I admit I was surprised to see these Harry S Truman remarks (credit, Instapundit) during his campaign against Thomas Dewey in 1948. I had thought of Truman as a decent guy who received unfair criticism, and I had always thought of politics before 1964 or at most 1968 as a more civil time, all the way back to the Harding era or thereabouts. I suppose that just turns out to be chronocentrism on my part. I do recall an article, I think by Dave Barry though I can't find it, on his parents discussing politics with neighbors without the current rancor we have grown used to.
Well, perhaps so. Perhaps the hateful rhetoric came mostly from the candidates and their direct representatives in those days, while the rest of us went on more calmly - a reverse of today's practice of candidates leaving the most insulting rhetoric to their proxies while they are merely "impassioned," or "firm," or whatever. I don't believe that Trump, for all the accusations that he has destroyed a previous civility and brought us to new depths, has said anything about Cruz, or Hillary, or anyone else equivalent to fascist, and the suggestion worse than communist. Hinting at those or making indirect connections doesn't count. Doesn't count for this discussion, anyway. Those might count for plenty in our posited History of Incivility.
Is that civility before our recent era a myth? I am interested in quotes by presidential and vice-presidential candidates, from oh, 1920-1996 flexible, or quotes from campaign ads approved by the candidate, that seem remarkably hateful, intemperate, or unfair. Any party. That magazines or comedians said terrible things about Nixon or Coolidge I expect, and I'm not looking for that. If you have a vague memory of something, google it or look through your libraries and see if you can nail it down. I have a couple of ready quotes and a guess of a theory, but not just yet.
If those of you who have sites where this would be appropriate could pass this on I'd be grateful.