I recently finished reading a book titled Offbeat Kentuckians by Keven McQueen. It was great! I loved all the short kooky biographies.
One biography stood out for me though. It was of Leonard Jones. He is better remembered as Live-Forever Jones. He has many claims to fame one of them being that he ran repeatedly for the office of President of the United States in the 19th century.
Jones was born in 1797 in Virginia. He moved to Kentucky with his family when he was 7. He became a land speculator and amassed a fortune. However, the love of his life ended their engagement and broke his heart. His mental health seems to have suffered greatly as a result.
After trying out several religions, Jones fell in with a street preacher by the name of McDaniel who convinced Jones that he was immortal. According to McDaniel, death was a by-product of sin, and anyone could achieve immortality through prayer and fasting. Even though McDaniel died shortly thereafter, Jones took the message to heart and believed he was going to live forever.
Jones was also obsessed with politics. He formed a one man political party (The High Moral Party) and ran for a variety of offices. His big goal was to become President of the United States. Alas for Jones, he never won anything and got few votes. Jones filed a lawsuit against President Buchanan in 1856 on the grounds his name had not appeared on the ballot. He also sued Lincoln in 1860 trying to have the election declared invalid. He was ignored both times. When Lincoln was murdered in 1865, Jones took that as a sign from God that the "morally elected president" (himself) had not been allowed to serve.
Despite his obvious lunacy, the people of Louisville seemed to have liked Live-Forever Jones. They took care of him and often gave him money and goods. Despite what Jones believed, he did die in 1868 at the age 0f 71.
There have been a lot of "fringe" presidential candidates in American history. I think Live-Forever though may be at the top of the list!