1824: Andrew Jackson Gets Ripped Off
There were a lot of weird things about the 1824 presidential campaign, including the odd fact that all four of the candidates — Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford and Henry Clay — belonged to the same political party, the Democratic-Republicans.
Jackson, a senator from Tennessee who'd become a popular hero as the general in the War of 1812, won the popular vote narrowly, by fewer than 39,000 votes, and garnered 99 votes in the Electoral College. John Quincy Adams, the sitting secretary of state, came in second with 84, while Treasury Secretary Crawford got 41 and Clay, who was speaker of the House, came in last with 37. But none of them had a majority.
That meant the House of Representatives had to choose a winner. Jackson figured he'd get the nod, since after all, he'd received the most popular and electoral votes. But Clay — who'd been disqualified because the House could only consider the top three — apparently had other ideas. His supporters moved their support to Adams, and, mysteriously, Congress members in states that had voted overwhelmingly for Jackson backed Adams as well. Adams was the winner, and he rewarded Clay by appointing him secretary of state.
Jackson railed against the "corrupt bargain" that had been struck, but four years later, he got his revenge by running as an anti-Washington outsider and beating Adams [source: McLaughlin].