The election of 1824 didn’t really end until 1825, or, some would argue, until 1828. Then, one of the bitterest contests in American politics finally came to a close and Andrew Jackson won the presidency. In Jackson, N.H., it didn’t end until 1829.
Andrew Jackson had won the popular vote in the four-way presidential election of 1824 (though not a majority). He also took the most votes in the Electoral College. Just one problem, though: he didn’t receive the majority in the Electoral College. That meant the House of Representatives got to choose the president.
They decided they liked Massachusetts’ John Quincy Adams better, the second-place finisher in the voting. So they installed him as president.
That outraged Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans. He thought Kentuckian Henry Clay, Speaker of the House, had thrown the election to Adams in exchange for appointment to Secretary of State. Jackson determined to reverse the decision in the 1828 election. He immediately began campaigning.
Jackson’s people accused Adams of sleeping with his wife before they were married. They also accused him of misdeeds while serving as minister to Russia: procuring prostitutes for Czar Alexander I and negotiating lucrative trade deals that benefited Russia.
The charges and countercharges flew over every imaginable issue. Adams’ side topped it all, however, with a charge that Jackson’s mother was a prostitute. They also charged his wife Rachel with adultery because she married Jackson before her first marriage officially ended.
When the mud settled, Jackson had won the election of 1828. But he lost his wife, who died of heart failure, probably brought on by the stress of the harsh campaign attacks. The election didn’t end the animosity. When the results were announced, Jackson supporters stormed the White House. They forced Adams to leave while the White House staff set up bowls of punch to lure the drunken crowd outside.
Now Jackson, N.H.
Across the country, the hostilities spilled out in many ways. In a tiny New Hampshire town known as Adams, it resulted in a name change.
Adams originally called itself New Madbury. Then in 1800 its name changed to Adams to honor John Adams, the president.
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This story was updated in 2023.