U.S. Election of 1840 (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Two truly national parties campaign using tactics that will characterize future U.S. elections.
Summary of Event
The presidential election campaign of 1840 marked the beginning of a new era in U.S. politics: For the first time, two parties that were truly national in scope competed for the presidency. In every state, politics was now established on a two-party basis. This campaign also inaugurated the circus carnival atmosphere that was to characterize presidential elections. It represented the culmination of the democratic surge of the Jacksonian age. More U.S. citizens—2.4 million—voted in 1840 than in any previous election. They represented 78 percent of the electorate, a turnout rarely, if ever, equaled in a presidential election. Indeed, some historians have commented on the irony of the fact that the first true expression of the Jacksonian era’s mass political parties was to elect a Whig president.
The Whig Party, which was formed during Andrew Jackson’s second administration, was an aggregation of dissimilar groups. It included the old National Republicans, who had always been opposed to Jackson, former Anti-Masons, and many people who had supported Jackson in 1828 but later turned against him because of his stand on such major issues as nullification, federal aid to internal improvements, and the Bank of the United States. Some Democrats became Whigs because of Jackson’s...
(The entire section is 1437 words.)
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