Look Below, together as a class we will answer the questions on the painting.
- According to The County Election (picture above), who participated in elections? Who was excluded?
- How did Bingham (the painter) explain the enormous popular participation in politics? What drew so many people into politics?
- Why might elections in rural areas have become important social gatherings?
- How important were political candidates, issues, and party loyalties?
- How engaged are the voters?
- Who are the men in the top hats? What are they doing? How does Bingham portray them? How do they relate to ordinary voters?
- What do you think Bingham’s attitude toward elections was?
- Did he see them as serious exercises of democracy, as farce (fake), or as something in between?
- What was his attitude toward the electorate? Did he see voters as serious well informed men or as manipulated dupes?
- What does the painting say about elections in a democracy in which common people can cast ballots?
Election of 1828
- United States presidential election of 1828, American presidential election held in 1828, in which Democrat Andrew Jackson defeated National Republican John Quincy Adams.
- The election of 1828 was arguably one of the most significant in United States history, ushering in the era of political campaigns and paving the way for the solidification of political parties. The previous election, of 1824, had seen John Quincy Adams become president although his opponent Andrew Jackson had earned the most electoral votes.
- Because no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote, however, that election was decided by the House of Representatives in Adams’s favor after fellow candidate and Speaker of the House Henry Clay (who finished fourth) threw his support behind Adams.
- Adams subsequently appointed Clay his secretary of state, giving merit to rumors of a “corrupt bargain” in the eyes of Jackson supporters.
- During the contested election of 1824, followers of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams began calling themselves National Republicans, and supporters of Andrew Jackson emerged as Democratic Republicans.
- By the election of 1828, the Jacksonians had become known simply as the Democrats. Unlike previous elections, in which the parties’ congressional delegations would generally gather to nominate a candidate (this had failed to coalesce support around a single candidate among the Democratic-Republicans in 1824), this election was the first in which a majority of states held conventions to endorse a candidate.
- By 1828 selection of presidential electors was being decided by the voters in all but two states, and public opinion was becoming more important than ever before. Jackson’s supporters established pro-Jackson newspapers and helped to distribute information and election material. Both sides organized rallies, parades, and other public events to promote their chosen candidate.
- The mudslinging was fierce from Jackson’s supporters, portraying Adams not only as a “corrupt bargainer” but also as an unscrupulous aristocrat who had misappropriated tax dollars.
- In the end, with 178 electoral votes to Adams’s 83, Jackson became the first president to gain office by a direct appeal to the mass of voters rather than through the support of a recognized political organization.