In 1837, the U.S. Senate finally chooses a new President of the United States, and it is not any of the candidates who had contested the issue in the House.
Compromise Candidate by Eric LippsIn the weeks since the Senate convened for the first time in history to choose a president, acting under the provision of the U.S. Constitution that it perform this task if the House of Representatives proves unable to reach a majority decision on the issue, it has become clear that neither Acting President Andrew Jackson nor his remaining opponent, South Carolina's John Calhoun, can receive a majority vote, since too many supporters of former candidate Daniel Webster are unwilling to vote for either man.
"Only in these United States have we so refined democracy that the people's will as to who should occupy the Chief Magistracy may be divined by their elected representatives"Therefore, leaders of the Whigs, Federalists, and Democratic-Republican parties have worked out a compromise, agreeing on the famously nonpartisan Gen. Winfield Scott for president. Scott is deemed an expedient choice with the nation at war once more with Great Britain.
Jackson bows to this bargain and urges his supporters to accept it gracefully, stating, "Better that someone, even though not myself, be given the tenure, than that matters remain as they have been, with the highest office occupied on an ad hoc basis". Southerners, however, are furious when their favorite Calhoun is not awarded even the vice-presidency, which goes instead to the 64-year-old Gov. William Henry Harrison of Indiana. In a subsequent deal, therefore, Gen. Scott is persuaded to make Calhoun his Secretary of War upon assuming the presidency. Left unstated is that Scott's age opens the possibility that his lifetime tenure will be a short one, and that once the office of the president is again vacant Calhoun can seek it again.
Among the populace, reaction to Scott's election is mixed. The General is an authentic military hero of the War of 1812, but his selection seemingly from nowhere rankles. An editorial in the New York Sun tabloid newspaper will state: "Only in these United States have we so refined democracy that the people's will as to who should occupy the Chief Magistracy may be divined by their elected representatives not merely without consulting the people but without regard to the existing list of candidates among whom those representatives had formerly been selecting. "In the South, the "disrespect" allegedly shown Calhoun fuels secessionist sentiment, never quite extinguished following the so-called "nullification crisis " of 1832, in which the then-Senator had played a prominent role.