US Presidential Election History: The Toughest Presidential Battles in The US History

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in a heated battle for who will be elected the next president of the United States. The battle is fierce with Trump going against the norm and willing to say anything that is on his mind – even if no other politician in the world will.

The election is turning into a heated battle, but it doesn’t measure up to some of the toughest presidential battles that the United States has faced.

Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams – 1828

The election of 1828 was a bitter one. Jackson was a poor southern man that was abused as a child and went on to be a military hero that appealed to the people. Adams, the son of Founding Father John Adams was rich, traveled the world and had a complete opposite life compared to Jackson.

Jackson won the popular vote in the 1824 election winning 11 states, 43% of the popular vote and 99 electoral votes. Jackson surpassed all other candidates, but he didn’t gather the majority of electoral votes to win the race.

The House of Representatives would decide who would be president, and they picked Adams.

Henry Clay gave his support to Adams in a deal that would put Clay as the Secretary of State. Clay was an influential congressman and also ran for president in 1824. Jackson’s supporters would call the deal made between Clay and Adams the “Corrupt Bargain.”

Fast forward to 1828, Jackson was prepared for the election and worked to garner support since 1824.

Adams used a slew of “skeletons” to discredit Jackson, including:

  • He killed a man in a duel
  • He had a horrible temper
  • Claims that his wife never divorced her first husband swirled

Newspapers even claimed that Jackson chased away his wife’s husband and stole her away.

The bitter rivalry got so heated that Adams started to withdraw from active campaigning because the insults were so intense. One paper wrote “Jackson’s mother was a common prostitute.”

Jackson became so offended that he continued his bid for presidency and won with a vote of 56% and 178 electoral votes.

The Toughest Elections in Terms of a Close Race

The election of Jackson was even more complicated with his wife dying from dismay after his election, and Jackson blaming Adams for her death. But there have been tougher elections fought in terms of both candidates being close in the popular vote.

1960 John F. Kennedy Defeats Richard Nixon

Kennedy would go on to become president and eventually get assassinated. Before the sad day, Kennedy battled fiercely with Nixon winning the popular vote by a mere 0.2%.

1844 James Polk Defeats Henry Clay

The deal Clay made with Adams was overlooked in the 1844 election when he squared off against James Polk. Polk beat Clay in the election winning by a slim 1.4% in the popular vote and by just 65 electoral votes.

1880 James Garfield Defeats Winfield Hancock

Garfield and Hancock had one of the closest races in history. Garfield won the popular vote by less than 2,000 votes, or a slim 0.1%. He won the electoral vote by just 59.

The Trump and Clinton election may be odd, and the stakes have changed with a billionaire showing that even people without political experience can be elected as a party nominee. But Trump and Clinton’s general election is not likely to be as close or fierce as those in the past.

Written by Andrew


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