1844 Presidential Elections - History

1844 Presidential Elections - History

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1844 Election Results Polk VS Clay

The primary issue in the 1840 election was the economy. By 1844 the most important question facing voters was the future of American expansionism. The question of the annexation of Texas had become a political issue. However, both the expected Democratic nominee, former President Van Buren, and the expected Whig nominee Clay, agreed not to make Texas a point in the campaign.

At the Democratic convention, in Baltimore, in May 1844, many Democrats opposed President Van Buren's position on Texas. Van Buren did not receive the required 2/3 vote. As a result, the convention seemed near a deadlock. Finally, on the ninth ballot, the convention swung behind James Polk. This was the first time that a dark horse (an unknown) received the nomination.

The Democratic party endorsed a platform that called for the annexation of Texas and the reoccupation of Oregon. It also stood against federal improvement and the resurrection of the Bank of the United States. The Whigs nominated Henry Clay, unanimously.

In April of 1844, President Tyler had dropped his "Texas bombshell," as it had become known when he submitted a treaty for the annexation of Texas. This framed the election campaign. Questions of Manifest Destiny and Slavery dominated the campaign.

Clay was the early front runner and expected to have a comfortable victory. His opposition to the annexation of Texas lost him support in the South. The fact he was a slave owner lost him support in the North. A third party abolitionist candidate named James Birney siphoned off enough support in the North to deny Clay a win in New York, which would have guaranteed his election victory. This election was very personal, with newspaper attacks calling Polk "a coward" and Clay a "drunkard." James Polk won the election.

State results in 1844

Popular Results in 1844

AlabamaJames Polk37,40159.0Henry Clay26,00241.0
ArkansasJames Polk9,54663.0Henry Clay5,60437.0
ConnecticutJames Polk29,84146.2Henry Clay32,83250.8
DelawareJames Polk5,97048.7Henry Clay6,27151.2
GeorgiaJames Polk44,14751.2Henry Clay42,10048.8
IllinoisJames Polk58,79553.9Henry Clay45,85442.0
IndianaJames Polk70,18350.1Henry Clay67,86648.4
KentuckyJames Polk51,98845.9Henry Clay61,24954.1
LouisianaJames Polk13,78251.3Henry Clay13,08348.7
MaineJames Polk45,71953.8Henry Clay34,37840.5
MarylandJames Polk32,70647.6Henry Clay35,98452.4
MassachusettsJames Polk53,03940.2Henry Clay67,06250.8
MichiganJames Polk27,73749.9Henry Clay24,18543.5
MississippiJames Polk25,84657.4Henry Clay19,15842.6
MissouriJames Polk41,32257.0Henry Clay31,20043.0
New HampshireJames Polk27,16055.2Henry Clay17,86636.3
New JerseyJames Polk37,49549.4Henry Clay38,31850.5
New YorkJames Polk237,58848.9Henry Clay232,48247.8
North CarolinaJames Polk39,28747.6Henry Clay43,23252.4
OhioJames Polk149,12747.8Henry Clay155,09149.7
PennsylvaniaJames Polk167,31150.4Henry Clay161,19548.6
Rhode IslandJames Polk4,86739.9Henry Clay7,32260.0
TennesseeJames Polk59,91749.9Henry Clay60,04050.1
VermontJames Polk18,04137.0Henry Clay26,77054.9
VirginiaJames Polk50,67953.0Henry Clay44,86047.0

United States presidential election of 1844

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United States presidential election of 1844, American presidential election held in 1844 in which Democratic candidate James K. Polk defeated Whig candidate Henry Clay with 170 electoral votes to Clay’s 105.

Questioning Tyler’s legitimacy: ‘His Accidency’

Just 31 days after the inauguration, however, Tyler was stirred from his sleep by a rap on the door and given the news that Harrison had become the first American commander-in-chief to die in office. Upon returning to the nation’s capital, Tyler took the presidential oath, angering strict constructionists who argued that the Constitution only specified that, when a president died, the vice president would inherit presidential “powers and duties”—not the office itself. Former president John Quincy Adams wrote that Tyler was “in direct violation both of the grammar and context of the Constitution,” and eight senators voted against a resolution recognizing Tyler as the new president.

Those questioning Tyler’s legitimacy nicknamed the president “His Accidency.” Fellow Whigs would soon call him much worse.

The new president scoffed at his first cabinet meeting when Secretary of State Daniel Webster informed him that Harrison had agreed to abide by the majority decision of the cabinet on any policy matter𠅎ven if he was personally opposed. “I can never consent to being dictated to,” Tyler informed his cabinet. “I am the president, and I shall be responsible for my administration.” He made it clear he would neither serve as an interim �ting president” nor carry out all of his predecessor’s agenda, which included re-establishment of a national bank and protective tariffs.

From Whistle Stops to Television Spots: A Brief History of Presidential Campaigns

Since the founding of the nation, this United States has had a president in office. This fact has not changed over the years, but the campaign leading up to the election has. In the country’s formative years, it was practically unheard of for a presidential candidate to actively campaign for office. The letter below, written by James K. Polk to the Democratic National Convention in 1844, exemplifies this. In it, Polk, who went on to win the 1844 presidential election, famously states: “It has been well observed that the office of President of the United States should neither be sought nor declined.” Instead, surrogates would often campaign on behalf of the candidates, with the candidates primarily working to win support behind the scenes. Some Americans agreed with Polk and felt that it was improper for a candidate to actively campaign, while others wanted to hear more from those seeking the highest office in the land.

William McKinley delivers his famous “front-porch campaign” speech in Canton, Ohio during the 1896 presidential election. Source: Ohio History Connection

Presidential campaigns, however, soon started to shift. Instead of remaining silent, candidates began to give speeches, often referred to as “stump speeches.” William McKinley gave a variant on this during the 1896 campaign when he delivered a speech on his front porch. This became the centerpiece of his so-called “front-porch campaign,” and he continued to deliver speeches from his home. His opponent, William Jennings Bryan, chose instead to conduct a “whistle-stop campaign,” traveling the country by railroad and giving speeches at various train stops. While Bryan lost the election, future candidates would also conduct “whistle-stop” campaigns with greater success—in 1932, for instance, Franklin D. Roosevelt embarked on a countrywide tour, visiting 41 states and making hundreds of addresses and train stations appearances along the way. The campaign generated considerable enthusiasm and helped sweep FDR to victory.

‘“Blowing” himself around the country,’ a political cartoon by John S, Pughe, depicts presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan during his whistle-stop campaign. Source: Library of Congress

Campaigns continued to evolve throughout the 20 th century. The invention of the television paved the way for presidential debates, much like the ones we see prior to modern-day elections. Televised presidential debates are a staple of today’s campaigns, but this was not the case until recently. In 1960, the first televised Presidential debate between candidates Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy took place. Primary debates—as candidates jockeyed for their party’s nomination—had taken place prior to this one, but this marked the first time that candidates from different parties debated on television. The debate helped to tip the election in JFK’s favor, as his youth and charisma impressed and swayed voters.

Even after the Nixon-Kennedy debates, televised debates did not become regular practice until the next general presidential debate occurred between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in 1976. Since then, there has been a general presidential debate for every election. The 2004 general presidential debate marked the first time that the Commission on Presidential Debates publicly released a Memorandum of Understanding, outlining the agreed-upon rules, prior to the debate.

Page 57, Volume 2 of The Prospect Before Us, a pamphlet by James Callender, called John Adams’ character “hideous and hermaphroditical,” a quote often misattributed to Thomas Jefferson. Source: Monticello Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

Technological advancements—from the radio to the television to the internet—have also transformed the ways candidates reach and advertise their platforms to voters. Today, most candidates now have websites and social media accounts dedicated to their campaigns. This trend took off in 2008 when Barack Obama used more than a dozen social media platforms to connect with the public, most notably Twitter. With these newer technologies, however, candidates still continue to use similar tactics as their predecessors—traveling the country to meet and address voters, for instance.

Other campaign tactics that have stood the test of time include catchy jingles, political cartoons, and smear campaigns, even if the candidates themselves did not take part in them. One of the first iterations of a smear campaign emerged during the third US Presidential campaign when supporters of both nominees published pamphlets bashing John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Candidates and their supporters also used jingles to criticize their opponents—predecessors to today’s attack ads. During the 1884 presidential campaign, for instance, a jingle circulated claiming that candidate Grover Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child. Political cartoons—generated by campaigns, newspapers, and satirists alike—have been used throughout the years some favor one candidate over another while others simply praise or criticize one candidate in particular. Advertisements of all kinds have also been prevalent throughout campaign history, ranging from basic newspaper advertisements to highly-produced television spots.

Over the years, presidential campaigns have both evolved and adhered to longstanding traditions. Mediums may have changed, but some of the basics of campaigning have not—and we will most likely continue to see the same historic strategies for years to come.

A political cartoon by Clifford Berryman depicting Harry S. Truman and Thomas E. Dewey during the election of 1948. The cartoon relays overwhelming support for Dewey in the polls and the belief that Dewey would win the election. Truman ended up winning the election, making it one of the biggest political upsets in American history. Source: The National Archives

Interested in exploring artifacts from campaigns past? Cartoonists Herbert Block and Clifford Berryman drew multitudes of political cartoons directed at presidents and presidential candidates throughout the 20 th century. Some of their work can be found on the websites of the Library of Congress and National Archives. Visit this PBS webpage to view the Memorandum of Understanding for the 2004 presidential debate.


The incumbent President in 1844 was John Tyler, who had ascended to the office of President upon the death of William Henry Harrison. Although Tyler had been nominated on a Whig ticket, his policies had alienated the Whigs and they actually kicked him out of the party on September 13, 1841. Without a home in either of the two major parties, Tyler sought an issue that could create a viable third party to support his bid for the presidency in 1844.

Tyler found that issue in the annexation of Texas. When Texas had achieved its independence in 1836, it had initially sought to be annexed by the United States. Opposition from the northern states had prevented the United States from acting favorably on this request, and so in 1838 Texas withdrew its request. There the issue lay until 1843, when Tyler and his newly minted Secretary of State, Abel P. Upshur, took the issue up again and started negotiations on annexation. When Upshur was killed in an accident on February 28, 1844, the treaty was almost complete. Tyler appointed John C. Calhoun Secretary of State as Upshur's replacement, and Calhoun completed the treaty, presenting it to the Senate on April 22. However, Calhoun had also sent a letter to British Minister Richard Pakenham which charged the British with attempting to coerce Texas into abolishing slavery and which justified the annexation as a defensive move to preserve southern slavery, and Calhoun presented the letter to Senate as well. Thus, going into the presidential campaign season, Texas annexation explicitly tied to southern slavery had suddenly emerged as the top issue.

1844 Presidential Election

The United States presidential election of 1844 saw Democrat James Knox Polk defeat Whig Henry Clay in a close contest that turned on foreign policy, with Polk favoring the annexation of Texas and Clay opposed.

Democratic nominee James K. Polk ran on a platform that embraced American territorial expansionism, an idea soon to be called Manifest Destiny. At their convention, the Democrats called for the annexation of Texas and asserted that the United States had a “clear and unquestionable” claim to “the whole” of Oregon. By informally tying the Oregon boundary dispute to the more controversial Texas debate, the Democrats appealed to both Northern expansionists (who were more adamant about the Oregon boundary) and Southern expansionists (who were more focused on annexing Texas as a slave state). Polk went on to win a narrow victory over Whig candidate Henry Clay, in part because Clay had taken a stand against expansion, although economic issues were also of great importance.

This was the last presidential election to be held on different days in different states, as starting with the presidential election of 1848 all states held the election on the same date in November.

James Polk (1795-1849) served as the 11th U.S. president from 1845 to 1849. As president, he reduced tariffs, reformed the national banking system and settled a boundary dispute with the British that secured the Oregon Territory for the United States.

President Andrew Johnson Was Born in Raleigh, North Carolina. If you looked only at Andrew Johnson’s childhood, you would never guess that he would rise to the highest office of the United States. The 17th president of the United States, Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on December 29, 1808.

1844 United States presidential election in Vermont

The 1844 United States presidential election in Vermont took place between November 1 and December 4, 1844, as part of the 1844 United States presidential election. Voters chose six representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.

Vermont voted for the Whig candidate, Henry Clay, over Democratic candidate James K. Polk and Liberty candidate James G. Birney. Clay won Vermont by a margin of 17.88%.

With 54.84% of the popular vote, Vermont would prove to be Henry Clay's second strongest state after Rhode Island. The Green Mountain State would also prove to be James G. Birney's third strongest state after New Hampshire and Massachusetts. [1]

1844 United States presidential election in Vermont [2]
Party Candidate Running mate Popular vote Electoral vote
Count % Count %
Whig Henry Clay of Kentucky Theodore Frelinghuysen of New York 26,780 54.84% 6 100.00%
Democratic James K. Polk of Tennessee George M. Dallas of Pennsylvania 18,049 36.96% 0 0.00%
Liberty James G. Birney of Michigan Thomas Morris of Ohio 3,970 8.13% 0 0.00%
N/A Others Others 30 0.06% 0 0.00%
Total 48,829 100.00% 6 100.00%
  1. ^"1844 Presidential Election Statistics". Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections . Retrieved 2018-03-05 .
  2. ^
  3. "1844 Presidential General Election Results - Vermont". U.S. Election Atlas . Retrieved 23 December 2013 .

This Vermont elections-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

Is Al Gore Or John Kerry Viable As A Presidential Candidate In 2016? The History Of Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, And Richard Nixon!

Speculation has risen not only that Vice President Joe Biden might announce for President, but also that former Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State John Kerry, both who lost the Presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively, might decide to try for the White House yet again.

Although Hillary Clinton seems to many like a shoo-in for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, there are signs of discontent with her, and feelings among many that she is too secretive, not trustworthy, and not all that likable.

The odds are still heavily in favor of her nomination, but there are many who feel Biden, and possibly Gore and or Kerry, should consider running, as it is felt that Bernie Sanders, while performing well right now in regards to crowds and fund raising, ultimately cannot be expected to win the nomination, with his Socialist connections being harmful, due to many Americans misunderstanding the term, and being told it is harmful and dangerous.

But the question arises about Gore and Kerry, that they have both been out of the Presidential game for a very long time, with Gore out 16 years and having no public office since his loss in 2000, despite having won the popular vote over George W. Bush and Kerry, having served in the Senate after his defeat, until he became Secretary of State after Hillary Clinton left the State Department in 2013, but being out of the Presidential race for 12 years by 2016.

So history is a guide here.

It turns out four Presidential candidates had been out of the Presidential field for very long times, as follows:

Henry Clay lost the Presidential race in 1824, and then 8 years later in 1832, he was nominated again. Then 12 years later, in 1844, he was nominated for the third and last time. Twelve years is a long time!

Abraham Lincoln last held public office in 1848, when he left the House of Representatives after one 2 year term. But then, 12 years later, he ran for President and won!

Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for Vice President in 1920 and lost, and then was sidelined by polio, not running again for public office until 8 years later, when he won the Governorship of New York in 1928. Four years later, and 12 years after losing the Vice Presidency, he won the Presidency in 1932!

Finally, Richard Nixon lost the Presidency in 1960 and lost, then ran for California Governor in 1962 and lost, and yet came back 6 years later, after 8 years out of office, and yet won the Presidential Election of 1968!

Are Al Gore and John Kerry as long shots as Clay, Lincoln, FDR, and Nixon were?

That is the issue to confront, and this author would say that while both of them seem “long shots”, we have had other “long shots”, who few thought had a chance to win the Presidency, and in recent times yet—John F. Kennedy (Catholic issue) in 1960 Jimmy Carter (Southern issue) in 1976 Bill Clinton (Sex Scandal issue) in 1992 and Barack Obama (Race issue) in 2008!

Watch the video: The American Presidential Election of 1844


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