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Sunday, December 26, 2010

A History of Slinging Cat Poop

I was watching some stuff on the History channel about the presidents of the United States. We run around today wringing our hands at the politicians in Warshington but it's fun to realize that it has pretty much always been this way, even all the way back to George Washington and likely way before that.

Of particular interest to me was the presidential election of 1824. This was evidently a time of particular political turmoil. In the first place there was only one official political party, the Democratic-Republican party. The Federalist party of Washington and John Adams had dissolved. Later on the Democratic-Republican party under Andrew Jackson would become the Democrat party and under John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay would emerge the National Republican party which would later become the Whig party.....WHAT A MESS!

The candidates in the election of 1824 were Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, (son of John Adams), William H. Crawford of Georgia, and Henry Clay of Kentucky who was Speaker of the House of Representatives at the time.

In this election nobody won a majority of the electoral votes. Jackson won the plurality of the electoral votes with 99. John Quincy Adams was second with 84, William H. Crawford, third with 41, and Henry Clay brought up the rear with 37.

A majority of electoral votes is required for a win. Since nobody had a majority, the 12th amendment of the constitution requires that the House of Representatives decide the election based on the top three candidates. Well, Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, was eliminated since he came in last. William H. Crawford suffered a stroke and dropped out, throwing his support between the two remaining candidates.

It turns out that Henry Clay had an intense hatred for Andrew Jackson and his policies, so now the election of 1824 is set to be decided by the House of  Representatives and Jackson's enemy, Henry Clay is large and in charge. Well, as they say on the Jay Leno Show......WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?

Well, as you might have suspected, the House of Representatives chose John Quincy Adams to be the 6th President pf the United States. Andrew Jackson and his followers were outraged.

John Quincy Adams appointed Henry Clay as his Secretary of State. The Jackson faithful accused Adams of making a "corrupt bargain". At the time, Secretary of State was a really big deal since the person holding this office was considered to be the heir apparent to the presidency. And so the cat fight had begun.

From what I have read about John Quincy Adams I gather he was basically an honorable and decent man, however, things just did not go well for him as president. In the wake of the election of 1824, Andrew Jackson and the Democrats hammered him at every turn. In 1826 he lost control of congress to the Democrats and became largely ineffectual and finally in 1828 he was destroyed by Andrew Jackson with Jackson winning over a 2 to 1 majority of the electoral vote.

I just have to look back at this and smile. I remember the outrage by the Democrats in 2000 when George W. Bush won the election with a minority of the popular vote (with the Supreme Court rendering the final decision). I have to think that pales in comparison to the election of 1824. Wouldn't it have been fun if that election had happened in the days of the internet, talk radio, and cable television? Cat poop would have been flying viciously in all directions! What fun it would have been!

The cool thing about all of this is that in both 1824 and 2000, the Constitution was being followed. Funny how those who support the Constitution by their words are suddenly not so happy with it, witnessed by their actions, when results are not to their liking.

There will be other elections (if we survive Hussein Obama) and rest assured, more cat fighting will occur.

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