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Political Feuds: 5 Most Shocking Ones in the US

…What do you know about political feuds?

People fight, and that’s a fact. They began to do so from the beginning of the world, when they started to confront each other to get the best spaces to build homes and communities.

To be honest, our world is built on political relationships and political feuds. The narrative of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, for instance, is well known in the United States. Besides that, their duel in 1804 is one of the most well-known examples of political violence in our country.

This is hardly the only example of excess in political contests or legislative sessions, and you’ll read more about it in a couple of seconds. Several past political disputes in America have turned violent, and many of them ended badly.

There have always been tyrants whose destructive behavior runs counter to the ideals of democracy. Sadly, one or more of these has resulted in death. It’s our duty to know more about the history of our beloved country so that we can better understand the world we live in.

With that said, here are the 5 most vicious and violent political feuds in American history.

political feud
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1. John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson

The first political feud on our list is about a fight between 2 powerful men who both wanted to be President of the United States. In the 1828 presidential election between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, tensions were already high, and both men were angry and anxious.

It had been 4 years since the 2 competitors met, and Adams had won that race. According to sources, historians have found a lot of questionable backroom political dealings that went in Adams’s favor the first time around.

Then, in 1828, during John Quincy Adams’s 2nd campaign, he started spreading lies about Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachel. The resources he used to have a successful campaign were not appreciated by the public or the officials, and Jackson was the winner.

But sadly, Rachel passed away before Jackson could be installed as president after he had won the election. He was furious that his beloved wife was no longer by his side, and he took Adams’ accusations seriously.

The 1829 inauguration day saw Jackson’s followers in an animated state, all of them ready to support their favorite in every way he needed. After he was sworn in as president, his fans surrounded the White House.

The crowd wanted to pay their respects to the new leader and his dead wife and was looking for Adams to seek revenge. Adams was aware of the fact that the White House had a secret exit, so he used it to get out safely.

Even though Adams has gotten away unscathed, others were not so fortunate. Margaret Smith, a socialite, saw the brutal incident that occurred on that day in January 1829.

She described the spectacle of men fighting in the White House in a letter to a friend, saying that ladies collapsed, guys were seen with bloody noses, and everything was such a picture of chaos that it is difficult to describe.

…Did you know about this political feud?

2. Thomas Hart Benton and Henry Foote

In 1850, the death of John C. Calhoun, a man who was a prominent South Carolina politician, merited commemoration from all the people in town. Instead, it served as a political feud for the legislators who kept fighting before the Civil War.

The main argument started during the funeral for Calhoun, when Henry Foote of Mississippi and Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri began talking badly to one another.

Many people were scared that a violent episode might begin, especially Vice President Millard Fillmore, who felt very anxious, but their political feud wasn’t physically violent.

On April 3rd, 1950, Millard Fillmore sent out a warning. He wrote that even a subtle hint might provoke a senator into a more aggressive reaction and that this spirals into chaos when each senator assigns their own motives to the previous act of hostility.

People thought that the note written by Vice President Fillmore might convince the 2 men to stop fighting and finally start getting along, but it didn’t happen. Only 2 weeks later, the political feud received new rights.

Benton walked over to where Foote was during the altercation. The senator from Mississippi, Foote, thought he was in danger, so he took out a gun and aimed it at Benton. Fortunately, nothing deadly happened. With the encouragement of his other senators, Foote eventually threw down his weapon.

No one was hurt in the process of separating the males. Even though no one was wounded, the destructive political feud that would eventually lead to the Civil War had begun.

political feud
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3. Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold

Matthew Lyon of Vermont and Roger Griswold of Connecticut had a rocky relationship. They couldn’t even stand one another, and they always came up with different ways to upset each other.

For example, in 1798, Lyon spat tobacco juice in Griswold’s eye and insulted the Federalist by calling him a wimp. That’s exactly why Griswold was so excited when the Republicans that year spoke out against the impending war with France.

Griswold was an advocate of then-President John Adams’ hawkish stance against France, and he criticized Lyon for not agreeing with the war. At the end of January 1798, the House of Representatives got together to talk about whether or not to kick Lyon out of the country for spitting in Griswold’s face.

Griswold’s Federalist allies failed to gather enough support to drive out Lyon, so the Connecticut politician made an attempt at self-government.

One day after the vote failed, on February 15th, Griswold approached Lyon in the chamber with a hickory cane and started saying bad things about the stunned legislator. Lyon grabbed a nearby fire stoker to protect himself, and the battle was on.

…What can we say? That was indeed a strong political feud!

4. Jonathan Cilley and William Graves

The politics of the 1830s were very divisive, among many other things that didn’t go well in the country. A lot of Democrats thought that the mainstream media was biased against them and also against the Whigs.

For years in a row, political opponents complained about being misrepresented in the media. But in 1838, they were sick of it, so the debate about prejudice reached a pinnacle.

Representative Jonathan Cilley of Maine gave a speech on the House floor at the beginning of that year. He said that Whig leaders had paid off John Webb, who was the editor of a newspaper. When Webb found out about the accusation, he became so enraged that he wrote to Cilley and dared him to a fight.

The journalist asked Kentucky Representative William Graves to deliver his letter to him. After Graves and Cilley finally met face-to-face, the Maine congressman flatly declined to accept the written challenge.

William Graves, completely angry due to Cilley’s seeming affront, issued a dueling challenge of his own. Cilley gave in to Graves’s wrath out of frustration.

2 people who had never had any kind of political feud decided to have a gunfight in February of that year. Two of the shots taken that fateful day, one each by Graves and Cilley, were wide of the target. For Graves, though, the third attempt was the charm. After taking a bullet from the Kentucky man’s pistol, Cilley eventually died of his wounds.

…Have you ever heard about this political feud? What do you think about it?

5. David Terry and David Broderick

Even though they belonged to the same political party, David Terry and David Broderick both eventually resorted to violence to solve the issues between them.

Both men were Democrats in the state of California during the 1850s, but they disagreed strongly on the topic of slavery. Terry, who was the Chief Justice of California’s Supreme Court, supported slavery and tried to get his state into the Union as a slave state.

On the other hand, Senator Broderick advocated for California’s independence, as he was completely against slavery. Sources say that prior to the Civil War, their public quarrel caused a rift in their relationship.

However, Terry was not re-elected to the state Supreme Court in 1859. Terrified by the defeat, Terry placed the blame on Broderick’s anti-slavery activism. The pro-slavery lawmaker used a speech after the election to alter the public I’mage of his old ally.

But the political feud started when Broderick publicly responded to Terry’s remarks. Sources say that David Terry reportedly challenged Broderick to a duel. The 2 politicians decided to put an end to the fight on September 13th, 1859.

After a coin flip, Broderick was given command of the troops, while Terry got to choose the weaponry. Terry’s decision was fatal since he chose guns that Broderick wouldn’t have known how to use. (Is that considered cheating?)

Despite the abolitionist’s gun failing to discharge, Terry’s did not, and Broderick was killed. The statesman who fought against slavery died a hero for his cause, as many people said about him. Terry, meanwhile, left California to join the Confederate cause during the Civil War.

…Which one of these political feuds do you think was the most important for the way our country has developed over the years? Tell us in the comment section, because we’re curious to know more about your point of view!

…If you want to know more about the thing that shaped our country’s history, you should definitely give this article a try: 9 Italian Americans Who Changed the Course of History!


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