It is probable that so far as Adams and Jackson differed on questions of principle and policy, a majority of the people were with Jackson. But it is also clear that the campaign was fought out as a sort of personal contest between the Southwestern soldier and the two statesmen whom he accused of bargain and corruption. It was a campaign of bitter personal abuse on both sides. Adams, perhaps the most rigidly conscientious statesman since Washington, was accused of dishonesty, of extravagance, of riches, of debt, of betraying his old friends, the Federalists, of trying to bring Federalists back into power. Against Jackson his enemies brought up his many fights and duels, his treatment of Judge Hall and Judge Fro-mentin, the execution of Woods and the six militiamen, of the two Indians, of Arbuthnot and Ambrister. Handbills were distributed, each decorated with a coffin bearing the name of one of his victims. His private life was attacked. The scandal of his marriage was blazoned in newspapers and pamphlets. Even the unknown grave of his mother was not spared.
So it became largely a question of the two men, and which the people liked best. Adams, coldly virtuous, woidd not turn his finger to make himself better liked; even if he had attempted the arts of popularity, he was, of all the eminent men of our history, the least endowed with charm of manner, speech, and bearing. He sternly refused to appoint any man to office for supporting him, or to turn any man out of office for opposing him. He could not be winning or gracious on public occasions. Ezekiel, the shrewd old brother of Daniel Webster, wrote to him after the election that even in New England men supported Adams " from a cold sense of duty, and not from any liking of the man." It took a New England conscience to hold a follower in line for the New England candidate. The man of the Southwest won many a vote where the voter's conscience did but half consent. Wherever he went, he made bitter enemies or devoted friends, rather than cold critics and lukewarm admirers. Adams was an honest man, but nobody had ever called him " Old Hickory." He was an ardent patriot, and could point to many wise state papers lie had written, to a report on weights and measures which had cost him four years of patient labor; but he could not, like his rival, journey down the Mississippi and celebrate the anniversary of a great victory in the city he had saved. His followers might ably defend his course on public questions, but what was it all worth if the people kept on shouting, " Hurrah for Jackson " ?
Of all the sections of the country only New England gave Adams a solid support. J ackson swept the West and South and carried the great States of Pennsylvania and New York. In Tennessee, nineteen men out of twenty voted for him. There is a story of a traveller who reached a Tennessee town the next day and found the whole male population pursuing with tar and feathers two reckless citizens who had voted against " the general." In the electoral college he had one hundred and seventy-eight votes to Adams's eighty-three. Calhoun was again chosen Vice-President.
The poor boy had won his way to the White House, but it was a worn old man, bowed down with a heavy sorrow, who journeyed across the mountains to take the great prize. The cruel campaign scandal about his marriage had aggravated a heart trouble from which his wife had long suffered. She died in December, and his grief was appalling to those who gathered at The Hermitage to do honor to " Aunt Rachel." It was not in Jackson's nature, as indeed it woidd not have been in the nature of many men, to forget, in his grief, the enemies who had helped to cause it. His old age, like his youth, was to be cursed with hatred and the thought of revenge.