Cartoon Analysis: The Presidential Election of 1824
Use this primary source imagery to analyze major events in history.
- This Primary Source can be assigned to students along with The Corrupt Bargain Narrative.
Four candidates vied for the presidency in 1824: Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford of Georgia, Speaker of the House Henry Clay of Kentucky, U.S. senator and former U.S. Army general Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts. Although all four men ran as National Republicans, they each represented different regional interests. No candidate secured the 131 electoral votes needed to win the election, though Jackson received the largest share of the popular vote. With no winner in the Electoral College, the election was thrown to the House of Representatives. The House elected John Quincy Adams, a result denounced by Jackson supporters as a “corrupt bargain” and which has led some historians to label the election of 1824 as one of the most contentious and controversial elections in U.S. history.
- What was going on in the country at the time these cartoons were produced?
- Based on your knowledge of this time period, why is it significant to note the state each candidate came from?
- (Figure 1) Describe the members of the crowd. Do you think the crowd in this cartoon accurately represents U.S. society in 1824?
- (Figure 1) What do you think is the artist’s message?
- (Figure 2) How does the artist set Andrew Jackson apart from the other figures in this cartoon?
- (Figure 2) The artist quotes Shakespeare’s tragic play Coriolanus in the caption. Coriolanus was a successful Roman general who sought political leadership and was ultimately betrayed and killed. What message does this add to the cartoon?
Historical Analysis Questions
- Explain how these cartoons demonstrate that the Election of 1824 challenged the idea of an Era of Good Feelings.
- Some historians have labeled the election of 1824 as one of the most contentious and controversial elections in U.S. history. Consider the results of a presidential election in your lifetime. In what ways do these cartoons illustrate continuities with the press depiction of electoral candidates? In what ways do they represent a change?
A Foot Race – http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2008661728/
Caucus Curs – https://www.loc.gov/resource/pga.00005/