It seems clear that Jackson honestly meant to spend the rest of his days at the Hermitage. His friend Eaton, a Senator from Tennessee, had already written his life down to New Orleans, and probably he would have been content, so far as his public career was concerned, to let finis follow the name of his greatest victory. But Eaton himself, and Major Lewis, and other friends, and the vast public which his deeds had stirred, would not let him alone. Within a year of his retirement, a group of his friends were working shrewdly to make him President of the United States. In 1823, John Williams, who was an enemy to Jackson, came before the Tennessee legislature for reelection to the United States Senate. Jackson's friends were determined to beat him, and found they could do it in only one way. They elected Jackson himself. In that, as in all the clever political work that was done for him, Major Lewis was the leading man. Before the time came to choose a successor to President Monroe in 1824, Tennessee had declared for her foremost citizen, and Pennsylvania, to the surprise of the country, soon followed the lead. The sceptre was about to pass from the Virginian line, and from all the great sections of the Union distinguished statesmen stepped forward to grasp it. From Georgia came William H. Crawford, a practiced politician ; from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun, the subtlest of reasoners ; from Kentucky, Henry Clay, the orator; from Massachusetts, John Quincy Adams, the best drained of public servants. Only Tennessee offered a soldier.
It was twenty-six years from the end of Jackson's first service in Congress to his second appearance in the Senate. Again he showed himself unfit to shine as a legislator, but in spite of that he was now clearly the most marked figure in the upper house. None of his rivals were Senators. Clay was the Speaker of the House ; Adams, Crawford, and Calhoun were in the Cabinet. Jackson probably did not occupy more than ten minutes of the Senate's time during the whole session, but his fame and his candidacy made his votes on the tariff and internal improvements important data to politicians. The country was already entered upon the second period of its history, in which there was to be no French party and no English party; in which a voter should choose his party on account of its position on such questions as the tariff, internal improvements, and the bank, or on account of the general view of the Constitution which it favored. But as yet no clear division into such parties had come about. The old Federalist party was no longer in the field, and no other had arisen to take its place. It was a time of personal politics. The first question was, Who is to succeed Monroe? and the next question, Who is to succeed the successor of Monroe ?
J ackson found some firm friends awaiting him in Washington, and he soon added to their number by becoming reconciled to some old enemies. Among the old friends was Livingston, now Congressman from Louisiana. One of the old enemies was the Senator from Missouri, whose chair was next his own ; for the Senator from Missouri, a rising man in Washington, was Thomas H. Benton. According to Benton's account, Jackson made the first advance, and they were soon on friendly terms, though Benton continued to support Clay, whose niece he had married. General Winfield Scott made an overture, and J ackson cordially responded. Even with Henry Clay he was induced by mutual friends to stand on a footing of courteous friendliness, though there never was any genuine friendship between them.
Against Crawford, the Georgian candidate, and at first the leading candidate of all, he had a grudge that dated from 1815. Crawford was Secretary of War at that time, and, contrary to Jackson's advice, had restored to the Cherokees certain lands which Jackson had got from the Creeks by the treaty of Fort Jackson, but which the Cherokees claimed. When Crawford offered himself against Monroe in 1816, Jackson was ardently for the Virginian ; and now, when it was apparent that the caucus of Republican Senators and Representatives woidd probably nominate Crawford, Jackson's friends joined the friends of other candidates in opposing the caucus altogether, so that in the end only sixty-six persons attended it, and its action was deprived of the weight it had formerly had in presidential contests. Before the election, Crawford was stricken with paralysis, and this greatly weakened his chances.
Both Calhoun and Adams were on friendly terms with Jackson. Jackson still supposed that Calhoun had defended the Florida campaign in the Cabinet. His good feeling toward the South Carolinian was doubtless strengthened when Calhoun, who had relied on the support of Pennsylvania, gracefully yielded to Jackson's superior popularity in that quarter, and withdrew from the contest. It was then generally agreed that he should be Vice-President, and probably General Jackson, like many others, was willing that he should restore the old order of things according to which the Vice- President, instead of the Secretary of State, stood in line of succession to the presidency.
Adams was Secretary of State, and as such he had rendered Jackson important services by defending his actions in Florida. Adams, in diplomacy, believed in standing up for his own country quite as resolutely as the frontier general did in war. Nor were they far apart on the tariff and internal improvements, the domestic questions of the day. Adams's diary for this period shows a good feeling for Jackson. In honor of the general, Mrs. Adams gave a great ball January 8, 1824, the anniversary of New Orleans.
The election turned, as so many others have turned, on the vote of New York, which Martin Van Buren, an astute politician, was trying to carry for Crawford. He did not succeed, and there was no choice by the people. Jackson led with ninety-nine votes in the electoral college ; Adams had eighty-four, Crawford forty-one, Clay thirty-seven. In some States the electors were still chosen by the legislature. Outside of those States Jackson had fifty thousand more votes than Adams, and Adams's vote was nearly equal to Crawford's and Clay's combined. For Vice-President, Calhoun had a large majority.