Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pre-Election Day Trivia

The 2016 presidential election strains nerves, creates tensions among friends and family, subjects us to endless media hype, and appears never-ending. The good news is the campaign will end soon. One remedy to survive the circus is ignoring the 24/7 media deluge and avoiding political discussions. Or temporarily relocate to a remote island, iceberg, or mountaintop, an alternative unfeasible for most of us.

The following collection of Presidential election trivia, presented to brighten your day and forget for a few minutes the craziness, includes NOTHING about the current election, but will hopefully make you smile.

A few antics and anecdotes from the political past:

The only "clean" campaign in American history occurred (most likely) in 1789, the first Presidential election. George Washington was the only candidate. Yet the election was not without its seamy side. Nine individuals vied for Vice President. At the time no distinction was made between Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, so technically everyone on the ballot ran for President. Alexander Hamilton (the Hamilton of current Broadway fame and the man killed by Aaron Burr in a duel) worked behind the scenes to undermine the Electoral College vote for a potential vice president, John Adams.

 Although the only Presidential candidate, Washington indulged in old-fashioned political campaigning. He purchased 160 gallons of liquor, depleting his campaign budget of 50 pounds. (How much would 50 pounds be in today’s dollars? About $7,500.) The alcohol was supplied for a number of Virginia voters on Election Day – 391 people. Washington followed a Virginia tradition of rolling barrels of liquor onto courthouse lawns and polling places on Election Day.

Democrats use a donkey as their mascot thanks to Andrew Jackson. When critics called him a “jackass” because of his populist views, he adopted the image, using it along with his slogan, “Let the people rule.”

The Republican mascot is an elephant. The reference dates to a Thomas Nast cartoon published in 1874 where Nast used an elephant to represent the Republican vote.

The John Quincy Adams/Andrew Jackson election of 1824 sunk to the level of bathroom language. Jackson called JQ Adams a pimp for prostituting an American girl to a Russian Czar, and JQ Adams called Jackson's wife a convicted adulteress.

The term 'O.K.' probably originated in the 1830s as an abbreviation for 'all(orl) correct'. When Martin Van Buren entered politics he became known as 'Old Kinderhook,' referencing his hometown Kinderhook, New York. People began using the term O.K. when referring to Van Buren; eventually the word okay became part of the American lexicon.

Congress designated the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November for Election Day in 1845. The day and date allowed people to observe the Sabbath, travel to vote, and return home for Wednesday, the traditional Market Day. The date was designated only for presidential elections, but it started a trend. The earliest Election Day can be November 2; the latest November 8. In 2016 not only must we endure an excruciating campaign, voting is scheduled on the latest possible date.

During the 1872 campaign President Ulysses S. Grant ran for a second term against a corpse. His opponent, Horace Greeley, died before the Electoral College finalized election results. This was the only time a candidate died during a Presidential race.

Susan B. Anthony was arrested for attempting to vote in the 1872 presidential election. Sojourner Truth, a former slave and activist, also demanded a ballot. She was denied the right to vote. American women of all races won the right to vote in 1920.

The secret ballot did not become a universal Election Day practice until the 1890s.

One of the worst campaign slogans in history, if not the worst, belongs to Al Smith, 1928 Presidential candidate (he lost to Herbert Hoover). Smith opposed prohibition (the law of the land from 1920-33). To show his support for the abolition of Prohibition and the production and sale of alcohol, he (or one of his genius advisers) created the rallying cry: “Vote for Al Smith and he’ll make your wet dreams come true.”

When George H.W. Bush was elected president, it was the first time since Martin Van Buren a sitting vice president had been elected. Van Buren succeeded Andrew Jackson.

Vote on Election Day.
To help get through the traumatic day
I will post an Election Day Trivia Quiz.
Stay tuned!

A favorite political quote:


  1. And can you imagine alcohol at polling places this election? It's going to be melee enough I am afraid. That thought woke me up in the middle of the night!

  2. This is the first fun post I have seen about this election. Thank you Meryl.

  3. I love this trivia! Had no idea about much of it.

  4. I think every blogger in the United States should run a blog post full of nature pictures, calming music videos and anything else to take our mind off this election. But your trivia helped, too.