THE DIRTIEST CAMPAIGN IN
Andrew Jackson v. John Quincy Adams, President, 1828
There are many historians who would put this campaign in first place, as the most negative ever. This was no mere political campaign; it was a four-yearlong struggle between two political factions, two different regions of the country, and two radically different views of life and of governing. This may be the only presidential campaign that led directly to someone's death.
It's hard to imagine a more negative campaign. Jackson's opponents called him a murderer, a drunkard, an adulterer, a petty thief, and a liar. The proJackson forces labeled Adams a tyrant, a gambler, a spendthrift, and a pimp. And all of that was before the newspapers got involved.
Jackson and Adams faced each other twice for the presidency, in 1824 and 1828. The 1824 election descended into chaos, as Jackson actually received more electoral votes than any of his three opponents—Adams, Henry Clay, and William Crawford—but not enough to constitute a majority. As a result, the election was thrown into the House of Representatives for only the second time in the nation's young history.
Before the House met to vote, Adams and Clay met in secret and concocted a deal. Clay announced his support for Adams, dismissing Jackson as a mere "military chieftain," unfit for the office of the presidency. With Clay's