It seems to be generally accepted that political ads of yesteryear were more serious, sober, and even straight-laced than ads of today but that is not correct. In fact, the early American political ads were more negative, naughty, and nasty than today!
During the 1796 election between Jefferson and Adams, Adams’ backers called Jefferson a “howling atheist,” while Jefferson’s people charged that Adams would rip up the Constitution and make himself king and his sons would be princes; one son was going to allegedly marry the daughter of King George III! Adams won and did not make himself king.
During the 1800 rematch campaign, Jefferson’s people declared that Adams had ordered an American warship to bring his two mistresses from Europe for President Adams. Jefferson was called, “the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father,” and Jefferson would put opponents under the guillotine. Jefferson’s supporters countered that opponent Adams was accused of being a “hideous hermaphroditical character”—half man, half woman. I think they were taking mean pills–double doses!
Newspapers that supported Adams warned that if Jefferson won the presidency “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced.” He was also accused of fathering children with one of his slaves, and evidence seems to support that charge. They further charged that Jefferson would burn Bibles and churches. Jefferson was never accused of being a Bible thumper, and he was not a Bible burner. Jefferson won the election and never burned any Bibles or churches. In fact, he was very friendly to a small Baptist Church near Monticello.
John Q. Adams–son of President John Adams–beat Andrew Jackson in the 1824 race for President. In a rematch in the 1828 Presidential campaign, Andrew Jackson’s men called Adams “the Pimp” and accused him of putting pressure on a woman to have an affair with the Russian czar when Adams was the U.S. Ambassador to Russia about ten years earlier. Adams’ backers retorted that “General Jackson’s mother was a common prostitute” at a young age and he had “Negro” ancestry. It was charged that his mother “intermarried with a Negro, and [that his] eldest brother [was] sold as a slave in Carolina. Furthermore, Jackson was accused of being a drunkard and a crazed killer, having killed some men in duels. Both the candidate’s wives were accused of sexual immorality. Andrew Jackson was called “a bigamist” whose wife was “a slut.” The campaign was heating up and many people expected a political explosion. Not quite.
There were more firecrackers as Jackson was accused of having been a war criminal during the war of 1812 because he allegedly committed atrocities against his own men. It was also suggested that Jackson, our first non-aristocrat President, had practiced cannibalism! Since he was such an uncouth ruffian, I suppose he didn’t even use knife and fork, and probably used his shirt sleeve as a napkin!
During the election, Adams’ people referred to Jackson as a “jackass,” a term Jackson liked and used the jackass as his symbol for a while, but it died out. However, it later became the symbol for the Democrat Party. Good choice but I don’t think today’s jackasses feel honored.
In 1860 and 1864 Lincoln was depicted as a primate and he was called “Honest Ape.” He was called a buffoon, ignoramus, thief, tyrant, and butcher. He won the election and lost his life when John Wilkes Booth shot him at Ford’s Theater.
Samuel Tildon was called a syphilitic drunk during the election of 1876. His opponent that year was Rutherford B. Hayes. The Tildon side went so far as to suggest Hayes shot his own mother and somehow got money from dead Civil War soldiers.
In 1884, Grover Cleveland ran against James Blaine and was expected to become the winning candidate, but a past scandal under the Grant Administration stayed with Cleveland making the outcome very unsure. The Cleveland supporters came up with the slogan, “Blaine, Blaine, the Continental Liar from the State of Maine.” It was not a secret that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child, so the Blaine spinners made sure that everyone knew about it. Their jingle had Cleveland’s illegitimate child crying, “Ma, Ma, Where’s My Pa?” The opponents added their own jingle, “Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!” Cleveland had the last and best laugh because he did go to the White House.
In 1888, Democrat President Grover Cleveland ran for re-election and Republicans accused him of being a drunk who beat his wife and even pitched her out of the White House during the winter.
George H. W. Bush went after Michael Dukakis in 1988 using the “Willie Horton” issue. Horton was serving time for murder (without possibility of parole) in Massachusetts in 1974 but got a “get out of jail card.” He was released in 1986 on a “weekend pass” taking advantage of Governor Dukakis’ (then Bush’s presidential opponent) lenient prison policy. Horton enjoyed his “weekend pass” and decided to pass up going back to prison for the rest of his life. He was a killer, rapist, and liar but he wasn’t stupid. He skipped to Maryland and raped a young lady twice, and gagged, bound, pistol-whipped, knifed, and tortured her fiancé. Willie is still alive and living off the taxpayers of Massachusetts.
Oh, by the way, Willie is black and when the Willy Horton ad was aired, the Liberals went ballistic: It was racist! (Isn’t everything?) Everyone knew that the ad was factual but it was insensitive and even racist to mention the facts against a soft-on-crime presidential candidate. It is incredible that Republican officials were so defensive about it! After all, don’t all sane people want to know why Willie was not in prison? I want to know why he is not in a grave.
Shameless Liberals still play the same song over and over as if Bush did a dirty, dishonest, and disreputable trick. He simply told the facts, just the facts, but Liberals and non-thinkers (but then I repeat myself) can’t handle the facts.
Keep the negative ads running; the media needs the stimulus.
I am Don Boys and I approve this message!