Thomas Jefferson was attacked by ministers who accused him of being an “infidel” and an “unbeliever.” A Federalist cartoon depicted him as a drunken anarchist, and the president of Yale warned that if Jefferson came to power, “we may see our wives and daughters the victims of legal prostitution.” A Connecticut newspaper warned that his election would mean “murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced” — though the paper, which is now the Hartford Courant, did apologize some years later.
In 1993. “You turned out to be a good influence on America,” the editors wrote. Whoops! Never mind.
John Adams, the sitting president, got hit with his share of slung mud that year. James Callender, a journalist who was in league with Jefferson, told the country that Adams was a rageful, lying, warmongering fellow, a “repulsive pedant” and “gross hypocrite” who behaved neither like a man nor like a woman but instead possessed a “hideous hermaphroditical character.” There was also a nasty rumor that Adams had sent his veep to Europe to bring back four mistresses, two for each of them.
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