicting interests in economic policy, issues were not clearly drawn in this campaign. Indeed, it was difficult for any one of the candidates to stand on a clear-cut platform without losing some of the support essential to his success. "Could we hit upon a few great principles, and unite their support with that of Crawford," wrote his friend Cobb, shortly before the election, "we could succeed beyond doubt." [Footnote: Cobb, Leisure Labors, 216; Shepard, Van Buren, 92.]

As the year 1824 drew towards its close, the heat of the struggle was transferred to New York. Nowhere was the revulsion of popular feeling against caucus control more clearly manifested than in that state. The feeling was aggravated by the fact that the Albany Regency, under Van Buren, stubbornly refused to concede the popular demand for the repeal of the state law for choice of presidential electors by the legislature. The political machine's control of the legislature insured New York's vote to Crawford; but if the choice were confided to the people, no one could predict the result. Out of these conditions a new combination sprang up in New York, which took the name of the "People's party," and sought not only to transfer the choice of electors to the people, but to overturn the Albany Regency. So rapidly did the discordant elements of New York Clintonians and anti-Clintonians combine in this party, that Crawford's managers, in an effort to break the combination, introduced a resolution in the legislature removing DeWitt Clinton from his office of canal commissioner. The purpose was to split the People's party by compelling its members to revive their old antagonisms by taking sides for or against Clinton. Although the resolution was carried by a decisive majority, the indignity placed upon the champion of the Erie Canal aroused popular resentment and increased the revolt against the Regency. In September, 1824, the People's party met in a state convention at Utica and nominated Clinton for governor. [Footnote: On the New York campaign, see Rammelkamp, Am. Hist. Assoc., Report 1904, p. 177; Hammond, Pol, Hist, of N. Y., II., chaps, xxix.-xxxii.; Weed, Autobiography, chap. xv.; McMaster, United States, V., 71-73.]

While this campaign (which resulted in an overwhelming victory for the People's party) was in progress, the legislature met to choose electors. So clearly marked was the trend of public opinion that many members broke away from their allegiance to Crawford. The Senate nominated electors favorable to him, but in the Assembly the Adams men predominated, although they were not in a majority. After several days of deadlock, a combination ticket, made up of Adams electors and certain Clay men who had been named on the Senate's ticket, was suddenly presented to the Assembly and passed, with the aid of Crawford men, who thought that if the matter could be brought to a joint ballot they could then win and exclude Clay from the contest. But the Adams men had conciliated the supporters of Clay by guaranteeing to them five electoral votes, which were expected, if the ultimate choice of the president should come to the House of Representatives, to make Clay one of the three candidates before that body. [Footnote: Clay, Private Corresp., 99, 104, 106; National Intelligencer, September 15, 1824; Van Buren to Crawford, November 17, 1824; Van Buren Papers (Cong. Libr.).] The Clay following, therefore, supported the Adams ticket on the joint ballot, with the result that Adams secured 25 electors, Clay 7, and Crawford 4. When the electoral college met in December, Clay lost three of his votes, so that New York finally gave 26 to Adams, 5 to Crawford, 4 to Clay, and 1 to Jackson. Thus the Adams men had failed to carry out their agreement with the followers of Clay; had not these three Clay votes been withdrawn he would have tied Crawford for third place. Louisiana, although New York's electoral college voted in ignorance of the fact, had already deserted Clay. [Footnote: N. Y. American, December 3, 1824; N. Y. Com. Adv., December 14, 1824; Weed, Autobiography, 128, is in error; L. E. Aylsworth, Clay in Elec. of 1824 (MS. thesis).] The choice of electors in Louisiana was made by the legislature, in the absence of several Clay men, and the combined Jackson and Adams ticket received a majority of only two votes over Clay. [Footnote: Sargent, Public Men and Events, I., 67; Niles' Register, XXVII., 257; Adams, Memoirs, VI., 446.] Thus vanished the latter's hopes of becoming one of the three candidates to be voted on by the House of Representatives.

In the country as a whole, Jackson received 99 electoral votes, Adams 84, Crawford 41, and Clay 37. For the vice-presidency, Calhoun was chosen by a vote of 182, while Sanford, of New York, received the vote of Ohio, together with a portion of that of Kentucky and New York; Virginia voted for Macon, of North Carolina; Georgia for Van Buren; and scattering votes were given for Jackson and Clay. No presidential candidate had a majority, and, in accordance with the Constitution, the House of Representatives was to decide between the three highest candidates.

To Clay, powerful in Congress, fell the bitter honor of deciding between his rivals. Jackson had a decisive plurality of the electoral vote, and even the Kentucky legislature, under the dominance of the "relief party, "urged the representatives from that state to cast their vote in his favor.[Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 446.] But although Jackson was popular in the west, Clay had long been hostile to the candidacy of this military chieftain, and could not well alter his opinion. Moreover, Clay's presidential ambitions stood in the way of this choice. It would not have been easy for him to become Jackson's successor, both because of the difficulty of electing two successive candidates from the west and because Calhoun had already anticipated him in the alliance. With Crawford, he was on better terms; but that candidate was clearly in the minority, his health was gravely impaired, and his following was made up largely of the opponents of the policies which Clay represented.[Footnote: Ibid., VII., 4; Niles' Register, XXVII., 386.] He determined, therefore, to use his influence in behalf of Adams - the rival who had borne away from him the secretaryship of state and whose foreign policy had been the target of his most persistent attacks. On the other hand, the recognition of the Spanish-American republics and the announcement of the Monroe Doctrine had made Adams in a sense the heir of Clay's own foreign policy, and, in the matter of tariff and internal improvements, Adams was far more in accord with him than was Crawford.

As the day approached on which the House was to make its choice, friends of Clay, including his "messmate," Letcher, of Kentucky, sought Adams to convey to him the friendly attitude of Clay and their hope that their chieftain might serve himself by supporting Adams.[Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 447, 457, 473-475.] They made it perfectly clear that by this they intended to suggest for Clay a membership in his cabinet. Without giving explicit promises, Adams made it equally clear to these visitors that, if he were chosen by the votes of western delegations, he should naturally look to the west for much of the support that he should need. In short, Adams's diary, like a book of judgment, shows that he walked perilously, if safely, along the edge of his conscience at this time. "Incedo super ignes,"[Footnote: Ibid., 453.] he wrote - "I walk over fires." But his diary records no vulgar bargaining with Clay, although he talked over with him the general principles which he would follow in his administration.

The adhesion of Clay by no means assured Adams's election: the result was not fully certain until the actual vote was given. Missouri and Illinois were long in doubt,[Footnote: Ibid., 469.] and in the case of both of these states the vote was cast by a single person. Cook, of Illinois, was a personal friend of Adams, and, although the plurality of the electoral vote of that state had been in favor of Jackson, Cook, giving a strained interpretation of his pre-election promises to follow the will of his constituency, cast his vote in favor of Adams. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 443, 473, 476, 495; Edwards, Illinois, 261-265.] With Scott, of Missouri, Adams made his peace in an interview wherein he gave him assurances with respect to newspaper patronage and the retention of his brother, a judge in Arkansas territory, who was threatened with the loss of his office because he had killed his colleague in a duel. He also secured the vote of Louisiana, by the one delegate who held the balance of power; and he won the Maryland member who had its decisive vote, by the statement given through Webster, that his administration would not proscribe the Federalists. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 492, 499; Webster, Writings (National ed.), XVII., 378.] Friends of all the other candidates were busy in proposing combinations and making promises which cannot be traced to their principals. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 476, 495, 513; Clay, Private Corresp., 109, 111; Parton, Jackson, III., 56.]

When the vote was taken, Adams was found to have thirteen states, Jackson seven, and Crawford four. [Footnote: See map.] Adams controlled New England, New York, and the Ohio Valley, with the exception of Indiana, together with Maryland, Missouri, and Louisiana. The grouping of the Jackson vote showed a union of the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey with South Carolina, Tennessee, and the cotton states of the southwest. The Crawford territory included Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. Van Buren had received the electoral vote of Georgia for the vice- presidency, and he still exercised a powerful influence in New York. Adams had to face, therefore, the possibility of a union between two of the ablest politicians in the nation, Calhoun and Van Buren, both of whom saw that their political fortunes were involved in the triumph of Andrew Jackson; and Jackson's popularity was extraordinary even in the western states which voted for Adams. Even as he saw victory approaching, the New England leader was filled with gloomy forebodings over the prospects. "They are nattering for the immediate issue," he recorded in his diary, "but the fearful condition of them is that success would open to a far severer trial than defeat."