John Caldwell Calhoun served his full four years as vice president under John Quincy Adams, but the year was now 1828 and he needed to make a decision about his political future.
He previously had been a member of the House of Representatives (1811-17) and Secretary of War (1817-25). (He was later Secretary of State, and a U.S. Senator.)
He finally decided to run for the vice presidency again. But, in a twist, he decided to switch horses and run with Andrew Jackson rather than JQA. It seemed like a prudent choice at the time, and he and Jackson easily won the 1828 election. Then they started trying to work together.
They differed on so many fundamental issues, including states’ rights and nullification, that a schism seemed inevitable. Then, to make tensions even worse, his wife Floride Bonneau started meddling in White House politics … and Jackson’s famous temper was riled up. He even threatened to just grab Calhoun and hang him (another duel would have apparently been unseemly).
The end was much less dramatic, as Jackson simply picked Martin Van Buren to be his running mate in the 1832 presidential election. When they won, Calhoun resigned.
Calhoun would remain the only vice president to resign until Spiro Agnew joined the club.
On March 9, 1861, the Confederate States of America issued a $1,000 banknote depicting both Calhoun and Jackson. So the two bitter enemies remain joined for eternity.
Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is president and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].
“Posterity will condemn me more because I was persuaded not to hang John C. Calhoun as a traitor than for any other act in my life.” – Andrew Jackson in his final days before death
Such was the relationship of President Jackson and his Vice President John Caldwell Calhoun. Calhoun had also served as vice president in the previous administration of John Quincy Adams (1825-1829) and then won reelection in 1828 as he wisely switched to the more popular Jackson.
He thus became the second vice president to serve under two presidents, following in the footsteps of George Clinton (Thomas Jefferson and James Madison).
However, a series of disagreements between Jackson and Calhoun totally destroyed their tenuous relationship and Calhoun resigned in late 1832 before completing his term. This was a first for the vice presidency that would not be repeated until much later when Spiro Agnew was forced out over criminal actions.
One small irony is that Jackson/Calhoun are the only president/vice president to be featured together on currency printed in the United States. In 1861, the Confederate States of America issued a series of $1,000 bank notes with portraits of the two men featured prominently.
And there they shall remain together for a long time.
Intelligent Collector blogger JIM O’NEAL is an avid collector and history buff. He is President and CEO of Frito-Lay International [retired] and earlier served as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo Restaurants International [KFC Pizza Hut and Taco Bell].