Donald Trump is being mocked by some for his brash, aggressive zingers but he might not hold a candle to some of the Founding Fathers. In fact, John Adams was the Donald Trump of his day.
Some of his more famous insults follow. They’re quite something!
1. ON BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
“His whole life has been one continued insult to good manners and to decency.”
2. ON ALEXANDER HAMILTON
“That bastard brat of a Scottish peddler!
“What a pity it is that our Congress had not known this discovery, and that Alexander Hamilton’s projects of raising an army of fifty thousand Men, ten thousand of them to be Cavalry and his projects of sedition Laws and Alien Laws and of new taxes to support his army, all arose from a superabundance of secretions which he could not find whores enough to draw off! and that the same vapours produced his Lyes and Slanders by which he totally destroyed his party forever and finally lost his Life in the field of Honor.”
After Hamilton’s death, Adams went on a private quest to sink Hamilton’s reputation. Adams shared rumors about Hamilton’s romantic indiscretions and ambitions to many powerful people in his private circles, including Dr. Benjamin Rush and Adams’ cousin, William Cunningham.
3. ON THOMAS PAINE’S COMMON SENSE
“What a poor, ignorant, malicious, crapulous mass.” He was comparing it to the Mecklenburg Declarations in a letter to Thomas Jefferson.
4. ON THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA
“Phyladelphia [sic], with all its trade and wealth and regularity, is not Boston. The morals of our people are much better; their manners are more polite and agreeable… Our language is better, our taste is better, our persons are handsomer; our spirit is greater, our laws are wiser, our religion is better, our education is better. We exceed them in every thing, but in a market.”
5. ON THOMAS JEFFERSON
“instead of being the ardent pursuer of science that some think him, I know he is indolent, and his soul is poisoned with Ambition”
6. ON JOHN DICKINSON
While working as a member of the American revolution’s continental congress, Adams referred to one of his less-radical colleagues John Dickinson as “a piddling genius” in one of his letters—an insult which caused a good deal of uproar when the British intercepted and published the blunt document.
Imagine if these fellows had Twitter and Facebook!
Then there are the attack ads from 1800 via ReasonTV.
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams engaged in some truly outrageous mudslinging.
Journalists were even worse in 1800 than they are on cable TV today.
James Callender was an influential journalist of the time whose incendiary pamphlets had been secretly funded by Thomas Jefferson. He had an axe to grind for having been prosecuted and imprisoned by the Adams Administration for violating The Sedition Act.
Callender wrote 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.”