Smear Tactics: The Dirtiest Tricks In American Politics

Published April 26, 2015
Updated January 12, 2018

Andrew Jackson Versus John Quincy Adams

Coffin Handbill political smear campaign

One of John Adams’ “Coffin Handbills” attacking Andrew Jackson.

Peppered with coffins, these handbills handed out by supporters of John Quincy Adams in 1828 were meant to suggest that his challenger, Andrew Jackson, had ordered the murders of militiamen and Native Americans (and he would do so again).

It also suggested that he and his wife were adulterers, since she was technically married to another man when the Jacksons wed.

No matter–Jackson took office for the first time in 1828, just after his wife died from, as Jackson implied, the shame of being slandered by these campaign handbills.

Chris Altman
Chris Altman is a freelancing writer and artist based out of Brooklyn, NY.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.