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1868 United States 1876
United States presidential election, 1872
November 5, 1872
Ulysses Grant 1870-1880.jpg HoraceGreeley.png
Nominee Ulysses S. Grant Horace Greeley
Party Republican Liberal Republican
Home state Illinois New York
Running mate Henry Wilson B. Gratz Brown
Electoral vote 286 66

(pledged before death)

States carried 31 6
Popular vote 3,598,235 2,834,761
Percentage 55.6% 43.8%
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Grant/Wilson, blue denotes those won by Greeley, yellow denotes those won by Hendricks, and the various shades of green denote those won by Brown, Jenkins and Davis; this reflects the posthumous scattering of Greeley's electoral votes. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Incumbent President
Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

In the United States presidential election of 1872, incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant, leader of the Radical Republicans, was easily elected to a second term in office with Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts as his running mate, despite a split within the Republican Party that resulted in a defection of many Liberal Republicans to opponent Horace Greeley. The other major political party, the Democratic Party, also nominated the candidates of the Liberal Republican ticket that year.

On November 29, 1872, after the popular vote 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. Greeley himself received three posthumous electoral votes, but these votes were disallowed by Congress. It is so far the only election in which a candidate died during the electoral process.




Republican Party nomination

Republican candidate:

Candidates gallery

President Grant was unanimously renominated for a second term by the convention's 752 delegates. Vice President Colfax however narrowly missed renomination, garnering 321.5 delegates but falling short of Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson's 399.5.

The Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
Ulysses S. Grant 752 Henry Wilson 399.5
Schuyler Colfax 321.5
Horace Maynard 26
John F. Lewis 22
Edmund J. Davis 16
Edward F. Noyes 1
Joseph Roswell Hawley 1
Grant/Wilson campaign poster

The platform boasted of the party's achievements:

The Republican party of the United States, assembled in National Convention in the city of Philadelphia, on the 5th and 6th days of June, 1872, again declares its faith, appeals to its history, and announces its position upon the questions before the country: First. During eleven years of supremacy it has accepted with grand courage the solemn duties of the time. It suppressed a gigantic rebellion, emancipated four millions of slaves, decreed the equal citizenship of all, and established universal suffrage. Exhibiting unparalleled magnanimity, it criminally punished no man for political offenses, and warmly welcomed all who proved loyalty by obeying the laws and dealing justly with their neighbors. It has steadily decreased with firm hand the resultant disorders of a great war, and initiated a wise and humane policy toward the Indians. The Pacific railroad and similar vast enterprises have been generously aided and successfully conducted, the public lands freely given to actual settlers, immigration protected and encouraged, and a full acknowledgment of the naturalized citizens' rights secured from European Powers. A uniform national currency has been provided, repudiation frowned down, the national credit sustained under the most extraordinary burdens, and new bonds negotiated at lower rates. The revenues have been carefully collected and honestly applied. Despite large annual reductions of the rates of taxation, the public debt has been reduced during General Grant's Presidency at the rate of a hundred millions a year, great financial crises have been avoided, and peace and plenty prevail throughout the land. Menacing foreign difficulties have been peacefully and honorably composed, and the honor and power of the nation kept in high respect throughout the world. This glorious record of the past is the party's best pledge for the future. We believe the people will not in trust the Government to any party or combination of men composed chiefly of those who have resisted every step of this beneficent progress.

Liberal Republican Party nomination

Liberal Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery

Greeley/Brown campaign poster

An influential group of dissident Republicans split from the party to form the Liberal Republican Party. At the party's only national convention, held in Cincinnati, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley was nominated for President on the sixth ballot, defeating Charles Francis Adams. Missouri Governor Benjamin Gratz Brown was nominated for Vice President on the second ballot.

The Liberal platform called for an end to the hatreds of Civil War and Reconstruction (sections 2 and 3), demanded civil service reform to curb corruption (section 5), and hedged on the tariff issue (section 6).

We, the Liberal Republicans of the United States in National Convention assembled at Cincinnati, proclaim the following principles as essential to just government.

First: We recognize the equality of all men before the law, and hold that it is the duty of Government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political.
Second: We pledge ourselves to maintain the union of these States, emancipation, and enfranchisement, and to oppose any re-opening of the questions settled by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
Third: We demand the immediate and absolute removal of all disabilities imposed on account of the Rebellion, which was finally subdued seven years ago, believing that universal amnesty will result in complete pacification in all sections of the country.
Fourth: Local self-government, with impartial suffrage, will guard the rights of all citizens more securely than any centralized power. The public welfare requires the supremacy of the civil over the military authority, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus. We demand for the individual the largest liberty consistent with public order; for the State, self-government, and for the nation a return to the methods of peace and the constitutional limitations of power.
Fifth: The Civil Service of the Government has become a mere instrument of partisan tyranny and personal ambition and an object of selfish greed. It is a scandal and reproach upon free institutions and breeds a demoralization dangerous to the perpetuity of republican government. We therefore regard such thorough reforms of the Civil Service as one of the most pressing necessities of the hour; that honesty, capacity, and fidelity constitute the only valid claim to public employment; that the offices of the Government cease to be a matter of and patronage, and that public station become again a post of honor. To this end it is imperatively required that no President shall be a candidate for re-election.
Liberal Republican campaign poster
Sixth: We demand a system of Federal taxation which shall not unnecessarily interfere with the industry of the people, and which shall provide the means necessary to pay the expenses of the Government economically administered, the pensions, the interest on the public debt, and a moderate reduction annually of the principal thereof; and, recognizing that there are in our midst honest but irreconcilable differences of opinion with regard to the respective systems of Protection and Free Trade, we remit the discussion of the subject to the people in their Congress Districts, and to the decision of Congress thereon, wholly free of Executive interference or dictation.
Seventh: The public credit must be sacredly maintained, and we denounce repudiation in every form and guise.
Eighth: A speedy return to specie payment is demanded alike by the highest considerations of commercial morality and honest government.
Ninth: We remember with gratitude the heroism and sacrifices of the soldiers and sailors of the Republic, and no act of ours shall ever detract from their justly-earned fame or the full reward of their patriotism.
Tenth: We are opposed to all further grants of lands to railroads or other corporations. The public domain should be held sacred to actual settlers.
Eleventh: We hold that it is the duty of the Government, in its intercourse with foreign nations to cultivate the friendship of peace, by treating with all on fair and equal terms, regarding it alike dishonorable either to demand what is not right, or to submit to what is wrong.
Twelfth. For the promotion and success of these vital principles and the support of the candidates nominated by this Convention, we invite and cordially welcome the co-operation of all patriotic citizens, without regard to previous affiliations.
Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th Before Shifts 6th After Shifts
Horace Greeley 147 245 258 251 258 332 482
Charles Francis Adams 203 243 264 279 309 324 187
Lyman Trumbull 110 148 156 141 91 19 21
Benjamin Gratz Brown 95 2 0 0 0 0 0
David Davis 92.5 75 44 51 30 6 6
Andrew Gregg Curtin 62 0 0 0 0 0 0
Salmon P. Chase 2.5 1 0 0 24 32 0
Scattering/Blank 1 0 0 0 2 1 18

Source: US President - LR Convention. Our Campaigns. (August 27, 2009).

Vice Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd
Benjamin Gratz Brown 237 435
Lyman Trumbull 158 175
George Washington Julian 134.5 0
Gilbert Carlton Walker 84.5 75
Cassius Marcellus Clay 34 0
Jacob Dolson Cox 25 0
Others 20 11

Source: US Vice President - LR Convention. Our Campaigns. (August 27, 2009).

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

The Democrats also nominated the Greeley/Brown ticket at the 1872 Democratic National Convention.[1] Greeley received 686 of the 724 delegate votes cast, while Brown received 713. Accepting the Liberal platform meant the Democrats had accepted the New Departure, rejecting the anti-Reconstruction platform of 1868. They realized to win they had to look forward, and not try to refight the Civil War.[2] Also, they realized they would only split the anti-Grant vote if they nominated a candidate other than Greeley. However, Greeley's long reputation as the most aggressive attacker of the Democratic party, its principles, its leadership, and its activists cooled enthusiasm for the nominee. The convention, which lasted only nine hours stretched over two days, was the shortest major political party convention in history.

The Balloting
Presidential Ballot Vice Presidential Ballot
Horace Greeley 686 B. Gratz Brown 713
Jeremiah S. Black 21 John W. Stevenson 6
Thomas F. Bayard 15
William S. Groesbeck 2

Other nominations

Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to be nominated for the Presidency, running on the platform of the Equal Rights Party. Her running mate was famed abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass. Woodhull was ineligible to be President on Inauguration Day, not because she was a woman—the Constitution and the law were silent on the issue—but because she would not reach the constitutionally prescribed minimum age of 35 until September 23, 1873. Woodhull and Douglass are not listed in “Election results” below, as the ticket received a negligible percentage of the popular vote and no electoral votes.

General election


Grant's administration and his Radical supporters had been widely accused of corruption, and the Liberal Republicans demanded civil service reform and an end to the Reconstruction process including withdrawal of federal troops from the South. Both Liberal Republicans and Democrats were disappointed in their candidate Greeley. As wits asked, "Why turn out a knave just to replace him with a fool?"[3] A poor campaigner with little political experience, Greeley's career as a newspaper editor gave his opponents a long history of eccentric public positions to attack. With memories of his victories in the Civil War to run on, Grant was unassailable. Grant also had a large campaign budget to work with. One historian was quoted saying, "Never before was a candidate placed under such great obligation to men of wealth as was Grant." A large portion of Grant's campaign budget came from entrepreneurs, including Jay Cooke, Cornelius Vanderbilt, A.T. Stewart, Henry Hilton, and John Astor.[4] In addition, Greeley's running mate, B. Gratz Brown, committed several gaffes due to his drinking problem. For instance, at one campaign picnic he became so drunk that he tried to butter a watermelon.[5]

Women's suffrage

This was the first election after the formation of the National Woman's Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. As such, protests for women's suffrage became more prevalent. In addition to the aforementioned nomination of Victoria Woodhull to the Presidency, several suffragettes would attempt to vote in the election. Susan B. Anthony was arrested and fined $100 for attempting to vote. Woodhull herself was in jail on Election Day for indecency.

Results and disputed votes

Grant won an easy reelection over Greeley by a margin of 56% to 44%. Grant won 286 electoral votes to what would have been 66 electoral votes for Greeley—but Greeley died on November 29, 1872, just twenty-four days after the election and before any of the electors from the states Greeley won (Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Maryland) could cast their votes. Most of Greeley's electors cast their votes for other Democrats.

During the joint session of Congress for the counting of the electoral vote on February 12, 1873, numerous objections were raised to some of the results. However, unlike the objections which would be made in 1877, these had no impact on the outcome of the election.[6]

  • The electoral votes of Arkansas and Louisiana were rejected due to irregularities. Both states had voted for Grant.
  • Three Georgia electors had voted for Greeley for President. Their votes for Greeley were rejected because Greeley was dead at the time the electors had cast their ballots. Their votes for B. Gratz Brown for Vice President were not affected.
  • Protests were raised against the votes of Texas, of Mississippi, and of Mississippi elector J. J. Spellman. These electoral votes were ultimately accepted.


Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
Ulysses S. Grant Republican Illinois 3,598,235 55.6% 286 Henry Wilson Massachusetts 286
Horace Greeley Democratic/Liberal Republican New York 2,834,761 43.8% 3 Benjamin Gratz Brown Missouri 3
Thomas Andrews Hendricks Democratic Indiana (a) 42 (c) 42
Benjamin Gratz Brown National Union Party Missouri (a) 18 (c) 18
Charles Jones Jenkins Democratic Georgia (a) 2 (c) 2
David Davis Liberal Republican Illinois (a) 1 (c) 1
Charles O'Conor Bourbon Democratic New York 18,602 0.3% 0 Charles Francis Adams Massachusetts 0
James Black Prohibition Pennsylvania 5,607 0.1% 0 John Russell Michigan 0
Other 10,473 0.2% 0
Total 6,467,678 100.0% 352
Needed to win 177

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1872 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (July 27, 2005).

Source (Electoral Vote): Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 31, 2005).

(a) These candidates received votes from Electors who were pledged to Horace Greeley.
(b) Horace Greeley received three electoral votes, but these votes were disqualified.
(c) See Breakdown by ticket below.

Vice Presidential Candidate Party State Electoral Vote
Henry Wilson Republican Massachusetts 286
Benjamin Gratz Brown National Union Party Missouri 47
Alfred Holt Colquitt Democratic Georgia 5
George Washington Julian Liberal Republican Indiana 5
Thomas E. Bramlette Democratic Kentucky 3
John McAuley Palmer Democratic Illinois 3
Nathaniel Prentice Banks Liberal Republican Massachusetts 1
William Slocum Groesbeck Democratic/Liberal Republican Ohio 1
Willis Benson Machen Democratic Kentucky 1
Charles Francis Adams, Sr. Bourbon Democratic Massachusetts 0
John Russell Prohibition Michigan 0
Total 352
Needed to win 177

Source: Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (July 31, 2005).

Close states

Red font color denotes states won by Republican Ulysses S. Grant; blue denotes those won by Democrat/Liberal Republican Horace Greeley.

States where the margin of victory was under 5% (51 electoral votes)

  1. Maryland 0.69%
  2. Virginia 0.98%
  3. Delaware 4.23%
  4. Tennessee 4.32%
  5. Arkansas 4.35%
  6. West Virginia 4.46%
  7. Connecticut 4.81%

Breakdown by ticket

Presidential Candidate Running Mate Electoral Vote(a)
Ulysses Simpson Grant Henry Wilson 286
Thomas Andrews Hendricks Benjamin Gratz Brown 41 .. 42
Benjamin Gratz Brown Alfred Holt Colquitt 5
Benjamin Gratz Brown George Washington Julian 4 .. 5
Benjamin Gratz Brown Thomas E. Bramlette 3
Horace Greeley Benjamin Gratz Brown 3 (b)
Benjamin Gratz Brown John McAuley Palmer 2 .. 3
Charles J. Jenkins Benjamin Gratz Brown 2
Benjamin Gratz Brown Nathaniel Prentiss Banks 1
Benjamin Gratz Brown Willis Benson Machen 1
Benjamin Gratz Brown William Slocum Groesbeck 0 .. 1
David Davis Benjamin Gratz Brown 0 .. 1
David Davis William Slocum Groesbeck 0 .. 1
David Davis George Washington Julian 0 .. 1
David Davis John McAuley Palmer 0 .. 1
Thomas Andrews Hendricks William Slocum Groesbeck 0 .. 1
Thomas Andrews Hendricks George Washington Julian 0 .. 1
Thomas Andrews Hendricks John McAuley Palmer 0 .. 1

(a) Wikipedia's research has not yet been sufficient to determine the pairings of 4 electoral votes in Missouri; therefore, the possible tickets are listed with the minimum and maximum possible number of electoral votes each.
(b) Greeley was disqualified, but the Brown vice-presidential votes were counted.

See also


  1. ^ Official Proceedings of the National Democratic Convention, Held at Baltimore, July 9, 1872. Boston: Rockwell & Churchill, Printers. 1872.  
  2. ^ Dunning 198
  3. ^ Dunning 197
  4. ^ 2005,"CQ Press Guide to U.S. Presidential Elections", Volume 1, Fifth Edition, Published by CQ Press
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ United States Congress (1873). Senate Journal. 42nd Congress, 3rd Session, February 12. pp. 334–346. Retrieved 2006-03-23.  

Further reading

  • Porter, Kirk H. and Johnson, Donald Bruce (ed.), ed (1956). National Party Platforms, 1840–1956.  
  • Blaine, James G. (1885). Twenty Years of Congress. vol. 2. pp. 520–31.  
  • Donald, David. Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man (1970).
  • Downey, Matthew T. "Horace Greeley and the Politicians: The Liberal Republican Convention in 1872," The Journal of American History, Vol. 53, No. 4. (Mar., 1967), pp. 727-750. in JSTOR
  • Dunning, William Archibald (1905). Reconstruction: Political & Economic, 1865-1877. ch. 12.  
  • Lunde, Erik S. "The Ambiguity of the National Idea: the Presidential Campaign of 1872" Canadian Review of Studies in Nationalism 1978 5(1): 1-23. ISSN 0317-7904.
  • McPherson, James M. "Grant or Greeley? The Abolitionist Dilemma in the Election of 1872" American Historical Review 1965 71(1): 43-61. in Jstor
  • Rhodes, James Ford. History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896. Volume: 7 ch 39-40. (1920)
  • Ross, Earle Dudley. The Liberal Republican Movement (1910) full text online
  • Slap, Andrew L. The Doom of Reconstruction: The Liberal Republicans in the Civil War Era (Fordham University Press, 2006)
  • Summers, Mark Wahlgren. The Press Gang: Newspapers and Politics, 1865-1878 (1994) ch 15
  • Van Deusen, Glyndon G. Horace Greeley, Nineteenth-Century Crusader (1953) online edition

External links



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