When General Andrew Jackson, the hero of New Orleans married his wife, Rachel she was still married to her first husband, Lewis Robards. The couple always claimed that Robards told them he had submitted the divorce papers. He, of course, denied it.
Jackson remarried Rachel in 1794, but the scandal resurfaced decades later when he ran for president in 1824. Jackson still managed to win the popular vote and even gained the most electoral college votes, but without a clear majority it fell to the House of Representatives to name the new president. After only one round of voting, John Quincy Adams was named the sixth president of the United States.
Four years later, the same ugly stories once more reared their heads. It is said that throughout his life Andrew Jackson fought thirteen duels. Many of them over his wife’s honor. This time, however, Jackson had the satisfaction of soundly thrashing Adams in the race for the presidency. Unfortunately, just two weeks after the results were known, and before her husband took office, Rachel Jackson died. Andrew Jackson blamed the scandal mongering and never forgave John Quincy Adams or his party.
Why is it that we tend to think of history as decorous and well-mannered? I guess politics has always been an ugly business.