Fake news and polarisation in the 1828 US presidential election

Thought fake news and polarisation in the 2016 US Presidential election was bad? 1828 was worse… much, much worse.

The 1828 US Presidential election between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams is notable for its mudslinging – much of which was completely made up.

Jackson, particularly, became the butt of several scandals. Perhaps most prominent was the apparent immorality’ of his marriage to a divorcee, who was not officially divorced at the time of their wedding. He also came under attack for trading in slaves and putting militiamen to death during his time in the military.

But Adams did not survive unscathed – a rumour was spread that during his time as a Minister to Russia, he arranged an American servant girl to satisfy the sexual desires of the Tsar. Also that he was using public money to fund a gambling habit, even though he merely purchased a pool table and a chess set.

In the event of Jackson’s eventual victory, a drunken mob invaded the incumbent Adams’ White House and trashed it.

Saying that, millions of people did take to the streets to protest Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Maybe it was even more polarised – just slightly more civil.