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There was no clearly
defined plan followed in making the presidential nominations for 1824,
and four years later the legislative caucus system was almost
universally followed. After that, the system which had been applied in
various States was applied to national matters.


THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL CONVENTION.

In the year 1826, William Morgan, a worthless character, living in
Batavia, New York, attempted to expose the secrets of the order of Free
Masons, of which he had become a member. While he was engaged in
printing his book, he disappeared and was never afterward seen. The
Masons were accused of making way with him, and a wave of opposition
swept over the country which closed many lodges and seemed for a time to
threaten the extinction of the order. An anti-Masonic party was formed
and became strong enough to carry the election in several States. Not
only that, but in September, 1831, the anti-Masons held a National
nominating convention in Baltimore and put forward William Wirt, former
attorney-general of the United States, as their nominee for the
Presidency, with Amos Ellmaker, candidate for the Vice-Presidency. The
ticket received seven electoral votes. The noteworthy fact about this
almost forgotten matter is that the convention was the first
presidential one held in this country.


CONVENTION IN BALTIMORE IN 1832.

The system was now fairly launched, for in December of the same year the
National Republicans met in convention in Baltimore and nominated Henry
Clay, and in May, 1832, Martin Van Buren was nominated by a Democratic
convention. He was renominated at the same place and in the same manner
in 1835, but the Whigs did not imitate their opponents. In 1840,
however, the system was adopted by both parties, and has been followed
ever since.

Our whole country seethes with excitement from the hour when the first
candidate is hinted at until his nomination is made, followed by his
election or defeat a few months later. Some persons see a grave peril in
this periodic convulsion, which shakes the United States like an
earthquake, but it seems after all to be a sort of political
thunderstorm which purifies the air and clarifies the ideas that
otherwise would become sodden or morbid. It is essentially American, and
our people's universal love of fair play leads them to accept the
verdict at the polls with philosophy and good nature.

And yet there have been many exciting scenes at the nominating
conventions of the past, as there doubtless will be in many that are yet
to come. Coming down to later times, how often has it proved that the
most astute politicians were all at sea in their calculations. The
proverbial "dark horse" has become a potent factor whom it is not safe
to forget in making up political probabilities.


THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1820.

Probably the most tranquil presidential campaign of the nineteenth
century was that of 1820, when James Monroe was elected for the second
time. He was virtually the only candidate before the country for the
exalted office. When the electoral college met, the astounding fact was
revealed that he had every vote--the first time such a thing had
occurred since Washington's election.

But there was one elector who had the courage to do that which was
never done before and has never been done since: he voted contrary to
his instructions and in opposition to the ticket on which he was
elected. Blumer, of New Hampshire, explained that, as he viewed it, no
President had the right to share the honor of a unanimous election with
Washington, and, though an ardent friend of Monroe, he deliberately cast
his one vote for Adams, in order to preserve Washington's honor
distinct. His motive was appreciated, and Blumer was applauded for the
act, Monroe himself being pleased with it.


"OLD HICKORY"

It is hardly necessary to repeat that this incident has not been
duplicated since that day. Andrew Jackson, "Old Hickory," was probably
the most popular man in the country when the time came for naming the
successor of Monroe. It may sound strange, but it is a fact, that when
the project of running him for the presidency was first mentioned to
Jackson, he was displeased. It had never entered his head to covet that
exalted office.

"Don't think of it," he said; "I haven't the first qualification; I am a
rough, plain man, fitted perhaps to lead soldiers and fight the enemies
of our country, but as for the presidency, the idea is too absurd to be
held."

But what American cannot be convinced that he is pre-eminently fitted
for the office? It did not take long for the ambition to be kindled in
the breast of the doughty hero. His friends flattered him into the
conviction that he was the man of all others to assume the duties, and
the "bee buzzed" as loudly in Jackson's bonnet as it ever has in that of
any of his successors.


ANDREW JACKSON'S POPULARITY.

It cannot be denied that "Old Hickory" was a great man, and though he
was deficient in education, lacking in statesmanship, and obstinate to
the last degree, he was the possessor of those rugged virtues which
invariably command respect. He was honest, clean in his private life, a
stanch friend, an unrelenting enemy, and an intense patriot--one who was
ready to risk his life at any hour for his country. In addition, he
never knew the meaning of personal fear. No braver person ever lived.
When the sheriff in a court-room was afraid to attempt to arrest a
notorious desperado, Jackson leaped over the chairs, seized the ruffian
by the throat, hurled him to the floor, and cowed him into submission.
When a piece of treachery was discovered on a Kentucky racecourse,
Jackson faced a mob of a thousand infuriated men, ruled off the
dishonest official, and carried his point. He challenged the most noted
duelist of the southwest, because he dared to cast a slur upon Jackson's
wife. It mattered not that the scoundrel had never failed to kill his
man, and that all of Jackson's friends warned him that it was certain
death to meet the dead-shot. At the exchange of shots, Jackson was
frightfully wounded, but he stood as rigid as iron, and sent a bullet
through the body of his enemy, whom he did not let know he was himself
wounded until the other breathed his last.

Above all, had not "Old Hickory" won the battle of New Orleans, the most
brilliant victory of the War of 1812? Did not he and his unerring
riflemen from the backwoods of Tennessee and Kentucky spread
consternation, death, and defeat among the red-coated veterans of
Waterloo? No wonder that the anniversary of that glorious battle is
still celebrated in every part of the country, and no wonder, too, that
the American people demanded that the hero of all these achievements
should be rewarded with the highest office in the gift of his
countrymen.


JACKSON NOMINATED.

Jackson, having "placed himself in the hands of his friends," threw
himself into the struggle with all the unquenchable ardor of his nature.
On July 22, 1822, the Legislature of Tennessee was first in the field by
placing him in nomination. On the 22d of February, 1824, a Federalist
convention at Harrisburg, Pa., nominated him, and on the 4th of March
following a Republican convention did the same. It would seem that he
was now fairly before the country, but the regular Democratic nominee,
that is, the one named by the congressional caucus, was William H.
Crawford, of Georgia. The remaining candidates were John Quincy Adams
and Henry Clay, and all of them belonged to the Republican party, which
had retained the presidency since 1800. Adams and Clay were what was
termed _loose_ constructionists, while Jackson and Crawford were
_strict_ constructionists.


"OLD HICKORY" DEFEATED.

The canvass was a somewhat jumbled one, in which each candidate had his
ardent partisans and supporters. The contest was carried out with vigor
and the usual abuse, personalities, and vituperation until the polls
were closed. Then when the returns came to be made up it was found that
Jackson had received 99 electoral votes, Adams 84, Crawford 41, and Clay
37. "Old Hickory" was well ahead, but his strength was not sufficient to
make him President, even though on the popular vote he led Adams by more
than 50,000. Consequently the election went to the House of
Representatives, where the supporters of Clay combined with those of
Adams and made him President. Thus came the singular result that the man
who had the largest popular and electoral vote was defeated.

It was a keen disappointment to Jackson and his friends. The great
Senator Benton, of Missouri, one of the warmest supporters of "Old
Hickory," angrily declared that the House was deliberately defying the
will of the people by placing a minority candidate in the chair. The
senator's position, however, was untenable, and so it was that John
Quincy Adams became the sixth President of our country.


JACKSON'S TRIUMPH.

But the triumph of "Old Hickory" was only postponed. His defeat was
looked upon by the majority of men as a deliberate piece of trickery,
and they "lay low" for the next opportunity to square matters. No fear
of a second chance being presented to their opponents. Jackson was
launched into the canvass of 1828 like a cyclone, and when the returns
were made up he had 178 electoral votes to 83 for Adams--a vote which
lifted him safely over the edge of a plurality and seated him firmly in
the White House.

[Illustration: OLD SPANISH HOUSE ON BOURBON STREET, NEW ORLEANS.]

It is not our province to treat of the administration of Andrew Jackson,
for that belongs to history, but the hold which that remarkable man
maintained upon the affections of the people was emphasized when, in
1832, he was re-elected by an electoral vote of 219 to 49 for Clay, 11
for Floyd, and 7 for Wirt. Despite the popular prejudice against a third
term, there is little doubt that Jackson would have been successful had
he chosen again to be a candidate. He proved his strength by selecting
his successor, Martin Van Buren.


THE "LOG-CABIN AND HARD-CIDER" CAMPAIGN OF 1840.

The next notable presidential battle was the "log-cabin and hard-cider"
campaign of 1840, the like of which was never before seen in this
country.



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