The Election of 1828: A Changing of the U.S. Political Landscape

Victoria Kathleen Patterson


During the election of 1828, a rise in political activism within the general populous led candidates to utilize new campaigning strategies. These changes in strategies helped electoral contenders cope with the American public’s growing desire for fuller transparency and the shift toward a new campaigning structure based primarily on public image. The development and focus of these new strategies has permanently altered the way future politicians and the general public have since approached campaigning in America. When looking into the 1828 election campaigns of Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, the following questions were considered. The primary question was how did the candidates use new campaign strategies in order to gain the American public’s favor? Additionally, what specific campaign strategies were introduced during the campaign leading to the 1828 election? Which candidate had a higher rate of success in employing these strategies? Finally, what strategies were better utilized by Andrew Jackson and his campaign causing him to win the election? In order to find the answers to these questions I examined newspaper articles, election results, political cartoons, flyers, music scores, dishware, sewing boxes and various other material election-themed novelties. Through examination of articles from the New Hampshire Patriot & Star Gazette and the U.S. Telegraph I was able to identify an upsurge in the amount of public slander and the formation of a multi-tiered Jacksonian campaign network. In addition, I found many examples of written and illustrated images, in both newspaper articles and on material items, demonstrating a focus on advertising a pre-formed public image of each candidate. Also, an elevation in importance of the popular vote was a chief cause of the change in American political activism as well as causing the need for candidates to focus on appealing to certain sectors of the American public. Resources further indicated a significant introduction of functional and novelty items, such as dishware and tiaras, as a strategy to promote familiarity with the candidates' public image. A shift toward focus on a need for public support and Jackson’s natural ability to manipulate new techniques are what allowed him to win in 1828. Jackson’s focus on being personally relatable was a major deviation toward campaigns relying on support of the average American public instead of support of the Electoral College and other members of more elite society. This occurred because of the unpopular election of Adams during the last campaign by the Electoral College in contradiction to the popular vote. The accumulated circumstances of the time triggered an escalation in campaigning and formation of new public-focused strategies that permanently altered the way political elections proceeded in the United States.


Adams, Jackson, Election

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