United States presidential election, 1880: Wikis


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1876 United States 1884
United States presidential election, 1880
November 2, 1880
James Abram Garfield, photo portrait seated.jpg WinfieldSHancock.png
Nominee James Garfield Winfield Hancock
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Ohio Pennsylvania
Running mate Chester A. Arthur William Hayden English
Electoral vote 214 155
States carried 19 19
Popular vote 4,446,158 4,444,260
Percentage 48.3% 48.2%
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Hancock/English, Red denotes those won by Garfield/Arthur. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Incumbent President
Rutherford B. Hayes

James A. Garfield

The United States presidential election of 1880 was largely seen as a referendum on the Republicans' relaxation of Reconstruction efforts in the southern states. There were no pressing issues of the day save tariffs, with the Republicans supporting higher tariffs and the Democrats supporting lower ones.

Incumbent President Rutherford Hayes did not seek re-election, keeping a promise made during the 1876 campaign. The Republican Party eventually chose another Ohioan, James A. Garfield, as their standard-bearer. The Democratic Party meanwhile chose Civil War General Winfield S. Hancock as their nominee. Despite capturing fewer than 2,000 more popular votes than Hancock, Garfield was easily elected, capturing 214 of the states' 369 electoral votes. It is to date the smallest popular vote victory in American history.




Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery

Garfield/Arthur campaign poster

While Hayes didn't seek renomination, former President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) openly sought nomination to a third term. Going into the Republican Party convention in Chicago, he was the front-runner, but opponents supported a number of other candidates, including James Gillespie Blaine of Maine and Ohio's John Sherman. James Garfield, who was representing the Ohio delegation, gave a major speech in support of Sherman but soon found himself among those receiving delegate votes. On the 36th ballot, Garfield garnered 399 delegate votes, outlasting Grant (who had 306), Blaine (42) and Sherman to win the nomination. After Levi P. Morton backed out of the nomination to avoid a dispute, Chester A. Arthur (a close friend to U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling) was subsequently chosen as Garfield's running mate by a large margin over Elihu B. Washburne. The convention is also noteworthy as it was the first at which delegates cast votes for an African-American, Blanche Kelso Bruce. This convention took the most ballots to choose its party's nominee for President.

Vice Presidential Ballot
Chester A. Arthur 468
Elihu B. Washburne 193
Marshall Jewell 44
Horace Maynard 30
Blanche Kelso Bruce 8
James L. Alcorn 4
Edmund J. Davis 2
Thomas Settle 1
Stewart L. Woodford 1

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

Hancock/English campaign poster

At the Democratic national convention in Cincinnati in June 1880, Winfield S. Hancock emerged the leading candidate after Samuel J. Tilden of New York withdrew his name from consideration. On the first ballot, Hancock led with 171 votes to 153.5 for Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, 81 for Henry B. Payne of Ohio, 68.5 for Allen G. Thurman of Ohio, and the rest scattered. On the next ballot, Tilden supporters pushed Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania to second place with 128.5 votes, but Hancock held such a commanding lead with 320 votes that masses of delegates bolted to him before the second ballot was recorded, giving him 705 votes and the nomination. William H. English was nominated for vice president.[1]

The Pennsylvanian who nominated Hancock said, "I present to the Convention one who on the battlefield was styled 'the superb,' yet whose first act when in command of Louisiana and Texas was to salute the Constitution by proclaiming that, 'the military rule shall ever be subservient to the civil power.' I nominated one whose name will suppress all faction and thrill the republic."[2]

Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd Before Shifts 2nd After Shifts
Winfield S. Hancock 171 320 705
Thomas F. Bayard 153.5 112 2
Samuel J. Randall 6 128.5 0
Henry B. Payne 81 0 0
Allen G. Thurman 68.5 50 0
Others 247.5 124.5 31
Abstaining 10.5 3 0

Source: US President - D Convention. Our Campaigns. (August 26, 2009).

Vice Presidential Ballot
William H. English 738

Source: US Vice President - D Convention. Our Campaigns. (August 26, 2009).

Greenback Party nomination

Dissatisfied with the fiscal policies of both parties, the Greenback Party, a minor force in the 1876 election, returned with James B. Weaver as its Presidential nominee and Benjamin J. Chambers as his running mate.

American Party nomination

The mistrust of the Masonic movement had led to the creation of a new nativist political party, reusing the old name of the American Party. Former Civil War general John W. Phelps, the head of the Vermont Anti-Masonic movement, was nominated for President and former Kansas senator Samuel C. Pomeroy was nominated for Vice President.

General election


Political cartoon

Democrats began by attacking the contested 1876 election, with Republicans bringing up the Civil War again, but the campaign soon shifted to personality. Garfield campaigned as a hard-working, self-made man. Republicans avoided direct attacks on Hancock, who was widely-respected for his service at Gettysburg, but claimed that the general would act as a figurehead for corrupt Democrats,[3] like the ones who tried to defame Garfield with the Morey letter. The Democrats campaigned on Republican corruption, attacking Garfield and especially his running mate Arthur.

The end of the effects of the Panic of 1873 combined with a well-funded and well-run campaign gave the advantage to Garfield.


Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
James Garfield Republican Ohio 4,446,158 48.3% 214(b) Chester A. Arthur New York 214(b)
Winfield S. Hancock Democratic Pennsylvania 4,444,260 48.2% 155(a) William Hayden English Indiana 155(a)
James Baird Weaver Greenback Labor Iowa 305,997 3.3% 0 Benjamin J. Chambers Texas 0
Neal Dow Prohibition Maine 10,305 0.1% 0 Henry Adams Thompson Ohio 0
John Wolcott Phelps American Vermont 700 0.0% 0 Samuel Clarke Pomeroy Kansas 0
Other 3,631 0.0% Other
Total 9,211,051 100% 369 369
Needed to win 185 185

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1880 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) See “Georgia's vote” below.
(b) See “California's vote” below.

Georgia's vote

According to Article II, Section 1, clause 3 of the Constitution, "The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." In 1792, Congress had set the date for the Electoral College to vote at the first Wednesday in December, and it was still set to that day in 1880, when it fell on December 1. However, Georgia's electors failed to cast their ballots on December 1, instead voting on the following Wednesday, December 8. Congress chose to count Georgia's vote in the official tally, but it is arguable that Georgia's electoral vote was constitutionally invalid, and thus that Hancock's electoral vote should be 144, not 155.

California's vote

In this year, California electoral votes were split between the two candidates with Garfield getting one and Hancock getting five, giving Garfield nineteen states plus one electoral vote.

Notably, Garfield won the presidency without California. No presidential candidate managed to reproduce this feat until Woodrow Wilson's victory in the 1912 election and no Republican presidential candidate managed to reproduce this feat until George W. Bush's victory in the 2000 election.


  1. ^ William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997
  2. ^ They Also Ran
  3. ^ Harp Week

See also

External links



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