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Departments of History, Political Economy, and
THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN OF 1832
SAMUEL RHEA GAMMON, JR., PH.D.
THE JOHNS HOPKINS PRESS
An account of the presidential campaign of 1832, it may be well to state, cannot be confined solely to that presidential year, as might perhaps be done with a present day national campaign. Today our sharply differentiated, permanently organized parties have a definite political machinery which functions rapidly and efficiently in designating their candidates and in stating the platforms upon which they will go before the country. Consequently our national campaigns now are limited wholly to the presidential year, one might almost say to the time embraced between April and November of that year. This speed and precision of operation is due largely to our superior means of travel and communication.
Presidential campaigns during the period 1824-1832 were facilitated by no such present-day means as railroads, telegraphs, telephones, good roads and automobiles. Then, the circulation of both individual and information was limited by such speed as could be extracted from equine motive power traveling over roads which often hardly merited the name. This state of affairs the river steamboat did little to improve owing to its limited application. For this, if for no other reason, presidential campaigns were of much longer duration then than now. In addition, it was a period of political change; new parties were developing, party principles were becoming fixed, and new methods of choosing candidates were being tried. All these causes operated to make the presidential campaign of the period an affair of never less than two years' duration. That such was the case is shown by the fact that the campaign of 1824 was well under way before the close of 1822, that of 1828 began as soon as its predecessor closed, and the opening of that of 1832, by no stretch of imagination, can be put later than July 4, 1830, the date Clay's campaign for the presidency was launched.