Election | Voting Public | Dirty
Campaigning | Victory
of the greatest misconceptions of modern presidential politics is
that campaigning gets dirtier every year.
"attack ads" take offensive precedence above substance and the press
exposes bare the private lives of our public figures. Many refer
to the good ole days of the last century when noble politicians
debated issues of substance. Yet dirty campaigns have been with
us since our first presidential campaignGeorge Washington
Reached New Heights
But even among a long history of dirty campaigning, the Campaign
of 1828 stood out as the worst. Attacks on Jackson were unparalleled
in American political history. His opponents accused him of murder,
gambling, slave trading and treason. They called him a 'military
chieftain,' and said his mother was a prostitute, his father a mulatto
man, and his wife a bigamist. "Mrs. Jackson once found her
husband in tears pointing to a paragraph reflecting on his mother
and said, 'Myself I can defend; you I can defend; but now they have
assailed even the memory of my mother." 
Due to the awkward circumstances surrounding their marriage, unfortunately
some elements of the story of Rachel and Andrew's marriage were
true according to the law. Rachel and Andrew were living as husband
and wife for two years before they found out that her first husband
had actually never completed the divorce. She was still technically
married to Lewis Robards. This made Rachel Jackson a bigamist and
an adulteress and Andrew Jackson a man of questionable character.
Robards did finally move forward and obtain a divorce in 1793. For
the record, Andrew and Rachel married in Nashville in 1794. During
the campaign Jackson's opponents retold the story accusing Jackson
of dishonorable intentions and Rachel of unfaithfulness.
Jackson supporters were by no means innocent. Adams was accused
of installing gambling tables in the White House at the public expense,
of padding his expense account, and even of pimping women for the
Tsar of Russia. >>>
1. James Parton, The Life of Andrew Jackson,
Volume III (New York: Mason Brothers, 1861) p. 143.
V. Remini, Andrew Jackson, Volume One, The Course of American
Empire, 1767-1821 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1998) Chapter 5, "Marriage."
V. Remini, Andrew Jackson, Volume Two, The Course of American
Freedom, 1822-1832 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1998) Chapter 8, "Triumph and Tragedy."
James Parton, The Life of Andrew Jackson, Volume III (New
York: Mason Brothers, 1861)