Personal Politics In Indiana 1816 to 1840

Adam A. Leonard


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 1-56

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Personal Politics In Indiana 1816 to 1840


Indiana became a state at the very time the nation was divorcing itself from the European political and economic systems and entering upon a career purely American in policy. The downfall of Napoleon and the close of the War of 1812 had freed us from European chicanery. The energy and intellect of the country were thence to be spent in developing the resources of the interior. The successful termination of the war and the following "Era of Good Feeling" made the Republican the popular party, while on the other hand the Federalist opposition to the war and especially the Hartford Convention made that party and its leaders particularly unpopular. As a result party lines disappeared and for more than a decade personal politics controlled the country both nationally and locally. In this period all claimed to be Republicans; none would accept the name Federalist. The elections were waged about the personality of men or upon local or passing issues.1

In 1816, at the very beginning of this period of personal politics, Indiana became a state. Of its small population, numbering only 147,600 in 1820, a very few were natives of the state.2 The emigrants, largely of Scotch-Irish or German descent, had come up from the Carolinas or Virginia by way

  • 1 For illustration read Ch. xxii, Hall's New Purchase. For an opposite view read Smith's Indiana Miscellany, ch. xvi.
  • 2Western Sun and General Advertiser, April 21, 1821.
of the Wilderness road through Tennessee and Kentucky, had drifted down the Ohio river, or had come overland through Pennsylvania and Ohio. This small community was practically a self-supporting farming class, depending upon the outside world for those things only which household industry could not produce. Commerce with the outside world was therefore limited. In 1810 Indiana had one newspaper and only fifteen in 1828.3Indianapolis had its first daily mail, established between that city and Dayton, Ohio, in 1836. Postage rates, usually paid by the one receiving the letter,4 were very high, resulting in the post offices being filled with unclaimed letters. There were two hundred such letters at one time in 1816 in the Vincennes post office, while the Western Sun and General Advertiser, published in that town, contained in its headlines for several years the notice that all letters addressed to the editor must be postpaid or they would not be taken out of the office.5 The conditions of travel as late as 1826 were described by a politician canvassing for votes in that year, as, "No roads, nothing but Indian paths, sleep in Indian huts, swim ponies over streams, use Indian guides, build canoes, sleep in woods with wolves howling, make one speech and return home."6

Until 1824 the people of the state voted directly for only one federal official, a congressman. In 1816 the Indiana presidential electors were chosen by the state legislature sitting at Corydon. Again in 1820 the electors were chosen in the same manner, the people knowing nothing about it.7

  • 3Western Sun and General Advertiser, July 12, 1828.
  • 4 Postage rates, letter postage:
    Any distance to 40 miles—— 8c for each sheet
    40 to 90 miles—— 10c for each sheet
    90 to 150 miles—— 12 1/2c for each sheet
    150 to 300 miles—— 17c for each sheet
    300 to 500 miles—— 20c for each sheet
    500 and over—— 35c for each sheet

    Newspaper postage:

    • 1 cent per mile to 100 miles.
    • 1 1/2 cents per paper for any distance over 100 miles.
    • 1 cent anywhere within the state where printed.

    Western Sun and General Advertiser, April 16, 1816.

  • 5Western Sun and General Advertiser, April 16, 1816.
  • 6 Smith, O. H., Early Trials and Sketches, 81.
  • 7Ibid., 85. O. H. Smith, one of the state's most wide-awake politicians said: "The first notice I had that there had been a presidential election was from an extract in our Connersville newspaper taken from the Corydon paper, giving the names of the electors and giving the vote of the state for James Monroe and

In 1824 the state legislature provided for the election of electors by popular vote.8 Along with this lack of direct participation in national affairs there was a very deep-rooted patriotism of the extreme democratic type. This was most manifest in an almost insane hatred of Federalists and everything connected therewith. The same things that had caused Jefferson to call some of the Federalist leaders Anglo-men9 and had caused Monroe to brand their actions as treason10 was sufficient to cause those western pioneers to despise the name in any manner that it might be applied. In the first decade of the state's history a Mr. John Allen was fined a thousand dollars in the Franklin circuit court for calling Joshua Harlan a Federalist.11 In the course of the trial the leading witness for the plaintiff swore that the common acceptance of the term Federalist was, a Tory, an enemy of his country, and that he had never heard any other meaning; that he would rather be called anything under the sun than a Federalist; and that he would feel just as safe in the woods with an Indian and his tomahawk as with a Federalist. The lawyers in their argument covered the field of American history, touching the administration of Washington, the election of Jefferson, the contest between Jefferson and Burr, the case of Citizen Genet, the Cunningham Correspondence,l2 Alien, Sedition and Gag laws, impeachment of Judge Chase, the trial of Burr for treason and other kindred points. This hatred of Federalists endured for more than a quarter of a century being used by the Democrats as a campaign cry against the Whigs as late as 1840.13 These widely scattered, patriotic, liberty loving frontiersmen furnished the most fruitful field for the development of a new American spirit, typified by the Jacksonian democracy.

The most conspicuous figure in the state in 1816 was Jonathan Jennings, a wirepuller who manipulated the popular

  • Daniel D. Tompkins. And yet as good and quiet an administration followed as any that is likely to be produced by our exciting elections of today."
  • 8Revised Statutes, 1824, p. 174.
  • 9Writings of Jefferson, Ford, X, 83.
  • 10Nile's Register, May 15, 1824.
  • 11 Smith, O. H., Early Trials and Sketches, 120.
  • 12 Letters written by John Adams to a friend, touching the nature of our government and attacking Jefferson and the Republicans. See Ford Writings of Jefferson, X, 272.
  • 13 Smith, O. H., Early Trials and Sketches, 252.
elections. He was a poor speaker, but he attended well to business in Congress.14 His rise dates from the first campaign for territorial delegate to congress, after the separation of Indiana and Illinois territories.

With the adoption of a state constitution the issues which had divided parties disappeared. Even the Western Sun, a few months before the constitution was adopted, ceased its attacks upon Jennings long enough to say:

It were well if instead of the bitterness and contumely of party contentions, men would learn to cultivate the amiable and endearing ties of good friendship—to permit party passions to pollute the sacred fountain of friendship and extend its baleful breath into the sweetest comforts of society is robbing life of half its fleeting joys. Is the path of life so carpeted with bliss that one need press the course of discontent into its transitory period? To soften the asperity which a difference in political opinion sometimes produces in the heart should be the study of every man whatever his sentiments and whatsoever his situation.

In the same issue the Western Sun published a letter by a citizen of Gibson county on the subject of the constitutional convention in which he says:

Lay aside, fellow citizens, all party bickerings, all local considerations, all personal prejudices or prepossessions and vote independently for the men that are most capable of discharging that important duty. Select men of talent an4 integrity, if such can be found, and all is well. You are free and ought to act as free men. You have nothing to guard yourselves against more than an improper indulgence of your prejudices and prepossessions.

More than a year later the Western Sun was able to say in an editorial:

Political parties are forgetting their animosities and extinguishing those fierce contentions that have so long triumphed over patriotism and reason. We hail the period of their decline as the harbinger of better days.15

The first state election, held on the first Monday in August, 1816, reflects this spirit of conciliation. On November 4 the newly-elected legislature met in Corydon. Three days later the two houses met in joint session, canvassed the returns and

  • 14 Smith, O. H., Early Trials and Sketches, 86.
  • 15 June 14, 1817.
declared Jonathan Jennings elected governor; Christopher Harrison, a native of Maryland and a citizen of the Daniel Boone type, lieutenant governor, and William Hendricks as the temporary representative in congress. The next day the two houses met again in joint session and elected James Noble, a native of Kentucky, of Virginia ancestry, and a partisan of Jennings, as one United States senator, and Waller Taylor, the bitter enemy of Jennings, as the other.16 O. H. Smith said of politics at the time:

Affairs of the state were in the hands of three parties or rather one party with three divisions—the Noble, Jennings, and Hendricks divisions which were all fully represented in the convention that formed the constitution of 1816. It was evident to the leaders that personal politics must arise between them unless the proper arrangements were made to avoid them. It was agreed between them to aid each other in making Noble United States senator, Jennings governor, and Hendricks congressman. There were three judges to be appointed to the supreme court. Each subdivision was entitled to one. General Noble selected Jesse L. Holman, a good lawyer and one of the most just and conscientious men I ever knew. Governor Jennings selected John Johnson, a fine lawyer and an excellent man. Governor Hendricks named James Scott of Clark county, a Pennsylvanian, one of the purest men of the State and a fine lawyer.17

A mere agreement among leaders was not enough, however, to secure an election. Jennings was opposed in his race for governor by Thomas Posey the territorial governor who had the support of the old Harrison adherents. Hendricks was opposed by A. D. Thom, collector of revenue at Jeffersonville, who pledged himself to support the administration if elected,18 and by George Rogers Clark Sullivan who pledged himself to discharge the duties of office to the satisfaction of the people.19 A few days before the election (August 3) Sullivan withdrew in favor of Thorn. The contests were based largely upon the personal popularity of the candidates. The campaign was marked by open letters abusive of the opposing candidates, and by open letters by the candidates themselves. Jennings was closely questioned about his attitude toward

  • 16 Woolen, Biographical and Historical Sketches of Early Indiana, 160.
  • 17 Smith, O. H., Early Indiana Trials and Sketches, 84.
  • 18Western Sun and General Advertiser, July 27, 1816.
  • 19Ibid., July 13, 1816.
matters of local importance, while he was territorial delegate.20 The election resulted in a complete victory for the triumvirate.21 This gave them good reasons to attempt to remove the personal opposition to them by appointing the leaders of the opposition, Johnson and Taylor, to office.

The early settlers of Indiana were intensely Democratic in their political doctrines. As a result office tenure under the constitution, was for short periods, thereby necessitating frequent elections. The members of the state house of representatives were elected annually and held annual sessions.22 The state senators were elected for terms of three yars, one-third their number retiring each year. The governor and lieutenant governor served for terms of three years. The sheriff and coroner were elected for terms of two years. Judges of the circuit court served for seven years, and justices of the peace for five years, while township elections were triennial. With congressional elections occurring every two years and national elections every four years the citizen had the questions of politics constantly before him. This was all the more true since the township elections occurred in the spring (first Monday in April), while the other regular state elections were held on the first Monday in August.

The methods were the most characteristic features of the politics of the day. In the absence of organized parties and party machinery, candidates announced themselves for office through the columns of the newspapers or by printed handbills which were distributed from house to house. In the earlier years these announcements were generally very profuse in their praise of the candidate though the exceptions were common.

As an example we find General Washington Johnson, early in July announcing as a candidate in a very ordinary notice:23

General W. Johnson will serve the citizens of Knox county, if a majority of them by their vote request him, in the next session of the legislature.

  • 20Ibid., July 17, 1816.
  • 21 The vote, Jennings 5211, Posey 3936.
  • 22 State Constitution, Art. 3, sec 3.
  • 23Western Sun and General Advertiser, July 5, 1817.

A month later, on the eve of the election he published a more profuse declaration:24


An American, a child of your State, and a friend of your rights, now offers his services to represent you in the legislature. His qualifications are so well known they need no comment. His principles both religious and political have been tested and passed the Rubison. Such a one now solicits your suffrages and if he becomes the object of your choice, promises that he will serve you faithfully and render an account of his conduct.

Vincennes, Aug. 4th, 1817.


From the time announcements were made until election day handbills were circulated and newspapers were full of long articles, which were almost all signed with fictitious names, either praising the candidates or making direct personal attacks upon them. Quite often these letters were filled with questions of the most personal nature. The following extract from a letter to Isaac Blackford of Knox county is a fair example of such questions:25

We should be glad if Mr. Isaac Blackford will condescend to inform the people of Knox whether he did or did not state a positive falsehood in his reply to Independent Freeman, when he says:—

The good campaigner not only had to meet successfully these newspaper attacks, but had to meet all kinds of rumors and false reports that were purposely circulated by his opponents. O. H. Smith has given us the best picture of what campaigning really was. If we may take the case of Merritt S. Craig of Versailles, Ripley county, as an example.26 Mr. Craig was a native Kentuckian from Boone county. He entered politics young, was a member of the house of representatives for several terms, a great electioneer. Once, just before election, chances looked desperate. Others regarded his defeat as certain. All kinds of reports were circulated against him through the county. The last week had come and something must be done or he was defeated. Craig saw his time. Stepping into a grocery [saloon] he turned over the counter, broke

  • 24Ibid, Aug. 5, 1817.
  • 25Ibid., Aug. 9, 1817.
  • 26 Smith, O. H., Early Indiana Trials and Sketches, 131.
all the bottles, took the faucet out of the whiskey barrel, threw the grocer out of the door, but paid him for his property. The news spread like wildfire over the county. All other stories were merged into the grocery matter. The act was decidedly popular, as drinking houses were odious. Mr. Craig was elected by a larger majority than ever before, although he was not a temperance man.

The ignorance of the people about the common national issues made their mention by candidates extremely hazardous. O. H. Smith relates two very amusing incidents of the congressional campaign of 1826. Judge John Test was his competitor:

The judge was speaking in favor of the tariff. The people knew but little about it, but what they had heard was decidedly against it. Few knew the meaning of the word and fewer what it was like. One old fellow said that he had never seen one but he believed it was hard on sheep.27

At another time in the same campaign the two candidates met at Allenville in Switzerland county. In the course of his speech Judge Test mentioned for the first time the new subject of railroads. He told the crowd that cars were running at the rate of thirty miles an hour in England and would run even faster in America. This was too much for the crowd. It set up a loud laugh at the expense of the Judge and one old fellow yelled at him: "You are crazy, or do you think we are all fools? A man could not live a moment at that speed." The judge ruined his chances in that county by telling such an improbable story.

In the campaign of 1817 the most conspicuous figure was William Hendricks. In the election of 1816 he had succeeded Jennings as territorial delegate, but with the formal recognition of statehood it became necessary to elect a state representative to congress. Hendricks of course, was the choice of the leaders who were in control. The opposition began its fight on him at the earliest possible moment. The Indiana Herald, attempted to secure the appointment as public printers for Indiana and failed.28 It immediately began a personal

  • 27Ibid., 80.
  • 28 Printed in Corydon, 1815 to 1818. Its policy was opposition to the Jennings regime.
attack upon Hendricks for using his influence in favor of the state militia.29 It announced on March 5, a caucus to be held in Corydon on March 15 to nominate a candidate in opposition to Hendricks. Only a few attended the caucus and no selection was made. Another caucus was called for April 28. Its purpose was not well understood and the caucus plan was bitterly attacked in the Western Sun on March 29, in a letter signed "Vesuvius.". On May 10 the Herald tried to justify this method of selection, but finding its course unpopular abandoned it. On May 24, one of its editors, Ruben A. Nelson, announced himself as a candidate for congressman. In his letter announcing himself Mr. Nelson says:

I shall neither attempt to insult your judgment by eulogizing on my talents nor disgust your feelings by a parade of my integrity30

Then he passed on to the right of a constituency to instruct its representatives, where he made a deliberate thrust at those in control. He said:

What constitutes this instruction? Is it the noisy declaration of a few factious demogogues? Is it the expressed will of a few partisans in the corner of a district? Is it the report of those busy characters who pretend to know every man's mind and every man's business? Most certainly it would be not only in derogation of his duty but ridiculous for a representative to listen to such instructions. The very gist, substance, and force of the instruction is contained in the suffrages which constitute the agency. Private interest feelings and obligation must therefore always yield to the paramount rights of the public.

His candidacy apparently met but a feeble response, for about a month and a half later, he withdrew and Thomas Posey announced himself as candidate, saying in his letter to the public that he yielded to the wishes of his friends in consenting to serve if elected.31 Hendricks said in a public letter after the election:

Governor Posey was brought forward by my avowed and inveterate enemies, who have practiced everything but fair dealings to destroy me. He suffered himself to be taken up, if report be true, contrary to his wishes and certainly contrary to his interests, for he had and still has

  • 29 See Hendricks' open letter in the Indiana Republican, Sept. 16, 1817.
  • 30Western Sun and General Advertiser, June 7, 1817
  • 31Indiana Republican, July 19, 1817.
a situation much more lucrative and better suited to his age and infirmities.32

According to Hendricks' own letter, the most violent personal abuse was heaped upon him for his conduct as a representative because first, he had procured the appointment of printer of United States laws for the Gazette in preference to the Herald; second, he had attempted to have the printing of laws taken away from Elihu Stout, of the Western Sun and General Advertiser; third he had secured the appointment of Armstrong Brandon, as postmaster at Corydon, when the resigning postmaster Mr. Heth had recommended Mr. M'Bean as his successor. It was also charged in this case that neither Mr. Hendricks nor Senator James Noble had consulted Senator Waller Taylor before making the appointment. The Western Sun and General Advertiser complained that he had caused delay in the payment of the state militia for national service. In accounting for the opposition Mr. Hendricks said:

It is not rational, sentimental objection to my political acts, which has occasioned the opposition which I have recently experienced. It is the man and not measures which have actuated my enemies.

Those personal attacks continued throughout the campaign. Knox county gave Posey 346 votes and Hendricks only 35, and Posey county gave Posey 453 to Hendricks 121 votes. On the other hand Franklin county gave Hendricks 1019 votes to Posey 48 and Wayne county to the north of it gave Hendricks 961 votes to 135 for Posey.33 Throughout the center of the state the vote was fairly equally divided with the majorities generally in favor of Hendricks. Hendricks received a total of 5075 votes to 3272 for Posey. In the congressional election of 1818, Hendricks was opposed by Ruben A. Nelson. The victory was overwhelming for Hendricks. Nelson carried only two counties, Warrick by a vote of 92 to 6 and Knox by 343 to 179, while in many counties he did not receive more than one vote.84 In 1820 Nelson was again the opponent of Hendricks. He was even more decisively defeated this time

  • 32Ibid., Sept. 16, 1817.
  • 33 Files in secretary of state's office, box, 153-154.
  • 34 Files in secretary of state's office, box 155-156.
than in 1818, losing Warrick county and carrying Knox alone, where he received 437 votes to 302 for Hendricks.35

With Hendricks firmly intrenched in congress, political contention again centered about Jennings. His every act was subject to adverse criticism. In 1818 he was appointed by the president, as a commissioner along with Lewis Cass of Michigan and Benjamin Parke to treat with the Indians. They succeeded in purchasing from the Indians all the central part of the state, and with the exception of the Miami, the Thorn-town and a few other reservations, all the Indian land south of the Wabash river. The enemies of Jennings declared that he had violated the clause of the state constitution which forbade any person holding an office of trust under the United States to be governor or lieutenant governor.36 Lieutenant-governor Christopher Harrison said of the affair:

I decided in my own mind that the Honorable Jonathan Jennings in consequence of his holding and executing said office had virtually abdicated his office of governor of this state.37

Harrison immediately took charge of the state seal which had been left with the secretary of state. On the 24th of October he left Corydon and was away until the 30th. In the meantime Governor Jennings had returned and had carried the state seal away from the secretary of state's office, where it had been left by Harrison on a promise that no one but Harrison should have it. Jennings refused to surrender the seal on the demand of Harrison. The contest was carried to the legislature, which recognized Jennings' motives in serving as a commissioner, and failed to oust him. Harrison immediately resigned. The constitutional right of an officer was often called into question during this early period. In 1822 the Western Sun and General Advertiser questioned the constitutional right of both the governor and lieutenant-governor to hold office while they were candidates for other offices.38 A little later when Governor Jennings issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation his constitutional right to do so was

  • 35Ibid., box 159-160.
  • 36 Article 4. sec. 6.
  • 37 Open letter in Western Sun and General Advertiser, Nov. 14, 1818.
  • 38 May 18, 1822.
questioned by the Western Sun and General Advertiser.39 In Jennings' case, however, he had clearly violated the letter of the constitution.

As the year 1819 drew near it was evident that Jennings would be a candidate to succeed himself as governor. As early as September, 1818, the fight on him began. A letter signed William L. Colman, said:40

The contemptible cabal of office-seeking adventurers who are busily engaged in writing slander and falsehood for Jennings' Centinel (Vincennes) yet go on, their reward, however, awaits them.

Early in the year 1819 Jennings and Jesse L. Holman were the announced candidates for governor, while Ratliff Boone, John DePauw, Dennis Pennington, and Marston G. Clark were candidates for lieutenant-governor. The two latter soon withdrew from the race. Personality was the sole issue. The fight began early. An open letter by "A. B." said:

People of Indiana, in August you have to determine whether you will by re-electing Jonathan Jennings again cast ridicule upon your institutions and keep them subservient to a system which if not entirely corrupt leads to that result, or whether you will by the honorable choice of Jesse Holman place a gentleman in the gubernatorial chair who has disposition and talents to render your state respectable and your affairs prosperous.

The worst charge against Jennings was his violation of his oath of office in acting as commissioner to treat with the Indians.41 The full details of the controversy were kept before the people. Holman's candidacy did not seem to be popular, and about a month before the election Christopher Harrison, who was regarded as a political martyr by Jennings' enemies, became a candidate.42 He had no chance of success and Jennings defeated him by the overwhelming majority of 9168 to 2007 votes while Boone defeated DePauw by the vote of 7150 to 3422.43 The hatred for Jennings in Vincennes was so intense that the Western Sun continued its abuse after the election.44 The cause of the old Virginia group of politicians was

  • 39Western Sun and General Advertiser.
  • 40Western Sum and General Advertiser, Sept 26, 1818, May 1, 1819.
  • 41Ibid., May 29, 1819.
  • 42Ibid., July 3, 1819.
  • 43House Journal, 1819. p. 26.
  • 44Western Sun and General Advertiser, Aug. 26, 1819.
lost forever. Jennings kept the slavery issue constantly before the people, to the exclusion of every other issue. The tide of immigration was flowing fast, and almost every new settler was opposed to slavery, and Jennings had been the champion of antislavery and every thrust at him, in attempts to win the emigrant vote, reacted upon his adversary. The more he was opposed the more popular he became. For a short time there was an apparent lessening of the political tension preparatory for the new alignment that was soon to follow.

On the basis of the census of 1820 Indiana was divided into three congressional districts. The first contained the twenty-one counties of Davies, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Morgan, Orange, Posey, Parke, Perry, Pike, Putnam, Sullivan, Vanderburg, Vigo, Spencer, Wabash and Warrick. The second contained the eleven counties of Bartholomew, Crawford, Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Marion, Scott, Shelby, Washington and part of Delaware. While the third contained the eight counties of Dearborn, Fayette, Franklin, Randolph, Ripley, Switzerland, Union, Wayne, and part of Delaware.45 As the campaign of 1822 drew near Hendricks became the candidate for governor, and so completely had he won the respect of the people that he was unopposed by any real candidate. There were four candidates for lieutenant-governor, Ratliffe Boone, William Polke, Erasmus Powell and David H. Maxwell. The campaign for state offices was entirely free from personal abuse. Hendricks received 18,340 votes, excepting a few strays it was the total vote of the state. Boone received 7,809 out of a total 17,822 votes cast for lieutenant-governor and a plurality of almost 3,800 over his nearest competitor, Polke.

The candidates for congress were Judge Charles Dewey and William Prince from the first district; Jonathan Jennings and James Scott from the second; John Test, Ezra Ferris and S. C. Vance from the third. The only real contest for congress was between Dewey and Prince in the first district. The Western Sun and General Advertiser was extremely bitter against Dewey, while he attempted to refute the personal at-

  • 45House Journal, 1822, p. 22. This was a plain gerrymander.
tacks against him.46 In the second district Jennings, being free from the Knox county and Virginia influence had little trouble in defeating Scott, while Judge Test was easily victor over Ferris and Vance.47

The work of the General Assembly was in just as chaotic condition as the politics of the state. For the first five years the General Assembly consisted of a senate of ten and a house of twenty-nine. There was very little general legislation, the, time being generally taken up with local matters, most often a divorce bill or an impeachment of a justice of the peace. In one week the General Assembly granted as many as five divorces.48 These were often granted without regard to the merits of the case and most often as a result of log-rolling. Some who were opposed to such bills objected but this objection had little force. Governor Jennings in his message to the General Assembly in 1819 outlined a program of future legislation which was later to become the basis of political contention in the state, but the population was yet too scattered to give a united demand for any public policy. The points covered by the message were:

  1. Revenue and taxation.
  2. Specie payment and banking.
  3. Internal improvements, canals, salt and salt wells.
  4. Public education.
  5. Roads and highways.
  6. Militia.
  7. The location of the state capital.49

The people were kept informed of the working of the General Assembly by circular letters published by their representatives (both state and national) telling what had been done at the sessions just closed and giving in great detail their own position on the questions of local importance.50

  • 46 "See Issue of July 13, 1822.
  • 47 Files in secretary of state's office, box 161-162.
  • 48Western 8un and General Advertiser, Jan. 19, 1822.
  • 49Western Sun and General Advertiser, Dec. 25, 1819.
  • 50Ibid, June 19. 1822, contains the letter of General Johnston of Knox county.


As Monroe's second term drew to a close, the people of Indiana began to demand an active part in the choice of presidential electors, who up to this time had been selected by the state legislature. There were two possible methods of choosing the electors: First, by the vote of the people—by districting the state; or second, by choosing them on a general ticket. Both methods were in common usage.1 In the election of the state Assembly in 1823 the question of districting was one of the most important questions. Early in the year the Indiana Farmer said:2

The August elections are fast approaching and we think it time that the candidates for a seat in our legislature should come fairly before the people with their views and intentions in regard to one or two important subjects. These questions should be proposed to every candidate: "Are you in favor of districting the State for the purpose of electing electors for the President and Vice-president?" If the state should not be districted as above whom are you in favor of for President and Vice-President?3

The editor declared himself in favor of districting the state and asserted that he would vote for no one who was not. In Knox county there were three candidates for the legislature: General W. Johnston, James B. McCall and John Law. A fortnight before the election B. V. Beckes addressed an open letter to the candidates in which he put the following questions:

  1. Whom will you support for the next President of the United States?
  2. What course will you pursue with respect to the enormous tax which the people have to pay, especially the poll tax?

    • 1 According to Niles' Register, Oct. 4, 1823, seven states—Maines, Massachusetts, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri chose electors in districts: ten states—New Hampshire, mode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and Ohio on a general ticket and seven states—Vermont, New York, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Indiana by state legislature.
    • 2Indiana Farmer, published at Salem; Ind., by Ebenezer and Eleazer Wheelock. It supported Adams in 1824.
    • 3 Copied in Western Sun and General Advertiser June 14, 1823.
  3. The revision of our statute laws it is expected will be ready and presented to the next General Assembly. What are your views on the subject?
  4. What are your views as to districting the state for the election of electors of President and Vice-president of the United States?
  5. Our school lands if properly managed are most undoubtedly a subject of utmost importance. Will you please communicate your opinions to us on the subject?
  6. Will you state whether or not you are in favor of calling a convention, giving your views at length?
  7. What change will you be willing to make in the county road law, as same are necessary?
  8. We would be pleased to hear a word of your politics.5

The next week the candidates answered the questions of Beckes through the columns of the Sun.6 The candidates seemed to be of a harmonious opinion on all subjects. In answer to the first, Johnston declared for Clay and Jackson, McCall for Clay, and Law for "a man of the West." All of them favored the repeal of the poll tax, would support revision, favored the districting of the state, would never sell the school lands, but rather lease them, and would have no convention (constitutional) at this time. Johnston declared that the road law for 1818 was preferable while the others would be governed by the will of their constituents. Johnston said his politics were and have always been Republican. McCall said he was a decided Democrat, while Law was a Republican in principles and practice. Law's answer to the fourth question was interesting owing to the fact that two weeks previous7 he had published a letter stating that he was in favor of selecting electors by a joint ballot of the legislature, also denying that he was a partisan of J. Q. Adams. He was evidently drifting to fit public opinion. McCall was the successful candidate. The new assembly settled the question by districting the state by providing for the choice of electors on a general ticket.

More than two years before the elections of 1824 the question of candidates for the Presidency was freely discussed in the state. William H. Crawford had, by giving the patronage of the United States treasury to local banks, built up a faction

  • 5Western Sun and General Advertiser.
  • 6Ibid., July 26, 1823.
  • 7Ibid. July 12, 1823.
for himself.8 The Western Sun and General Advertiser said of him:

Mr. Crawford had done all within his power to ease the western debtors, and the return he receives from the western man is as impotent and ungrateful as maliciousness can render it.9

It again spoke of him as "the able, firm, and intelligent Secretary of the Treasury."10 "Franklin", in an open letter, said:

The interests of the West should not be overlooked in the selection of Mr. Monroe's successor, nor can our interests be overlooked when the interests of the Union are consulted.

He thought that Clay's claims could not be preferred at the next election but that he should be a cabinet member, Mr. Jackson 's pretentions were remote. He must prove himself a statesman. Crawford, he thought, would be the choice of the West. His sentiments on internal improvements and domestic manufacture were in perfect accord with those of the West.

Later in the year the sentiment seemed to drift toward Clay as the candidate. In a series of three articles "Wayne" discussed the necessity for roads, for canals and the possible attitude of the prospective candidates upon these subjects.11 He eliminated J. Q. Adams because he was ignorant of the actual conditions, and saw a lack of interest in these subjects on the part of Calhoun and Crawford. He said:

From J. Q. Adams you have everything to dread, from Calhoun and Crawford you have nothing upon which to build that assurance which wisdom and prudence would demand.

He then concluded that Clay was the only logical man. On the same date of "Wayne's" last article "Knox" in a letter said:

Let us rise in the majority of our united strength and give to the candidate of our choice the presidential chair. Let all other questions be buried in oblivion except the single question: "Is he friendly to the interests of the West."12

  • 8 Logan Esarey, Indiana University Studies, No. 15, State Banking in Indiana, 21 to 42.
  • 9Western Sun, Feb. 2, 1822.
  • 10Ibid., April 27, 1822. Also Nov. 20, 1822.
  • 11Ibid., Nov. 9-16 and 23, 1822.
  • 12Ibid., Nov. 23. 1822.

He then eliminated all possible candidates except Clay. "Franklin" in another letter saw in the contest only a struggle between Republicanism and Aristocracy. And whatever the names of the candidates, in the end the friends of one would be found advocating the voice of the people and those of the other the supremacy of the people's privileged servants.13

The speculation as to who their candidates should be soon gave way to actual nominations. Clay was nominated by the Missouri legislature on Nov. 7, 182314 and the Western Sun and General Advertiser in the same issue that it announced the nomination, expressed a wish that Illinois and Indiana would do likewise. The Ohio legislature nominated Clay, January 3.15 The first nomination of Jackson came in Westmoreland county, Virginia, early in the year 1823.16 The commissioned and non-commissioned officers of the 6th regiment of the militia of Indiana met at their place of encampment in the latter part of April, 1823, and adopted the resolution: That we do highly appreciate the valuable services of the Honorable Henry Clay and do most cordially recommend him as a suitable person to fill the office of chief magistrate of the United States.17

The matter of caucus nominations soon became the absorbing topic in national politics. Adams as secretary of state, Crawford as secretary of the treasury and Clay as Speaker of the House were on the scene to influence the choice. General Jackson was elected by the Tennessee legislature to the United States senate for the term beginning March 4, 1823. Niles' Register in an editorial complained:18

This is one of the many cases that grow out of making Presidents at Washington. The evil is increasing at every turn. If the people do not do something to put the evil down we may fear that Congress may become something like the Polish Diet was. We shall perhaps see the necessity at some future day of so amending the constitution as to disqualify persons from securing the office of President for three or four years, at least, after they have held any place of profit or honor in the government of the United States.

  • 13Ibid., Dec. 21, 1822.
  • 14Ibid., Dec. 7, 1822.
  • 15Ibid., Feb. 1, 1823.
  • 16Ibid., Feb. 8, 1823.
  • 17Ibid., May 31, 1823.
  • 18Niles' Register, Oct. 26, 1823.

A meeting of citizens of Louisville and Jefferson county, Kentucky, in Louisville, in May, 1823, drew up a lengthy address deprecating the choice of the President by congress and declaring that "the President should be the choice of the people."19 When the meeting adjourned the friends of Jackson lined up in a row outside of the door, and those opposed to Jackson lined up facing them. The Jackson men were in a majority and they regarded it as a Jackson nomination. The ColumbusOhio Observer in an editorial said:

The people's candidate for the Presidency is Andrew Jackson, while the leading men of the country are solicitous to maintain the power they have so long exercised. This aristocracy, particularly that part which is in favor of Mr. Secretary Crawford are constantly advising that there shall be a congressional caucus, and that their choice shall be conclusive. Oh, very well. Who will represent the people at this great trial race? Nobody, for it is well known that Jackson has rather too much honesty and integrity to find many warm and substantial friends amongst the hunters for office. The people are to give up their candidate and their claims and the leading men are to dictate to them whom they shall vote for any what they shall do.20

The dangers of such nominations were not yet so apparent as they were to become a little later, and politicians as a rule were not ready to oppose the system. On January 7, 1824, Mr. Blake offered the following resolutions in the Indiana House of Representatives:21

Whereas, the encouragement given to caucus nominations for the office of President and Vice-president of the United States excites in us the liveliest apprehensions for the safety of the Union, because we believe it to be a practice, tormenting the people in the exercise of their dearest franchise, at war with their feelings and the principles of their political institutions, nourishing the growth of party intrigue, which carries in its train every species of dangerous and degrading corruption: and a practice which if not checked in its progress will ultimately undermine the sacred rights, the prosperity and happiness of the American people. Therefore in obedience to our duty to the State we represent, to our fellow citizens of the Union:

Resolved, by the House of Representatives of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana; that it is the right of the people reserved by them in the constitution to elect the President and the Vice-president of

  • 19Western Sun and General Advertiser, May 24, 1823.
  • 20Ibid., Aug. 23, 1825.
  • 21Niles' Register, Feb. 7. 1824.
the United States, and that any attempt by congressional nominations, in caucus or otherwise, to exercise this invaluable privilege unless authorized by the Constitution, should be regarded by the American people as a dangerous encroachment on their rights, tending to ruin the Republic.

Resolved further, that his excellency, the governor, be requested to transmit to our senators and representatives in Congress this plan and matured opinion expressed by the House of Representatives of the people of this State.

The resolution was indefinitely postponed by a vote of 36 to 8.

From the widespread manipulation of the banking industry by Secretary Crawford there was little doubt but what he could control a congressional caucus at any time, but whatever support he had in this came from those who were naturally affected by his actions.22 While the people had no way of preventing such a nomination, yet the tenor of the western press indicated that there was no intention on the part of the west to be bound by such a caucus. In Indiana, Crawford lost whatever prestige he had through the bank failures of 1821 and 1822.23 The sentiment throughout the west was becoming stronger and stronger for Jackson. The Columbian Observer declared:

There is not to be found in the wide universe a man so pure, spotless and exceptional in his political and moral character as Andrew Jackson. But he has no leading men in his favor. This is his only crime.24

"Unus" in a series of letters concluded:

For myself after much cogitation and mature consideration I have concluded that Jackson approaches the man I want more than any other of the Presidential candidates, and consequently Jackson is my man and more he is the man of most of my friends.25

In another part of the letter he said:

The contest is not between Clay and Adams or between Jackson and Crawford, but between political honesty and integrity on the one side, and intrigue, corruption and infamy on the other. To you it will not be the least difference whether Adams or Clay or Crawford or Calhoun

  • 22 See American State Papers, 1829—'21. '22, '23.
  • 23 Logan Esarey. Indiana University Studies No. 15, State Banking in Indiana, 231-242.
  • 24Western Sun and General Adverttser, Nov. 1, 1823.
  • 25Ibid, Nov. 1 to Dec. 13, 1823.
succeeds. The same principles and the same measures will triumph. But should Jackson be elected the triumph will be yours, for the victory will be yours.

This was the beginning of a weekly exchange of letters by "Unus" supporting Jackson and "Backwoodsman" supporting Clay. In one of these letters "Backwoodsman" said:

It is as a military man that General Jackson is principally known to the American people, and they are not in possession of such facts as will warrant them in believing that he is possessed of the talent and information of a Statesman.26

Other writers also took various positions on the question. "Old Knox" urged harmony between the Clay and Jackson men.27 "Ironicus" gave twelve reasons why Adams should not be elected President and favored the election of Clay.28The Western Sun and General Advertiser also published a series of articles from other papers giving the western view of the matter. On April 24, it published the address of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, mass meeting that had endorsed Jackson. On May 29 it began the publication of a series of six letters by "Seventy Six" copied from the Cincinnati Gazette opposing Adams and advocating the election of Jackson. On that date also it published an extract from the Franklin Gazette favoring Jackson. On April 17, 1824, it published a letter by "E. P." to Crawford, Clay, Calhoun, and Adams urging them to withdraw in favor of Jackson and admonishing them to:

Remember that for your sakes in common with other citizens he faced the most appalling dangers. To defend you he attacked the perfidious Spaniard in his fort. He fought the haughty Briton in open field. He conquered the savage in the fastness of the wilderness. While you were enjoying the luxurious delicacies of your tables his only food was the acorns of the forests. While you reposed on cushions of down Jackson had a stone or a log for his pillow, the dew for his covering and the cold earth for his bed.

On June 19 it published the Jackson-Monroe correspondence to show that Jackson had not urged Monroe to place two

  • 26Ibid., Jan. 10, 1824.
  • 27Ibid., Jan. 10, 1824. "Old Knox" was John Ewing.
  • 28Ibid., Apr. 24, 1824.
Federalists in his cabinet as had been charged. Throughout July and August it ran a series of articles by "Wyoming entitled "Rules and Articles of War" and in August the title changed to "The next President and General Andrew Jackson." On August 7, "Hamilton" in an article copied from the CincinnatiAdvertiser was very profuse in praise of Jackson. All letters in the Western Sun from that time dealt with Jackson's military record. On October 30, it published an article from the Indiana Intelligencer (Charlestown) by an Adams man showing that Adams men would not suffer by the election of Clay. In the same issue an editorial said:

The Adams men seeing their case hopeless are planning to flock to Clay and defeat Jackson.

The change of this paper from decidedly pro-Crawford in 1822 to neutral between Clay and Jackson in 1823 to radical for Jackson in 1824, may be taken as a fairly accurate gauge of the political sentiment of the state during that period. The idea that they had as their champion a man whose life experience had been the same as theirs outweighed all other considerations with them. The educating process had done its work effectively and there was little doubt but that Jackson would secure a plurality of votes in the November elections.

The question of an electoral ticket was the all-important question at that time. The law providing for the selection of electors on a general ticket had only recently been passed (January 14, 1824).29 Neither state laws nor party machinery provided any means for selecting a ticket. They were generally chosen over the country by newspapers advocating the use of certain names. And by concensus of newspaper opinions the ticket was agreed upon, or it was chosen by the adherents of a candidate in the state legislature. But even then there was no means of binding the electoral candidate to vote for any certain candidate or candidates in the electoral college. As early as May the Adams men had chosen Isaac Blackford of Knox, Jesse L. Holman of Dearborn, James Scott of Clark, David H. Maxwell of Monroe, and Christopher Harrison of Washington as an electoral ticket while the Clay men had chosen William W. Wick of Marion, Marston

  • 29Laws of Indiana, 1824, p. 174.
G. Clark of Washington, James Rariden of Wayne, Walter Wilson of Gibson, and Moses Tabbs of Knox as candidates.30 The Clay supporters were evidently in some doubt as to how their candidates would vote if elected and the Indiana Guzette gave that as a cause for Clay men turning to Jackson.31 It said:

The circumstance of so many of the friends of Clay turning over to Jackson in this State may be accounted for in some measure by the reason which we have heard some give, i. e., that the electoral ticket got up for Clay is only a Crawford ticket in disguise, and that should Clay be out of the question which is most likely these men will then most likely vote for Crawford. The citizens of this State are not disposed to vote for a caucus candidate under any circumstances and so long as it is understood that Clay electors are inclined to Crawford in any event there will be continual falling off.32 The reason is that the people would rather vote for Adams or Jackson, than trust their cause in the hands of such men as transfer their interests to a candidate whose elevation they do not wish to promote. They do not wish to elevate Crawford over the shoulders of Clay.

In the choice of a Jackson ticket there was much confusion. Newspapers in various parts of the state proposed names. The aim was to distribute them over the state as much as possible and yet get as strong Jackson men as possible. It seemed impossible for the Jacksonian papers over the state to agree upon the same five men. One ticket consisted of John Carr, John McCarty, Elias McNamee, Alexander Devin, and Edward Patton.33 Another consisted of David Robb, Jonathan McCarty, John Milroy, and John Carr, while the fifth place was left open.34 There was a third in the field put out in the extreme eastern part of the state. The Jackson men in approaching the election with this confusion

  • 30Western Sun and General Advertiser, May 22, 1824.
  • 31 Copied in Western Sun and General Advertiser, Oct. 30, 1824. It is not known which Gazette this is. There were three in the state at this time. One at Corydon, edited by the Brandons of whom Armstrong Brandon was a graduate of Dickinson College, Penn. A strong Jackson man and postmaster at Corydon; another at Indianapolis, edited by Nathaniel Bolton and Judge Smith. Bolton was a strong Jackson man but Smith was wavering in his support. It Was likely one of these two papers. The third was at Evansville but was not a strong paper.
  • 32 It is noticeable that there was no Crawford electoral ticket in the field. The recent bank failures and the fact that he was the caucus candidate killed all his chance in the state.
  • 33Western Sun and General Advertiser, June 26. 1824.
  • 34Ibid., July 31.
were fearful that altho they secured a majority of the votes in the state, that some of the Clay men might secure a plurality through the Jackson men not being united. To meet the need for a uniform ticket Elihu Stout35 of Vincennes proposed a convention at Salem. He said:

The friends of the election of Andrew Jackson to the Presidency of the nation had long hoped that some arrangement would have been made to secure a ticket so composed as to afford general satisfaction and to present a rallying point to his supporters throughout the state.36

He said that this had not been done and he then proposed a general convention. County committees, of correspondence, and township committees of vigilance, he said, will secure to us such a ticket as will produce unanimity among ourselves and afford general satisfaction; will secure certain and speedy diffusion of information; and will secure such diligent activity and attention throughout the state and on the day of election as will render success certain.

He then called on all the friends of Andrew Jackson throughout the state, to exert themselves in their respective counties to procure county meetings sometime in the month of August, and at such meetings to appoint a delegate or delegates in proportion to their county's representation in the legislature, who would meet in general convention in Salem in Washington county on Thursday after the first Monday in September next, there to nominate an electoral ticket in favor of Andrew Jackson and to make such other arrangements as the good of the cause may require, and also to appoint county committees of correspondence of five persons, and township committees of vigilance of three persons each.

Altho a general convention was a thing entirely new in the political experience of the country the idea was immensely popular. The Jackson men in the various counties began almost at once to hold county conventions to choose delegates to Salem and to choose the committees called for. On August 17, the Jackson men of Gibson county met at Princeton and

  • 35 Elihu Stout was a native of New Jersey, was a printer by trade and while working at his trade in Nashville, Tennessee, became a strong personal friend of Andrew Jackson. At this time he was editor of the Western Sun and General Advertiser at Vincennes.
  • 36Western Sun and General Advertiser, June 26, 1824.
  1. Appointed Charles Harrington a delegate to Salem;
  2. Every person present pledged himself to vote for the candidates nominated at Salem;
  3. David Robb, William Harrington, and Thomas J. Evans were appointed a committee of correspondence;
  4. The committee of correspondence was given the power to appoint township vigilance committees of three;
  5. They invited men of other counties to adopt similar measures and finally
  6. They provided for the publishing of the proceedings of the meeting.37

The Jackson men of Knox county were called to meet August 29,38 and on that date at39 the courthouse in Vincennes: they

  1. Appointed Samuel Judah and Jacob Call as delegates to Salem;
  2. All present pledged themselves to vote for the nominees of the convention;
  3. They appointed a committee of correspondence of three members, and
  4. Provided for the publication of the proceedings;40
  5. They invited friends of Jackson in other counties to join them.

Similar conventions were held all over the state and on September 16, 1824,41 one week later than the time set in the

  • 37Ibid., Aug. 28, 1824.
  • 38Ibid., Aug. 21, 1824.
  • 39Ibid., Sept 4, 1824.
  • 40Ibid., Sept. 11, 1824.
  • 41 This is apparently one among the very first conventions composed of delegates selected to nominate candidates for office that ever represented the people Of any state in the country. The claim has been made for New York. The New York convention, however, met on September 21 and 22, 1824, or the week after the Indiana convention. The New York convention was also something of a farce for it represented various factions opposed to the legislative caucus candidate for governor and when DeWitt Clinton received a majority vote for governor some of the other factions withdrew and would not support him. (See Niles' Register, Oct. 2, 1824.) The Federalists held a convention in 1808 and another in 1812, both in New York, to nominate candidates for the Presidency. Both represented only the party leaders, and both were intended to be kept secret from the mass of voters. See American Historical Review, vol. 17, p. 754, also Ibid., vol. I, p. 680, and Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, Vol IV, p. 362. The Indiana convention on the other hand was a convention of delegates, selected for the purpose and having back of them all the rudiments of the complicated modern political machine, with its closely organized committee Western and each unit in close contact with every other unit. This is evidently
original call, eighteen delegates, representing the counties of Fayette, Gibson, Jefferson, Orange, Clark, Lawrence, Shelby, Switzerland, Daviess, Knox, Ripley, Washington, Jennings, and Monroe, met in Salem.42 Samuel Milroy of Washington county was made chairman and Jacob Call of Knox county secretary. Samuel Milroy of Washington county, David Robb of Gibson, Elias McNamee of Knox, John Cam of Clark, and Jonathan McCarty of Fayette, were unanimously agreed upon as an electoral ticket. Samuel Judah,43 Dr. Israel T. Canby, Henry S. Handy, Samuel Carr, and William Kelsey were appointed to prepare and publish an address to the people of the state, on the approaching election.

Dr. Canby of Madison, Samuel Beach of Jeffersonville, and Jesse B. Durham of Jackson county were appointed a general correspondence committee with power to fill vacancies in the electoral ticket. The convention requested counties that had not done so to appoint correspondence committees. It also provided for the distribution of five hundred copies of the address of the convention to the people and for the distribution of three thousand copies of the electoral ticket.

The address to the people was a very lengthy discussion of the one issue of the campaign, the personality of Andrew Jackson.34 It called attention to the fact that

No one has been supported more warmly as having the strongest claims upon your judgment, your patriotism, and your republicanism and no one has been opposed more virulently as being destitute of all qualifications of a statesman, and dangerous to your civil rights than Andrew Jackson.

In dealing with his life it said:

In' our estimation, a life devoted to the service of his country proves the patriotism of General Jackson. In early youth with the soldiers of the Revolution he fought and he bled in his country's cause. In the

  • more nearly the embryo of our committee and convention system than the New York Convention.
  • 42Western Sun and General Advertiser, Sept. 25, 1824.
  • 43 Samuel Judah was well qualified for the task. He was a native of New York. He was a graduate of Rutgers' college, New Jersey. He was a son-in-law of Armstrong Brandon, postmaster of Corydon, a good lawyer and a very radical Jackson man.

    Information given by Samuel Brandon Judah, his son, now a resident of Via-cennes, Indiana.

  • 34Western Sun and General Advertiser, Oct. 16, 1824.
strength of manhood, the destined master spirit of the southern war. At the head of the Yeomanry of the West, he met the veterans of Wellington, accustomed to danger, to blood, and to victory in the ensanguined plains of the Peninsula and at their hands redeemed the country's honor.

Of the fitness for office it said:

In every age we have seen men endowed with a universality of genius, a combination of talents, capacitating them to uphold their country's honor amid the storms of war, or to preside in the consultations of statesmen, and to guide their fellows in the paths of peace to happiness and prosperity. We will only name Washington, Hamilton, Monroe, and Jackson. The history of Andrew Jackson presents every pledge deeds can give of his ability for all his country can require of him.

It then magnified his knowledge of men, "greatness of intellect," "clearness of discrimination," "accuracy of judgment" and the "continued tenor of his life," and added: "yet he is untrained in the ways of political intrigue, and he denies the right, and he rejects the authority of congressional caucuses—and therefore it is pretended he is not, he can not be a statesman." Washington's military and political life was then reviewed with added declaration:

They were not disappointed, nor will you be in putting your trust in Andrew Jackson—in the hero of two wars—in the savior of New Orleans, in him who retrieved his country's honor at the hands of the lau-reled veterans of his country's enemy, will not, can not be disappointed. The ghosts of Agathocles and of Philip of Macedon, of Caesar, and of the victim of St. Helena are summoned from the shades to deter you from the elevation of General Jackson to the presidency, to deter you from the cause pointed out, not only against the judgment of your own unsophisticated minds but against the honest dictates of your uncor-rupted hearts.

The history of Athens was then reviewed with the conclusion:

Virtue had ceased to exist at Athens, the brightness of her glory was stained. Venality pervaded every department of state and every class of men, the meretricious charms of wealth had inspired every person and luxury had enfeebled every mind before Philip triumphed at Chaeronea.

In the example of Rome it concluded that:

Not the ambition of Caesar but the general practice of every vice which could corrupt the heart, villify the mind or enfeeble the body of man, produced the destruction of Roman liberty.

The analogy between Greece and Rome and America is then drawn with the questions:

Do you admit it? Do you in the infancy of your national existence confess you are demoralized by public corruption? So vitiated by private vices that virtue and goodness, the love of excellence has lost its attraction for you? That honor has ceased to influence you, and that patriotism has become only a name to disguise your debasement? But if as your glorious fathers you stand firm in your strength, if you rely on your own virtue and love of liberty—to your rights and liberties, anticipation can not offer any fear.

Washington and Jackson are then compared with the conclusion:

Each first in the hearts of his countrymen has been called from retirement to the councils of the nation. Each was ever distinguished by the amenity of his manners and each has ever been regarded with love and reverence by all within his circle of action. Washington the people's choice was elevated to the Presidency by the people-the prosperity of the country proved the wisdom of his administration. Jackson, the people's choice is now before you-will you complete the parallel?

As Americans, as citizens of the West, as Republicans, and as men only actuated by a sincere love of our common country, of its glory, prosperity, and happiness, we most earnestly recommend to you fellow citizens, to support the man of the people, Andrew Jackson.

The ticket nominated at Salem gave the Jackson forces a united front and the address of the convention, exploiting the record of Jackson, his political integrity, and especially his freedom from the caucus, and the fact that he was the man of the people gave them a rallying point that was irrisistable. In the November election Jackson carried the state by a plurality of 2028 over Clay and 4250 over Adams. There was no Crawford ticket in the field.35

  • 35Western Sun and General Advertiser, Dec. 4, 1824. The vote stood Jackson, 7343; Clay, 5315, and Adams, 3093.


In Indiana Jacksonian democracy was not the rallying of the people about a great issue. The issues that we are accustomed to associate with the early Jacksonians did not enter into public discussions in the state in a material way until 1828, or until Jacksonianism was at least four years old. Jacksonian democracy in Indiana was rather a spirit. It was the manifest expression of that intense feeling that the common people were supreme. The least show of luxury was a sign of pride or aristocracy.1 The man who made such show was at once under suspicion. The eastern politicians were the very incarnation of luxury and aristocracy. Jackson was the embodiment of unsophisticated democracy. The frontiersman must fight for his existence and Jackson was his champion., The Indian had been his most deadly enemy and Jackson had mastered the Indian. The English had incited the Indian to murder and Jackson had humbled the English. The uncultured mind demanded a hero and Jackson met every qualification required of such a hero. So the campaign of 1824 was waged not upon an economic or political principle, but about the popular hero, the man Andrew Jackson. The four years' campaign that followed was not a struggle for the triumph of a principle, but to vindicate an injustice to a popular hero, and political issues came into the struggle as expediency or circumstance determined. As soon as the results of the contest in the House of Representatives showing the election of Adams were known, the Western Sun and General Advertiser said:

In this day's paper I have given the result of the Presidential election in congress, and contrary to my expectation the voice of a majority of 50,000 freemen has been disregarded. The friends of Jackson can console themselves for the disappointment under the firm conviction that the voice of the American people was in his favor.2

It began at once to create a sentiment adverse to the administration, and three weeks later it quoted the National Intelligencer as saying:

  • 1 In 1826 O. H. Smith gave up a borrowed buggy and went on horseback for fear the people would think him proud and injure his chances for congress. See O. H. Smith, Early Indiana Trials and Sketches, 116.
  • 2 Feb. 26, 1825.

It is said, and we have no doubt of it, that the president elect has offered to Mr. Speaker Clay the office of secretary of state and it seems to be thought he will accept it.3

On the same date it quoted a letter from a Pennsylvania representative in congress to prove a charge of the bargain between Clay and Adams. The author says:

I shall therefore proceed to give you a brief account of such a bargain as can only be equaled by the famous Burr conspiracy of 1801. For some time past the friends of Clay have hinted that they, like the Swiss, would fight for those who would pay best. Overtures were said to have been made by the friends of Adams to the friends of Clay, offering him the appointment of secretary of state for his aid in electing Adams and the friends of Clay gave this information to the friends of Jackson, and hinted that if the friends of Jackson would offer the same price, they would close with them. But none of the friends of Jackson would descend to such a mean barter and sale. I was of the opinion when I first heard of this transaction that men professing any honorable principle could not nor would not be transferred like the planter does his negroes or the farmer his team and horses. No alarm was excited. We believed the Republic was safe. The nation having delivered Jackson into the hands of Congress backed by a large majority of their votes, there was no doubt in my mind that Congress would respond to the will of the nation by electing the individual they had declared to be their choice, contrary to this expectation it is now ascertained to a certainty that Henry Clay has transferred his interests to John Quincy Adams. As a consideration for this abandonment of duty to his constituents it is said and believed, should this unholy coalition prevail, Clay is to be appointed Secretary of State. I have no fears in my mind. I am clearly of opinion we shall defeat every combination. The force of public opinion must prevail, or there is an end of liberty.4

The election of Adams was met with a storm of protest and the campaign for the promotion of Jackson's candidacy began immediately. The Western Sun and General Advertiser quoted from the Somersville Advertiser:

A minority candidate has been elected by the House, and thereby the voice of a majority of the nation has been disregarded, defied. The people, particularly in the West, have not only been misrepresented but the spirit of the constitution has been violated.5

  • 3 March 12, 1825.
  • 4 Copied from Columbus Observer, Jan. 28.
  • 5 April 2, 1825.

On the same date it published a letter by Jackson, which analyzed Clay's charges that he was a military chieftain; reviewed his own achievements; said that he became a soldier for the good of his country, and charged that Clay had never risked himself for the country.6

This spirit of hostility on the part of the Jackson men was an apparent surprise to the Clay men. They had misjudged the spirit that was opposed to them. A Clay man, over the signature "S" assured the friends of Clay in the CincinnatiGazette that it was not to be supposed that General Jackson could permit himself to be made a rallying point for opposition to the administration until some measure had been adopted by it for which in his opinion it ought to forfeit the public confidence. Those who had a proper confidence in Mr. Adams, Mr. Clay and the other principal men who should direct the measures should have no reason to fear such an event. They might expect to see General Jackson acting consistently with his professions and giving to Mr. Adams a liberal support.7

The personal fight against Clay and for Jackson, was waged by the Jackson men everywhere. Mr. Stout, the editor of the Western Sun and General Advertiser, who was a close personal friend of Jackson, and whose paper was the leading Jackson paper in the state selected his articles from all parts of the country to show that the Jackson sentiment was universal. For an excellent statement of the condition he used the address of Mr. Kramer to the Ninth congressional district of Pennsylvania:

In determining to support Mr. Adams Mr. Clay did not only abandon his constituents and violate those fundamental principles by which he has admitted himself to be bound to them, but he threw the whole weight of his influence in favor of the man denounced by him as particularly hostile to the interests of the West, and of whose pretentions to the presidency he had spoken in all places and upon all occasions in language of contempt. It can not be disguised that Mr. Clay was principally governed by the calculation that if General Jackson should now be elected his own prospects as a western man would be diminished, but that the election of Mr. Adams, through his support would secure him the position of "heir apparent" in the office of secretary of state and the future support of Mr. Adam's friends in New England. These selfish

  • 6Western Sun and General Advertiser, April 23 and 25.
  • 7 Samuel Swartwout of New York.
and ambitious calculations were no doubt the basis of this unnatural, this "unholy coalition" between Adams and Clay.8

A little later Mr. Clay's attempts to justify himself were published.9 The last of March, 1825, Jackson came to Louisville, Kentucky, for a short stay. On the solicitations of citizens of Jeffersonville, Indiana, he crossed the river on Monday, April 4, and was greeted by a salute of twenty-four guns and a delegation of citizens with an address which closed:

Yes, General, the recollections of your eminent services and sacrifices, in the cause of our country, shall ever live green in our memories, and our children's children be taught to lisp with delight the name of Jackson. 10

At a public dinner in Louisville, in honor of General Lafayette, General John Carr offered the toast:

General Andrew Jackson, Posterity will view with admiration the deeds of glory achieved by the hero whose motto was, ‘The country sacred to freedom and law.’11

Throughout the year the personalities of Jackson, Clay and Adams and the circumstance of the "coalition" were kept before the people. One article showed how Jackson lived at home;12 another gave an account of a reception to Jackson;13 another reported a speech by Jackson;14 another denied the rumor that Jackson would not consent to be a, candidate in 1828;15 another commented upon a speech by Jackson;16 "Between the coalition and General Jackson how striking the contrast."

Jackson was nominated, by the legislature of Tennessee as a candidate for the Presidency at the next election in the autumn of 1825 by a unanimous vote. The main features of the session were:

  1. A preamble showing the merits of Jackson.

    • 8 April 30, 1825.
    • 9 May 7, and 14.
    • 10Ibid., April 23, 1825.
    • 11Ibid., May 28, 1826.
    • 12Ibid., Oct. 8, 1825.
    • 13Ibid., Nov. 19, 1825.
    • 14Ibid., Nov. 26, 1825.
    • 15Ibid., June 3, 1826.
    • 16Ibid., Sept. 9, 1826.
  2. A resolution nominating him.
  3. Speeches by various members praising Jackson and pleading for the support of all Crawford men.17

The most significant thing in the entire movement at this time was the total lack of any issue except the personality of Jackson. Not only the Indiana, but the entire western spirit seemed to be that: Jackson is a man of the people. He was the people's choice for President. He has been kept out of office by corruption and the people's wronged hero must be vindicated. The great bulk of the voters saw no issue, no motive, no principle involved except the ultimate triumph of Jackson. The popular estimation of a public man was determined largely by the attitude of the man toward Jackson.

O. H. Smith relates an incident of one of his campaigns in which he was questioned as to whether he should vote for Jackson or not. When he replied that he would not, the questioner informed him that he could not get his vote.18 Not only did it enter into the reputation of public men, but it also entered into the private and legal relation of the citizens. In Fayette county a libel suit of Robert Helm, a Clay man, against Gabriel Ginn, a Jackson man, was won with a jury of Jackson men by the following speech:

Gentlemen of the jury, we are trying one of the most important questions that has ever been tried in the county. I hold the affirmative of the issue, the counsel opposed to me the negative, and you are to decide it by your verdict. It is whether a Jackson man will regard his oath and find according to the law and the evidence. You are selected because the counsel for the defense supposed you would perjure yourselves to acquit their client. I believe that a Jackson man is just as honest as a Clay man, and will be no more likely to perjure himself to acquit a Jackson man than would a Clay man to convict him. Your names are on the record. The eyes of the people are upon you——19

This spirit of rugged honesty had been wounded to the heart by the apparent coalition between Clay and Adams and it never recovered its former respect for Clay and the victim of the plot became all the more dear to them because he was of their own kind, the real embodiment of their spirit.

  • 17Ibid., Nov. 12, 1825.
  • 18 O. H. Smith, Early Indiana Trials and Sketches, 86.
  • 19Ibid., 12.

The fierceness of the Jackson campaign was not abated in the least by the state election in 1825. Neither did the Jackson controversy have any effect upon the state election.

During the period of the rise of the Jacksonian spirit, the personality of the leadership in state politics had been swiftly changing. Early in 1824 Ratliff Boone, the lieutenant governor, had resigned to become a candidate for congress in the First district. James B. Ray of Brookville was elected speaker pro tempore of the senate.

Mr. Ray was a native of Kentucky, and a promising young lawyer. In person he was above the ordinary size, with a high forehead, rather projecting, and a long queue. He was a powerful stump speaker.20 Mr. Ray was again elected speaker pro tempore of the senate in 1825. In a very short time (February 12, 1825) William Hendricks resigned his seat as governor to become United States senator. Thereupon Ray, as acting speaker of the senate, became governor for the unexpired term.

The contest for governor at the August (1825) election began early in March. David H. Maxwell, James B. Ray and Judges Scott and Blackford were probable candidates.21 By the last of March the active candidates for governor were, James B. Ray and Isaac Blackford, one of the Adams electors at the presidential election. For lieutenant governor the candidates were Samuel Milroy, Elisha Harrison, General W. Johnston and John L. Thompson.22

Throughout the campaign the newspapers contained no mention of men or principles or party more than to give the formal announcement of the candidates for office. Niles, however, comments upon Ray's candidacy in rather unfriendly light:

It may be mentioned, I believe, as a thing without precedent among us; that Mr. James B. Ray has publicly offered himself as a candidate for the gubernatorial chair, and in a spirited public address solicited the suffrage of the people. A proceeding which we think can not be approved of, whatever be the merits of the individual in other respects.23

  • 20 O. H. Smith, Early Indiana Trials and Sketches, 86.
  • 21Western Sun and General Advertiser, March 4-5, 1825.
  • 22Ibid., March 26, 1825.
  • 23Niles' Register, Aug. 20, 1825.

The non-partisan character of the contest is best shown by the vote. Ray who had been a partisan of Clay in the Presidential election received 13,040 votes to 10,218 for Isaac Black-ford who headed the Adams electoral ticket; while John H. Thompson who had not been prominent in the Presidential campaign was elected lieutenant governor with a vote of 10,781 to 7,496 for Samuel Milroy who had been on the Jackson electoral ticket.24 The Jackson leaders, however, were not enthusiastic about the election of Ray and the Western Sun and General Advertiser in an editorial was very pessimistic. It said:

We can not, nevertheless, refrain from remarking that in our humble opinion, the people of Indiana might have selected a person in almost every respect better qualified to preside at the helm of the State, than the individual whom they have elevated to that responsible situation.25

The congressional campaign of 1826 was almost equally free from the presidential question. In the First district the candidates gave public notice of their candidacy without reference to party.26 Ratliff Boone, an active Jackson man, Thomas H. Blake, who had favored Clay, and Dr. Lawrence S. Shuler who had not been prominent in national politics were the candidates. In the Second district Jennings who had been a Clay man but in the election in congress voted for Jackson although he personally favored Adams, was unopposed. In the Third district Judge John Test, a Clay man, who had voted for Jackson in the election in congress was opposed by Oliver Hampton Smith, another Clay man. In the First district the main issue was the "northern canal" (the Wabash and Erie). All the candidates favored it but it was charged that Shuler did not. The charge brought from him the declaration that:

It is idle, preposterous and certainly inconsistent with candor and generosity to accuse any of the present candidates for a seat in the national legislature of unfriendly disposition toward internal improvements, for no man, we conscientiously believe, could be found who would in his right senses raise his voice against undertakings calculated to contribute so powerfully to the prosperity of the State in which we all have such a deep interest.27

  • 24House Journal, 1825, p. 23.
  • 25 Aug. 27, 1825.
  • 26Ibid., Feb. 25, and April 1. 1826.
  • 27Western Sun and General Advertiser, July 29, 1826.

The charge, however, was enough to kill whatever chances he might have had. Boone was opposed in the election because he was a radical partisan, but no attempt to defend him on that ground was made. When Stout, the leading Jacksonian editor, allowed the statement that, "Colonel Boone makes a good representative and I hope he will be elected," to go into his paper it was with the explanation: "Inserted by request and paid for."28 The charge of partisanship was too much for Boone to overcome and he was defeated by a vote of 5,223 for Blake to 5,202 for Boone while Shuler received only 1,626.29 In the Second district, on account of the lack of opposition, there was no issue. In the Third district Mr. Smith and Mr. Test resorted to stump speaking and a chance alignment upon current topics. Smith says of the campaign:

Stump speaking was just coming into fashion. The people met our appointments by thousands. The judge had his high character to aid him. I brought to my aid a strong voice reaching to the very extremes of the largest crowds. The judge went in for graduation of public lands. I went for home gifts to actual settlers. My position was the most acceptable to the masses.30

Mr. Smith' is, no doubt, entirely correct in his statements, for the vote of the district stood, Smith 6,005, Test 4,946. The facts of the election bear out the statement of the IndianapolisGazette that: "The private opinions of members of Congress on the presidential question have never been inquired into as a test of qualification."31 There was, however, a check in the agitation of national questions during this campaign. In the senatorial election that followed, James Noble, Jonathan Jennings, and Isaac Blackford, then candidates, were all administration men and the presidential question did not enter into the contest.32

Early in 1827 the personality of Jackson again became the, political theme. The earlier agitation had apparently aimed at making Clay unpopular and at putting the people in a state of mind so that they could easily find fault with the administration.

  • 28Western Sun and General Advertiser, April 27, 1826.
  • 29Niles' Register, Oct. 26, 1823.
  • 30Early Indiana Trials and Sketches, 80.
  • 31 Sept. 5, 1826.
  • 32 Mr. Noble was elected on the fourth ballot, the vote standing Noble 40, Blackford 28, Jennings 10. See Niles' Register, Jan. 6, 1827.
The whole force of argument was, from now on, aimed at centering the attention of every one upon Jackson, and to provide political machinery to elect him. The attitude of the west toward Jackson was kept before the people. He was nominated by the Alabama legislature on January 10.33 His election was predicted by the LouisvilleKentucky Advertiser, February 15.34 He was invited to visit New Orleans on the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, January 8,1827. The Western Sun and General Advertiser said:35 "The friends of the ‘coalition’ were called upon by the authority presses of the city to be punctual in attendance and they obeyed the call." It was strongly denied that he had broken up the home of a certain Lewis Roberts and later married his divorced wife.36 He was again compared to Washington.37 Clay challenged him to prove the charges of coalition.38Jackson answered in a four column letter.39 In every issue from September 8,1827, until December 8, the Western Sun agitated the question "if "coalition," and printed long letters, making direct charges also denials and counter charges.

After December 8, there is a change in the political attitude of the Western Sun and General Advertiser. Early in the year there had been a meeting of friends of Jackson at Baltimore to perfect plans for the presidential campaign. The meeting recommended to the friends of Jackson to call meetings and arrange themselves in such a manner as would be most likely to give efficiency to their measures and particularly to appoint delegates to meet in general convention in the city of Baltimore on the third Monday of May next40 (1828). It also provided for representation in the convention. The Indiana Jackson convention wad called for January 8, 1828. County conventions were held in Paoli, December 1, and at Charlestown, November 10,41 in which delegates were appointed to the Indianapolis convention. Also committees of

  • 33Western Sun and General Advertiser, Feb. 17, 1827.
  • 34Ibid., Mar. 17, 1827.
  • 35Ibid., Mar. 31, 1827.
  • 36Ibid., May 5, 1827.
  • 37Ibid., June 23, 1827.
  • 38Ibid., June 21, 1827.
  • 39Ibid., Aug. 11, 1827.
  • 40Ibid., Mar. 24, 1827.
  • 41Ibid., Dec. 15, 1827.
correspondence and vigilance committees were appointed. Jackson was commonly spoken of as the "People's Favorite." The Knox county convention at Vincennes, December 22, 182742 also appointed committees of correspondence and vigilance committees. It adopted the following resolution:

Resolved, That this meeting have the utmost confidence in the preeminent abilities, firm patriotism and sincere devotion of General Jackson to the best interest of his country and that we will use all fair and honorable means in our power to promote his election.

Similar meetings were held in the various counties. The Jackson convention met in Indianapolis, January 8. The president of the convention, Israel F. Canby, said in an address to the convention:

The cause of Jackson is the cause of our country its liberties and constitution. The spirit of our constitution was violated by the election of Adams and the liberties of the country endangered by the baleful example. And it was in the person of Andrew Jackson that the rights of the people were assailed, so it is peculiarly proper that in his person should the violated rights of the people be vindicated.43

The convention chose Benjamin V. Beckes of Knox county, Jesse B. Durham of Jackson, Ross Smiley of Union, Ratliff Boone of Warrick and William Lowe of Monroe, as candidates for electors.44 The convention also appointed a committee of general superintendence of ten persons, any five of whom should have authority to act, whose duty it should be to fill any vacancy which might occur in the electoral ticket: to announce the person who might be selected by the friends of Andrew Jackson in the different states as the candidate for vice-president; to adopt such measures as to them might appear necessary and proper to secure the united co-operation of all the friends of the election of Andrew Jackson throughout the state; to provide the funds necessary to defray such expenses as might be incurred and to adopt or recommend such measures as to them might appear expedient.45 The committee was also empowered to fill vacancies in its own ranks or to add

  • 42Ibid., Dec. 29, 1827.
  • 43Western Sun and General Advertiser, Jan. 19, 1828.
  • 44Niles' Register, Feb. 9, 1828.
  • 45 Resolutions of Convention, Western nun and General Advertiser, Jan. 26, 1828.
new members if necessary. The last resolution of the convention requested the friends of the election of Andrew Jackson:

To organize committees of correspondence in their counties and as far as possible committees of vigilance in their several townships and to transmit the names of the gentlemen composing such committee to the committee of general superintendence at Salem. And that the members of the committee of general superintendence be requested individually to use their exertions to give effect to this resolution.

The address of the convention46 to the people of the state declared that:

The dawn of that political regeneration when those who fell with the first Adams' rose with the second was witnessed with terror by the largest proportion of the Republicans of the United States.46

It gave as its opinion that the spirit of the constitution had been violated by the election of Adams. It declared that the power of congress to elect, "can not be arbitrary; the representatives have a discretion which they should exercise reasonably in accordance with the will of their constituents." The election of Adams was attributed to corruption, bargain and sale, and intrigue. Adams was accused of favoring the "English form of government, Kings, lords, and commons as the consummation of human wisdom." Then he was specifically charged as being hostile to the interests of the west. The platform then discussed the career of Jackson. This varied career was taken up in detail to prove the statement: "Acts tell better than words," and the conclusion was reached "that upon his success in the coming election much of the future happiness and prosperity of the country depends." The line of safe precedents was condemned and it was declared "highly necessary for the permanency of our institutions and for the preservation of our liberty to break in upon the custom of electing the secretary of state to the Presidency."

On the question of tariff it was extremely vague in its declaration that:

In behalf of our constituents, in the name of the Democratic Republicans of the State we assert our unhesitating determination to support the friends of the country and the constitution, in the encouragement

  • 46Ibid., Jan. 26, 1828.
  • 47Niles' Register, Feb. 9, 1828.
and protection of the National Industry, Agricultural, Manufacturing and Commercial, in the development of the resources of the country, and in all their efforts for its general improvement, and such we believe to be the opinions of Andrew Jackson; Andrew Jackson and his political friends in the West are in favor of a general and impartial protection of the National industry, but they are opposed to all mere sectional measures, and especially to all measures calculated to oppress the poor for the benefit of the rich.

An invitation was sent to General Jackson to visit Indiana on July 4, and the central committee were requested to act as a committee to meet him at Salem.47 With the state convention, January 8, 1828, the campaign for the election of Jackson was begun, and the chief issue before the people was his personality and a vindication of the wrong done him at the last election. The friends of the administration were no less energetic in their efforts to elect their man than were the Jackson or anti-administration men. The "Administration" state convention was called at Indianapolis, January 12, 1828. Delegates were chosen by county conventions the same as in the Jackson convention. Practically the same county organization was effected as that used by their opponents. The county convention at Vincennes may be taken as an example.48 It appointed a committee of correspondence and a vigilance committee. Its preamble was different from that of the Jacksonian convention in that it dealt with specific principles rather than the character of individuals. It said:

Whereas, The crisis has arrived which renders it necessary for the friends of manufacturing interests and of internal improvements to unite in favor of the principles and policies of the present administration, which have been uniformly expected to develop the resources, encourage the industry and insure the true independence of our country.

Its resolutions:

  1. Expressed confidence in the Adams' administration;
  2. Exonerated Clay from the charge of corruption;
  3. Saw no need of advancing Jackson to a place above many others of his companions in arms;
  4. Declared the characters of public men to be public property and deprecated the personal attacks' of newspapers upon public men.

  • 48Western dun and General Advertiser, Jan. 5, 1828.

The state convention met in Indianapolis, January 12,1828. John Watts, an old Revolutionary soldier, was made president. Joseph Orr of Putnam county, John Watts of Dearborn, Joseph Bartholomew of Clark, Isaac Montgomery of Gibson, and Rev. James Armstrong of Monroe, were chosen as an electoral ticket.49

The address of the convention to the voters was prepared by a committee of fifteen.50 An address by the administration men of Dearborn county gives us our best idea of their principles.51 It points out that the only different between the Jackson men and the Adams men was whether the election of John Quincy Adams or that of Andrew Jackson to the presidency would be best calculated to obtain the end of which they all professed to be aiming. It pointed out the fact that when they proposed to throw off the yoke of Great Britain and establish the old confederation their motto was "Measures, not Men." When they proposed to change the old confederation for the present their motto was "Measures, not Men." When they proposed to change the old dynasty for the new by placing the executive functions in the hands of Thomas Jefferson their motto was still "Measures, not Men," but now, to effect the proposed change, they must change their motto to "Men, not Measures." It gave as the reasons for supporting Adams:

  1. Because of his firm and steady adherence to Republican principles;
  2. Because of his tried abilities, untiring perseverence and stern unyielding integrity;
  3. Because he was better acquainted with the great political concerns of this country than any man living and of course, better qualified to discharge the great and important trusts attached to that elevated station;
  4. Because he was in favor of, and supported the American System;
  5. Because he was friendly to the interests of the West;
  6. Because he was a believer in and a professor of the doctrines of the Christian Religion, as well as a practicer of its sublime precepts.

It denied charges that Adams had used public money to fit up the White House with gambling apparatus and tried to disprove

  • 49Western Sun and General Advertiser, Jan. 26, 1828.
  • 50 Given in the Indianapolis Journal, Indiana University, July 31, 1828.
  • 51LawrenceburgIndiana Palladium, Jan. 12, 1828.
the charge of corruption and showed that the Adams electors had received a larger popular vote than the Jackson electors had in the election of 1824. The campaign was now fairly launched. The Jacksonians had no issue except the vindication of Jackson while the motto of the administration was measures, not men. The administration forces stood for Adams only in so far as he embodied the principles that they stood for, namely, a protective tariff and internal improvements. Heretofore the question of internal improvements had been a local question. Governor Jennings had called the attention of the General Assembly to the need of roads and canals.52 Governor Hendricks had advised his General Assembly to wait until the resources of the state were developed before attempting any system of internal improvements.53 Governor Ray, in his message to the General Assembly in 1825, urged the necessity of adopting a system of internal improvements such as the building of railroads, plank roads and canals,54 Meanwhile the people were clamoring for an eastern outlet for commerce.55 All people desired it regardless of politics. A candidate for state or local office who was not in favor of some system of internal improvements had no chance of election. In 1826 and 1827 the candidates for the General Assembly generally pledged themselves to promote internal improvements. William Polke, one of the candidates in Knox county, said:

I pledge myself to labor for the advancement of internal improvements, domestic manufacture, and measures which may be calculated to advance the local interests and general prosperity and improvement of our happy country.56

Internal improvements and the tariff were brought before the people of the states as subjects for political division by the General Assembly during their session of 1827-1828. This General Assembly was not partisan. It had, however, a group of very radical Jackson men who would not miss an opportunity to draw party lines. Their fight began early in the season.

  • 52House Journal, 1818, p. 21.
  • 53House Journal, 1822, p. 37.
  • 54House Journal, 1825, p. 38.
  • 55 Logan Esarey, Internal Improvements in Indiana, 83 to 86.
  • 56Western Bun and General Advertiser, Feb. 24, 1827.
On December 13, 1827, the engrossed joint resolution of the General Assembly57

To instruct our Senators and request our representatives in Congress to use every reasonable effort to restrain the importation of hemp, raw wool and woolens, and to afford all possible encouragement to all articles of American growth and manufacture, and to give united cooperation to those of our sister States who encourage a national system of domestic manufacture and internal improvements

Was read a third time and passed by a vote of 16 to 5.58 The five who voted against it were Canby, Givans, Milroy, Simonson and Smiley, all radical Jackson men. Their opposition did not come because either they or their constituents were opposed to the spirit of the resolution, so much, as it came because they felt that the General Assembly was trying to influence public opinion. Two days later they entered the following formal protest setting forth their views:59

In protesting against the joint resolution of the General Assembly which the Senate passed on the 13th inst.: "the undersigned feel it a duty which they owe to themselves, their political friends and their constituents to avow themselves the warm and decided friends of domestic manufacture, and internal improvements and pledge themselves to support honestly and heartily the friends of the country and the constitution in the encouragement and protection of its national industry in all its branches, agricultural, manufacturing and commercial in the development of the resources of the country and in their efforts for its general improvement. They object to the resolution because it is partial in its provisions and because they deem it inexpedient at this time to legislate on the subject. The undersigned consider the aforesaid resolution a direct censure of the conduct of our representatives in Congress, who voted against the woolen bill of last session—a measure partial in its provisions and unjust in its operation on the western country, for it imposed enormous duties on imported woolens, a measure in which the eastern States are particularly interested, while it left the manufacturers of iron, lead, and domestic distilled spirits, the growers of wool and hemp and the agriculture of the West in general without protection, and

  • 57Senate Journal, 1827, p. 57.
  • 58 Presented in the National Senate by Wm. Hendricks, Feb. 20, 1828. See Western Sun and General Advertiser, Mar. 29, 1828.
  • 59Senate Journal, 1827, p. 63. In the House, Messrs. Samuel Judah, William Marshall, John M. Simon, Joseph Work, William Lowe and Eliphalet Allen protested against the resolution first because it was not within the power delegated to them by their constituents to petition on matters of national character. Second by the exclusion of "hemp, raw wool and woolens" and exclusion of foreign distilled spirits it discriminated indirectly against Indiana's staple product, corn. House Journal, 1827, p. 412.
when a proposition was made by a western member to include domestic distilled spirits in the bill it was rejected, thereby showing determination on the part of the friends of that measure to protect eastern and exclude western interests.

The undersigned firmly believe that any attempt by the General Assembly under any circumstance to influence public opinion in relation to the presidential election in favor of any candidate would be improper and break the trust confided in them by their constituents, and the result of the passage of this resolution will be to influence public opinion within this State, but more especially within adjoining States, as to the vote of Indiana at the approaching election of president of the United States. The undersigned deprecate the spirit of the last clause of the resolution in their opinion but too well calculated to engender sectional animosities and array State against State. They therefore feel it their bounden duty to enter this protest.


They were in a position that demanded all the strategy that they could muster. The entire state demanded internal improvements and stood for the American system and the Adams administration was the champion of the principles with the motto: "Measures, not Men," and was appealing to the country for a re-election. They were for Jackson regardless of measures and without measures. This protest on the part of the Jackson men was met by a counter protest by James Rariden, an ardent administration man. In protesting he said:

The undersigned, while he concedes great latitude to the minority in protesting against acts and proceedings of the majority, protests against the extension of that right, so far as to authorize gentlemen in the minority after their deliberate and solemn vote, denouncing the protection given by the general government to our domestic manufacturers and denying the powers of the general government to carry on and prosecute the present plan for internal improvements of the country, to then by way of protest, spread contrary opinions on the journals on those subjects and vindicate themselves from effects of an unpopular vote and ruinous policy by imputing to the friends of the American system and of this resolution a design to mislead the public mind on other political topics, and thereby excuse themselves by holding up the proposition as a mere political maneuver, and slight of hand trick of the friends of the present administration.

The undersigned admits that the circumstance of the minority being anxious for the promotion of a particular individual for the presidential chair may be a good reason for their opposition to the policy in the resolution recommended, but denied that that circumstance is of itself sufficient to alter the nature or the character of the policy recommended. The undersigned further protests against the indulgence asked on the part of the minority, to object against the passage of this resolution, because it does not embrace other productions of the United States, because in reality that minority suggests no such amendments except foreign distilled spirits and conceding that such a cause is calculated to impose upon the public and give such minority credit for principles they do not advocate. James Rariden.60

This is the very first instance of the tariff or internal improvements ever being discussed in the state General Assembly as a national issue, likely to effect a national election.

The Jackson men were not satisfied and insisted on urging the presidential question. On January 22, 1828, Senator John Milroy of Orange and Lawrence counties, read a resolution which was seconded, requesting the governor of this state to correspond with General Andrew Jackson relative to his construction of the constitution of the United States on the power of congress to appropriate money for the general system of internal improvements and their power to lay such protecting duties as will encourage domestic manufacturers, also to correspond with John Quincy Adams, President of the United States, relative to certain votes said to have been given by him in the senate of the United States against the organization of Louisiana and relative to a certain coalition said to have been formed between that gentleman and Mr. Clay.61

Mr. Milroy asked the senate to agree to pass the resolution by a unanimous vote. They refused to do this and Mr. Milroy withdrew the resolution. He had, however, brought the presidential contest into question again and it was not to be checked until it had forced the issue upon the Jackson men. Mr. Graham of Jackson, Scott, and Bartholomew, immediately offered the following resolution:

Whereas, The friends of General Jackson in the western states advocate his election on the grounds of his being friendly to internal improvements and the advocate of judicious tariff for the protection of American manufacturers; and

Whereas, The friends of the same distinguished individual in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi advocate

  • 60Senate Journal, 1827, p. 64.
  • 61Senate Journal, 1827, p. 225-226
his claim to the first office of the nation, on account of his opposition to the above measures or system of policy, therefore for the purpose of enabling the citizens of Indiana to ascertain what are the real sentiments of General Jackson and to give them an opportunity to vote understandingly at the next presidential election, in reference to these great interests.

Resolved, By the senate that his excellency, the governor, he requested to address a respectable letter to General Andrew Jackson, inviting him to state explicitly whether he favors that construction of the constitution of the United States which authorizes congress to appropriate money for the purpose of making internal improvements in the several states, and whether he is in favor of such a system of protective duties, for the benefit of American manufacturers, as will in all cases where the raw material and the ability to manufacture it exist in our country secure the patronage of our own manufacture to the exclusion of those of foreign countries. And whether, if elected President of the United States, he will in that capacity recommend, foster and support the American system.

Resolved, That his excellency, the governor, be requested as soon as he receives the answer of General Jackson to the letter contemplated in the preceding resolution, to cause the same to be published together with these resolutions in the newspapers of Indianapolis.62

This resolution carried by a vote of fourteen to five—Canby, Givens, Milroy, Simonson and Smiley forming the negative. The attempt of the Jackson men to have an embarrassing resolution submitted to Adams reacted and Jackson was the one to suffer the embarrassment, but not without a protest on the part of his friends. The next day, January 23, 1828, Senator John Milroy entered the following formal protest:

I do, for myself and the friends of General Jackson, protest against the resolution of this senate of the 22nd inst. for the following reasons, viz.: (1) That the resolution read in my place was not with any intention meant for record, but for the following reasons: That some of the friends of the administration had solicited some enactment or resolution to procure an explanation of his views on the subject of internal improvements and domestic manufacturers and had proposed a resolution which I desired to offer, which I agreed to on condition of having the right to alter, amend, change, etc., which was handed to me and on considering the propriety of such legislation did and do now consider such subjects improper subjects for legislation.

And further believing that General Jackson has made and given such evidence of his views on those subjects that any legislative pro-

  • 62Ibid., p. 225-226.
ceedings with a view to draw from him any further declaration on those subjects, would be a direct charge on his integrity and consistency as an honest man and politician.

His votes in the senate of the United States, will fully show that he is the firm and decided friend of internal improvements to the full extent that the friends of that system do themselves construe the constitution to authorize. And that his votes on the tariff of 1824 prove also that he did go as far as the friends of that system. From these numerous votes given by him and which stand recorded on the Journals of the senate of the United States, when he was a member, with letters which he has written to individuals using arguments to prove the propriety of such a system of domestic manufacture, and the propriety of protecting duties, etc.

Whereas, Though legislative proceedings on these subjects are by me considered as an atack on his integrity, I believe were his friends to write him that he would give his views in full which would shut the mouths of his enemies on such subjects.63

The next day, January 24, the members who supported the Graham resolution declared in a signed statement that they had no intention of drawing Jackson out on the subjects of Internal Improvements and the Tariff until Mr. Milroy started the controversy.64

On January 30, Governor Ray sent the Senate resolution to General Jackson, accompanied by a long letter with the questions:

Do you believe that congress has the right to appropriate money from the common treasury to make roads and canals?

Do you believe that congress has the power to make internal improvements through state sovereignties without the consent of the states or is it your opinion that that body can only appropriate money and put it under the agency of the state for application?

What are your present opinions of Tariff?

How far are you willing to go in imposing duties to protect American Manufacturers?

Are you a friend of the American system?

Are you in favor of the Woolens bill that was before the last congress?

Are you in favor of a protective tariff on imports?65

The governor assured the General that this letter was not dictated by any other motive than friendship.

  • 63Senate Journal, 1827, p. 249.
  • 64Senate Journal, 182'7, 260.
  • 65Western Sun and General Advertiser, April 19, 1828.

In reply Jackson said:


I have had the honor to receive your excellency's letter of the 30th ultimo inclosing resolutions of the state of Indiana, adopted as it appears with the view of ascertaining my opinions on certain political topics. The respect which I entertain for the executive and senators of your state, excludes from my mind the idea that an unfriendly intention dictated the interrogatories which are proposed. But I will confess my regret at being forced by this sentiment, to depart in the smallest degree from that determination on which I have always acted. Not, Sir, that I would wish to conceal my opinions from the people upon any political or national subjects; but as they were in various ways promulgated in 1824. I am apprehensive that my appearance before the public at this time, may be attributed, as has already been the case, to improper motives.

With these remarks I pray you, sir, to state to the senate of Indiana that my opinions at present are precisely the same as they were in 1823 and 1824, when they were communicated by letter to Dr. Coleman of North Carolina, and when I voted for the present tariff and for appropriations for internal improvements. As that letter was written when the divisions of sentiment, on this subject were as strongly marked as they are now, in relation both to the system, it is enclosed herein, and I beg the favor of your excellency to consider it a part of this communication. The occasion out of which it arose was embraced with a hope of preventing any doubt, misconstruction, or necessity for further inquiry respecting my opinions on the subject to which you refer particularly in those states which you have designated as cherishing a policy at variance with your own. To preserve our invaluable constitution and be prepared to repel the invasions of a foreign foe, by the practice of economy, and the cultivation within ourselves of the means of national defense and independence should be, it seems to me, the leading objects of any system which aspires to the name "American," and of every prudent administration of our government.

I trust, sir, that these general views taken in connection' with the letter enclosed and the votes referred to, will be received as a sufficient answer to the inquiries suggested by the resolution of the senate. I will further observe to your excellency that my views of constitutional power and American policy were imbibed in no small degree in the times and from the ages of the Revolution, and that my experience has not disposed me to forget their lessons. And in conclusion I will repeat that my opinions remain as they existed in 1823-1824 uninfluenced by the hopes of personal aggrandizements, and that I am sure, they will never deprive: me of the proud satisfaction of having always been a sincere and consistent Republican.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


  • 66Niles Register, May 3, 1828, also the Western Sun and General Advertiser, May 10, 1828.

The letter referred to was sent by General Jackson on April 26, 1824, to Dr. L. E. Coleman of Warrenton, North Carolina, in answer to an inquiry addressed by the Doctor to Jackson. It said in part:

You asked my opinions on the tariff. I answer that I am in favor of a judicious examination and revision of it, and so far as the tariff bill before us embraces the design of fostering, protecting and preserving within ourselves the means of national defense and independence particularly in the state of war I would advocate and support it. The experience of the late war [1812] ought to teach us a lesson and one never to be forgotten. If our liberty and republican form of government procured for us by our revolutionary fathers were worth the blood and treasure at which they were obtained, it surely is our duty to protect and defend them. Can there be an American patriot who saw the privations, dangers and difficulties experienced for the want of proper means of defense during the last war, who would be willing again to hazard the safety of our country if embroiled, or to rest it for defense on the precarious means of national resource to be derived from commerce in a state of war with a maritime power who might destroy that commerce to prevent us obtaining the means of defense and thereby subdue us. I am sure he does not deserve to enjoy the blessings of freedom. Heaven smiled upon and gave us liberty and independence. The same providence has blessed us with the means of national defense. If we omit or refuse to use the gifts which he has extended to us we deserve not the continuation of his blessing. He has filled our mountains and our plains with minerals-with lead, iron and copper, and given us climate and soil for the growing of hemp and wool. These being the grand materials of our national defense they ought to have extended to them adequate and fair protection that our manufacturers and laborers may be placed on a fair competition with those of Europe, and that we may have within our country a supply of those leading and important articles so essential in war.

Beyond this, I look at the tariff with an eye to the proper distribution of labor and to revenue; and with a view to discharge our national debt. I am one of those who do not believe a national debt a national blessing, but rather a curse to the republic: in so much as it is calculated to raise around the administration a monied aristocracy, dangerous to the liberties of the country. This tariff—I mean a judicious one—presages more fanciful than real dangers. I will ask what is the real situation of the agriculturist? Where has the American a market for his surplus product? Except for cotton he has neither a foreign nor a home market. Does not this clearly prove, when there is no market either at home or abroad that there is too much labor employed in agriculture, and that the channels of labor should be multiplied? Common sense at once

  • 67Niles' Register, June 12, 1824, also Western Sun and General Advertiser, May 10, 1828.
points out the remedy. Draw from agriculture this superabundance of labor; employ it in mechanism and manufacture, thereby creating a home market for your bread stuffs and distributing labor to the most profitable account, and benefit to the country will result. Take from agriculture in the United States six hundred thousand men, women and children, and you will at once give a home market for more breadstuffs than all Europe now furnishes us. In short, sir, we have been too long subject to the policy of British merchants. It is time that we should become a little more Americanized; and instead of feeding the paupers and laborers of England feed our own, or else in a short time by continuing our present policy we shall all be rendered paupers ourselves.

It is thereby my opinion that a careful and judicious tariff is much wanted to pay our national debt, and afford us the means of that defense within ourselves, on which the safety of our country and liberty depends; and last though not least give a proper distribution to our labor which must prove beneficial to the happiness, independence, and wealth of the community.

This is a short outline of my opinions generally on the subject of your inquiry and believing them correct and calculated to further the prosperity and happiness of my country, I declare to you, I would not barter them for any office or situation of temporal character that could be given me.

I have presented you with my opinions freely because I am without concealment and should indeed despise myself if I could believe myself capable of desiring the confidence of any means so ignoble.67

This letter of Jackson's proved to be one of the most history-making letters ever sent into the state. Until now the Jackson forces had been clinging to the personality of Jackson. They could justify themselves before the world by no reason or cause except righteous indignation that so just and honest a man as he should suffer through the workings of corrupt public men. Moreover they were met at every turn by the administration forces, with the cry of "measures, not men" and preaching internal improvements and protective tariff. The Jackson forces must have a principle a "measure" or their case was at least a difficult one. The word "judicious" in Jackson's letter to Dr. Coleman gave them their long desired measure. Hereafter, instead of being the "friends" to the election of Andrew Jackson," they were styled the friends of a "judicious tariff." As soon as the letter was published the Jacksonian press and politicians had their weapon to meet the challenge of the Adams forces. The Adams men in great numbers, and without stopping to analyze the real meaning of the letter—if it had any, flocked to the Jackson standard. Three of the Administration Central Committeemen, John Hartley, Michael Thom, and William Johnson, resigned and declared themselves in favor of Jackson.68 Hartley, in offering his resignation, said:

The plain, satisfactory and unequivocal declaration of General Jackson in his correspondence with Governor Ray upon the resolution of the senate of our state has wrought a thorough and complete change.

This was typical of the entire state. The Jackson forces gained strength daily while the Administration men seemed to realize that their cause was lost.

On February 22, 1828, the Jackson central committee met at Salem,69 and perfected the organization within the state by providing for the forming of new and filling up old correspondence committees in the various counties. It also nominated John C. Calhoun for the vice-presidency. The Western Sun and General Advertiser's account of a meeting in Gibson county is typical of the spirit and phraseology of campaign literature during the remainder of the year. It says:

A very numerous meeting of the Jacksonians friendly to the American System of Internal Improvements and to protecting agriculture and domestic manufacture by a judicious, just and fair tariff, that will protect in an equal degree the industry and surplus productions of each section of our common country, was held at the court house in Princeton, Gibson county, Indiana, on Saturday, April 26 1828. A committee of correspondence and vigilance committees were appointed and resolutions were passed commending Jackson's letter to Dr. Coleman.70

On May 5, this committee of correspondence provided for the distribution of one hundred copies of the address of the convention of April 26, also for the distribution of a hundred copies of the proceedings of the committee meetings.71 In this way the Coleman letter was put within reach of every voter in the state. The central committee met at various times through the year.72 Their work seems to have consisted in

  • 68Western Sun and General Advertiser, April 26, 1828.
  • 69Ibid., Mar. 16, 1828.
  • 70Ibid., May 31, 1828.
  • 71Ibid., May 31, 1828.
  • 72 The Western Sun and General Advertiser contains notices of meetings at Salem. 3rd Monday in April (12), 1st Monday in May (Apr. 26), Oct. 18, (Oct. 4, 1822).
sending out literature and directing the work of the various county committees of correspondence.

The tariff literature of the campaign was selected from all parts of the country. The Western Sun. and General Advertiser, the leading Jackson paper, published, on February 23, an extract from the OhioJackson convention address. It condemned the Adams administration for insincerity on the tariff and quoted extracts from the Coleman letter to show Jackson's attitude. It also called attention to his votes in the senate, March 8th and 15th it published a report of the committee on manufactures which recommend the alteration of several duties on imports, on April one from the National Journal to show that when the pending tariff bill was reported by the committee, the five Jackson members of this committee reported favorably while the two administration members were opposed. In the same issue it published an open letter by the Jackson central committee. This letter reviewed Jackson's record while in congress; emphasized the phrase "judicious tariff," charged that the Adams Administration was trying to strangle the whole tariff question and finally showed that the will of the people had been overthrown in the election of Adams. On June 14, it quoted a letter of Jackson to Colonel R. Paterson from the Maryland Advocate:

Upon the success of our domestic manufactures as the handmaid of agriculture and commerce depends in a great measure the independence of our country. And I assure you that no man can feel more sensibly than I do the necessity for protecting them.

While the Jackson committees and press were busy in the work of perfecting their organization and educating the voters, the Administration men were no less active. The work of organization was done fully as early by them as by their opponents. We have noticed that,73 "The friends of the Administration met at Princeton in Gibson county, February 19, 1828, and appointed committees of vigilance and correspondence for the several townships in the county." This was more than two months earlier than the Jackson convention which was held April 26. Their central committee was also just as active as the Jackson central committee. It met at Salem,

  • 73 Western Sun and General Advertiser, Mar. 8, 1828.
March 3, 1828.74 Bad weather prevented a full attendance and it adjourned until the third Monday in April, then to nominate a candidate for vice-president, also to appoint a candidate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Rev. James Armstrong, who gave as his reasons, religious duties. At the meeting on April 21, Richard Rush of Pennsylvania was nominated for the vice-presidency and Amaziah Morgan of Rush county was placed on the electoral ticket. They arranged for an address to the people of the state, enlarged the central committee, asked the secretaries to determine by correspondence the will of the people in the various counties and provided for call meetings. As in the case of their opponents the Administration forces selected their literature from the entire country. They used the address of the Virginia Anti-Jackson convention to the people. It showed that Jackson Was unqualified for the presidency.

The Jackson forces were called upon to meet a rather serious charge against their hero. The charge was made that Jackson had allowed six militiamen to be tried by court martial and put to death by shooting.76 He was severely criticised for it while the anti-administration papers were kept busy explaining and justifying. The evidence was carefully reviewed and mutiny was proven.77 It was shown that General Duncan McArthur, William Henry Harrison, and Washington had done the same thing. Finally the military documents of the case were published in full.78Jackson was also accused of voting for a property qualification for voters while in the Tennessee legislature.79 His attitude in the arrest of Aaron Burr on the charges of treason was seriously questioned and his friends had to justify his conduct.80 The question of religion was also brought into the campaign and Jackson was both defended and condemned by leading church people.81 In June, the newspapers and Jacksonian committees over the State had to warn the voters against a "garbled and spurious

  • 74Ibid., Mar. 22.
  • 76Western Sun and General Advertiser, Mar. 8, 1828.
  • 77Ibid., Mar. 8. 1828.
  • 78Ibid., Mar. 29, and June 14.
  • 79Ibid., May 31, 1828.
  • 80Ibid., July 12, 1828.
  • 81Ibid., Oct. 11, 1828.
life of Jackson."82 It proved Jackson to be one of the greatest dunces and blunderbusses in the world. Even in his military campaigns in every case where he won a victory it was most logically proven that he should have been defeated. The Western Sun and General Advertiser charged that83 it was franked into the First district by Colonel Blake who hoped to be elected to congress by the votes of the Jackson men.

Equally vile charges were made against Adams. It was charged that he was in favor of the slave trade.84 He WM also charged with driving away an old Revolutionary soldier seeking aid when he came to Washington.85 The Western Sun makes the incident the basis of a half column article condemning Adams. The article begins:

Ingratitude more strong than traitors' arms exemplified in the conduct of John Quincy Adams towards the patriots of the Revolution.86

While the Jackson forces were busy denying charges and making counter charges they were also busily lauding Jackson. Statements made in former years by Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, J. Q. Adams, H. Niles and others were published to prove Jackson's moral worth and his military ability.87 The editorial columns were largely devoted to him. The Western Sun and General Advertisers is characteristic of the Jackson press, when it says:

We appeal to the good sense of the people and ask them if it is republican, that all the treasure and highest honors should be poured out upon one individual. Had not Mr. Adams been well paid for the services he had ever rendered? Why should the public and private character of General Jackson be annulled upon the altar of Mr. Adams' ambition? Why do we see the poisoned arrows of envenomed slander hurled at the amiable partner of the patriot hero? Is it not that Mr. Adams may enjoy the pomp and pride of office for four years more.88

The open letter with questions meant to perplex but not be answered was also characteristic. The letters of "Southern" is typical of this kind of literature. He said:

  • 82 Ibid., June 21, 1828.
  • 83 Ibid., July 12, 1828.
  • 84 Ibid., May 31, 1828.
  • 85 Ibid., July 26, 1828.
  • 86 Ibid., Oct. 18. 1828.
  • 87 Ibid., July 18, and Oct. 25, 1828.
  • 88 Mar. 1, 1828.

The following remarks are addressed to the unprejudiced and moderate friends of the administration. We appeal to their good sense, to their knowledge of the events that have happened since 1789, and if they can reconcile with' their better judgment the support they give to Mr. Adams, we will have to admit the blindness of partiality which will not suffer reason to use and exercise all of its powers.89

He then reviews our history for the time mentioned. The speech of Francis Boylies of Massachusetts, copied in the Western Sun and General Advertiser (September 20, 1828), is typical of both the printed and spoken oration of the campaign as well as being an embodiment of the real feelings of the people on the subject. He said:

He (Jackson) had not the privilege of visiting the courts of Europe at the public expense and mingling with the kings and great men of the earth and of glittering in the beams of royal splendor. He grew up in the wilds of the West, but he was the noblest tree in the forest. He was not dandled into consequence by lying in the cradle of state, but inured from infancy to the storms and tempests of life, his mind was strengthened to fortitude and fashioned to wisdom.

As the time for the election approached there was evidence of corruption. The CincinnatiAdvertiser warned the people of Indiana that when it was too near election to correct the report, the Administration forces would start the report that General Jackson was dead.90 The distribution of tickets on election day and even prior to that day gave a chance for corruption, and Jackson papers complained of the use of a ticket headed "Jackson Electoral Ticket" but containing the names of three administration electors and two Jackson men.91 We find no record of irregular practice on the part of the Jacksonians. The explanation, no doubt, is in the lack of record rather than the lack of irregularities, for the Jackson forces were too wise to allow a chance of advantage to pass.

As election day approached the Western Sun and General Advertiser charged its readers in an editorial (October 25 and November 1).

  • 89Western Sun and General Advertiser, Sept. 20, 1828.
  • 90Western Sun and General Advertiser, Sept. 20, 1828.
  • 91Ibid., Nov. 15.


Freemen cheer the hickory tree. In storms its boughs have sheltered thee, O'er freedom's land its branches wave 'Twas planted on the Scion's grave.

Jacksonians, do your part. The day comes hastening apace when it is your indispensable duty to evince your gratitude to your country's savior by thrusting upon him your votes for the highest office within the gift of free men. Let nothing prevent you attending the polls. Let every one of you come and bring his neighbor. Lull not yourselves in the lap of security. The enemy are strong and powerful, but by united effort they can be beaten. They are backed by the power and patronage of the government, but we by the immutable justice of our cause. Let nothing discourage you. By union and concentration the battle can be won. Our numbers are sufficient but we have none to spare.

Indianians, the third day of next November will be the only opportunity you will ever have to vote for Andrew Jackson. Then why not make use of it? Arouse from your sleep of security. The enemy are at hand flushed with the spoils of a former triumph. Arise, return the honor of your country. Let it not hereafter be said that republics are ungrateful.

This passionate appeal closed the campaign.

The election returns showed that Jackson carried the State by 5,309.92 The Western Sun and General Advertiser rejoiced that a "backwoodsman" had been elected and insisted that it was a contest between Aristocracy and Democracy.94 In fact, it was as nearly so as the contest between Jefferson and the elder Adams, had been, for very nearly the same states that voted for Jefferson voted for Jackson, and those that voted for the first Adams also voted for his son. As a last admonition the Western Sun and General Advertiser said:

As the presidential election may be considered as ended, we advise the "hot tongued" of both parties "to keep cool" and to judge the tree by its fruits. Let no man now condemn General Jackson in anticipation of imaginary evils. Much, too much, of the vilest abuse has been illiberally showered on both the candidates for the presidency.95

The rejoicing over victory was not in proportion to the anger over defeat at the past election. The responsibility of office was a new burden that they had not considered, and the perplexity of the situation outweighed the rejoicing over victory. (To be continued.)

  • 92Western Sun and General Advertiser, Dec. 6, 1828.
  • 94 Dec. 27, 1828.
  • 95 Nov. 29, 1828.

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.