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this manner the campaign opened. Four candidates of high standing, of the same political cast, with nearly equal pretensions, and each with a numerous train of followers, entered the lists. That portion of the American people who had no local or personal prejudices or partialities, and no expectation of particular favors, in the outset felt but little interest in the event.
In their opinion, government has been so long in operation, and the principles upon which it must be conducted so well settled, that it might now be kept on its course, without the aid of those transcendant talents, which were requisite at its commencement. Either of the canditates, as well as hundreds of other citizens, were competent to manage the helm of the political ship in a perfect calm. There are two reasons, however, which lead the American people anxiously to wish that the supreme executive and the cabinet might be composed of the first order of talents: one, that in their intercourse with foreign nations, diplomatic ingenuity might be met with at least equal ability, and that their state papers might bear a comparison with those of any other nation; the other, that it might appear that the American mode of designating the chief magistrate is better calculated to call into operation the talents of the nation, than the European. In the latter, distinguished abilities are not looked for, and are seldom found in the chief. But the hereditary monarch has the whole nation from which to select his cabinet; is not looking forward to the fearful period when his powers must cease, or be renewed by a popular election, and has no inducement to form his council or shape his measures with reference to such a period. Under such favorable circumstances, he usually has wisdom enough to make a judicious choice, and inclination to yield the management of public affairs to their guidance. Hence the cabinet, the judiciary, and most of the important stations in the British government, have for centuries, for the most part, been filled with able officers, while but a small portion of talent has been found in their chiefs. In practice it has been demonstrated, that in republics, the supreme executive, obtaining his office by a contested election, has only the instruments of his elevation from which to make a choice. This usually excludes one half of the national talent. The cabinet and all its measures must be shaped to the period of a re-election. With all these disadvantages, incident to every republic, the American people look back with pleasure and a beco
ming pride on a succession of able ministers since their government commenced its operation.
Manner of supporting their claims. One of the first objects of the combatants in this political campaign, was to secure the co-operation of as many of the presses as possible, for their respective candidates. At this period, there were six hundred different newspapers in the United States, in circulation among a million and a half of electors. With few exceptions every elector reads one or more of these vehicles of information, and usually forms his opinion of public men from that source. Their influence is powerful and controlling; and in an electioneering contest, it is to be secured in various ways, by large additions to their subscription lists, for gratuitous distribution; and by assurances that they shall have the printing of the public laws, and other patronage of the government, usually bestowed on the presses whose favorite candidate had been successful. As the period drew nigh, by the operation of these causes, and the indefatigable exertions of the zealots of the respective candidates, the people were brought to take sides in the contest. In all parts of the union, various assemblages of citizens sometimes convened for the express purpose, sometimes met for other busines, and often fortuitously brought together, expressed their sentiments by balloting for the candidates. In one or two instances, the most zealous partisans agreed to settle the question by single combat. In these contests some blood has been shed, but no lives lost.
Different modes of choosing electors. Another subject of considerable importance and on which public opinion was divided, was the mode in which electors should be appointed. The constitution provides in very general terms, that each state shall appoint their electors in such manner, as the legislature thereof shall direct. Under this clause, three modes have been adopted. One by districts, a second by general ticket, and a third by the legislature. In those states where the electors are chosen by districts, each portion of their citizens had its proportionate influence in the election; but it often happened that the different candidates would have majorities in different districts, in consequence of which the vote of the state would be neutralized. One or the other of the remaining modes, was therefore more
* Postmaster general's report
usually adopted, which gave the state in all instances, except that of New York, in this election, a united voice.
Proceedings in the state of New York. In that state a law had been passed some time previous to 1824, directing the appointment of electors to be by joint ballot of both houses of the legislature. In January, 1824, a bill was introduced into the house of representatives, and passed by a considerable majority, vesting the choice in the people. This bill was negatived in the senate by a vote of seventeen out of thirty-two. This dispute between the different branches of the legislature, occasioned great excitement, both among themselves and their constituents. As it was necessary to make provision, by a joint act of both houses, for the meeting of the legislature in November, for the choice of electors, it was apprehended that they would disagree upon that subject also, and the vote of the state, amounting to one seventh part of the union, be lost. After a severe contest, however, the necessary provision was made. In the course of the summer, the governor apprehending that the public sentiment was decidedly in favor of a choice by the people, and that there probably might be a change of sentiment in some of the senators, called a special meeting of the legislature in August, to reconsider the subject. The seventeen senators, however, adhered to their opinion, declared that there was no extraordinary occasion warranting the special meeting, and refused to consider the subject, or transact any legislative business, and adjourned after a fruitless session of five days. At the subsequent meeting in November for the choice of electors, the senate were in favor of Crawford electors, and the house of representatives, of Adams. After a stormy contest of several days, the result was the appointment of twenty-six electors who voted for Adams, five for Crawford, four for Clay, and one for Jackson.
Congressional caucus. The question whether there should be a congressional caucus on the subject of the presidential election during the first session of the eighteenth congress, became a matter of deep interest to the candidates, and to the members who were expectants of office under each. Public sentiment had expressed itself decidedly against the measure. The legislature of Tennessee had denounced it as a flagrant violation of the right of suffrage, and kindly taken the business of nominating a president into their own hands. It was found, however, very difficult to overcome that natural propensity which every
one in a greater or less degree feels, to improve every opportunity to his own advantage, and in a manner to give the greatest effect to his own exertions. Zeal in favor of a successful candidate had the expectation of an ample reward. A struggle between these considerations on the one hand, and a sense of duty and submission to public opinion on the other, produced much diversity of sentiment on this question. At length, after much hesitation, a notice appeared in the National Intelligencer of the 6th of February, signed by eleven members of congress, inviting the democratic portion of that body to meet in the representative's chamber on the 14th, for the purpose of recommending candidates for the offices of president and vice president of the United States. In the same paper there appeared an opposing notice, signed by one member from each state, giving information, that, at the request of their respective colleagues, they had made inquiry, and were fully satisfied, that of the two hundred and sixty one members composing the present congress, one hundred and eighty-one deemed it inexpedient, under present circumstances, to hold a caucus on the subject. On the evening of the 14th of February, agreeable to the notice of the eleven, sixty-six members assembled in the representatives' chamber, and gave sixty-four votes for Mr. Crawford, two for Mr. Adams, one for Mr. Macon, and one for General Jackson, for president; and fifty-seven for Albert Gallatin, for vice president. To make out Mr. Crawford's votes, the proxy of Mr. Ball, who was absent from indisposition, and that of Mr. Tatnell, of Georgia, who had been elected a member of the eighteenth congress, but had never taken his seat, were counted.
The next object was, to legalize this caucus, and render its proceedings acceptable to the people; for this purpose, a committee of thirteen were appointed to prepare and publish an address to accompany the nomination. In this publication, they lament the absence of so large a portion of their republican brethren; they justify their proceedings on the ground of long usage, and the success which had usually attended the measure; they insist much on the importance of keeping up old party distinctions, and are lavish in praise of their favorite candidate; and although they admit that federalism is nearly extinct, yet they would make the people believe that there is great danger to be apprehended, that a Phoenix may arise from its ashes, to take advantage of democratic dissentions, and introduce confusion into their "anks.
Private character respected in the canvas. Much to the honor of the combatants in this contest, private character was less assailed than was to be expected, where so great an object was at stake. Each seemed to be willing to stand on the merits of his own character, rather than on the ruins of his adversary. There were, however, some exceptions to this prisciple. Mr. Crawford's official conduct as secretary of the treasury, in relation to the western banks, was violently assailed, and the attack triumphantly repulsed. General Jackson's aberrations from the strict line of the constitution, in several of his military operations, were brought forward, and urged with great force, to show the hazard of placing the supreme power in the hands of a military chief. To evince the danger which democracy might have cause to apprehend from his elevation, the private correspondence, before referred to, between him and Mr. Monroe, on his first election to the presidency, was ferreted out and published, in which the general recommends the best talents in the nation, without distinction of party, to compose his cabinet. And although, in his opinion, the leading members of the Hartford convention ought to have undergone a military execution, which he thinks would have been the case, had the meeting been held within his military district, he was, notwithstanding, of opinion that the elevation of Mr. Monroe afforded a fit opportunity to cast the veil of oblivion over past errors, to take a straight forward course, and to avail himself of the talents and patriotism of the whole community, for the general good. A small pecuniary transaction between Mr. Adams and one of the banks of the district of Columbia, was brought forward to impeach his integrity, but without success.
State of the electoral votes. In the electoral colleges the votes were for Jackson ninety-nine, being a majority of eleven states; for Adams eighty-four, a majority of seven states; for Crawford forty-one, three states; and for Clay thirty-seven, also three states.
According to the provisions of the constitution, the elec tion, from the highest three candidates, devolved on the house of representatives, the votes to be taken by states, each having an equal voice, and a majority of all the states necessary to make a choice. The ill health of Mr. Crawford, and his number of votes compared with the highest two, placed him out of the question; and for weeks before the ultimate canvass, Jackson and Adams were considered as the only real candidates.