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Laura Lynch

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Mudslinging, Muckraking and Apple Pie: Presidential Campaigns, the Great Am
by Laura Lynch   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012

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Are campaigns more or less civilized than in the past?
How did all of this campaign craziness get started?

 I don't know about you, but I've just about had it, and it hasn't even really started yet! What is causing my angst
Presidential campaigns, that's what!

Yes, it's that time again.  Time to make one of the most important decisions we as Americans can make--deciding who will lead this country for the next four years.  In discussing this nonsense that has been associated with this quadrennial  voting ritual, my goal is to stay as non partisan as possible.  Why?  Because it's not my place to tell you who to vote for.  You're intelligent, you know what you need and want in a President.  I also don't care if you're a democrat, republican, independent, or any of the other myriad of parties that crop up every so often.  Why?  Over the years, all political parties have participated in the shenanigans we call political campaigning.


My goal is to take a quick look at a couple of the nastier presidential campaigns.  Believe it or not, you will discover one could be worse!!

Jefferson v. Adams, 1800 

During the campaign of 1800, two bosom colonial buddies, President John Adams, and Vice President Thomas Jefferson found themselves running against each other for the highest office in the land.  Oh, what a campaign can do to a friendship!  Things got ugly very quickly.  The name calling was fierce.  Adams was called a fool, a criminal, a tyrant and a hypocrite.  Jefferson, was called a mean spirited, low lived fellow.


That did it!  Back in those days, candidates didn't actively campaign.  Surprisingly, each candidate spent a majority of their time at their respective homes.  Jefferson hired a hatchet man to do his dirty work for him.  Adams was said to be above such things.  Jefferson's man was James Callender.   Callender convinced Americans that Adams wanted to attack France.  Talk of war always shakes things up for people.  They bought it, and Jefferson stole the election.



Jackson v. Adams 1828

The election campaign of 1828 saw Adam's son, John Quincy in a down and dirty fight with Old Hickory himself, Andrew Jackson.  This time, the stakes proved to be very high.  Among other things causing problems during that contest, the validity of Jackson's marriage to his wife Rachel.


When Jackson and his wife were married in 1791, they believed her to be divorced from her previous husband Lewis Robards.  The whole issue was very messy at the time. Turns out the divorce wasn't final, and Jackson had to marry her again once the paperwork had been straightened out.  The time in between--perfect fodder for an election campaign some 37 years later.  In John Quincy Adam's campaign hands...this was the scandal of the century.  Charles Hammond of the Cincinnati  Gazzette asked "Ought a conviced adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest offices of this free and Christian land?"  Oh Boy!!


Unfortunately, this whole mess took quite a toll on Rachel, who had a weak heart.  The severe stress of it all led to her sudden death  in 1828. She had once said she would "rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than live in that palace in Washington."


Rachel would never become first lady. He husband stated, "I can and do forgive all of my enemies. But those vile wretches who have slandered her must look to God for mercy."


Let's hope future presidential campaigns don't get this nasty.  If you would like to hear more about some of the nastiest campaigns in American history, book our latest program offering, Mudslinging, Muchraking and Apple Pie: Presidential Elections, the Great American Pastime the perfect supplement to election year discussions, now available through HFK Presents.

Web Site: HFK Presents

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