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Monday, May 18, 2015

Presidential Losers #8: John Quincy Adams

1820 was still awash in the Era of Good Feelings.  Isn’t that a great name? Wouldn’t you like to live in the Era of Good Feelings instead of the Me Generation or the Decade of Greed?

All Federalist opposition had evaporated and James Monroe ran unopposed. He just said, “I think I’d like being president,” and the whole country said, “Okey-doke.” The whole country except one rogue elector named William Plumer who cast his vote for John Quincy Adams, the son of Presidential loser #3, John Adams. 

The popular legend is Plumer dissented because he felt only George Washington deserved the honor of a unanimous election, which is just the sort of rumor you’d expect to go around during the Era of Good Feelings. (Doesn’t that story just make you feel good?) 

The truth is, Plumer just didn’t like Monroe: casting one useless vote for Adams was like serving someone a seven-course meal and spitting in the appetizer. 

Plumer, founder of the New Hampshire Historical Society and author of over a dozen books, including such page-turning classics as The Substance of an Argument Against the Indiscriminate Incorporation of Churches and Religious Societies, and Young Children May Be Truly Pious, inveighed against the “wasteful extravagance” of the previous Monroe administration. 

This probably had to do with the wasteful and extravagant way Monroe kept admitting states to the Union  five over two terms as president – diluting the political power of tiny New Hampshire. Get over it, New Hampshire, you still have the Primary. 

Plumer saw to it that fellow New Englander John Quincy Adams would go down in history as the biggest loser up to that time in a presidential elections.


James Monroe: 230
John Quincy Adams: 1

(In fairness, some people maintain Adams did not really lose by the whopping 229 electoral votes shown here because the votes from the new state of Missouri might not have been valid. In that case, Monroe would have squeaked by with a mere 226-vote margin.)

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