While the younger generation may think the current Presidential election is the most contentious in history, you probably remember quite a few other instances when the passing of the Presidential torch was far from an easy handoff. Below are stories of Presidential transitions, old and new, good and bad, which remind us that it’s not always a smooth road to the Oval Office.
In our last Presidential transition, which was viewed as rather seamless, President Obama says former President George W. Bush advised him to trust himself despite what the media says about him. He also encouraged Obama to use hand sanitizer when shaking all those hands. And Bush’s dad before him left a rather touching letter to the President-Elect, Bill Clinton, telling him: “Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.”
However, not all sitting Presidents have been as generous to their successors as the Bushes. One example is Clinton’s staffers, who pranked the incoming Bush administration, removing the “W” key on dozens of computers and costing them about $13,000!
In 1932, before Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office, the sitting President Herbert Hoover is said to have refused to speak directly to the President-elect, and instead, spoke through his aide. It’s also been reported that Hoover had his Treasury Secretary lecture Roosevelt on “the importance of the gold standard, the stability of the banking system and the problem of Europe’s war debt,” and described the incoming President as “very badly informed and of comparably little vision.” The ill will was probably no surprise as Roosevelt had referred to Hoover as a “fat, timid capon” during the earlier campaign.
A century before, in the race between incumbent John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, the newspapers smeared Jackson and his wife because the couple had met—and actually married—while his wife was married to someone else. (Mrs. Jackson suffered a heart attack before Jackson was able to take office.) When Jackson won the election, his supporters stormed the White House and President Adams was forced to flee out the back.