*This scenario was greatly updated by the Historical Scenario Commission on July 21, 2017. Version 2.0 can be downloaded here: United States – 1828 v. 2.0
The 1828 election can be seen as Jackson’s revenge. In 1824, he had defeated the eventual winner, John Quincy Adams, in the popular vote and in the electoral college. However, with four candidates, no single candidate had enough electoral votes to be declared the winner. As such, the US House, which was dominated by Henry Clay, threw their support behind Adams after Clay’s endorsement, handing the election to the Mr. Adams.
Jackson feeling as if the will of the people had been defied, became the leading advocate of expanded democracy against an established elite. Heading into 1828, the popular Jackson seemed destined to defeat President Adams, whose presidency was having little success in fulfilling the Adams modernizing agenda.
The National Republican Party was formed under the leadership of Adams’s Secretary of State, Henry Clay. It was composed of supporters of John Quincy Adams, known as Adams Men, and other men, mostly former Federalists, supporting rapid modernization in order to compete with the powerhouses of Europe. However, Adams, despite being possibly our greatest Secretary of State, was not a successful president. He had little trust in the people to make wise decisions for themselves and made this known. He also did not work well with congress, which resulted in his programs, which resembled an antebellum New Deal, from taking ground. Had Adams been successful, and if Adams won a second term, our country could have been very different by 1860, with an increased industrialization, improved infrastructure, larger nationwide education system (and high literacy rate), and possibly a closer economic and mercantile rival to Britain and France, much sooner. However, the South and West saw Adams’s programs as needlessly intrusive and had little desire to compete with foreign countries or in anyway lose their strong sense of regionalism for the sake of nationalism.
Those in favor of popular democracy were known as the Democrats. This new party was constructed under the skill and leadership of New York senator Martin Van Buren, and he gladly let General Andrew Jackson become its figurehead. Before Van Buren, the idea of political parties was something that was roundly despised, even as people were active members of either the Jeffersonian Republicans or the Federalists. Van Buren was an advocate of permanent opposition, with two sharply opposing parties battle it out nationwide. The Era of Good Feelings was at an end. Head into 1828, the new Democratic Party ran Jackson unopposed.
This election does not have a third party.
This election allows for many what-if scenarios:
- What if the unpopular president Adams faced competition from leading politicians of his own party, such as party leader Henry Clay, New Englander Daniel Webster and war hero William Henry Harrison?
- What if the popular war hero Andrew Jackson was challenged by leading figures of the new Democratic Party? such as party architect Martin Van Buren, disgruntled VP John C. Calhoun, Old Guard Republican John Randolph (the Ron Paul of hsi day) and former 1820 front-runner, and somewhat recovered stroke victim, William H. Crawford.
- What if the Anti-Mason Party formed four years earlier?
Feedback is desired.
[Note: The next election I make will be 1820. I fully endorse JViking’s amazing 1824 scenario, which I had the pleasure in helping him make by providing information and advice about the candidates and issues.]