1828: Adams, Jackson in Brutal Rematch

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These policy differences took a backstage to personal attacks in this election, however. The videos produced by the class reflect the rancor of the campaign. The attack ads are harsh and vindictive. The positive campaign ads focus on the service and patriotism of their candidate, not policy.   

Dan DiVietri’s ad attacking Andrew Jackson was one of the best in the class. The audio playing in the background was a campaign song popular amongst Adams’ supporters. The refrain of the song – “Satan’s coming/ If John Quincy not be coming” – links Jackson to the devil. Supporters of Adams sang this song and others like it throughout the country, in taverns, in town squares, and during parades. The images and quotations that flash on the screen reinforce this idea. Dan’s video uses nearly every line of attack Adams’ supporters deployed. He also used Jackson’s own words against him. It is one of the most well-researched, powerful, and effective videos because it immerses the viewer in the political culture of the election. For Dan’s explanation of his video, click here.

Brian Edgerley’s pro-Jackson ad refutes everything Dan says. He casts Jackson as a distinguished war hero, not an authoritarian and uncontrolled general, whose frontier roots meant he would fight for the common man. Brian ends with a toast published in newspapers that declares Jackson an “undeviating republican of the school of seventy-six,” which was also an implicit attack on Adams for betraying the nation’s founding principles. You can read Brian’s analysis of the election and an explanation of his video here.

Nicole Smith’s pro-Adams video takes a similar tack by highlighting Adams’ credentials. Adams had served his country in some capacity for his entire adult life. As a diplomat and distinguished Secretary of State, his resume before taking the oath of office was among the best of any president. Nicole ends by calling for unity and argues that Adams is the consensus-builder. You can read her explanation here.

Finally, I am reposting Aimee Dennett’s ad attacking John Adams in 1824. Her themes resonated in the 1828 election just as much – if not more so – in 1828.

Jackson won a resounding victory, receiving 56 percent of the vote and 178 Electoral College votes to Adams’ 83. One of the most notable developments in this election was an incredible expansion of the vote. States removed property ownership from their eligibility requirements, meaning that many free men could vote for the first time. This newly enlarged and engaged electorate changed American politics and influenced the development of the Second Party System.  

In our next installment, we will see this Second Party System when the Whig Party standard-bearer William Henry Harrison faces off against Jackson’s handpicked successor, Martin Van Buren.

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