Mark R. Cheathem
The Coming of Democracy
Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson
Johns Hopkins University Press 2018
The expansion of democracy in 19th-century America transformed political campaigning in the country. As Mark R. Cheathem demonstrates in The Coming of Democracy: Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018), nowhere was the change more dramatically seen than in the quadrennial election of a president. Prior to the 1820s, presidential campaigning was a limited affair reflecting the low level of popular engagement with the presidential selection process. This changed with the candidacies of Andrew Jackson, as his managers relied on a diverse range of tools to appeal to an increasingly engaged popular electorate. Through such means as parades, songs, and public correspondence, campaigns increasingly sought to rally their supporters to turn out and vote for the candidates. Though the Democrats pioneered such campaigns in Jackson’s successive bids for the White House, Cheathem shows how it was the Whigs which refined them to best effect in the presidential campaign of 1840, using these new tools to win the election that year for their nominee, William Henry Harrison.