Before I give you all today's little history lesson, here's a brief public service announcement: If you are a registered voter in the United States, get out and VOTE!!!!
Okay, public service announcement over. So, what was arguably the craziest election in US history? It happened 188 years ago in 1824. Prior to that election, one of the two main parties in the United States, the Federalist Party, had collapsed, leaving only the Democratic-Republican Party. As a result, party politics were in decline, and what had replaced it was personal political rivalries, usually divided up along regional lines. On the ballot that year were four candidates: Andrew Jackson (hero from the War of 1812), John Quincy Adams (son of former President John Adams and Secretary of State), William Crawford (Secretary of the Treasury), and Henry Clay (Speaker of the House). When all the votes were cast, Jackson had 41% of the votes, Adams had 31%, Crawford had 11% of the vote, and Clay had 13%.
No candidate had a majority. At this point, the 12th amendment to the constitution came into play: "and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President."
The House of Representatives would choose the winner of the election. And although Clay had a higher popular vote percentage, he got fewer electoral votes, so the "top three" as called for by the 12th amendment were Adams, Jackson, and Crawford.
This gave Henry Clay, who was the Speaker of the House, a very important position. He could use his influence in the House to help choose who would win the election, and he did. Clay felt that the proposed policies of Adams was closer to his own than the other two candidates, in addition to the fact that he absolutely did not want to see Jackson become president. So Clay put his support behind Adams, who ultimately would win the election in the House and become the 6th President of the United States.
Hopefully, tonight's election won't get that close.
Again, go vote!!