It appears as if this year’s election campaigning is going to get a bit rough. With the heavily financed negative advertisements, just about anything is fair game. It’s enough to make the modern voter cast a jaundiced eye toward the system — until one considers the past.
Personal attacks in political campaigns are nothing new. History has recorded some vitriolic exchanges that would make today’s public disparagement’s sound almost genteel.
Consider for a moment the campaign of 1860. Four candidates had their hats in the ring: Lincoln, Douglas, John Bell, and John C. Breckinridge. The four men fought like cats and dogs, and the campaign reached its nadir when Lincoln’s opponents began to make fun of his looks. Lincoln’s handlers rejoined by asserting, “We know Old Abe does not look very handsome, but if all the ugly men in the U.S. vote for him, he will surely be elected.”
Then there was the election of 1884. Grover Cleveland was running against James G. Blaine, but he had a problem, and the Blaine people took full advantage of it. Cleveland was the father of a child born out of wedlock. Blaine said that he didn’t believe that voters would “knowingly elect to the presidency a coarse debauchee who would bring his harlots with him to Washington...