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Mudslinging in 1800 and Beyond

I want to push back a bit on the Diehl-Rocks thesis that the election of 1828 is the genesis of dirty campaigning. Thomas Jefferson supporters accused Adams of being a hermaphrodite with “neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” In response, the Adams campaign accused Jefferson of being the son of a half-breed Indian squaw and a mulatto father.

Of course the election of 1800 is just the beginning. One of my favorites was in 1876 when Democrats accused Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes of shooting his own mother and stealing the pay of dead soldiers while he was a Union general.

None of the above had to show their original long form birth certificate.


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