Do you think it got rough out there this year? Not so fast, my friends. In 1796-
The Federalists published anonymous letters accusing Jefferson of having been a coward during the Revolution (scandalous!) and of having an affair with one of his slaves (scandalous! also true!). They also claimed Jefferson was mixed-race himself and that he planned to free all the slaves if he won (scandalous! also false), showing that playing the “race card” is nothing new. (Fun fact: The guy who wrote many of these slurs was Alexander Hamilton.) Other Adams supporters warned that Jefferson’s election “would result in a civil war and a national orgy of rape, incest, and adultery,” and that his supporters were “cut-throats who walk in rags and sleep amid filth and vermin[!].”
The other side, meanwhile, accused Adams of being sympathetic to England, being a monarchist (partly because he thought presidents should be called “His Excellency”), and even for being overweight, ingeniously combining the last two by referring to Adams as “His Rotundity.” They fat-shamed John Adams!
Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Read the whole article here– we Americans have a long history of political nastiness. This year was relatively mild by comparison.