The Papers of Andrew Jackson, Volume 6
This sixth volume of The Papers of Andrew Jackson documents the election on Andrew Jackson, the first westerner and the last veteran of the American Revolution, to the presidency.
The four years of this volume chronicle the presidential campaign of 1828. Jackson, winner of the popular vote in 1824 but loser of the election, was once again the reluctant candidate, called into service by the voice of the voters. The campaign, one of the longest in American history, pitted Jackson against the incumbent John Quincy Adams; it was also one of the dirtiest campaigns in American history.
The brunt of the mudslinging was aimed at Jackson, and it is covered in detail in this volume. Every aspect of the public and private life of the fifty-eight-year-old former major general in the United States Army came under scrutiny, and in both his opponents found him deficient. According to his detractors, he lacked the moral principles, the temperament, the education, and the family background requisite for a president of the United States. In sum, Jackson resembled the “devil incarnate,” to use his own words. The mudslinging left Jackson livid, anxious for retribution but constrained by the cause in which he was engaged. The presidential campaign of 1828, in the minds of Jackson and his supporters, was for the cause of truth and democracy against corrupt, self-seeking politicians, an aristocracy of power built upon bargains and dubious political alliances dedicated to its perpetuation in office.
The four years covered in this volume were some of the most trying in Jackson’s life, but the one event that hurt Jackson the most was the death of his wife. Until his dying day, Jackson contended that her death had been hastened by the slanders of his opponents in the campaign. As great as the loss was for him personally, Jackson nonetheless rejoiced in the results of the election for, in his eyes, the voice of the people had finally been heard. Liberty, not power, had triumphed. Reform was at hand, and retribution would surely follow.
Harold D. Moser, former editor of the Correspondence Series, Papers of Daniel Webster, Dartmouth College, is Research Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
J. Clint Clift is Assistant Editor with the Jackson Papers.
Wyatt C. Wells is currently Associate Professor at the University of Alabama at Montgomery.