So you think this election is dirty, eh?

The mudslinging has been building for months. Both the Obama and McCain campaigns have hunkered down in their trenches and have thrown dirt and mud and bits of glass by the handfuls.

"Terrorist lover!"
"Bush Jr.!"

And so on and so forth. Dirty, dirty, politics.

At times, we may be tempted to ruminate over the good ol' days when politics was more of a gentleman's game where the two candidates could set aside their differences when not soliciting voters out on the campaign trail.

Oh, wait. That's never really happened before. Politics has always been a dirty business.

Case in point: the election of 1828. John Quincy Adams vs. Andrew Jackson. (Gotta love historical dirt!)

The dirtiness of the 1828 election actually started four years earlier in the previous presidential election. In the election of 1824, John Quincy Adams won the presidency by what is now called "The Corrupt Bargain" because the House of Representatives had to step in and determine the outcome of the vote. Those in Jackson's camp cried afoul when the Speaker of the House Henry Clay gave the victory to Adams---and not to their beloved Old Hickory. Once Adams faced re-election four years later, Andrew Jackson was ready to fight.

So on one side of the ring we have John Quincy Adams. Son of the second president of the United States. Long-time member of Congress. Former ambassador to Russia. And on the other side of the ring we have Andrew Jackson. A populist. A military man known for his hot temper. The hero of the Battle of New Orleans.

Even though the two candidates differed sharply on the important issues of their day, the ensuing campaign resorted to personality attacks and vicious rumor-mongering that defined the epitome of dirty politics.

The Adams camp had plenty of material to choose from in their derision of Old Hickory. They focused mainly on Jackson's incendiary temper and how he killed a man during a duel and how he ordered the execution of militiamen accused of desertion. Perhaps the lowest blow though was when the Adams campaign unleashed a personal attack on Jackson's wife, which called into question the legitimacy of their marriage and accused her of bigamy.

The Jackson camp was quick and ready to fire back. They mocked Adams as an elitist. They alleged he had bought a billiards table for the White House and had charged the government for the purchase. (How shocking!) And yet, these were merely petty charges compared to what came next. Jackson supporters started a rumor saying how Adams purchased a prostitute for the Russian czar during his tenure as an ambassador. Of course, the attack was wholly unsubstantiated, but the Jackson campaign delighted in the rumor-mongering---even to the point of calling the president a "pimp." (Adams was so offended by the accusation that he refused to write in his diary from August 1828 until the end of the election.)

Eventually, Jackson went on to defeat Adams in the election of 1828 and secured his spot as president. But his victory was bittersweet. His wife Rachel died shortly before his inauguration and Jackson blamed his political opponents for contributing to her death.

When Jackson arrived in Washington, he refused to pay the customary courtesy call where he paid a visit to the outgoing president. Later on, Adams retaliated by refusing to attend Old Hickory's inauguration. The 1828 campaign stayed bitter and nasty to the end.

And so, if you're sick and tired of this election... If you're counting down the days until November 4th... If you're restraining yourself from punching Sarah Palin (or Joe Biden) in the face...

Take heart, my friends. Be grateful you didn't live in 1828.