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U.S. Presidential Election 1840

The 1840 election was the fourteenth presidential election in the United States. William Henry Harrison of the Whig Party defeated incumbent President Martin Van Buren of the Democratic Party by a wide margin to become the eighth President of the United States.

President Van Buren faced a financial crisis with the Panic of 1837 during his presidential term. Jackson era financial policies had damaged the economy, and Van Buren continued his policies, digging the country further into disrepair. Nevertheless, Van Buren was chosen by the Democratic Party to run for a second term in office. The Democratic Party declined to renominate Vice President Richard Mentor Johnson, and did not come to an agreement on any candidate. Their votes were divided among Johnson, Littleton W. Tazewell, and James Polk.

The Whig Party chose their presidential nominee among William Henry Harrison, Winfield Scott, and Henry Clay. The party ultimately nominated William Henry Harrison - the Whig candidate from the 1836 election that had received the highest number of votes. John Tyler was chosen to be his running mate with widespread support. The Anti-Masonic Party, which had mostly dissolved and integrated with the Whigs by that time, also supported Harrison, but chose Daniel Webster as their nominee for vice president.

The Whig Party's strategy was to highlight the economic struggles of Van Buren's presidency, while presenting Harrison as a military hero, with the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." This slogan was in reference to the Battle of Tippecanoe, in which Harrison had famously fought. Van Buren, on the other hand, was portrayed as a wealthy aristocrat, in opposition to Harrison's portrayal as a common man who could relate to the people.

This strategy, paired with the general discontent of the population caused by the economic depression, was successful against Van Buren's reelection campaign. Harrison won the election by a wide margin, with 234 electoral votes to Van Buren's sixty. The Democratic Party also failed to agree on the vice president, dividing their electoral votes among three candidates. The highest number of electoral votes went to Johnson, who received forty-eight, Tazewell earned eleven, and Polk received one. James Birney, who ran as a third party candidate for the Liberty Party (a single-issue party that focused on abolition), failed to earn any electoral votes. A unique feature of the 1840 election was that four candidates who received electoral votes - Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, and Polk - were President of the United States at some point in history.

Just over a month into his presidential term, Harrison died of pneumonia, becoming the first president to die while in office. His vice president, John Tyler succeeded him and took over the role as President of the United States.

The results of the 1840 elections are as follows: