As the mud starts to fly in the last days of campaign 2012, historian and author David McCullough, R, tells Morley Safer that the current name-calling pales in comparison to the days of old. Recounting how Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams in 1800, McCullough says Jefferson paid a journalist to write that his opponent was a mentally unbalanced hermaphrodite. Adams spread the word that a Jefferson victory would mean murder, rape, and robbery in the streets. But the two candidates never got along apparently.

Years before, when Adams was George Washington's vice president says McCullough, "They went after at each other on the floor with fire tongs...Imagine how that would look on the nightly news?" Philadelphia's historic Carpenter's Hall, in the photo attached, is a backdrop for this 60 Minutes story that looks at the elections and the country's current state through the prism of history.

Safer's story will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7:00 p.m. PT.

Tougher campaign in 1800? I find that hard to believe,
I'll ask Linda Numbers.