You’ve heard it before: American politics have never been nastier or more divisive than they are today. Just witness the recent words of one recent front-runner candidate, who told told the media his opponent was a hermaphrodite, because he was too weak to be a man but too ugly to be a woman.

The front-runner’s hatchet men counter-attacked. They called his opponent a nasty low-life who was the vile offspring of a mulatto and an Indian. He was a bloodthirsty war-monger who wanted to trigger a war with America’s enemies, leading to a national orgy of “rape, incest, and adultery.”

The slurs kept piling up. The front-runner was called a criminal and fascist. The opponent was called an atheist cowardly weakling.

Does this sound like words passed between the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns in 2016? They weren’t— these were insults traded between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in the 1800 election.

Jefferson’s camp described Adams as having a “hideous hermaphroditical character.” Adams’ men called Vice President Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.”

As you can see, American elections have always been vicious. To dive into this topic, I have on the show David Severa, host of the podcast called Early and Often – the History of Elections in America. We talk about the history of voting in the United States, all the way from the earliest colonial days to the present.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Early and Often: The History of Elections in America