The Constitution and Suffrage

Jefferson and the Election of 1800

Contested Elections and the
    Electoral College

America at Mid-Century

Civil War


Women’s Suffrage

Women Get the Vote

Jim Crow

A New Deal for Workers

Big City Voting

Native Americans and Chinese
    Get the Vote

Civil Rights

The Promised Land

Puerto Rican Voters

New Voices

Mexican American Voters

12.04 America at Mid-Century

Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Asher Brown Durand (1835).

Andrew Jackson won a plurality of the popular vote and the Electoral College in 1824, but because he did not win an outright majority among the four candidates, the election was decided in the House of Representatives. It chose John Quincy Adams.

Voter participation among white men surged in the 1820s because property and tax restrictions were gradually dropped. In the 1828 rematch against Adams, Jackson won easily. That election symbolized the new era of politics and ushered in modern political campaigning.

Arguing the Point, a Currier & Ives lithograph by Louis Maurer; after a painting by Arthur F. Tait, 1855.

The Currier & Ives lithograph "Arguing the Point" depicts the emerging new politics. Three backwoodsmen debate the 1856 presidential election so fiercely that they miss their dinner. By mid-century, the two major parties, Whigs and Democrats, were splitting over the issue of slavery and its expansion into the western territories. The Whigs would collapse after the 1854 elections. Two new parties, the anti-slavery Republicans and anti-immigrant American (or Know-Nothing) Party attempted to replace the Whigs.

The Democrats, who remained united in 1856, would win the election, but the issue of the expansion of slavery would dominate the nation's politics over the next four years. In 1860 the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, defeated a fractious Democratic Party as the country spiraled toward Civil War.

Martin Van Buren: U.S. senator and governor of New York. He served as Jackson's vice president and was elected president in 1836.

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