Jacksonian Democracy and the Electoral College: Politics and Reform in the Method of Selecting Presidential Electors, 1824-1833
Description: The Electoral College and Jacksonian Democracy are two subjects that have been studied extensively. Taken together, however, little has been written on how the method of choosing presidential electors during the Age of Jackson changed. Although many historians have written on the development of political parties and the increase in voter participation during this time, none have focused on how politicians sought to use the method of selecting electors to further party development in the country. Between 1824 and 1832 twelve states changed their methods of choosing electors. In almost every case, the reason for changing methods was largely political but was promoted in terms of advancing democracy. A careful study of the movement toward selecting electors on a general ticket shows that political considerations in terms of party and/or state power were much more important than promoting democratic ideals. Despite the presence of a few true reformers who consistently pushed for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing that all states used the same method, the conclusion must be that politics and party demanded a change. This study relies heavily on legislative records at both the state and national level and newspapers throughout t the country from the period. Beginning with a brief history of the office of the president and an overview of the presidential elections prior to 1824, the author then carefully analyzes the elections of 1824, 1828, and 1832, as well as the various efforts to amend the constitutional provisions dealing with the Electoral College. Particular emphasis is placed on political factions at the state level, the development of the Democratic and National Republican parties nationally, and how each party used and at time manipulated the electoral process to secure a favorable outcome for their candidates.
Date: May 2001
Creator: Thomason, Lisa