The Birth of Modern Politics

The Birth of Modern Politics

Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828

Book - 2009
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The 1828 presidential election, which pitted Major General Andrew Jackson against incumbent John Quincy Adams, has long been hailed as a watershed moment in American political history. It was the contest in which an unlettered, hot-tempered southwesetern frontiersman, trumpeted by hissupporters as a genuine man of the people, soundly defeated a New England "aristocrat" whose education and political resume were as impressive as any ever seen in American public life. It was, many historians have argued, the country's first truly democratic presidential election. Lynn HudsonParsons argues that it also established a pattern in which two nationally organized political parties would vie for power in virtually every state. During the election of 1828 voters were introduced to a host of novel campaign tactics, including co-ordinated media, get-out-the-vote efforts,fund-raising, organized rallies, opinion polling, campaign paraphernalia, ethnic voting blocs, "opposition research," and smear tactics. In The Birth of Modern Politics, Parsons shows that the Adams-Jackson contest began a national debate that is eerily contemporary, pitting those whose cultural, social, and economic values were rooted in community action for the common good against those who believed the common good was bestserved by giving individuals as much freedom as possible to promote their own interests. It offers fresh and illuminating portraits of both Adams and Jackson and reveals how, despite their vastly different backgrounds, they had started out with many of the same values, admired one another, and hadoften been allies in common causes. Both were staunch nationalists, and both shared an aversion to organized parties and "electioneering." But by 1828, caught up in a shifting political landscape, they were plunged into a competition that separated them decisively from the Founding Fathers' era and ushered in a style of politics that is still with us today.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.
ISBN: 9780195312874
Branch Call Number: 324.70973 PAR
Characteristics: xviii, 252 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations ;,24 cm.


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May 16, 2011

What an interesting premise for a book? An obscure election almost two hundred years ago. Federalists, Jeffersonian Democrat-Republicans, Whigs, Jacksonian Democrats...
And yet, what an intriguing story. Parsons states his case clearly: the election of 1828 is where the genteel (and backroom) silk-stocking and tri-cornered hat politics of the Revolution gave way to the noisy mass-participatory presidential elections we understand today.
I really enjoyed this book.

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