1836

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1836

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OVERVIEW

Election Year: 1836

Election Day Date: November 3 – December 7, 1836

11/4 — OH, PA; 11/7 — CT, DE, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, ME, MD, MS, MO, NH, NY, VA;
11/10 – NC; 11/14 — AL, MA; 11/15 – VT; 11/16 to 17 – NJ; 11/17 – TN; 11/23 — RI

Winning Ticket: Martin Van Buren (54, Dutch Reformed), Richard Johnson (56, Baptist), Democratic 762,978 50.79% 170 57.8%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • William H. Harrison (63, Episcopal), Francis Granger (44), Whig 736,250 36.59% 73 24.8%
  • Hugh White (63), John Tyler (46, Episcopalian) Whig 146,107 9.72% 26 8.8%
  • Daniel Webster(54, Unitarian Universalist), Francis Granger (44)Whig 41,201 2.74% 14 4.8%
  • Willie Person Mangum (44, ), John Tyler (46, Episcopal, possibly Deist), Whig — 0 0.00% 11 3.7%
  • Other (+) – – 2,305 0.15% 0 0.0%
  • [redo percentages]

Voter Turnout: 55.2%

Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters: State and local committees (fundraising, distribute campaign material); partisan papers; rallies, barbecues, dinners

Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:

Andrew Jackson, (1829-1837) Martin Van Buren (1833-1837), Democratic,

Population: 1836: 15,340,000

Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $1.46 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $29.11
GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 5.03 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $95 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $1,897

Number of Daily Newspapers: 65 (1830); 138 (1840)

Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote in all states except in South Carolina where the electors were appointed by the state legislature

Method of Choosing Nominees: National party Conventions

Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries):

  • Bank of the United States (Andrew Jackson’s opposition to it)
  • States’ rights (Andrew Jackson v. Sen. John C. Calhoun and the Nullifiers
  • (Whig Party) opposition)
  • Sectional differences: The Whigs were unable to support a single candidate — there were four Whig Presidential candidates on the ballot.

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

Democratic Party nomination

  • Martin Van Buren, Vice President of the United States (New York)

Whig Party nomination

  • William Henry Harrison, former U.S. senator (Ohio)
  • Daniel Webster, U.S. senator (Massachusetts)
  • Hugh L. White, U.S. senator (Tennessee)
  • Willie Person Mangum, U.S. senator (North Carolina)

Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):

  • States rights in the South
  • Southern Democrats disliked Jackson’s chosen successor Democrat Van Buren and his running mate Colonel Richard Mentor Johnson, Kentucky who lived and had two children with a “mulatto” woman, Julia Chinn, an “octoroon” slave.
  • Hugh Lawson White (Senator, Tennessee) a moderate on states’ rights was the Southern Nullifiers’ choice. The Alabama and Tennessee state legislatures nominated him as  the Whig candidate
  • Daniel Webster (Senator, Massachusetts) was the most popular Whig candidate in the North in early 1835. By the end of 1835, the former general William Henry Harrison was gaining support in the North.  By mid 1836, the Northern free states except for Massachusetts and three border states supported Harrison as the Whig candidate.

Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):

  • The National Republicans, anti-Masons, and anti-Jackson Democrats led by John Calhoun combined in 1833-1834 to form the Whig party to oppose the Democratic Party.

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Andrew Jackson, Edward Rucker, Tennessee (Delegate, cast 15 votes at the DNC for Van Buren, Johnson); “Locofocos” (Equal righters, radical Democrats acquired their name when debating with conservatives at the Democratic convention, Conservatives blew out the gaslights upon angrily leaving a meeting and equal righters lit the candles with their “locofoco” matches)

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

Conventions (Dates & Locations):

  • Democratic Party, May 20-22, 1835, Fourth Presbyterian Church; Baltimore, Andrew Stevenson (Virginia) 1st ballot, Martin Van Buren (New York) Richard M. Johnson (Kentucky)
  • Whig Party had no national convention; nominated candidates at legislative caucuses, regional meetings, and state conventions.

Convention Turning Points:

Democratic National Convention:

  • The convention was held a year and a half in advance to ensure there would be no opposition to Jackson’s chosen successor, Vice President Martin Van Buren.
  • Alabama, Illinois, and South Carolina did not participate in the convention.

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

Democratic Party Nomination

Presidential ballot

  • Martin Van Buren and Richard M. Johnson nominated on first ballot

Vice-Presidential ballot

  • Richard Mentor Johnson Kentucky 178 67%
  • William Cabell Rives Virginia 87 33%

Whigs (North, border states)

Presidential ballot

  • William Henry Harrison

Vice Presidential ballot

  • Francis Granger

Whigs (Middle and lower South)

Presidential ballot

  • Hugh L. White

Vice Presidential ballot

  • John Tyler

Whigs (Massachusetts)

Presidential ballot

  • Daniel Webster

Vice President

  • Francis Granger

Whigs (South Carolina)

Presidential ballot

  • Willie P. Mangum

Vice Presidential ballot

  • John Tyler

Convention Chairman:

Democratic Andrew Stevenson (Virginia)

Nominating Speech Speakers (President):

Democratic: Andrew Stevenson (Virginia) Chairman

Party Platform/Issues:

  • Democratic Party: No platform; positions on the most important issues slavery and states rights
  • Moderate position on slavery; to maintain southern support it was decided the abolition of slavery would be a state decision rather than federal one
  • Van Buren stated in his acceptance letter he would continue Jackson;s policies in his administration.

General Election Controversies/Issues: States’ Rights; Bank of the United States; High Tariffs; opposition to internal improvements; South Carolina’s 1833 attempt to nullify the tariff.

Campaign Innovations (General Election): “Ruckerize” (engage in political skullduggery)

Major Personalities (General Election): Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay

Campaign Tactics:

  • Mudslinging; vicious Whig attack on Van Buren
  • Democrats defended Van Buren, counter attacked
  • Whig Party: Favorite son strategy, nominate several candidates with local support to divide the vote and lead it to the House of Representatives.

Turning Points (General Election):

  • The Whigs could not keep up with Van Buren’s campaign with four candidates running.

Campaign Song: Democratic Party: (Martin Van Buren) Rockabye, Baby

Popular Campaign Slogans: Whigs,Old Tippecanoe”

Whigs “EQUAL & FULL PROTECTION TO AMERICAN INDUSTRY”

“Hurrah for Harrison”

Democrats: “VAN BUREN & DEMOCRACY”

Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:

  • Democrats, “Rumpsey dumpsey, rumpsey dumpsey, Colonel Johnson killed Tecumseh”; “The Hero of the Thames”
  • Whigs, “King Andrew the First”;

Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “I shall, if honored with the choice of the American people, endeavor to tread generally in the footsteps of President Jackson— happy if I shall be able to perfect the work which he has so gloriously begun.” Martin Van Buren

Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):

  • “We desire a candidate who will concentrate all our suffrage and we desire what is impossible.” Whig Party
  • “We are to be cursed with Van Buren for President.” Thurlow Weed, New York Whig leader
  • “The people are for him. Not so much for him as for the principle they suppose he represents. That principle is Democracy.” William T. Seward, New York Whig

Campaign Quotations:

  • “We have nothing to fear from the combined fragments we have to contend with.” a Democratic Partisan
  • “An adroit and subtle, rather than a great man, I judge that he owed his election … to the personal favor and imperious will of Andrew Jackson,” Horace Greeley on Martin Van Buren.
  • “The remarkable character of this election is, that all the candidates are at most third-rate men” John Quincy Adams
  • [Martin van Buren] “travels about the country and through the cities in an English coach; has English servants, dressed in uniform — I think they call it livery . . .; no longer mixes with the sons of little tavern-keepers; forgets all his old companions and friends in the humbler walks of life . . .; eats in a room by himself; and is so stiff in his gait, and prim in his dress, that he is what the English call a dandy. When he enters the Senate chamber in the morning he struts and swaggers like a crow in a gutter. He is laced up in corsets, such as women in a town wear, and, if possible, tighter than the best of them. It would be difficult to say, from his personal appearance, whether he was a man or woman, but for his large red and gray whiskers.” Davy Crockett, The Life of Martin Van Buren, Heir-Apparent to the “Government,” and the Appointed Successor of General Andrew Jackson.

Significant books from the campaign:

  • Crockett, Davy. The Life of Martin Van Buren, Heir-Apparent to the “Government,” and the Appointed Successor of General Andrew Jackson. Philadelphia [Pa.]: Robert Wright, 1835.
  • Richard Emmons, “Tecumseh, or the Battle of the Thames, a National Drama in Five Acts”

Further Reading:

Robert V. Remini, Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party, (1959).

Election Issues:

  • Michigan electoral votes were cast before it became a state on January 26, 1837. Congress resolved on February 4, 1837 to count the electoral vote twice including and excluding Michigan.
  • Virginia electors voted for Van Buren, but instead voted for William Smith for Vice President refusing to vote for Richard Mentor Johnson.
  • Richard Mentor Johnson had one vote less than the 148 electoral vote majority needed. As per Twelfth Amendment, the Senate decided the Vice-Presidential election from the top two vote-getters Johnson and Francis Granger. The Senate elected Johnson in a single ballot by 33 to 16.

Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • Last election until 1988 that an incumbent Vice President was elected President,
  • Otherwise, the Vice President became President only through death or resignation. did the Vice-President become President.
  • Only race in which a major political party intentionally ran several presidential candidates.
  • First and so far only time a Vice Presidential election was thrown into the Senate.
  • Increasingly visible partisan lines in electoral politics, reflecting the emerging party system.

 

CHRONOLOGY

  • 1833: South Carolina attempts to nullify the tariff (Tariff of Abominations). States’ rights in the South (Andrew Jackson v. Sen. John C. Calhoun and the Nullifiers (Whig Party) opposition); Clay introduces a compromise tariff which ends the crisis.
  • March 1, 1833: “Pressed by Jackson, Congress passes the Force Bill, authorizing Jackson’s use of the army to gain compliance for federal law in South Carolina. Vice President Calhoun voices his dissent.”
  • March 28, 1834: “Jackson issues an order for the Treasury Department to withdrawal federal deposits from the Bank of the United States and place them in state banks. When Secretary of the Treasury William Duane refuses, Jackson fires him.”
  • March 28, 1834: “The Senate, led by Clay, Calhoun and Daniel Webster, passes a resolution of censure admonishing Jackson. The censure will be officially expunged from the record on January 16, 1837, the result of political bargaining. Jackson will continue to take action against the Bank, which closes its doors in 1841.”
  • 1833-1834: The National Republicans, anti-Masons, and anti-Jackson Democrats led by John Calhoun combine to form the Whig party to oppose the Democratic Party.
  • November 24, 1834: “A South Carolina state convention adopts the Ordinance of Nullification, a decree nullifying congressional acts involving duties and imposts on the importation of foreign commodities. Calhoun resigns as vice president and immediately takes his elected position as senator. No other states join South Carolina in this action.”
  • Early 1835: Senator Daniel Webster (Massachusetts) is the Whig front runner in the North.
  • May 20-22, 1835: Democratic Party National Convention convenes at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Andrew Stevenson (Virginia) serves as chairman. The convention nominates on the 1st ballot, Martin Van Buren (New York) for President and Richard M. Johnson (Kentucky) for Vice President. Southern Democrats dislike Jackson’s chosen successor Democrat Van Buren and oppose his running mate Colonel Richard Mentor Johnson who lived and had two children with a “mulatto” woman, Julia Chinn, an “octoroon” slave.
  • Late 1835: Former general William Henry Harrison and Whigs gains support in the North.
  • February 22, 1836: Ohio’s Whig State Convention endorses a ticket of Henry Harrison for the Presidential nominee, and Francis Granger the anti-Masonic Vice Presidential candidate.
  • May 4, 1836: The Anti- Masonic Convention does not choose a Presidential nominee.
  • August 1, 1836: Whig Party National Convention nominates William Henry Harrison. Because of sectional differences, the Whigs are unable to support a single candidate. There are four Whig Presidential candidates on the ballot.
  • Mid 1836: Northern Free States except for Massachusetts and three border states support Harrison as the Whig candidate.
  • 1836: The Southern Nullifiers; the Alabama and Tennessee state legislatures nominate Hugh Lawson White (Senator, Tennessee) a moderate on states’ rights as the Whig candidate
  • November 3-December 7, 1836: State election days
  • November 4, 1836: Ohio and Pennsylvannia have their elections and choose their Presidential Electors.
  • November 7, 1836: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Virginia have their elections and choose their Presidential Electors.
  • November 10, 1836: North Carolina has their elections and chooses their Presidential Electors.
  • November 14, 1836: Alabama and Massachusetts have their elections and choose their Presidential Electors.
  • November 15, 1836: Vermont has their elections and chooses their Presidential Electors.
  • November 16-17, 1836: New Jersey has their elections and chooses their Presidential Electors.
  • November 17, 1836: Tennessee has their elections and chooses their Presidential Electors.
  • November 23, 1836: Rhode Island has their elections and chooses their Presidential Electors.
  • January 26, 1837: Michigan achieves statehood.
  • February 4, 1837:  Michigan electoral votes are cast before it became a state. Congress resolves to count the electoral vote twice, once including and excluding Michigan in the final tally.
  • Virginia electors are pledged to vote for Van Buren, but instead they vote for William Smith as Vice President; refusing to vote for Richard Mentor Johnson.
  • Richard Mentor Johnson ends up with one vote less than the 148 electoral vote majority needed. As per Twelfth Amendment, the Senate decides the Vice-Presidential election from the top two vote-getters Johnson and Francis Granger. The Senate elects Johnson in a single ballot by 33 to 16.
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