Coffin Handbills

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Part of a Coffin Handbill.

The Coffin Handbills were a series of pamphlets attacking Andrew Jackson during the 1828 United States presidential election. Jackson was running against incumbent John Quincy Adams, who decided to attack Jackson's ethics and moral character. The first handbill (titled The Coffin Handbill) was produced by Charles Hammond, a colonel in the U.S. Army. Hammond, a friend and political ally of Henry Clay, did not like Adams; however, he decided to help the Adams campaign by smearing Jackson. Hammond's first handbill alleged that Jackson had executed several deserters during and after the War of 1812 and Creek War.

Later pamphlets attacked Jackson's ethics. One criticized Jackson for allegedly being an adulterer. (Jackson's wife's divorce was, unknown to her, not official). Hammond wrote: "Ought a convicted adulteress and her paramour husband be placed in the highest offices of this free and christian land?" Another handbill claimed that Jackson's mother was a prostitute brought by British soldiers to the United States.

As a result of these allegations, the term "Coffin Handbill" became synonymous with a smear attack on a political candidate.