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Jacksonian Democracy - the "corrupt bargain" and the election of 1824

The 19th century saw a shift in American democracy, extending voting rights to all white male citizens. This change reflected a desire for more democracy and less aristocratic rule. The election of 1824, involving John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Henry Clay, marked the influence of this new wave of voters.

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  • leafers tree style avatar for user PhotoLou
    What is the difference between electoral and popular votes?
    (16 votes)
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    • hopper jumping style avatar for user Yago
      The popular vote is essentially how many people have voted for you. The electoral vote is a bit different. The different states have different number of representatives in the electoral college, who then vote for the president. The number of representatives is dependant on the state's population, although it isn't always the same ratio, which ends up giving more power to the smaller states. (An example from Wikipedia: The ratio of representatives to votes is 4 times as great in Wyoming as it is in California). This can lead to someone winning the popular vote but not the electoral vote, which is the deciding one. Most states also have a winner-takes-all arrangement, so many votes are "lost", i.e. will not be represented in the electoral college. If you want to hear some arguments for why you would implement a system like this instead of giving everyone equal voting power, there are some good arguments on Wikipedia (even though I still disagree with it): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)#Support
      (21 votes)
  • duskpin seedling style avatar for user Mon Money
    How many votes do u need to become president
    (5 votes)
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    • aqualine tree style avatar for user David Alexander
      The strange electoral system of the United States, put into place in the 18th century to keep states, rather than citizens, in charge, and to give prominence to states where enslavement was practiced, has resulted, in the 21st century, in a need for 270 votes in the electoral college to get a president installed. It doesn't matter if the candidate has the majority of citizens' votes or not (see the elections of 2000 and 2016 on this matter). Only the 270 votes at the electoral college matter.
      (9 votes)
  • duskpin seedling style avatar for user Rachel
    How is the electoral college chosen?
    (3 votes)
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    • piceratops seed style avatar for user Jalen Perez
      There are 538 total electors in the Electoral College, who are chosen by each state of the United States and by the District of Columbia. The number of electors for a state is based upon the voting membership of that state in Congress, for example, the number of representatives in the House plus the number of senators. There are a total of 435 Representatives and 100 Senators in Congress; so along with 3 electors from the District of Columbia that brings the total number of electors to 538. A presidential candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.
      (4 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Sierra Nebeker
    I question this lector because the Republican party was constructed in July of 1854 not 1824 so, that wouldn't make Henry clay, John Quincy Adams, or Andrew Jackson Republicans. Andrew Jackson was a Democrat and John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay were in the Whig party which later was disintegrated and almost had no presence in 1858, the Republican party became a dominant party around the time Abraham Lincoln became president, and Abraham Lincoln was the first republican president of the United States of America in the 1860's.
    (4 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Kim Kutz Elliott
      From the author:There was a political party called the Democratic-Republicans formed by Thomas Jefferson in the 1790s that persisted into the 1820s.

      Both modern political parties, the Republican Party (formed, as you said, in 1854), and the Democratic Party (formed in 1828) take their names from this party, so it's understandably confusing!
      (8 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user ae31501
    At , when Adams makes Clay his secretary of state, would this be an example of the spoils system, which Andrew Jackson was also accused of taking advantage of?
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Bella
    How could Adams win, if he had less votes than Jackson in the electoral vote, but Jackson didn't even get the majority of the electoral votes?
    (3 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Ajay Shankar
      The election of 1824 was certainly odd in the fact that the President was not decided by the electoral vote but by the House of Representatives. They voted for Adams because he was the "safe" option. Jackson was known to be fierce and hot-headed. Plus, the deal Adams struck with Henry Clay did not help matters either.

      For a better explanation, here is a website that talks about the election of 1824.

      I hope this helped!
      (6 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user mlimbo2
    How come Clay, Quincy Adams and Jackson were in the same party? Aren't they suppose to be different from each other?
    (3 votes)
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    • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user ae31501
      Well, at the end of the War of 1812, the Federalist Party dissolved. Previously, there had been two parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Once the Federalists dissolved, however, during the Era of Good Feelings, it left only the Democratic-Republican Party. That is why they were in the same party. Eventually, though, this party split into the Whigs and the Democrats because of the different ideals and opinions of the members. In short, they were in the same party because that was the only option, and yes they did each have their own separate ideals. Their party eventually split because of its differences.
      (4 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Julia Isidro
    How were they are to distinguish one another's ideas when they were in the same party?
    (4 votes)
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  • purple pi purple style avatar for user ScienceMon
    How did expanding the franchise affect policy? What sorts of laws were passed to please "the mob"?
    (4 votes)
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  • primosaur ultimate style avatar for user Mr. S
    At Kim says Adams won the electoral vote, but didn't Jackson win both the electoral and popular vote? Jackson failed to win the majority of the electoral votes.
    (2 votes)
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] So we've been talking about the emergence of Jacksonian democracy in the first half of the 19th century in the United States and we've been talking about how in this time period, the vote was slowly extended to all white male citizens so that by the end of this period there were no more property requirements in the United States and any white male citizen could vote. Now those property requirements had allowed free people of color and women to vote in some states and when voting became associated with white male citizens, those little loopholes ended up getting closed, but this expansion of voting rights to all white male citizens really represents a shift in how the average American thought about who deserved to have a voice in the political process of the United States. They stopped placing so much value on this sort of aristocratic republican citizenship of the early days of the United States where someone like George Washington would never run for office. He would stand for office. You wouldn't promote yourself, that would be vulgar. Instead, you would have men of well-known character promote you. But by the 1820s, very few Americans believed in the idea that there could be such a thing as too much democracy that you would have to avoid the mob rule. Instead, they wanted the mob rule. They wanted a great expansion of democracy and that was to them the real character of the United States. Now I should also mention that this expansion of democracy was part of a larger international expansion of democracy. Similar laws that eliminated property restrictions on voting were also being passed in England and France at this time period. So there's kind of an international wave to broaden the franchise, but the extension of voting in Europe is nothing like the extension of voting in the United States. There are nearly twice as many eligible voters in the United States in the 1830s as there are in Britain with a population that's half the size. So while European nations are taking small steps toward expanding the franchise, the United States is taking huge steps in this time period. So the first election where we start to see the influence of this new wave of voters is in the election of 1824 and let me give us a little bit more space to talk about this. So the election of 1824 was a contest between John Quincy Adams, son of American founder John Adams, Andrew Jackson, famous war hero from the War of 1812, the victor of the Battle of New Orleans, and Henry Clay, who will become known as the great compromiser for having pretty much spent his entire political career either running for president or putting together some kind of compromise. Now, John Quincy Adams I think kind of epitomized the older school of American democracy. He was reticent to campaign on his own behalf. He was very interested in academics and internal improvements. He didn't really see himself as being part of a particular political party. In fact, all three of these men were actually running as republicans 'cause in the era of good feelings there's only the Republican Party. So you can see how confusing this might as been as a voter to have three different candidates from the same party and they're supposed to be different than each other. So in this election, Andrew Jackson wins the popular vote and John Quincy Adams wins the electoral vote and Henry Clay wins neither. Now in a situation like this, who got to be president was decided by the House of Representatives. Well guess who was speaker of the house. Henry Clay. So he's out of the running himself, but he is in a position to make quite an impact on who wins the presidency. Well John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay didn't have a whole lot of common, but they sure both hated Andrew Jackson. So Clay and Adams meet and Henry Clay says, "Yeah John Q., "I'll see if I can get the House to vote for you," and that's what happens. So the House elects John Quincy Adams president and then just a couple days later, John Quincy Adams says that Henry Clay will get to be his Secretary of State, which was quite a plum of a political position and Andrew Jackson and his supporters go ballistic. They say that this was a corrupt bargain behind closed doors in which John Quincy Adams bribed Henry Clay to give him the presidency in exchange for this political position. Now, there's no evidence that this actual corrupt bargain really happened, but even if it did, it was totally in line with the earlier playbook of American democracy, a you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours kind of situation where the better sort of men, the higher men of character made a deal between themselves of who would lead this nation and the outrage over this possible collusion between Adams and Clay really signaled that the old days of a couple of people making decisions about American politics were over, that this kind of deal between statesmen was now seen as undemocratic or crooked or something that was done behind closed doors and that was against the American character and Andrew Jackson is really going to ride his wave of popular discontent over someone winning the popular vote, but losing the electoral vote due to in his mind a corrupt bargain right into the presidency in the election of 1828 and we'll get to that in the next video.