The presidential election of 2016 goes down in the annals of political campaigns as the dirtiest campaign ever waged; or is it.  The use of multi-media, social media and mass communication has made allegations a real time event and allows instantaneous responses from candidates.  For me, a person who enjoys observing the workings of our government and the living history that it produces, I’m ready for it to end and see if we can get back to building our country.  We really need to.

Things are bad and if you think this is unique, you would be wrong.  Muck raking and character assassination in presidential races goes back over two hundred years and is no more prevalent than a candidate that had his infamous fame burned into the legacy or our great state, Louisiana.

A one-time contender for the President of the United States began his public service for America at the age of thirteen when he served as courier for the Continental forces.  He was captured, almost starved to death and was slashed by an officer’s sword when he refused to polish the officer’s boots.

Following the War for Independence, he worked in a saddle shop then moved on to teaching school and finally became a frontier lawyer where he built a reputation for his ability to practice his new profession.  In 1796 he was elected to the U.S House of Representatives when Tennessee was allowed statehood.  The next year he was elected to the U.S. Senate.  In 1794 he formed a business with a John Overton to acquire a large track of land from the Chickasaw Indian Nation to be used for land speculation.  He negotiated the deal, invested in the purchase of the land and this eventually led to the founding of Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1812 our presidential candidate was in charge of the Tennessee Militia which included such great leaders as Sam Houston and David Crockett.  In addition to the War of 1812 with England, there was a bloody Indian uprising.  Our candidate put the uprising down and was named Brigadier General.  His next heroic act was depicted in a 1960s Ballad by Johnny Horton, “The Battle of New Orleans”.  It depicted the battle between the United States and England that was led for the Americans by General Andrew Jackson.

He would later run for the presidency and his first attempt in 1824 led to a defeat and he cried foul.  Jackson had won the majority of the popular votes and the majority of electorial votes.  There were four candidates so he did not have a clear majority so it went to the House of Representatives and the presidency went to John Quincy Adams amid cries of the election being stolen.

In 1828 Jackson was again running and his rivals referred to him as a “jackass”.  Jackson turned the tables on his rivals and adopted the image for his campaign.  This was later adopted as the symbol for the Democratic Party.

Probably the worst case of public degradation during the election was the attacks on Jackson’s wife.  They both thought that she was divorced when she married Jackson.  She was not and the Adams campaign led a vicious attack on Jackson and his wife.  The cry of bigamy was heard across the country; however, the popular candidate won the presidency.  His wife died before his inauguration.  At the funeral he stated “May God Almighty forgive her murderers.  I never can.”  He said that he would forgive those that attacked him but he would never forgive those that attacked his wife.

Jackson also came under attack for slavery.  He was not ridiculed for being a slave owner.  Instead he was ridiculed for his way he handled the slaves and moved them around.

Jackson’s administration was not immune from scandal and ridicule.  His Secretary of War’s wife had a past that was open to scrutiny.  Jackson’s Cabinet’s wives ostracized her and alienated the wife and her husband.  Jackson, remembering his own wife’s ridicule, fired or forced his cabinet into resignation.  The press fed on these stories.

Things are not good today but this election is not the only election to be a muck raker.  Wouldn’t it be nice if for the next three weeks we forgot the muck and let’s hear what really counts, how our country will be run for the next four years.


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