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From Democrat to Free Soiler

October 14, 2013

President John Quincy Adams lost the 1828 presidential election to General Andrew Jackson, but due to the election system of that day, Adams’s Vice President was re-elected and served the next four years under Jackson.   Four years later President Jackson won re-election with a new running mate, Martin Van Buren.  In 1836 Jackson endorsed Van Buren who then was elected President.

Van Buren had been an efficient behind the scenes operator – he has sometimes been called “the inventor of the Democratic Party” – but he lacked the popular appeal of his predecessor.  The Depression of 1837 further distanced Van Buren from the people’s hearts.  He lost his bid for re-election in 1840 and his bid for the Democratic nomination in 1844.

As President, Van Buren had been opposed to abolishing slavery in Washington, D.C. without the South’s approval and against ending slavery where it already existed. Meanwhile, former President John Quincy Adams had returned to Washington as U.S. Representative from his home district in Massachusetts and had become a bold antislavery spokesman.  On February 21, 1848 he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on the floor of the House.  He died two days later in the Speaker’s Room inside the U.S. Capitol.

Later that same year Martin Van Buren ran for President on the antislavery Free Soil ticket.  Again he was defeated, but at least he had stood for a good cause.  He also had a notable running mate: Charles Francis Adams, son of the recently deceased former President.





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