In 1824, it was said that American voters faced a choice between “John Quincy Adams,/Who can write/And Andrew Jackson,/Who can fight.” If the battle between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had determined whether artistocracy or republicanism would prevail (and, with Jefferson, republicanism, won), the battle between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams would determine whether republicanism or democracy would prevail (and, with Jackson, democracy would, eventually win). Jackson’s rise to power marked the birth of American populism. The argument of populism is that the best government is that most closely directed by a popular majority. Populism is an argument about the people, but, at heart, is an argument about numbers.
Jill Lepore, These Truths, 180-181