Hillary Clinton declared herself “part of the resistance” this week, blaming her stinging presidential election loss on FBI Director James B. Comey, WikiLeaks and Russian meddling. At a women’s conference in New York, she also tweaked President Trump for his tweets about her and reminded him that she won the popular vote.
There was another presidential contest loser who also chose the vocal-and-angry route — none other than Trump’s hero, Andrew Jackson.
Jackson’s landslide win in 1828 was actually his second time running for president. The first time he ran, in 1824, he won both the popular and the electoral vote. But since there were four candidates, Jackson won only a plurality of electors, not the majority required by the Constitution. The winner had to be decided by the House of Representatives.
Since candidate Henry Clay, senator from Kentucky, came in fourth place, he was knocked out of contention. He also happened to be Speaker of the House. Clay’s support, according to Edward G. Lengel of the White House Historical Association, became top priority to the remaining contenders: then-senator Jackson, Treasury Secretary William Crawford and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams.
In a letter to a friend before the House vote, Jackson said: “Let me rise or fall upon the rule that the people have the right to choose the chief executive of the nation, and a majority of their voices have a right to govern.”
In early January 1825, Clay met with Adams for a long, private discussion, according to letters from Adams cited by H.W. Brands in his book “Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times.” Soon after, the Speaker threw his support behind Adams and began whipping votes for him. A month later, in a surprise result, the House elected Adams president.
At first, Jackson accepted his loss graciously, even attending a reception at the White House in Adams’s honor.
But rumors swirled that Adams had promised Clay a cabinet position in exchange for his endorsement. And when Adams nominated Clay for secretary of state, it seemingly confirmed the rumors. The volatile Jackson decried the “corrupt bargain.” His supporters said the election was stolen. There was real fear that the war hero might respond with violence, Jackson historian Daniel Feller said in an interview with CNN.
“The Judas of the West has closed the contract and will receive the thirty pieces of silver,” Jackson said, bitterly. “Was there ever witnessed such a bare faced corruption in any country before?”
Jackson and his allies coalesced into a resistance of their own, undermining Adams’s legislative agenda and shouting corruption for the next four years. Not long after, the Jacksonians got a new name — the Democratic Party.
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