In honor of this weeks election day and today’s nail-biting results, I have decided to talk about Presidential elections in history. Now, before you ask- no you may not know who I voted for. That is my personal opinion and after reading some of the nasty comments on Twitter and Facebook, I rather keep it to myself. You just need to know that I did my research and my duty to vote for the presidential candidate that I felt best representative me and my thoughts. Actually, I went for the one that drinks coffee. I have my priorities. I don’t trust people who don’t drink lots of coffee every day.
But it was those nasty words that got me thinking- ‘why do people act like this?’ 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 a given right! ‘Life, liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, and the right to slanders people’s personal opinions in election year’, that will be the new motto! I think it fits.
The only pleasant election in American history was the very first one and that was because George Washington was running almost unopposed. Now there were other people on the ballot but that was just to make sure it looked democratic and to ensure that John Adams was voted Vice President. Back in the day, the runner up was always elected as Vice President. Can you imagine what our country would have looked like with Hillary Clinton and President Trump working together? Strangely enough, George Washington didn’t even want the job. Poor guy, he was tired from just winning a war, and now he had to oversee the building of a country. I have a hard-enough time working a full day and remember to cook dinner.
Washington’s job was made even harder by the fact that Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson were acting like two bullies on the playground of America. Their rivalry would make anyone go insane. Don’t believe me? Watch the musical ‘Hamilton’ and it will explain everything to you! It was during Washington’s time as President that we see the foundation of the political parties being formed. Washington was a smart man and realized that this was not going to end well for citizens and even warned against it in his farewell speech.
“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.’
It was the election of Washington’s successor that we see the first-time parties showering hatred on the other candidate. The Federalist used Jefferson’s time in France (which by the way was helpful to us winning the Revolutionary War) against him and would dig deep into Jefferson’s closet brining up the rumor that he gotten his slave, Sally, pregnant. The Democratic Republicans fired back at Adams saying that his loyalties laid with England and he was just trying to make himself King and bring back the monarchy. Adams won the election by only 3 electoral votes, but he found himself working right alongside the man that he humiliated. I am sure that working relationship was all roses and rainbows! Don’t worry, Jefferson got his pay back when 4 years later he was voted President. It was Jefferson who decided that this system was not going to work and voted in the 12th amendment that effectively prevented any repeats of the 1796 election and would mean that the President and Vice President would come from the same party.
Enough of the political talk- lets get into what was said about various Presidential candidates.
John Adams was accused of trying to have George Washington removed from his military service during the Revolutionary War.
Thomas Jefferson was accused of being the son of a half-breed Indian and a mulatto father. It was also said that if he was elected the country would find itself in the midst of a civil war filled with orgies, incest, and adultery. There were articles by James Callender who alleged that Jefferson had fathered numerous children by his slave, Sally Hemings. This was proven true however in 1998 due to DNA testing. But at the time, this was SALACIOUS.
Andrew Jackson was accused of being a bloodthirsty man, who was the son of a prostitute and a black man, that his older brother was sold into slavery, and that him and his wife, Rachael, were adulterers. Now, that is a little true- because Rachael did marry Jackson before her first marriage had been completely dissolved. Rachel suffered a heart attack before they could move into the White House and some believe it was because of the humiliation of the election.
James Polk was accused of buying 43 slaves, something was found to be a hoax printed by a man who didn’t even exist.
Martin Van Buren was accused by Davy Crocket of being ‘laced up in corsets, such as women in town wear, and, if possible, tighter than the rest of them.’ A nice way to claim that he was ‘gay’.
Grover Cleveland was accused of fathering a child and leaving the mother to raise him on her own. It turned out that the mother had had multiple partners at that time, but Cleveland decided to provide for him ‘just in case’. This was way before DNA tests by the way. The Republicans would chant ‘Ma! Ma! Where’s my pa? Gone to the White House, ha! Ha! Ha!’
Warren Harding was accused of having ‘questionable’ heritage and that his great-grandmother and great-grandfather were both black.
The election of 1876 between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B Hayes went so poorly with the electoral votes changes that it actually had to be brought to Congress for them to make the decision. Hayes won.
Abraham Lincoln was so hated by the south, that in 10 southern states- his name was not even printed on the ballot. It was also stated by Professor David Boyd of LSU that ‘whoever accepts or holds offices under Lincoln will be lynched.’
In 2000, phone calls were made in South Carolina by Republican voters (allegedly) that would ask “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain…if you knew that he fathered an illegitimate black child?’ I still can’t believe this one. McCain and his wife had adopted a girl from Bangladesh in 1991 who would travel with them on the campaign trail. Now, that is modern day mean!
In 2004, John Kerry military career was dragged through the mud by President Bush. Kerry had been awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, and Bronze Star in the Vietnam war, and was using his service and heroism as a campaign lead. Bush, who served in the Air National Guard and never went to Vietnam found veterans who were willing to say they served with Kerry and never was award any of those medals. Kerry did not fight back, rather willed for his career to speak for itself…which it did not because of all the bashing. In 2004, the Navy did a review of Kerry’s military service and found that all the awards had been awarded correctly. Bush disavowed the veterans that spoke against Kerry, but still…. that’s low Bush. Do we even need to bring up Watergate? Let’s talk about elections that came down to the wire- In the 1796 election between Jefferson and Adams, the final decision was made by a 3-vote difference.
In 2000, Gore actually called Bush Jr to concede the election until Florida was forced to do a statewide machine recount. Then Gore requested a manual recount in 4 crucial counties. The Bush campaign sued to stop the recount, but then the Supreme Court had to get involved because no one could figure out 1+1=2. The Supreme Court ruled that the recount had to be completed by 12 Dec, and at that time Bush was ahead by a mere 537 votes. Bush won the state and Presidency by a margin of 271 to 266.
In 1876, Hayes won the electoral vote 185 to 184, only after the votes of Oregon, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida were in determined to be in dispute. In what is now known as the Compromise of 1877, the states offered their votes to Hayes if he promised to end Reconstruction and withdraw Union troops from the South. Talk about buying an election.
That’s all I got for right now, as I am trying to watch the election while working and typing this. If at anytime you were thinking in the back of your mind- ‘damn….that was mean’, remember that before you add to the slander in this current election- Words that are written are saved….history always remembers!