With a week to go until the presidential election of 2012, I'm sure we're all tired of the ads, the phone calls, the flyers, the mailers, the Facebook posts and everything election-elated. Tired, especially, of the negative campaigning. I mean, can't we all just get along? And has it ever been this bad?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact. The election of 1800, pitting incumbent John Adams against his long-time friend and political rival Thomas Jefferson (with running mates Thomas Pinckney and Aaron Burr, respectively) is often cited as the nastiest ever.
Alexander Hamilton, especially, scorched Adams with a 54-page criticism that unfortunately also wounded Hamilton's choice for president, Pinckney. All the scheming and mechanizing got messed up, though, and since the candidates were all on separate tickets, running mates Jefferson and Burr ended up tied in the Electoral College.
As you all know, an electoral tie goes to the House of Representatives for resolution. After 35 (yes, 35!) votes, and a heavy lobbying effort by Hamilton, the 36th vote finally gave the presidency to Jefferson. Burr, of course, never forgave Hamilton and ultimately killed Hamilton in a duel (see previous blog entry "Meet Alexander Hamilton"). So, as nasty as these campaigns today are, chances are nobody will die in a duel in the aftermath. I hope.
Now, just for fun, what might that campaign have looked like if there had been television in 1800? Well, in their words:
Now, go vote!