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What was the corrupt bargain of the 1824 election?

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Quick Answer

The 1824 Presidential election featured a deal between Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams that kept Andrew Jackson from becoming president, instead putting Adams in the Oval Office and Clay in the role of Secretary of State.

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Full Answer

American politics in 1824 were very different than they are in modern times. Rather than having a sharp polarity between two parties, this election only featured candidates from one party; however, there were five who stood for election. The Electoral College gave 99 votes to Andrew Jackson, the fiery general who had been America's hero in beating the British during the War of 1812. John Quincy Adams came in a close second with 84. However, Jackson did not have a majority of the electoral votes, which was the requirement for becoming President.

Henry Clay had come in fourth in the electoral college results, and he was committed to keeping Jackson out of office. He put together a coalition of votes in the House of Representatives that gave the election to Adams. The alliance between Adams and Clay was seen as a symbol of the power of the elite over the common man, a theme which Jackson would use in the 1828 election as he swept to victory.

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