History : Nov-Dec 2016
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY 81 Andrew Jackson was the wild card of the race. People all over the country knew his legend: He had killed a man in a duel after being shot in the chest, fought alongside Davy Crockett to decimate a force of Red Stick warriors from the Creek tribe, won millions of acres for settlers in treaties imposed on Indian tribes, and anni- hilated the British force at New Orleans while losing only thirteen men. Newspapers wrote lavish profiles; supporters compared him to“the immortal Washington.” Jackson was also the first candidate to“run against Washington.” He had the military man’s scorn for the pettiness and haggling of political life, to which he joined an unflagging faith in his own honor. In the first months of 1824 the political odds favored William Crawford. Over the summer Crawford had suffered a de- bilitating stroke, but he was protected by the prohibition against public ap- pearances by candidates. The Georgian was widely expected to carry the South, thanks in part to a tacit endorsement from Thomas Jefferson. However, when Crawford suffered another stroke, in May, Henry Clay wrote exultantly to a confidante that the Georgian would soon die. The stroke had left Crawford nearly blind and had so impaired his circulation that he walked around with thick layers of cloth wrapped around his freezing feet. But Crawford, a huge, robust man, would recover once again and stay in the race. Clay was the one candidate who could be said to be“running”for president. He had a platform, and he gave long, impassioned speeches on his favorite topics. But he knew very well that policy, by itself, would not carry the day. He needed his friends to neutralize his rivals and influence prominent men. Adams, meanwhile, was, if not running, then at least unmistakably stand- ing. His front door was spinning with friends, would-be friends, and friends of his rivals: At the end of March he re- corded in his journal that he had received 235 visitors that month, or 8 a day, taking up at least four hours. Adams increasingly found that he needed to offer reassurances not only about 2000 WHITE HOUSE HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENTIAL PLATES James Monroe’s bold White House china service (below) features a red band with symbolic illustrations representing Strength, the Arts, Commerce, the Sciences, and Agriculture.