According to the Washington Post, Hillary Clinton raised $1.4 billion in the 2016 election, and Donald Trump raised $957.6 million. Imagine if they spent 100% of those campaign funds on booze? Well, that’s what our first President George Washington did when he was a young candidate for the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1758.
According to PBS, “Washington spent his entire campaign budget — 50 pounds — on 160 gallons of liquor served to 391 voters. The custom of buying votes with booze was one of the English traditions imported to the American colony. Washington also was following a Virginia tradition in which barrels of liquor were rolled to courthouse lawns and polling places on Election Day.”
Here’s the thing, the year prior, 1757, the then twenty-five-year-old George Washington actually lost his first election. When reflecting upon the defeat, “he attributed [it] to his failure to provide enough alcohol for the voters” according to Daniel Okrent in his book Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. “When he tried again two years later, Washington floated into office partly on the 144 gallons of rum, punch, hard cider and beer his election agent handed out—roughly half a gallon for every vote he received.” That must’ve been one nasty hangover.