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Anti-Corruption

In addition to war, presidential candidates in American history have based their campaigns and presidencies on issues as various as political corruption, environmental conservation, and foreign policy.

Though "time" and "players" change, issues tend to remain constant. Listen to this recording of a William Jennings Bryant campaign song, "Every Little Bit Added to What I've Got" from the collection California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties collection. Is campaign financing still an issue for voters in recent elections?

A Fighting Man Fights Corruption

Andrew Jackson earned his first war memento as a fourteen-year-old soldier in the American Revolution. The lifelong scar on Jackson's forehead came from the sword of a British officer who had captured the teenager. Jackson's offense was refusing to shine his captor's boots.

The War of 1812 gave Jackson a chance for revenge. "Old Hickory" defeated the British at New Orleans in 1814, a victory that effectively won the war for America. Jackson's nickname came from his reputation of being tough as old hickory. A skilled and tenacious military leader, he survived two severe bullet wounds in battle and permanently carried a bullet next to his heart as a souvenir from an earlier duel. Jackson's determination, and his reputation as a national war hero, led many to consider him an ideal candidate for president of the United States.

To win the White House, Jackson's tenacity would be called back into action. In the 1824 presidential election, Jackson won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. John Quincy Adams took office instead when fourth place finisher, Henry Clay, threw his electoral votes to Adams. In gratitude, Adams named Clay Secretary of State. And with that appointment, Jackson found the political issue that would carry him into office four years later.

In 1828, Jackson returned to campaign against what he called the "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Clay. Jackson's anti-corruption platform, his emphasis on the political will of the common man, and his popularity as a war hero won him almost twice as many electoral votes as the incumbent Adams. To celebrate, Jackson invited the public to his inaugural party. Throngs of party goers trashed the White House, and Jackson had to escape out a window. But, as a true man of the people, Jackson continued to invite the public to the White House throughout his two terms in office.

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