The Elections of 1836 and 1840

Candidates:
 1836: Martin Van Buren (170 Electoral Votes)
           William Henry Harrison (73 Electoral Votes)
           Hugh White (26 Electoral Votes)
           Daniel Webster (14 Electoral Votes)

1840: William Henry Harrison (234 Electoral Votes)
          Martin Van Buren (60 Electoral Votes)

The new Whig Party was unable to settle on a single candidate to oppose Jackson’s Vice President, Martin Van Buren, in 1836.  Rather, the anti-Jacksonians nominated three regional candidates.  William Henry Harrison, an elderly hero of Indian fighting and the War of 1812, challenged Van Buren in the West.  In the South, the Whig candidate was a states’ rights senator, Hugh Lawson White.  Northern Whigs supported nationalist Daniel Webster.  Party leaders hoped that these regional candidates might deny Van Buren a majority in the Electoral College, but the strategy failed.  Van Buren immediately faced bank crisis and economic depression, with which his administration was unable to cope.  The Whigs seized their opportunity in 1840, when they coalesced around Harrison, the strongest of their regional candidates from 1836.  Harrison won in the first campaign to succeed by purposely elevating sloganeering (“Tippecanoe and Tyler too”) above platform.  The Whig triumph was fleeting, however.  When Harrison died after just a month in office, a disgruntled former Jacksonian, John Tyler, replaced him.  Tyler vetoed the Whig legislative program of promoting internal improvements and reviving the national bank.

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