A Turning Point in American Politics

The Election of 1828

In 1828, voters were more directly involved in choosing their president than ever before. Previously, voter restrictions were based on property ownership and religious association, but by 1828 most states had eliminated those requirements.

Newly enfranchised white males chose their presidential electors, and political factions coalesced around one candidate or another. Jackson supporters formed their own party, which would become known as the Democratic Party.

Electoral College

The election of 1828 was a unique one in that Jackson and Adams ran as members of the same party. Their campaigns centered on bitter personal attacks and a resurgence of negative political messaging. This was a rematch of the election of 1824, a contest that was nicknamed “the corrupt bargain” due to the alleged deal between Adams and Henry Clay that gave Adams the presidency even though Jackson had received more electoral votes.

The election of 1828 was a major turning point in American politics. It was the first time that a candidate from the newly formed Democratic Party won the presidency over an incumbent President from the National Republican Party. The victory ushered in a new era of two-party politics and was a catalyst for the rise of the Democratic Party. Today, the Office of Federal Register (OFR) performs several functions in support of the Electoral College. These include reviewing Certificates of Ascertainment and Vote submitted by States in preparation for their counting in Congress.

Electoral Votes

The election of 1828 was a milestone in American history. It is often credited with ushering in the modern era of political campaigns as well as solidifying political parties. It also gave rise to the term “Jacksonian Era.” The election of 1828 was the first time that electors were chosen directly by voters, instead of being appointed by state legislatures. Voting was also massively expanded to include nearly all White males.

The presidential election of 1828 was a rematch of the bitter contest of four years earlier between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. In that election, Jackson received more popular and electoral votes than Adams, but because the three other candidates had split the vote, neither candidate had a majority. The decision was then left to the House of Representatives, which chose Adams over Jackson after Speaker of the House Henry Clay threw his support behind Adams and even appointed him Secretary of State.

The Twelfth Amendment requires the Congress to meet in joint session to count the electoral votes. A state’s electors then sign a certificate of the vote, which is sent to Congress and kept at NARA.

Jackson’s Victory

The election of 1828 marked a turning point in American politics. It was the first time that the election of the president was not determined by a contested convention and instead fell to the House of Representatives which chose between the top three finishers in the electoral college. This resulted in a rematch between Jackson and Adams. Jackson’s victory was widely seen as a repudiation of Adams and his vision for America. The “common man” saw in Jackson a leader who would crush the power of the aristocratic elites that ran Washington.

The campaign was brutal as both parties engaged in massive amounts of mudslinging. Personalities played a major role as Jackson’s wife Rachel was vilified in campaign pamphlets as a bigamist (she had not been legally divorced from her first husband). Adams was painted as an out of touch aristocrat who did not care about the concerns of the average voter. Jackson won the election with 178 electoral votes to Adams’ 83 and ushered in the Jacksonian Era.


At the time of the 1828 election, American political campaigning was in its infancy. Until then, most states had strict laws governing who could vote, usually limiting it to white males who owned certain dollar amounts of property or were members of a particular religious organization.

But in 1828, most of these restrictions were removed by constitutional amendments, allowing for greater voter participation and ensuring that electors truly represented the public’s will. This was the first time that voters would select their own presidential electors, a process known as direct elections.

Jackson and Adams were both running for the presidency, a rematch from the previous election in 1824. The campaigns were marked by mudslinging. While Adams supporters alleged that Jackson had engaged in adultery, Jackson’s followers accused Adams of gambling in the White House and having a billiard table at the expense of the government (both were true). The bitterness of the election still resonated for years to come.

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