New Hampshire

Jackson, N.H. Gets a New Name

The election of 1824 didn’t really end until 1825, or, some would argue, until 1828, when one of the bitterest contests in American politics finally came to a close and Andrew Jackson won the presidency. In Jackson, N.H. it didn’t end until 1829.

A campaign flyer showing  future President Andrew Jackson hanging President John Quincy Adams.

A campaign flyer showing future President Andrew Jackson hanging President John Quincy Adams.

Andrew Jackson had won the popular vote in the four-way presidential election of 1824 (though not a majority) and he was the top vote getter in the Electoral College. Just one problem, he didn’t receive the majority in the Electoral College, which meant the House of Representatives got to choose the president.

They decided they liked Massachusetts’ John Quincy Adams better, the second-place finisher in the voting, and so they installed him as president.

Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans, was outraged. He immediately began campaigning for the 1828 election. Convinced that Henry Clay, speaker of the house from Kentucky, had thrown the election to Adams in exchange for appointment to Secretary of State, Jackson determined to reverse the decision in the next election.

The gloves came off. Adams’ supporters made hay with Jackson’s history as a slave owner and the fact that he had killed men while dueling and his history as a gambler.

Jackson’s people accused Adams of sleeping with his wife before they were married and they accused him of procuring prostitutes for Russia’s Czar Alexander I when he was serving as minister to Russia and negotiating lucrative trade deals with the country.

The charges and counter charges flew over every imaginable issue. Adams’ side topped it all, however, with a charge that Jackson’s mother was a prostitute and that his wife Rachel was an adulteress because she had married Jackson before his first marriage was officially ended.

When the mud settled, Jackson had won the election of 1828, but lost his wife, who died of heart failure, probably brought on by the stress of the harsh campaign attacks. The election didn’t end the animosity. When the election results were announced, Jackson supporters stormed the White House and forced Adams to depart while the White House staff set up bowls of punch to lure the drunken crowd back outside.

Across the country, the hostilities spilled out in many ways. In a tiny New Hampshire town, known as Adams, it resulted in a name change. Adams had originally been established as New Madbury, then in 1800 its name changed to Adams to honor John Adams, the president.

In 1829, at the urging of Jackson supporters, including Governor Benjamin Pierce, the town voted to change its name again: to Jackson, N.H.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Bobo Leach

    September 17, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Interesting!

  2. Cecily Muller

    September 17, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I hope all read the above. It is a very interesting part of history; at times, John Adams could not do anything right, or as far as his fellow constituents thought. A great man, trying to put things in order, left him friendless for a while.

  3. Patricia Young

    September 17, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    And we think campaigning is rough now!

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