In the years leading up to the 1824 presidential election, the United States had experienced a period of one-party government, because the Federalist Party had dissolved and only the Democratic-Republicans remained.
In the election of 1824, the Democratic-Republicans splintered as all four candidates ran as members of the party.
The faction led by Andrew Jackson would later form the Democratic Party
The faction led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay would later form the National Republican Party, and eventually the Whig Party.
The nation was shocked by Adams’ victory, as Jackson had won a plurality of both the popular and electoral votes.
By appointing Clay his Secretary of State, Adams essentially declared him the heir to the presidency, as Adams, Monroe, Madison, and Jefferson had all ascended to the presidency from the office of the Secretary of State.