1832: Andrew Jackson Re-elected
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Internet Biography of Andrew Jackson
Continued from The Eaton Affair and Andrew Jackson's Cabinet Shuffle
In January 1832 a surgeon offered to remove the bullet that Jesse Benton had put in him as Jackson attacked his brother in 1813 [See War of 1812, Andrew Jackson Ready and Waiting]. The operation, done without anesthesia, was a success. Jackson's health improved remarkably. He also enjoyed the company of his new daughter in law, Sarah, who had married his adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Junior, the preceding November. He introduced her to the culture of slavery by giving her one of her own, a young women named Gracie.
Andrew Jackson had said he intended to be a one-term President, but Martin Van Buren convinced Jackson that he should run in 1832 with Van Buren as his Vice Presidential running mate, instead of the current Vice President, John Calhoun. Van Buren felt that the new Democratic Party, and the nation, not to mention himself, would benefit from such an orderly transition. [James, p. 593]
Meanwhile Henry Clay had decided to run against Jackson for the post of President, under the banner of the National Republican Party. Clay decided that his most likely issue was the rechartering of the Bank of the United States. Although its head, Nicholas Biddle, and President Jackson had come to a sort of impasse the year before, now Clay maneuvered a showdown on the bank. Biddle asked Congress to recharter the Bank on January 9, 1832. Senator Thomas Hart Benton, a foe of the Bank, arranged for the House to investigate the Bank. The seven man committee split, issuing three reports. The four man majority found many accusations against the Bank to be true, including that it had bribed newspapers to support it, using loans. Biddle had a rechartering bill written that he thought would win votes and give Jackson enough to prevent a veto. To ensure victory, Biddle made loans to some anti-Bank congressmen. The bill passed on July 3, 1832. Defying his own mostly pro-bank cabinet, Jackson vetoed the bill. His veto message was largely written by Attorney General Roger B. Taney. Taking to bed, exhausted, Jackson told Van Buren "The bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to kill me, but I will kill it." [See also President Jackson's Bank of the United States Veto Message]. Biddle called the veto message "a manifesto of anarchy." [James 598-602].
To discredit Van Buren, who was already serving as Ambassador in London on a recess appointment by Jackson, his enemies Clay, Webster and Calhoun defeated his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, but that defiance of Jackson's wishes simply made Van Buren popular with Jackson's followers. [James, 594-595]
Jackson sent Andrew, Junior and his new wife Sarah off to the Hermitage in April 1832 with instructions to "write me fully as to the situation of all things—the health & condition of the negroes, the appearance of my stock ... the colts in particular." [James 596] The President had continued his old horse racing business while in the White House, running his colts in races at nearby tracks under a relative's name.
[The February 1832 Supreme Court decision regarding sovereign Indian rights vs. state and federal rights, and Jackson's refusal to enforce it, was covered in The Tariff, States Rights, and Indian Removal, last paragraph]
The 1832 presidential campaign was wages largely on the issue of the Bank of the United States. The deciding factor was certainly Andrew Jackson's well organized Democratic Party, and its patronage system. The Anti-Masonic Party candidate William Wirt, combining in some states with John Floyd, split off some of Clay's potential votes, although they were also anti-Jackson, as he was a high-ranking Mason. Clay's men campaigned against "King Andrew I" while the Bank favored Clay with its power to make and call loans.
During the election, in September, the nullifiers won almost every local office in South Carolina.
Jackson won in a landslide with more votes than all of his opponents combined:
Main source: The Life of Andrew Jackson by Marquis James, Bobbs-Merrill company, 1938.
Learn more: President Andrew Jackson main page
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