Theo Lippman Jr.

September 08, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

The 12th was held in 1832. President Andrew Jackson of Tennessee ran for re-election as head of the Democratic-Republican Party, the precursor of today's Democrats. His only serious opponent was the former secretary of state, senator and speaker of the House, Henry Clay of Kentucky.

Clay headed the National Republican Party. It was more or less merely an anti-Jackson party. The Anti-Masonic Party fielded a nuisance candidate.

This is the election in which national nominating conventions began. The Anti-Masons held the first ever national convention in a Baltimore saloon. The National Republicans and the Democratic-Republicans saw the wisdom of using a broad-based national institution to legitimize a nominee. They imitated the Anti-Masons, even meeting in the same saloon.

Jackson's refusal to recharter the United States Bank, a powerful, conservative, Eastern-oriented institution in Philadelphia, was the principal issue. The common man in the South and West stronly supported Jackson, and he swamped Clay with half again as many popular votes and 219 to 49 electoral votes.

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