Introduction to John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson

What you’ll learn to do: explain the new style of American politics in the 1820s and how it influenced the election and policies of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson

A cropped photo of a painting of John Quincy Adams. He is sitting in a chair and holds a book in his left hand.

The early 1800s saw an age of deference and social hierarchy give way to universal manhood suffrage and a new type of political organization based on party loyalty. The election of 1824 was a fight among Democratic-Republicans that ended up pitting southerner Andrew Jackson against northerner John Quincy Adams. When Adams won through political negotiations in the House of Representatives, Jackson’s supporters derided the election as a “corrupt bargain.” The Tariff of 1828 further stirred southern sentiment, this time against a perceived bias in the federal government toward northeastern manufacturers. At the same time, the tariff stirred deeper fears that the federal government might take steps that could undermine the system of slavery.

The Democratic-Republicans’ “corrupt bargain” that brought John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay to office in 1824 also helped to push them out of office in 1828. Jackson used it to highlight the cronyism of Washington politics. Supporters presented him as a true man of the people fighting against the elitism of Clay and Adams. Jackson rode a wave of populist fervor all the way to the White House, ushering in the ascendency of a new political party: the Democrats. Although Jackson ran on a platform of clearing the corruption out of Washington, he rewarded his own loyal followers with plum government jobs, thus continuing and intensifying the cycle of favoritism and corruption.