The 1844 election was the fifteenth presidential election in the United States. Democratic nominee James Knox Polk defeated the Whig Party candidate, Henry Clay to become the eleventh President of the United States.
The Democratic Party nomination went to James Knox Polk after prolonged deliberations. Among their other options were former President Van Buren, John C. Calhoun, and James Buchanan. They had chosen Silas Wright to be Polk’s running mate, but when he declined, they chose George Mifflin Dallas to run instead.
A second Democratic nomination convention was held in support of incumbent President Tyler, in hopes of influencing the National Democratic Party to renominate him. Tyler dropped out of the race before the election so that he did not cause Polk to lose by taking votes away from him.
The Whig Party chose Henry Clay as their presidential nominee, with Theodore Frelinghuysen as his running mate. Joseph Smith of The Latter-day Saints ran as an independent candidate. James Birney, third party candidate from the Liberty Party, campaigned again to become president. During the 1844 election, Birney may have had a spoiler effect on the election, altering its outcome. Though he did not receive any electoral votes, he received a substantial number of popular votes. Had some of his voters cast their ballots for Clay instead, Clay would have been the next President of the United States.
The presidential election of 1844 took place during a period of territorial expansion, which would later be associated with the concept of Manifest Destiny. To gain favor from both major political parties, President Tyler had attempted to annex the territory of Texas. This matter became a prominent issue of debate in the presidential campaigns for the 1844 election, and would have added another pro-slave state to the country. Abolition of slavery was another matter of contention at this time. Polk’s interest in westward expansion factored into this debate, because he wanted to also gain the Oregon Territory, in order to balance out the addition of pro-slavery Texas.
This may have given Polk the edge over Clay, whose stance on expansion and the annexation of Texas was not well defined. Polk won the election by a small margin and went on to become the next President of the United States for an eventful term of much growth for the country.
The detailed results of the 1844 presidential election are as follows: