In honor of 2020 election day and the nail-biting results, I have decided to talk about presidential elections in history. Now, before you ask, you may not know who I voted for. After reading some nasty comments on Twitter and Facebook, I prefer to keep my opinions to myself. All you need to know is that I did my research and voted for the candidate most closely aligned with my beliefs and interests.
To be honest, I chose the one that drinks coffee. I have my priorities. I can’t trust people who don’t drink coffee every day.
But those nasty words on social media got me thinking- ‘Why do people behave this way?’ I hate to break it to everyone; this is not new, nor do I ever see the hatred shown to fellow Americans stopping during election years. It is almost an inalienable right!
‘Life, liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, and the right to slander people’s personal opinions in an election year.’
That will be the new motto! I think it fits.
There was only one pleasant election in American history, that of George Washington, running almost unopposed. The ballot also included other candidates, but that was to ensure the democratic look and to ensure John Adams was voted Vice President. It was common practice back then to elect the runner-up as Vice President.
Can you imagine our country with Hillary Clinton and President Trump working together?
It’s strange to think that George Washington didn’t even want the job. It must have been exhausting for him to have won a war and then oversee the creation of a nation. Putting in a full day’s work and remembering to cook dinner is hard enough for me.
The fact that Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were acting like bullies on America’s playground made Washington’s job even harder. The rivalry between these two would drive anyone insane. Don’t believe me? Watch the Hamilton musical, which will explain everything to you!
We see the formation of political parties during Washington’s presidency. Washington was an intelligent man who realized that this wouldn’t end well for citizens and even warned against it in his farewell address.
“The danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations…is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.’
In the election of Washington’s successor, we saw the first time parties spewing hatred at the other candidate. In addition to using Jefferson’s time in France against him, the Federalists also dug deep into Jefferson’s closet, rumoring that he got his slave, Sally, pregnant. In response, Adams’ political opponents said his loyalties belonged to England and that he was just trying to restore the monarchy by making himself king. Only 3 electoral votes separated Adams from his opponent, but he found himself working right alongside Jefferson.
I am sure that the working relationship was all roses and rainbows!
Don’t worry; Jefferson got paid back 4 years later when he became President.
What was said?
It was alleged that John Adams had tried to remove George Washington from military service during the Revolutionary War.
Jefferson was allegedly the son of a half-breed Indian and a mulatto father. It was predicted that a civil war filled with orgies, incest, and adultery would erupt if he were elected. A James Callender article alleged that Jefferson fathered numerous children with his slave, Sally Hemings. This was confirmed in 1998, however, by DNA testing. In those days, this was salacious news.
Among other accusations against Andrew Jackson, he was accused of being a bloodthirsty man, the son of a prostitute and a black man, and an adulterer with his wife, Rachael. This statement is somewhat true- because Rachael married Jackson before she had gotten divorced from her first husband. A heart attack struck Rachel before they could move into the White House, and some believe the humiliation from the election contributed to it.
An allegation that James Polk had bought 43 slaves was found to be a hoax printed by a non-existent man.
Apparently, Davy Crocket claimed that Martin Van Buren was a gay man because he wore corsets like women in town did and, if possible, tighter than them.
It was reported that Grover Cleveland fathered a child and abandoned the mother to raise him on her own. As it turned out, the mother had had multiple partners at the time, but Cleveland decided to provide for him just in case. It was way before DNA tests, by the way. Republicans would chant, “Ma!” Ma! Where’s my pa? Gone to the White House, Ha! Ha! Ha!’
During the election campaign, Warren Harding was accused of having a ‘questionable’ heritage and that his great-grandmother and great-grandfather were black.
Electoral vote changes in 1876 caused such a disastrous election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B Hayes that Congress had to decide the outcome. Hayes won.
Lincoln was so hated by the south that his name wasn’t even printed on ballots in 10 southern states. The LSU professor David Boyd also proclaimed that if people accepted or held government positions under Lincoln, they would be lynched.
Republicans (allegedly) made phone calls in South Carolina in 2000, asking, ‘Would you vote for John McCain if you knew he fathered an illegitimate black child?’ I still can’t believe this one. The McCains had adopted a girl from Bangladesh in 1991 who would accompany them on their campaign trail. I call that modern-day meanness!
The military career of John Kerry was dragged through the mud by President Bush in 2004. During the Vietnam war, Kerry was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Bronze Star, which he used as a campaign strategy. As a member of the Air National Guard, Bush never deployed to Vietnam but found veterans willing to say they served with Kerry and that he was never awarded any of those medals. Because of all the bashing, Kerry did not fight back; instead, he allowed his career to speak for itself. A review of Kerry’s military service by the Navy in 2004 found that all his awards had been awarded correctly. Bush discredited the veterans who spoke against Kerry, but still…that’s low, Bush.
Do we even need to bring up Watergate?
To close to call…
Let’s talk about elections that came down to the wire:
There was a 3-vote difference between Jefferson and Adams in the 1796 election.
During the 2000 election, Gore called Bush Jr to concede, but Florida had to conduct a statewide machine recount. In four crucial counties, Gore requested a manual recount. After the Bush campaign sued, the Supreme Court was forced to intervene because everyone couldn’t figure out 1+1=2. The Supreme Court ordered the recount to be completed by December 12, at which point Bush was ahead by only 537 votes. 271 to 266 were the margins by which Bush won the state and presidency.
The electoral vote in 1876 was awarded to Hayes, 185 to 184, only after reservations were made about the votes cast in Oregon, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida. According to the Compromise of 1877, Hayes promised the states he would end Reconstruction and withdraw Union troops from the South if elected. What a way to buy an election.
My friends, the moral of the story is that words that are written are saved….history always remembers! So before we throw dirt at another, ensure you are willing to have it attached to your name.
And as always…. be great at something you are good at!
For further research and/or reading I have included a list of some amazing book…click here