America's actually had worse presidential races than this one

If you're a Hamilton fan, you know that the Burr-Jefferson race of 1800 was such a shitshow that it ended up with the Vice President-elect murdering his most vocal critic after assuming office.

Both the 1796 and 1800 races were characterized by extreme, divisive rhetoric. In 1796, the Federalists spreading racist fear by claiming that Jefferson was mixed-race and would free enslaved people if elected, leading to "a civil war and a national orgy of rape, incest, and adultery." The Democratic-Republicans countered that John Adams was secretly in the thrall of the King of England, and also mocked him for being fat.

1800 was even worse, though, with Democratic Republicans saying that Adams had a "hideous hermaphroditical character" and Federalists calling Jefferson the "son of a half-breed Indian squaw sired by a Virginia mulatto father." While they were insulting each other, they were also both energetically trying to rig the ballot to the other side's detriment.

Then there was 1828, which saw Andrew "Genocidal Maniac" Jackson promoted to the Oval Office after losing in 1824 (despite winning the popular and electoral votes!).

In the popular press, the rhetorical attacks reached a level of cruelty and misrepresentation not seen since the election of 1800. Jackson was accused of multiple murders, of extreme personal violence [he did kill a guy in a duel], and of having lived in sin with his wife, Rachel, who herself was attacked as a bigamist. Adams, on the other hand, was attacked for his legalistic attitudes, for his foreign-born wife, and for reportedly having procured young American virgins for the Russian czar as the primary achievement of his diplomatic career. Adams's critics referred to him as "His Excellency" while Jackson came under attack as an ill-mannered, barely civilized, backwoods killer of Indians.

The Worst Presidential Race in American History

[Kevin Underhill/Lowering the Bar]