The Presidential Election of 1824: The Election is in the House

John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824
Photo caption

John Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson in 1824 by garnering more electoral votes through the House of Representatives, even though Jackson originally received more popular and electoral votes.

The presidential election of 1824 represents a watershed in American politics. The collapse of the Federalist Party and the illness of the "official candidate" of the Democratic-Republicans led to a slate of candidates who were all Democratic-Republicans. This led to the end of the Congressional Caucus system for nominating candidates, and eventually, the development of a new two-party system in the United States. In the election, Andrew Jackson won a plurality of both the popular and electoral vote. But John Quincy Adams became president. Four crucial elements of our election system were highlighted in the election of 1824: the nomination of candidates, the popular election of electors, the Electoral College, and the election of the president in the House when no candidate receives a majority in the Electoral College.

In this unit, students will read an account of the election from the Journal of the House of Representatives, analyze archival campaign materials, and use an interactive online activity to develop a better understanding of the election of 1824 and its significance.

Guiding Questions

Why was the election of 1824 decided in the House of Representatives?

Who were the candidates in 1824?

What were the important issues in the campaign of 1824?


How did John Quincy Adams win election in 1824?

Learning Objectives

Summarize relevant portions of the Constitution on presidential election procedures.

Explain why the election of 1824 was decided in the House of Representatives.

Cite examples from presidential campaign materials from 1824.

Explain how John Quincy Adams won election in 1824.

Take a stand, supported by evidence, on whether or not there was a "corrupt bargain" between Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams.