By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS





Election Year: 1828

Election Day Date: October 31 – November 13, 1828 (December 3, 1828)

Winning Ticket: Andrew Jackson (61, Unitarian), John Calhoun (46, Unitarian), Democratic 642,806 55.93% 178 68.2%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • John Quincy Adams (61, Unitarian), Richard Rush (58), National Republican 501,967 43.68% 83 31.8%
  • Others– 4,443 0.39% 0 0.0%

Voter Turnout: 57.6%

Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:

  • The Democratic-Republicans evolve into the Democratic (Jacksonian) Party
  • Jacksonians established network of fund-raising committees, held public dinners and banquets to raise money.
  • first campaign appealing to masses – develop the committee system running the campaign, raising money, generating pamphlets, organizing banquets, coordinating with other committees in state and out of state.
  • Campaign to the public: parades; Hickory Clubs, Hickory Poles, Grand Barbecues, and the firing of cannon.

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day: John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, Democratic-Republican 1825-1829

Population: 1828: 12,158,000

Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $0.89 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $19.55
GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 4.54 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $73 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $1,608

Number of Daily Newspapers: 600 newspapers: 50 dailies, 150 semi-weeklies, 400 weeklies.

Method of Choosing Electors:

Popular vote (General Ticket system, usually winner take all) except in Delaware and South Carolina were they were chosen by the legislature

  • Each Elector appointed by the state legislature: Delaware, South Carolina
  • District Ticket State is divided into electoral districts, with one Elector chosen per district by the voters of that district: Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New York, Tennessee – vote split proportionally
  • Each Elector was chosen by voters statewide (all other states) winner take all
  • Note: Rhode Island and Virginia restricted suffrage with property qualifications, Louisiana required tax payments for voting.

Method of Choosing Nominees:

The Congressional Caucus system was discredited and discontinued.

State legislatures, special conventions, endorsements, and mass meetings.

Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries): Anti-Adams Message

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

Democratic candidate: Andrew Jackson, former U.S. senator (Tennessee)

National Republican candidate: John Quincy Adams, President of the United States (Massachusetts)

Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries): John Adams ascension to the Presidency in 1824 without a plurality of popular votes

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Martin Van Buren of New York, John Eaton of Tennessee, Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

  • After the 1826 Congressional elections, the Jacksonian (Democratic) Party enjoyed increased strength in Congress, with the Jacksonian Andrew Stevenson becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • Adamsites or “Coalitionists,” Adams-Clay supporters formed the “National Republican Party.”

Conventions (Dates & Locations):

  • No official nominating caucuses or conventions
  • National Republicans, New England, state legislatures, special conventions, and mass meetings throughout the country.

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

  • Democratic Party: Andrew Jackson nominated by the Tennessee legislature in 1825, endorsements at conventions and mass meetings. John C. Calhoun, up for re-election as Vice-President, picked this time to run with Jackson.
  • National Republicans’ John Quincy Adams nominated for reelection by New England state legislatures and special conventions.
  • National Republicans nominated Treasury Secretary Richard Rush for Vice-president.

Party Platform/Issues:

National Republicans

  • National bank; protective tariff, federal appropriations for internal improvements, science; education.


  • “Reform the government” by removing incompetent officeholders who received their positions “against the will of the people.” Jackson also said he took “a middle and just course” on the tariff and opposed federally sponsored internal improvements, though he favored using surplus federal revenue to help the states build roads and canals.

General Election Controversies/Issues:

  • Longest and nastiest campaign until that point.
  • No real issues.
  • Debate whether the late President Thomas Jefferson had endorsed or supported Andrew Jackson’s nomination.
  • The legality of Andrew Jackson’s marriage questioned.
  •  Jackson’s mother attacked as a “COMMON PROSTITUTE.”
  • “Theft” of the 1824 “corrupt bargain” election.

Campaign Innovations (General Election):

  • Negative Campaigning; Mudslinging

Major Personalities (General Election):

  • Thomas Jefferson; Martin Van Buren; Rachel Jackson, Duff Green of the United States Telegraph, Thomas Ritchie of the Richmond Enquirer, Joseph Gales and William W. Seaton of the National intelligencer

Campaign Tactics:

  • Mudslinging in partisan presses.
  • Adams refused to campaign; did not trust political parties.
  • Democrats organized barbecues, parades, local Jackson Clubs, rise of “Hickory poles”; use of the partisan press.
  • Jackson did not campaign publicly, ceased his letter writing on his positions. John H. Eaton, Van Buren, and James Knox Polk. Eaton told Jackson “Be still – Be at home.” Van Buren wrote, “Our people do not like to see publications from candidates.”
  • Jackson only wrote two letters, one answering Indiana’s state legislature on the tariff issue and another to deny his involvement with the Aaron Burr conspiracy.

Turning Points (General Election):

  • The rise of workingmen’s organizations: Mechanics Union of Trade Associations (founded, 1827, Philadelphia), Workingmen’s Party (Philadelphia, 1828)
  • Jackson only wrote two letters, one answering Indiana’s state legislature on the tariff issue and another to deny his involvement with the Aaron Burr conspiracy
  • Jackson’s partisan press attacked Adams; “corrupt bargain” of 1825; creating a monarchy;
  • Charles Hammond, the editor of the Cincinnati Gazette accused Jackson of adultery
  • John Binns of Philadelphia “coffin handbill,” which accused Jackson of unnecessarily sentencing/murdering eight of his militiamen during the Creek War in 1813 on grounds of desertion because they wanted to leave for home after their term of service ended.
  • Jackson spoke out against Adam’s administration’s “base calumnies.”

Popular Campaign Slogans:

  • Democratic: Andrew Jackson “Old Hickory”; “The Hero of New Orleans”
  • “Jackson and Reform”
  • “Jackson, Calhoun, and Liberty”
  • Andrew Jackson:  “Advocate of the American System!!!”
  • John Quincy Adams: “The Pimp of the Coalition”

Campaign Song:

  • “Little Know Ye Who’s Comin'” [anti-Jackson]
  • “Jackson’s Toast”: Then toast our Jackson, good and great/,
    The man whom we admire/ He soon will mount the chair of state/ Which patriots all desire
  • Hickory Wood, The battle of New Orleans and the General Jackson March

Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:

  • National Republicans “Jackass” (Reference to Jackson)
  • “Coffin Handbill” accuses General Jackson of murder
  • William Morgan and anti-Masonic accusations
  • One National Republican: “The Hurra Boys, were for Jackson … and all the noisy Turbulent Boisterous Politicians are with him and to my regret they constitute a powerful host.”
  • Opposition newspaper “What have hickory trees to do with republicanism and the great contest?”
  • Henry Clay calls Jackson a “military chieftain”
  • Charles Hammond, Cincinnati Gazette Editorial, saying” “General Jackson’s mother was a “COMMON PROSTITUTE” brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterwards married a MULATTO MAN, with whom she had several children, of which number General JACKSON IS ONE!!!”
  • John Quincy Adams accused, when ambassador, of pimping for the Czar of Russia.
  • John Quincy Adams’ “royal extravagances” attacked.
  • Democratic Party: “It is rumored that it is the intention of Mr. Adams to return to England, there to purchase a PATENT OF NOBILITY.”
  • “Those who fear to grease their fingers with a barbecued pig, or twist their mouths away at whiskey grog, or start at the fame of a ‘military chieftain’ or are deafened by the thunder of the canon, may stay away [from the Barbecue].”
  • “O fie, Mr. Clay – English paper, English wax, English pen-knives, is this your American System?”
  • Jacksonians accused Adams of secretly working to “unite CHURCH AND STATE after the manner of the English monarchs.”

Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):

  • The Democrats may have spent as much as $1 million to get Jackson elected.
  • Hezekiah Niles estimated that the “franking privileges” Jacksonian Congressmen used amounted to an implicit federal subsidy of about $2,250,000 a year.

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “My real friends want no information from me on the subject of internal improvement and manufactories, but what my public acts have afforded, and I never gratify my enemies. Was I now to come forward and reiterate my public opinions on these subjects, I would be charged with electioneering for selfish purposes.” Andrew Jackson

Campaign Quotations:

  • “I recall with pleasure the remembrance of our joint labors while in the Senate together in times of great trial and of hard battling, battles indeed of words, not of blood, as those you have since fought so much for your own glory & that of your country; with the assurance that my attempts continue undiminished, accept that of my great respect & consideration.” Thomas Jefferson, 1825 to Andrew Jackson 
  • “One might as well make a sailor of a cock, or a soldier of a goose, as a President of Andrew Jackson.” Thomas Gilmer quoting Thomas Jefferson
  • “Political meetings are continually taking place in the different Towns of the State, where Resolutions are passed and Delegates appointed to attend at Trenton to fix on the Electoral Ticket.” John Quincy Adams supporter in New Jersey


Significant books from the campaign:

  • Reminiscences; or, an Extract from the Catalogue of General Jackson’s Youthful Indiscretions between the Age of Twenty-three and Sixty. (1828)

Further Reading:

  • Cole, Donald B. Vindicating Andrew Jackson: The 1828 Election and the Rise of the Two-Party System. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009.


Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • 1828 Democratic Jacksonian revolution.
  • The first Presidential win and election for the Democratic Party: Since 1824, Jackson “consolidated a power base” that became the Democratic Party consisting of Jackson supporters, former William Crawford supporters (Old Republicans), John C. Calhoun supporters.
  • (First time a presidential candidate won more than 100,000 votes in a state, for Andrew Jackson in Pennsylvania).
  • Start of the Second Party System marked by increased voter interest in all aspects of the campaign and election process, an increase of nearly 800,000 popular votes.
  • Second of two times when a new President was elected and the incumbent Vice-President was re-elected.
  • Probably first million-dollar campaign.



  • March 4, 1825: John Adams’ ascension to the Presidency without a plurality of popular votes
  • October 7, 1825: The Tennessee legislature nominates Andrew Jackson with the document “Preamble and Resolution.”
  • October 7, 1825: Jackson resigns from the Senate not to use as a means of “intriguing for the Presidential chair.”
  • Jackson chooses incumbent Vice-President John C. Calhoun for his running mate
  • March 2, 1826: The Richmond Enquirer reports that for the first time the term “the popular vote” is used by U.S. Rep. George McDuffie of South Carolina on the floor of Congress during his speech debating on how a President should be chosen, he suggests basing the election of Presidential electors by popular vote. The Jackson amendment does not pass, but many states adopt General Ticket to choose electors.
  • 1826: Jackson supporters start the United States Telegraph in Washington, partisan press for Jackson, and local partisan papers carried the paper’s editorials
  • 1826: After the Congressional elections, the Jacksonian (Democratic) Party gain a majority in Congress after winning seven seats, with the Jacksonian, Andrew Stevenson becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • December 29, 1827: Andrew Jackson leaves for New Orleans
  • January 4, 1828: Pennsylvania state convention nominate National Republican John Quincy Adams for reelection; the convention nominates Gov. John A. Schulze for Vice President; he later declines
  • January 8, 1828: Jackson commences his campaign in New Orleans on the 13th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. The Louisiana legislature organizes a four-day event
  • January 12, 1828: Virginia National Republican Convention endorse Rush.
  • January 18, 1828: Baltimore Patriot reports the Democratic Virginia convention endorsed Calhoun for VP with 164 votes, 20 for Nathaniel Macon, 5 scattering
  • January 24, 1828: Pittsfield Sun reports Pennsylvania state convention nominates Treasury Secretary Richard Rush for Vice-president.
  • January 23, 1828: Maine Virginia National Republican Convention endorses Rush.
  • January 1828: “Nicholas Biddle of the Bank of the United States implements the sale of government securities to curtail the outward flow of specie. This policy results in propositions by Congress for the public sale of United States Bank stock.”
  • January 31, 1828: Jacksonian Democrats introduce a high tariff to the Congress hoping to use it as a campaign issue when the bill does not pass, angering manufacturers in the Northeast who are left without a tariff.
  •  May 11, 1828: “Proposed by South Carolinian and Vice President John Calhoun in an attempt to bolster support for Andrew Jackson’s bid for President, Congress passes a new tariff bill.”
  • October 31 – November 13, 1828: State election days
  • October 31, 1828: Pennsylvania and Ohio have their elections and choose their Presidential Electors.
  • November 3, 1828: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia have their elections and choose their Presidential Electors.
  • November 4-14, 1828: Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont have their elections and choose their Presidential Electors.
  • November 4-5, 1828: New Jersey has their elections and chooses their Presidential Electors.
  • November 19, 1828: Rhode Island, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maryland have their elections and choose their Presidential Electors.
  • December 3, 1828: Electoral voters cast their votes in their state capitals.
  • February 11, 1829: Election votes are counted in Congress, Democrats Andrew Jackson is elected President, and John Calhoun is re-elected Vice President.
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