In the 19th century, a number of new methods for conducting American election campaigns developed in the United States. For the most part the techniques were original, not copied from Europe or anywhere else. The campaigns were also changed by a general enlargement of the voting franchise—the states began removing or reducing property and tax qualifications for suffrage and by the early 19th century the great majority of free adult white males could vote (Rhode Island refused until a serious rebellion took place in 1844). During the Reconstruction Era, Republicans in Congress used the military to create a biracial electorate, but when the troops were removed in 1877, blacks steadily lost political power in the increasingly one-party South. After 1890 blacks generally lost the vote in the South.
The system was characterized by two major parties who dominated government at the local, state and national level, and enlisted most voters into a loyal "army" of supporters. There were numerous small third parties that usually were short-lived or inconsequential. The complex system of electing federal, state and local officials meant that election campaigns were both frequent and consequential in terms of political power. Nearly all government jobs were distributed on a patronage basis to party workers. The jobs were honorific and usually paid very well. The best way to get a patronage job was to work in the election campaign for the winning party, and volunteers were numerous. Elections provided Americans with much of their news. The elections of 1828–32, 1854–56, and 1894–96 are usually considered realigning elections.
Political parties in the 19th century thought of themselves as armies—as disciplined, hierarchical fighting organizations whose mission it was to defeat a clearly identified opponent. If defeated themselves, they knew how to retreat, regroup, and fight again another day. If they won, then the victory was sweet. In an era when many if not most political leaders had experience as militia officers, and perhaps had engaged in actual combat, structuring parties along a militaristic chain of command seemed logical enough. To fight a political battle, the party had to develop a chain-of-command. The heads of the state and national tickets were normally the acknowledged leaders. After the election leadership reverted to the state and county committees, or sometimes to state "bosses," with little power held by the national chairman. County committees sent delegates to the state convention, where state nominees were selected. In turn the county committees were based on local conventions — mass meetings that were open to any self-identified partisan. In the 1790s Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton created their supporting parties by working outward from the national capital, as did the Whigs in the 1830s. On the other hand, major third parties typically emerged from the state level, including the Anti-Masons, Republicans, Know-Nothings and Populists.
Theodore Roosevelt, before he became president in 1901, was deeply involved in New York City politics. He explains how the machine worked:
By 1800 the Jeffersonian Republicans had a well-developed system for recruiting troops throughout the country, and a correspondence system state and local party leaders used to keep in touch. As a Boston Federalist complained, "The jacobins have at last made their own discipline perfect; they are trained, officered, regimented and formed to subordination in a manner that our own militia have never yet equaled." The Federalists began to imitate their opponents' tactics, but were always too elitist to appreciate the value of a grass roots movement. The Democratic-Republican caucus in Congress chose presidential candidates for the party, while the Federalists invented (in 1812) a much more flexible system of a national convention. Unlike the caucus, the convention represented voters in every district, and the delegates were chosen specifically for the task of selecting candidates. By the 1830s, the standard had been established that participation in the convention identified the person with the party and required him to support the nominees selected at the convention. It was possible to bolt a convention before candidates were selected, as the southern Democrats did in 1860, and Roosevelt's supporters did in 1912. New York Democrats were perennially split into Hard and Soft factions, and the Whigs sometimes split as well. Typically, both factions claimed their ticket was the one true legitimate party ticket.
William Jennings Bryan perfected the technique of multiple appeals in 1896, running simultaneously as a regular Democrat, a Silver Republican, and a regular Populist. Voters of all parties could vote for him without a crossing their personal party loyalty. Most states soon thereafter banned the same person running on different tickets—one man, one party, one platform became the usual rule (except in New York, where third, fourth and fifth parties have flourished since the 1830s).
The basic campaign strategy was the maximum mobilization of potential votes. To find new supporters politicians systematically canvassed their communities, talking up the state and national issues of the day, and watching which themes drew the best responses. In such a large, complex, pluralistic nation, the politicians discovered that citizens were especially loyal to their own ethno-religious groups. These groups had distinctive moral perspectives and political needs. The Whigs and Republicans were especially effective in winning support among pietistic and evangelical denominations. During Reconstruction (1866–1876), the Republicans dominated the South with their strong base among African-Americans, augmented by Scalawags. The Democrats did much better among Catholics and other high-church (liturgical) groups, as well as among those who wanted minimal government, and among whites who demanded that African Americans not be granted political or social equality.
As the parties developed distinctive positions on issues such as the modernization of the economy and westward expansion, voters found themselves attracted to one party or the other. The Whigs and Republicans aggressively supported modernizing the economy, supporting banks, railroads, factories, and tariffs, and promised a rich home market in the cities for farm products. The Whigs always opposed expansion, as did the Republicans until 1898. The Democrats talked of agrarian virtues of the yeoman farmer, westward expansion, and how well rural life comported with Jeffersonian values.
Both parties set up campaign clubs, such as the Wide Awakes where young men paraded in torchlight processions wearing special uniforms and holding colorful banners. By the late century the parties in the Midwest combined to turn out over 90 percent of the eligible electorate in entire states, reaching over 95 percent in 1896 in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. Some counties passed the 100-percent mark, not because of fraud, but because the parties tracked people down whom the census had missed. Fraud did take place in municipal elections in large cities, where the ward-heelers could expect tangible rewards. Apart from some Reconstruction episodes in the South, there was little fraud in presidential elections because the local workers were not in line for presidential rewards.
The best way to build enthusiasm was to show enthusiasm. The parties used rallies, parades, banners, buttons and insignia to display partisanship and promote the theme that with so much strength, victory must be inevitable. The side that lost was usually surprised, and tended to ascribe defeat to preternatural factors, such as bad weather or treachery.
The parties created an internal communications system designed to keep in close touch with the voters. They set up networks of activists in every county charged with visiting every potential supporter in a specified neighborhood, especially in the critical last days before the election. These workers, of course, comprised the activists who attended conventions and ultimately selected the candidates. This intensive face-to-face networking provided excellent information in both directions—the leaders immediately found out what the rank-and-file liked and disliked.
The first communications system was a national network of partisan newspapers. Nearly all weekly and daily papers were party organs until the early 20th century. Thanks to the invention of high-speed presses for city papers, and free postage for rural sheets, newspapers proliferated. In 1850, the Census counted 1,630 party newspapers (with a circulation of about one per voter), and only 83 "independent" papers. The party line was behind every line of news copy, not to mention the authoritative editorials, which exposed the "stupidity" of the enemy and the "triumphs" of the party in every issue. Editors were senior party leaders, and often were rewarded with lucrative postmasterships. Top publishers, such as Horace Greeley, Whitelaw Reid, Schuyler Colfax, Warren Harding and James Cox, were nominated on the national ticket.
Kaplan outlines the systematic methods by which newspapers expressed their partisanship. Paid advertising was unnecessary, as the party encouraged all its loyal supporters to subscribe:
After 1900, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer and other big city politician-publishers discovered they could make far more profit through advertising, at so many dollars per thousand readers. By becoming non-partisan they expanded their base to include the opposition party and the fast-growing number of consumers who read the ads but were less and less interested in politics. There was less political news after 1900, apparently because citizens became more apathetic, and shared their partisan loyalties with the new professional sports teams that attracted growing audiences.
Campaigns were financed internally for most of the century. Aspirants for office volunteered their services as speakers; wealthy leaders contributed cash, and patronage appointees not only worked for the party but also donated 2 to 5 percent of the salaries. The problem with the system was the winner's curse: in a close election, campaign managers promise the same lucrative jobs over and over again. If they lost it made no difference; if they won they faced an impossible task, which was guaranteed to alienate supporters. Abraham Lincoln, for example, was a leading western supporter of Zachary Taylor in 1848, and wanted in return to be named Commissioner of the Land Office. Instead he was offered a job in Oregon which, while paying well, would terminate his career in Illinois. Lincoln declined, and left the party. After civil service reform ratcheted into place late in the century, new revenue sources were needed. Mark Hanna found the solution in 1896, as he systematically billed corporations for their share of the campaign.
The most exciting—even passionate—campaign was the crusade. A new body of intensely moralistic politicians would suddenly discover that the opposition was ensconced in power, was thoroughly corrupt, and had plans to utterly destroy republicanism. Americans were profoundly committed to the principle that republicanism could never be allowed to disappear, so crusades roused their emotional intensity. The American Revolution itself had followed this formula, as did Jefferson's followers in 1800. Andrew Jackson in 1828 started the Second Party System by crusading against the "corrupt bargain" that had denied him the White House in 1824, and again against the Bank of the United States in 1832. Republicans began the Third Party System by crusading against slavery in 1856 (but not in later years), while Greeley rang the charges against Grant's corruption in 1872. The most dramatic crusade was that of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, as he identified the gold and monied interests as responsible for depression, poverty and plutocracy. The way to deal with crusaders was not to defend the status quo but to launch a counter-crusade, attacking the crusaders as crazy extremists. Thus Jefferson was attacked as an atheist, Jackson as a murderer and duelist, Fremont as a disunionist, and Bryan as an anarchist.
In the 1820s every government office was elected, or chosen by elected officials. After 1848 many states revised their constitutions so that judges were elected to fixed terms, and had to campaign before the voters like everyone else. Unlike other countries, many different offices were elected, with election days staggered so there was little respite from constant campaigning. As the politicians discovered more potential blocs of voters, they worked to abolish the traditional property standards for suffrage. The principles of republicanism seemed to require that everyone be eligible, and indeed actually vote. Several states allowed immigrants to vote before they took out citizenship papers; elsewhere the parties facilitated the naturalization process. By mid-century, practically every adult white male was a potential voter—or indeed, an actual voter, as turnout nationwide reached 81 percent in 1860. America stood in stark contrast with Europe, where the middle classes, peasants and industrial workers had to mobilize to demand suffrage. Late in the century, Americans did create farmer and labor movements, but most were nonpartisan, and those that fielded candidates rarely lasted more than an election or two.
George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879) was an American artist whose paintings of elections in the 1850s are used by historians to explain the complexities and details of grassroots democracy. The paintings were on tour for years, as Americans paid money to see themselves in political action.
Bingham's Election Series comprises three paintings: The County Election, Stump Speaking, and The Verdict of the People. Bingham intended for the series to reach a national audience rather than Missourians alone. To spread his idea of free people and free institutions, he exhibited his paintings in Washington and urged the Library Committee of Congress to purchase them so American leaders could view them. When the Library Committee of Congress decided not to purchase his trio, he lent the paintings to the Mercantile Library Association in St. Louis.
The first painting made for the Election Series shows the voting process in Missouri. The County Election depicts a variety of people from several different social classes, such as young boys playing a game, two men talking about the election happening around them, and a mass of men walking up the stairs to vote. A banner shows the words, "The Will of the People The Supreme Law", a credo that had great meaning for Bingham. He believed that people had a right to share their ideas; he also believed that he lost his seat in legislature in 1846 due to his failure to follow the people's will.
A mill in the painting's background provides both a local detail and a reference to a Whig candidate who used a mill as a political symbol. The cedar barrels are evocative of another Whig candidate, who used these as his political symbol. In his first painting of The County Election, Bingham showed two men flipping a coin beneath a judge. The two people represent ex-governor Marmaduke's bet that he had placed on the election of Bingham versus his opponent, Erasmus Sappington. Bingham also purposefully kept the scene outside to represent universal suffrage, one of his beliefs. The openness of the setting shows that politics should happen in the open rather than behind the curtains of the government. The idea of universal suffrage aligns with Bingham's idea of the will of the people: everyone should have the right to vote because the will of the people should be the supreme law. One critic complained that the painting made a mockery of American principles by including details such as the drunkard voting in the foreground. The critic claimed that by showing drinking and gambling as part of the election process, Bingham was defaming the political process.
In the second painting of the trio, Stump Speaking, a politician persuades Missourians to vote in his favor. Depicted are three figures who stand out because of their startling bright white clothing: the "Stump Speaker", the "Outstanding Citizen" (the seated man opposite of the speaker), and the "Small Businessman" (the young child in the middle of the painting). Before creating the painting, Bingham had made preliminary sketches of the three aforementioned people, who represented his ideas of the past, present, and future of American politics. The "Outstanding Citizen", as Bingham's sketch refers to him, represents the past, as the man's sharp edges and fine clothes show how he is unwilling to bend his beliefs, and instead works among the people. His sharp edges contrast with the softer curves of the "Stump Speaker", the character who represents the present of American politics. The "Stump Speaker" appears to be swaying the assembled crowd by bending to the people's desires, shown by the curving arm that is outstretched to the audience. The "Small Businessman" represents the future. That child shows how people are starting to focus more on their money, as the child does, and less on politics, parallel to how the child is detached from the debate surrounding him. The three people represent "the Jeffersonian past, of statesmen and gentlemen farmers; the Jacksonian present, of demagogues, party hacks, and gullible citizens; and a materialistic future of isolated citizens with no common public life at all."
The last painting of Bingham's Election Series, The Verdict of the People, tells the end of the story represented in the series. In this painting, Bingham included several political motives and ideas regarding slavery, temperance, and a representative government. During the early 1850s, the temperance movement grew and more states were abolishing alcohol. A book by Herman Humphrey, Parallel between Intemperance and Slavery, associated the cause of anti-slavery to that of temperance. Bingham showed his view on intemperance and slavery by painting a banner that said, "Freedom for Virtue Restriction for Vice." The banner referred to temperance by saying that the vice and alcohol would need to be restricted for the people to be free. The banner then references Bingham's ideas of slavery by using the connection of the temperance movement and the anti-slavery movement to show that Bingham thought negatively about slavery and shared that view with intemperance.
Puck Magazine was a political humor magazine that generally favored Democrats and poked fun at Republicans. "Waving the bloody shirt" was a phrase used to ridicule opposing politicians who made emotional calls to avenge the blood of political martyrs. The phrase gained popularity with a fictitious incident in which Benjamin Franklin Butler of Massachusetts, when making a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, allegedly held up a shirt stained with the blood of a carpetbagger whipped by the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction Era. While Butler did give a speech condemning the Klan, he never waved a bloody shirt.
The United States presidential election of 1848 was the 16th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 7, 1848. In the aftermath of the Mexican–American War, General Zachary Taylor of the Whig Party defeated Senator Lewis Cass of the Democratic Party. The contest was the first presidential election that took place on the same day in every state, and it was the first time that Election Day was statutorily a Tuesday.Despite Taylor's unclear political affiliations and beliefs, and the Whig opposition to the Mexican–American War, the 1848 Whig National Convention nominated the popular general over party stalwarts such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. For vice president, the Whigs nominated Millard Fillmore, a New York Whig known for his moderate views on slavery. Incumbent President James K. Polk, a Democrat, honored his promise not to seek re-election, leaving his party's nomination open. The 1848 Democratic National Convention rejected former President Martin Van Buren's bid for a second term, instead nominating Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan. Van Buren broke from his party to lead the ticket of the Free Soil Party, which opposed the extension of slavery into the territories.
The Whig choice of Zachary Taylor was made almost out of desperation; he was not clearly committed to Whig principles, but he was popular for leading the war effort. The Democrats had a record of prosperity and had acquired the Mexican cession and parts of Oregon country. It appeared almost certain that they would win unless the Whigs picked Taylor. Taylor won a plurality of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote, while Van Buren won 10.1% of the popular vote, a strong showing for a third party candidate.
Taylor's victory made him the second of two Whigs to win a presidential election, following William Henry Harrison's victory in the 1840 presidential election. Like Harrison, Taylor died during his term, and he was succeeded by Fillmore. Discounting Republican Abraham Lincoln's 1864 re-election on the National Union ticket, Taylor is the most recent individual who was not a member of the Democratic or Republican parties to win a presidential election.1856 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1856 was the 18th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1856. In a three-way election, Democrat James Buchanan defeated Republican nominee John C. Frémont and American Party nominee Millard Fillmore.
This was the only time in U.S. history in which a political party denied renomination to the incumbent President and won. Incumbent Democratic President Franklin Pierce was widely unpopular due to the ongoing civil war in Kansas Territory, and Buchanan defeated Pierce at the 1856 Democratic National Convention. Buchanan, a former Secretary of State, had avoided the divisive debates over the Kansas–Nebraska Act by virtue of his service as the Ambassador to the United Kingdom. Slavery, though not its abolition, was the main issue. Opposition to the extension of slavery into the territories drove the rise of the nascent Republican Party. The Republicans and the nativist Know Nothings (known formally as the American Party) competed to replace the moribund Whig Party as the primary opposition to the Democrats. The 1856 Republican National Convention nominated a ticket led by Frémont, an explorer and military officer who had served in the Mexican–American War. The Know Nothings, who ignored slavery and instead emphasized anti-immigration and anti-Catholic policies, nominated a ticket led by former Whig President Millard Fillmore. His political allies controlled the American Party and he welcomed the nomination, but Fillmore had not sought it and was in Europe during the nominating convention. The fact that two of the three nominees, Buchanan and Fillmore, appealed specifically in part because of their recent time abroad reflects severe domestic political turmoil.
The Democrats endorsed popular sovereignty as the method to determine slavery's legality for newly admitted states. Frémont decried the expansion of slavery, while Buchanan warned that the Republicans were extremists whose victory would lead to civil war. The Know Nothings attempted to present themselves as the one party capable of bridging the sectional divides. All three major parties found support in the North, but the Republicans had virtually no backing in the South.
Buchanan won a plurality of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote, taking all but one slave state and five free states. His popular vote margin of 12.2% was the greatest margin between 1836 and 1904. However, the election was closer than it appears. A shift of a few thousand votes to Fillmore in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky would have transferred the election of the President to the incumbent House of Representatives, controlled by a new coalition of inchoate parties united in opposing the Democrats.
Frémont won a majority of electoral votes from free states and finished second in the nationwide popular vote, while Fillmore took 21.5% of the popular vote and carried Maryland. The Know Nothings soon collapsed as a national party, as most of its anti-slavery members joined the Republican Party after the Supreme Court's disastrous 1857 ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford. 1856 also proved to be the last Democratic presidential victory until 1884, as Republicans emerged as the dominant party during and after the Civil War.1864 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1864, the 20th quadrennial presidential election, was held on Tuesday, November 8, 1864. In the midst of the American Civil War, incumbent President Abraham Lincoln of the National Union Party easily defeated the Democratic nominee, former General George B. McClellan, by a wide margin of 221-21 electoral votes, with 55% of the popular vote. For the election, the Republican Party and some Democrats created the National Union Party, especially to attract War Democrats.
Despite some intra-party opposition from Salmon Chase and the Radical Republicans, Lincoln won his party's nomination at the 1864 National Union National Convention. Rather than re-nominate Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, the convention selected Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, a War Democrat, as Lincoln's running mate. John C. Frémont ran as the nominee of the Radical Democracy Party, which criticized Lincoln for being too moderate on the issue of racial equality, but Frémont withdrew from the race in September. The Democrats were divided between the Copperheads, who favored immediate peace with the Confederacy, and War Democrats, who wished to continue the war. The 1864 Democratic National Convention nominated McClellan, a War Democrat, but adopted a platform advocating peace with the Confederacy, which McClellan rejected.
Despite his early fears of defeat, Lincoln won strong majorities in the popular and electoral vote, partly as a result of the recent Union victory at the Battle of Atlanta. As the Civil War was still raging, no electoral votes were counted from any of the eleven southern states that had joined the Confederate States of America. Lincoln's re-election ensured that he would preside over the successful conclusion of the Civil War.
Lincoln's victory made him the first president to win re-election since Andrew Jackson in 1832, as well as the first Northern president to ever win re-election. Lincoln was assassinated less than two months into his second term, and he was succeeded by Andrew Johnson, who had to work toward emancipation of all slaves. Because Lincoln was elected on the National Union ticket, as the name the Republican Party used during the Civil War, he is technically the most-recent individual outside of the Republican or Democratic parties to win a presidential election.1868 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1868 was the 21st quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1868. In the first election of the Reconstruction Era, Republican nominee Ulysses S. Grant defeated Democrat Horatio Seymour. It was the first presidential election to take place after the conclusion of the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery.
Incumbent President Andrew Johnson had succeeded to the presidency in 1865 following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a Republican. Johnson, a War Democrat from Tennessee, had served as Lincoln's running mate in 1864 on the National Union ticket, which was designed to attract Republicans and War Democrats. Upon accession to office, Johnson clashed with the Republican Congress over Reconstruction policies and was nearly removed from office. Johnson received some support for another term at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, but, after several ballots, the Democratic convention nominated Governor Seymour of New York. The 1868 Republican National Convention unanimously nominated General Grant, who had been the highest-ranking Union general at the end of the Civil War. The Democrats criticized the Republican Reconstruction policies, and "campaigned explicitly on an anti-black, pro-white platform," while Republicans campaigned on Grant's popularity and the Union victory in the Civil War.
Grant decisively won the electoral vote, but his margin was narrower in the popular vote. In addition to his appeal in the North, Grant benefited from votes among the newly enfranchised freedmen in the South, while the temporary political disfranchisement of many Southern whites helped Republican margins. As three of the former Confederate states (Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia) were not yet restored to the Union, their electors could not vote in the election. It was the first election in which African Americans could vote in the Reconstructed Southern states, in accordance with the First Reconstruction Act.1872 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1872 was the 22nd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 5, 1872. Despite a split in the Republican Party, incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant defeated Liberal Republican nominee Horace Greeley. The election is notable for being the only presidential election in which a major party nominee died during the election process.
Grant was unanimously re-nominated at the 1872 Republican National Convention, but his intra-party opponents organized the Liberal Republican Party and held their own convention. The 1872 Liberal Republican convention nominated Greeley, a New York newspaper publisher, and wrote a platform calling for civil service reform and an end to Reconstruction. Democratic Party leaders believed that their only hope of defeating Grant was to unite around Greeley, and the 1872 Democratic National Convention nominated the Liberal Republican ticket.
Despite the union between the Liberal Republicans and Democrats, Greeley proved to be an ineffective campaigner and Grant remained widely popular. Grant decisively won re-election, carrying 31 of the 37 states, including several Southern states that would not again vote Republican until the 20th century. Grant would be the last incumbent to win a second term until William McKinley's victory in the 1900 presidential election, and his popular vote margin of 11.8% was the largest margin between 1852 and 1904.
On November 29, 1872, after the popular vote was counted, but before the Electoral College cast its votes, Greeley died. As a result, electors previously committed to Greeley voted for four different candidates for president and eight different candidates for vice president. It was the last instance until the 2016 presidential election in which more than one presidential elector voted for a candidate to whom they were not pledged.1876 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1876 was the 23rd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 7, 1876. It was one of the most contentious and controversial presidential elections in American history, and is known for being the catalyst for the end of Reconstruction. Republican nominee Rutherford B. Hayes faced Democrat Samuel Tilden. After a controversial post-election process, Hayes was declared the winner.
After President Ulysses S. Grant declined to seek a third term despite previously being expected to do so, Congressman James G. Blaine emerged as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. However, Blaine was unable to win a majority at the 1876 Republican National Convention, which settled on Governor Hayes of Ohio as a compromise candidate. The 1876 Democratic National Convention nominated Governor Tilden of New York on the second ballot.
The results of the election remain among the most disputed ever, although it is not disputed that Tilden outpolled Hayes in the popular vote. After a first count of votes, Tilden won 184 electoral votes to Hayes's 165, with 20 votes from four states unresolved. In the case of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina, each party reported its candidate had won the state, while in Oregon one elector was replaced after being declared illegal for being an "elected or appointed official". The question of who should have been awarded these electoral votes is the source of the continued controversy. An informal deal was struck to resolve the dispute: the Compromise of 1877, which awarded all 20 electoral votes to Hayes. In return for the Democrats' acquiescence to Hayes's election, the Republicans agreed to withdraw federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction. The Compromise effectively ceded power in the Southern states to the Democratic Redeemers, who proceeded to disenfranchise black voters in subsequent years.
The 1876 election is one of five presidential elections in which the person who won the most popular votes did not win the election, and the only such election in which the popular vote winner received a majority (rather than a plurality) of the popular vote. To date, it remains the election that recorded the smallest electoral vote victory (185–184) and the election that yielded the highest voter turnout of the eligible voting age population in American history, at 81.8%. It was also the first presidential election since 1856 in which the Democratic candidate won the popular vote.1880 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1880 was the 24th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 1880. The voter turnout rate was one of the highest in the nation's history.
Incumbent President Rutherford B. Hayes did not seek re-election, keeping a promise made during the 1876 campaign. After the longest convention in the party's history, the divided Republicans chose another Ohioan, Representative James A. Garfield, as their standard-bearer. The Democratic Party chose General Winfield Scott Hancock of Pennsylvania as their nominee. The dominance of the two major parties began to fray as an upstart left-wing party, the Greenback Party, nominated another Civil War general for president, Iowa Congressman James B. Weaver. In a campaign fought mainly over issues of Civil War loyalties, tariffs, and Chinese immigration, Garfield and Hancock each took just over 48 percent of the popular vote. Weaver and two other minor candidates, Neal Dow and John W. Phelps, together made up the remaining percentage. The election of 1880 was the sixth consecutive presidential election won by the Republicans, the second longest winning streak in American history after the Democratic-Republican Party during the period 1800–1824.
In the end, the popular vote totals of the two main candidates were separated by 1,898 votes, the smallest victory in the popular vote ever recorded. In the electoral college, however, Garfield's victory was decisive; he won nearly all of the populous Northern states to achieve a majority of 214 electoral votes to 155 for Hancock. Hancock's sweep of the Southern states was not enough for victory, but it cemented his party's dominance of the region for generations. This is the first presidential election in which people in every state (at the time) were able to vote for president (In 1876, Colorado appointed electors by state legislature due to insufficient time to organize an election, in 1864–1872, some states skipped out due to the Civil War or Reconstruction, and before then some states used state legislature including South Carolina which used the system up through 1860).1884 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1884 was the 25th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1884. It saw the first election of a Democrat as President of the United States since the Civil War. Governor Grover Cleveland of New York defeated Republican James G. Blaine of Maine.
Cleveland won the presidential nomination on the second ballot of the 1884 Democratic National Convention. President Chester A. Arthur had acceded to the presidency in 1881 following the assassination of James A. Garfield, but he was unsuccessful in his bid for nomination to a full term. Blaine, who had served as Secretary of State under President Garfield, defeated Arthur and other candidates on the fourth ballot of the 1884 Republican National Convention. A group of reformist Republicans known as "Mugwumps" abandoned Blaine's candidacy, viewing him as corrupt. The campaign was marred by exceptional political acrimony and personal invective. Blaine's reputation for public corruption and his inadvertent alienation of Catholic voters proved decisive.
In the election, Cleveland won 48.9% of the nationwide popular vote and 219 electoral votes, carrying the Solid South and several key swing states. Blaine won 48.3% of the popular vote and 182 electoral votes. Cleveland won his home state by just 1,047 votes; had he lost New York, he would have lost the election. Two third-party candidates, John St. John of the Prohibition Party and Benjamin Butler of the Greenback Party and the Anti-Monopoly Party, each won less than 2% of the popular vote.1888 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1888 was the 26th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 6, 1888. Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison, a former Senator from Indiana, defeated incumbent Democratic President Grover Cleveland of New York. It was the third of five U.S. presidential elections in which the winner did not win a plurality or majority of the national popular vote.
Cleveland, the first Democratic president since the American Civil War, was unanimously re-nominated at the 1888 Democratic National Convention. He was the first incumbent president to win re-nomination since Grant was nominated to a second term in 1872. Harrison, the grandson of former President William Henry Harrison, emerged as the Republican nominee on the eighth ballot of the 1888 Republican National Convention. He defeated other prominent party leaders such as Senator John Sherman and former Governor Russell Alger.
Tariff policy was the principal issue in the election, as Cleveland had proposed a dramatic reduction in tariffs, arguing that high tariffs were unfair to consumers. Harrison took the side of industrialists and factory workers who wanted to keep tariffs high. Cleveland's opposition to Civil War pensions and inflated currency also made enemies among veterans and farmers. On the other hand, he held a strong hand in the South and border states, and appealed to former Republican Mugwumps.
Cleveland won a plurality of the popular vote, but Harrison won the election with a majority in the Electoral College. Harrison swept almost the entire North and Midwest, and narrowly carried the swing states of New York and Indiana.1892 United States presidential election
The United States presidential election of 1892 was the 27th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 8, 1892. In a re-match of the closely contested 1888 presidential election, former Democratic President Grover Cleveland defeated incumbent Republican President Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland's victory made him the first and to date only person in American history to be elected to a non-consecutive second presidential term. It was also the first of two times that an incumbent was defeated in two consecutive elections (the other being Jimmy Carter's defeat of Gerald Ford in 1976 and subsequent loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980).Though some Republicans opposed Harrison's re-nomination, Harrison defeated James G. Blaine and William McKinley on the first presidential ballot of the 1892 Republican National Convention. Cleveland defeated challenges by David B. Hill and Horace Boies on the first presidential ballot of the 1892 Democratic National Convention, becoming the first Democrat to win his party's presidential nomination in three different elections. The new Populist Party, formed by groups from The Grange, the Farmers' Alliances, and the Knights of Labor, fielded a ticket led by former Congressman James B. Weaver of Iowa.
The campaign centered mainly on economic issues, especially the protectionist 1890 McKinley Tariff. Cleveland ran on a platform of lowering the tariff, and he opposed the Republicans' 1890 voting rights proposal. Cleveland was also a proponent of the gold standard, while the Republicans and Populists both supported bimetalism.
Cleveland swept the Solid South and won several important swing states, taking a majority of the electoral vote and a plurality of the popular vote. Cleveland was the first person since Andrew Jackson to win a significant number of electoral votes in three different elections, and only Jackson, Cleveland, and Franklin D. Roosevelt have won the popular vote in three different elections. Weaver won 8.5% of the popular vote and carried several Western states, while John Bidwell of the Prohibition Party won 2.2% of the popular vote. The Democrats would not win another presidential election until 1912.Copperhead (politics)
In the 1860s, the Copperheads, also known as Peace Democrats, were a faction of Democrats in the Northern United States of the Union who opposed the American Civil War and wanted an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates.
Republicans started calling anti-war Democrats "Copperheads", likening them to the venomous snake. Those Democrats accepted the label, reinterpreting the copper "head" as the likeness of Liberty, which they cut from Liberty Head large cent coins and proudly wore as badges. By contrast, Democratic supporters of the war were called War Democrats. The Copperheads represented the more extreme wing of the Northern Democrats. Notable Copperheads included two Democratic Congressmen from Ohio: Clement L. Vallandigham and Alexander Long. Republican prosecutors accused some prominent Copperheads of treason in a series of trials in 1864.Copperheadism was a highly contentious grass-roots movement. It had its strongest base in the area just north of the Ohio River as well as in some urban ethnic wards. Some historians have argued that it represented a traditionalistic element alarmed at the rapid modernization of society sponsored by the Republican Party and that it looked back to Jacksonian democracy for inspiration. Weber (2006) argues that the Copperheads damaged the Union war effort by opposing conscription (the "draft"), encouraging desertion and forming conspiracies, but other historians say that the draft was already in disrepute and that the Republicans greatly exaggerated the conspiracies for partisan reasons.
Historians such as Wood Gray and Jennifer Weber argue that the Copperheads were inflexibly rooted in the past and were naive about the refusal of the Confederates to return to the Union. Convinced that the Republicans were ruining the traditional world they loved, they were obstructionist partisans. In turn, the Copperheads became a major target of the National Union Party in the 1864 presidential election, where they were used to discredit the main Democratic candidates. Copperhead support increased when Union armies did poorly and decreased when they won great victories. After the fall of Atlanta in September 1864, Union military success seemed assured and Copperheadism collapsed.Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian democracy, named after its advocate Thomas Jefferson, was one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party (formally named the "Republican Party"), which Jefferson founded in opposition to the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton. The Jeffersonians were deeply committed to American republicanism, which meant opposition to what they considered to be artificial aristocracy, opposition to corruption, and insistence on virtue, with a priority for the "yeoman farmer", "planters", and the "plain folk".They were antagonistic to the aristocratic elitism of merchants, bankers, and manufacturers, distrusted factory workers, and were on the watch for supporters of the dreaded British system of government. Jeffersonian democracy persisted as an element of the Democratic Party into the early 20th century, as exemplified by the rise of Jacksonian democracy and the three presidential candidacies of William Jennings Bryan. Its themes continue to echo in the 21st century, particularly among the Libertarian and Republican parties.At the beginning of the Jeffersonian era, only two states (Vermont and Kentucky) had established universal white male suffrage by abolishing property requirements. By the end of the period, more than half of the states had followed suit, including virtually all of the states in the Old Northwest. States then also moved on to allowing popular votes for presidential elections, canvassing voters in a more modern style. Jefferson's party, known today as the Democratic-Republican Party, was then in full control of the apparatus of government—from the state legislature and city hall to the White House.Liberal Republican Party (United States)
The Liberal Republican Party of the United States was an American political party that was organized in May 1872 to oppose the reelection of President Ulysses S. Grant and his Radical Republican supporters in the presidential election of 1872. The party emerged in Missouri under the leadership of Senator Carl Schurz and soon attracted other opponents of Grant. The party opposed Grant's Reconstruction policies and sought civil service reform. It lost in a landslide and disappeared after the 1872 election.
The Republican Party had emerged as the dominant party in the aftermath of the Civil War, but many original Republicans became dissatisfied with the leadership of President Grant. Prominent Liberal leaders like Schurz, Charles Sumner and Lyman Trumbull had been leaders in the fight against slavery and for the first stages of Reconstruction. They considered the job done and by 1872 demanded an end to Reconstruction and a restoration of self-government to the South. Liberal Republicans decried the scandals of the Grant administration and sought civil service reform.
The 1872 Liberal Republican convention nominated a ticket consisting of Horace Greeley, longtime publisher of the New-York Tribune; and Missouri Governor Benjamin Gratz Brown. Seeking to defeat Grant, the Democratic Party nominated the Liberal Republican ticket and endorsed the Liberal Republican platform. However, Grant emerged triumphant in the election, capitalizing on superior party organization. Democrats lacked of enthusiasm for Greeley, who for decades had denounced them. Greeley received 44% of the popular vote, winning the states of Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Maryland. Grant received 286 of the 352 electoral college votes. Greeley died shortly after the election.
The Liberal Republican Party vanished immediately after the election, though a handful of its leaders continued to serve in Congress. Former Liberals party members scattered into the Democratic and Republican parties. By cutting the allegiance of liberal elements to the Republican Party, the Liberal Republicans made it possible for many of these leaders, such as Schurz, to move to the Democratic Party.Midlothian campaign
The Midlothian campaign of 1878–80 was a series of foreign policy speeches given by William Ewart Gladstone, leader of Britain's Liberal Party. It is often cited as the first modern political campaign. It also set the stage for Gladstone's comeback as a politician. It takes its name from the Midlothian constituency in Scotland where Gladstone (of Scottish ancestry) successfully stood in the 1880 election.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli attempted to distract public opinion from the economic and financial problems of the state by calling attention to the worsening British-Ottoman relations, Gladstone in four speeches charged the government with financial incompetence, neglect of domestic legislation, and mismanagement of foreign affairs. He moved to Midlothian and campaigned with enormous energy as all of Britain followed. The Earl of Rosebery was the campaign manager.
The Midlothian campaign unified the Liberal Party under Gladstone's leadership and probably forced the government to think in terms of dissolution sooner. It created a momentum that carried the Liberals to power in the election.Political campaign
A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, by which representatives are chosen or referendums are decided. In modern politics, the most high-profile political campaigns are focused on general elections and candidates for head of state or head of government, often a president or prime minister.Second Party System
Historians and political scientists consider the Second Party System to be a term of periodization to designate the political party system operating in the United States from about 1828 to 1854, after the First Party System ended. The system was characterized by rapidly rising levels of voter interest, beginning in 1828, as demonstrated by Election Day turnouts, rallies, partisan newspapers, and high degrees of personal loyalty to parties.Two major parties dominated the political landscape: the Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson, and the Whig Party, assembled by Henry Clay from the National Republicans and from other opponents of Jackson. Minor parties included the Anti-Masonic Party, an important innovator from 1827 to 1834; the abolitionist Liberty Party in 1840; and the anti-slavery expansion Free Soil Party in 1848 and 1852. The Second Party System reflected and shaped the political, social, economic and cultural currents of the Jacksonian Era, until succeeded by the Third Party System. Frank Towers specifies an important ideological divide:
Democrats stood for the "sovereignty of the people" as expressed in popular demonstrations, constitutional conventions, and majority rule as a general principle of governing, whereas Whigs advocated the rule of law, written and unchanging constitutions, and protections for minority interests against majority tyranny.Waving the bloody shirt
In the American election campaigns in the 19th century, "waving the bloody shirt" was a phrase used to ridicule opposing politicians who made emotional calls to avenge the blood of the northern soldiers that died in the Civil War. The pejorative was most used against Republicans, who were accused of using the memory of the Civil War to their political advantage. Democrats were not above using memories of the Civil War in such a manner as well, especially in the South.
The phrase gained popularity with a fictitious incident in which Representative and former Union general Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts, when making a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, allegedly held up a shirt stained with the blood of a carpetbagger whipped by the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction Era. While Butler did give a speech condemning the Klan, he never waved anyone's bloody shirt.White Southerners mocked Butler, using the fiction of his having "waved the bloody shirt" to dismiss Klan thuggery and other atrocities committed against freed slaves and Republicans. The Red Shirts white supremacist paramilitary organization took their name from the term.Whig Party (United States)
This article is about the U.S. political faction. For the modern British party of the same name, see Whig Party (British political party). For the defunct British Party, see Whigs (British political party)
The Whig Party was a political party active in the middle of the 19th century in the United States. Four presidents belonged to the party while in office. It emerged in the 1830s as the leading opponent of Jacksonian democracy, pulling together former members of the National Republican (one of the successors of the Democratic-Republican Party) and the Anti-Masonic Party. It had links to the upscale traditions of the long-defunct Federalist Party. Along with the rival Democratic Party, it was central to the Second Party System from the early 1840s to the mid-1860s. It originally formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson (in office 1829–1837) and his Democratic Party. In particular, the Whigs supported the supremacy of Congress over the presidency and favored a program of modernization, banking and economic protectionism to stimulate manufacturing. It appealed to entrepreneurs, planters, reformers and the emerging urban middle class, but had little appeal to farmers or unskilled workers. It included many active Protestants and voiced a moralistic opposition to the Jacksonian Indian removal. Party founders chose the "Whig" name to echo the American Whigs (aka the Patriots) of the 18th century who fought for independence. The political philosophy of the American Whig Party was not related to the British Whig party. Historian Frank Towers has specified a deep ideological divide:
The Whig Party nominated several presidential candidates in 1836. General William Henry Harrison of Ohio was nominated in 1840, former Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky in 1844, General Zachary Taylor of Louisiana in 1848, General Winfield Scott of New Jersey in 1852 and the last nominee, former President Millard Fillmore from New York in 1856. In its two decades of existence, the Whig Party had two of its candidates, Harrison and Taylor, elected president and both died in office. John Tyler succeeded to the presidency after Harrison's death in 1841, but was expelled from the party later that year. Millard Fillmore, who became President after Taylor's death in 1850, was the last Whig President.
The party fell apart because of internal tension over the expansion of slavery to the territories. With deep fissures in the party on this question, the anti-slavery faction prevented the nomination for a full term of its own incumbent President Fillmore in the 1852 presidential election—instead, the party nominated General Scott. Most Whig Party leaders eventually quit politics (as Abraham Lincoln did temporarily) or changed parties. The Northern voter base mostly gravitated to the new Republican Party. In the South, most joined the Know Nothing Party, which unsuccessfully ran Fillmore in the 1856 presidential election, by which time the Whig Party had become virtually defunct having merely endorsed Fillmore's candidacy. Some former Whigs became Democrats. The Constitutional Union Party experienced significant success from conservative former Whigs in the Upper South during the 1860 presidential election. Whig ideology as a policy orientation persisted for decades, and played a major role in shaping the modernizing policies of the state governments during Reconstruction.Wide Awakes
The Wide Awakes were a youth organization and, later, a paramilitary organization cultivated by the Republican Party during the 1860 presidential election in the United States. Using popular social events, an ethos of competitive fraternity, and even promotional comic books, the organization introduced many to political participation and proclaimed themselves the newfound voice of younger voters. The structured, militant Wide Awakes appealed to a generation profoundly shaken by the partisan instability of the 1850s and offered young northerners a much-needed political identity.