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Home Living Her Vote Epic Political Rivalries From U.S. History

Epic Political Rivalries From U.S. History

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The United States history has a long line of political rivalries, some more humorous than others and surprisingly, some more violent too.Here are some of the most epic rivalries to ever grace the land of the free and the home of the brave (and the place for crazy political feuds). 

Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton

ABurrAHamPhoto Credit: boweryboyshistory.com

Nothing set the stage for the tumultuous future of American politics like the legendary feud between Vice President Aaron Burr and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

The bickering began as a few professional disagreements, that soon led to personal attacks, and came to a dramatic conclusion with a straight up gun fight. The fight came at an unfortunate time in history when the tradition of duels was in the process of being outlawed but were still taking place.

If Hamilton or Burr were alive today, they'd probably tell you this duel was a bad idea. Hamilton ended up losing his life, but Burr's political career was irreparably tarnished. The unpopularity he suffered as a result of killing the man who would one day gaze at us from the face of the 10 dollar bill brought his career to an end. 

Senator Charles Sumner vs. Congressman Preston Brooks

CaningPhoto Credit: trendingbuffalo.com

Anyone who thinks American politics are too barbaric today needs a history lesson. In 1856, beating your rival within inches of death with a walking stick not only didn't get you fired, but was a great way to elevate your political career.

The Caning of Charles Sumner, as it came to be known, is now seen as the moment when civil discourse began to break down in the years leading up to the Civil War. Representative Preston Brooks attacked Senator Charles Sumner two days following a speech from Sumner calling for the abolition of slavery. 

Brooks quickly rose to the status of hero in the South, with the Richmond Enquirer printing that the attack was "good in conception, better in execution, and best of all in consequences." Brooks, who received no prison sentence, was fined $300 for the assault.

Richard Nixon vs. JFK 

NixonJFK Photo Credit: SquareSpace.com

The Kennedys were pretty much the opposite of Richard Nixon. The beloved, attractive, and powerful family of career politicians cast a shadow so large Nixon spent his entire career trying to escape it. 

Even serving as Vice President of the United States wasn't enough to prove himself to the country when he went head to head with JFK. The very first televised presidential debates proved disastrous for Nixon, who looked downright ghoulish next to the photogenic Kennedy.

It would be nearly a decade before Nixon would reemerge as a presidential candidate. After the national upheaval of the 1960's and assassinations of JFK and RFK, Nixon was viewed as a beacon of stability and trust in American politics. Well, we all know how that turned out...

President Ronald Reagan vs. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill

ReaganTip Photo Credit: UTexas.edu

Presidents and Congress are rarely BFFs, but the rivalry between Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill in the 1980's was truly popcorn-worthy. The two politicians publicly insulted each other on a weekly basis and never backed down from a fight.

While O'Neill would routinely remind voters to "trust, but verify" when listening to Reagan and accused him of being a "cheerleader for selfishness," the President would in turn liken O'Neill to the video game character Pac-Man, saying he was a, "round thing that gobbles up money." 

Obama vs. "Birthers"

The matter of where Barack Obama was born has been settled for a long time, but some people refuse to give up the idea he was not birthed on U.S. soil. Donald Trump has assumed leadership of the "birther" conspiracy theorists and has led the charge in pursuing the "truth" about where Obama was born. 

Unfortunately for Trump, the truth sits on a valid birth certificate from the state of Hawaii. Both the short and long form birth certificates were released leading up to the President's two elections. In 2011, Obama finally fought back by taking a few jabs at the issue (and Donald Trump) during a White House Correspondents Dinner.