United States presidential election, 1884: Wikis


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1880 United States 1888
United States presidential election, 1884
November 4, 1884
GroverCleveland.png JamesGBlaine.png
Nominee Grover Cleveland James G. Blaine
Party Democratic Republican
Home state New York Maine
Running mate Thomas A. Hendricks John A. Logan
Electoral vote 219 182
States carried 20 18
Popular vote 4,874,621 4,848,936
Percentage 48.5% 48.2%
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Blaine/Logan, Blue denotes those won by Cleveland/Hendricks. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

Incumbent President
Chester Alan Arthur

Grover Cleveland

The United States presidential election of 1884 featured excessive mudslinging and personal acrimony. On November 4, 1884, New York Governor Grover Cleveland narrowly defeated Republican former United States Senator James G. Blaine of Maine to become the first Democrat elected President of the United States since the election of 1856, before the American Civil War. New York decided the election, awarding Governor Cleveland the state's 36 electors by a margin of just 1,047 of 1,167,003 votes cast.




Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates:

Candidates gallery

Blaine/Logan campaign poster

The Republicans convened the 1884 Republican National Convention in Chicago with former US Senator and former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine of Maine, President Chester A. Arthur, and Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont leading the contest. Blaine led on the first ballot, with Arthur in second, and Edmunds in third. This order did not change on successive ballots as Blaine increased his lead, and he won a majority on the fourth ballot. After nominating Blaine, the convention chose Senator John A. Logan of Illinois as the vice-presidential nominee.

Famed Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman was considered a possible Republican candidate, but ruled himself out with what has become known as the Sherman pledge: "If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve."

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

Candidates gallery

Cleveland/Hendricks campaign poster

As Democrats convened in Chicago in July 1884, Grover Cleveland was the clear front-runner, the candidate of northern reformers and sound-money men. Although Tammany Hall bitterly opposed his nomination, the machine represented a minority of the New York delegation. Its only chance to block Cleveland was to break the unit rule, and this it failed to do. Daniel N. Lockwood of New York placed Cleveland's name in nomination. But this rather lackluster address was eclipsed by a seconding speech by Edward S. Bragg of Wisconsin, who roused the delegates with a memorable slap at Tammany. "They love him, gentlemen," Bragg said of Cleveland, "and they respect him, not only for himself, for his character, for his integrity and judgment and iron will, but they love him most of all for the enemies he has made." As the convention rocked with cheers, Tammany boss John Kelly lunged at the platform, screaming that he welcomed the compliment.

On the first ballot, Cleveland led the field with 392 votes, more than 150 votes short of the nomination. Trailing him were Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, 170; Allen G. Thurman of Ohio, 88; Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania, 78; and Joseph E. McDonald of Indiana, 56; with the rest scattered. Randall then withdrew in Cleveland's favor. This movie, together with the southern bloc scrambling aboard the Cleveland bandwagon, was enough to put him over the top of the second ballot, with 683 votes, to 81.5 for Bayard and 45.5 for Thomas Hendricks of Indiana. Hendricks was nominated unanimously for Vice President on the first ballot after John C. Black, William S. Rosecrans, and George W. Glick withdrew their names from consideration.[1]

Presidential Ballot
Ballot 1st 2nd After Shifts
Grover Cleveland 392 683
Thomas F. Bayard 170 81.5
Thomas A. Hendricks 1 45.5
Allen G. Thurman 88 4
Samuel J. Randall 78 4
Joseph E. McDonald 56 2
Others 35 0

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

Vice Presidential Ballot
Thomas A. Hendricks 816
Abstaining 4

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

Equal Rights Party

Dissatisfied with resistance by the men of the major parties to woman suffrage, a small group of women announced the formation in 1884 of this third party. Belva Lockwood, an attorney in Washington, D.C., agreed to be its candidate even though most women in the United States did not yet have the right to vote. She said, "I cannot vote but I can be voted for." She was the first woman to run a full campaign for the office (Victoria Woodhull conducted a more limited campaign in 1872). The Equal Rights Party had no treasury but Lockwood gave lectures to pay for campaign travel. She won fewer than 5000 votes.

Prohibition Party

The Prohibitionists chose their third Presidential ticket with John St. John for President and William Daniel for Vice President. The straightforward single-issue Prohibition Party platform advocated for the criminalization of alcoholic beverages.

General election


Campaign poster attacking Cleveland's morals

The issue of personal character marked this campaign. Former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine had been prevented from getting the Republican presidential nomination during the previous two elections because of the stigma of the “Mulligan letters”: in 1876, a Boston bookkeeper named James Mulligan had located some letters showing that Blaine had sold his influence in Congress to various businesses. One such letter ended with the phrase "burn this letter", from which a popular chant of the Democrats arose - "Burn, burn, burn this letter!" In just one deal, he had received $110,150 (over $1.5 million in 2005 dollars) from the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad for, among other things, securing a federal land grant. Democrats and anti-Blaine Republicans made unrestrained attacks on his integrity as a result. New York Governor Grover Cleveland, on the other hand, was known as “Grover the Good” for his personal integrity; in the space of the three previous years he had become, successively the Mayor of Buffalo and then the Governor of the state, cleaning up large amounts of Tammany Hall's graft.

Thus, it was a huge shock when, on July 21, the Buffalo Evening Telegraph reported that Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock, that the child had gone to an orphanage, and that the mother had been driven to an asylum. Cleveland's campaign decided that candor was the best approach to this scandal: they admitted that Cleveland had formed an “illicit connection” with the mother and that a child had been born and given the Cleveland surname. They also noted that there was no proof that Cleveland was the father, and claimed that, by assuming responsibility and finding a home for the child, he was merely doing his duty. Finally, they showed that the mother had not been forced into an asylum; her whereabouts were unknown. Blaine's supporters condemned Cleveland in the strongest of terms, singing "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa?" (After Cleveland's victory, Cleveland supporters would respond to the taunt with: "Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha.") However, the Cleveland campaign's approach worked well enough and the race remained close through Election Day. In fact, many Republican reformers, put off by Blaine's scandals, worked for the election of Cleveland; these reformers were known as “Mugwumps”.

In the final week of the campaign, Blaine's campaign suffered a catastrophe. At a Republican meeting attended by Blaine, a group of New York preachers castigated the Mugwumps. Their spokesman, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Burchard, made this fatal statement: “We are Republicans, and don't propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion.” Blaine did not notice Burchard's anti-Catholic slur, nor did the assembled newspaper reporters, but a Democratic operative did, and Cleveland's campaign managers made sure that it was widely publicized. The statement energized the Catholic vote in New York City heavily against Blaine, costing him New York state and the election by the narrowest of margins.

New York had the most electoral votes and was Grover Cleveland's home state, in which he achieved the political positions of lawyer, sheriff, mayor, and governor. This heavy influence in New York gave Cleveland a good reputation for fighting against corruption. This may have led to Cleveland winning the Irish vote, since the Tammany political machine, who controlled much of the Irish immigrants votes, wanted to stay on the good side of Grover Cleveland (emphasized in the "Ready for Business" political cartoon).[2]

In addition to Rev. Dr. Samuel Burchard's statement, it is also believed that John St. John's campaign was responsible for winning Cleveland the election in New York. Since Prohibitionists tended to ally more with Republicans, the Republican Party attempted to convince John St. John to drop out. When they failed, they resorted to slandering him. Because of this, he redoubled his efforts in upstate New York where Blaine was vulnerable on his prohibition stance, taking away votes from the Republicans.[3]


Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
Grover Cleveland Democratic New York 4,874,621 48.5% 219 Thomas Andrews Hendricks Indiana 219
James Gillespie Blaine Republican Maine 4,848,936 48.2% 182 John Alexander Logan Illinois 182
Benjamin Franklin Butler Greenback/
Massachusetts 175,096 1.7% 0 Absolom Madden West Mississippi 0
John Pierce St. John Prohibition Kansas 147,482 1.5% 0 William Daniel Maryland 0
Other 3,619 0.0% Other
Total 10,049,754 100% 401 401
Needed to win 201 201

Source (Popular Vote): Leip, David. 1884 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).

See also


  1. ^ William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997
  2. ^ (Roberts, 57-58)
  3. ^ http://elections.harpweek.com/1884/Overview-1884-3.htm


  • Mark Hirsch, "Election of 1884," in History of Presidential Elections: Volume III 1848-1896, ed. Arthur Schlesinger and Fred Israel (1971), 3:1578.
  • Josephson, Matthew (1938). The Politicos: 1865–1896.  
  • Keller, Morton (1977). Affairs of State: Public Life in Late Nineteenth Century America.  
  • Kleppner, Paul (1979). The Third Electoral System 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures.  
  • Lynch, G. Patrick "U.S. Presidential Elections in the Nineteenth Century: Why Culture and the Economy Both Mattered." Polity 35#1 (2002) pp 29+.
  • Norgren, Jill. Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would be President (NY: New York University Press, 2007). online version, focus on 1884
  • Morgan, H. Wayne (1969). From Hayes to McKinley: National Party Politics, 1877–1896.  
  • Rhodes, James Ford (1920) (8 vols.). History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the Roosevelt-Taft Administration.  
  • Mark Wahlgren Summers. Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884 (2000) online version
  • "1884 Election Cleveland v. Blaine Overview", HarpWeek, July 26, 2008.
  • Roberts, North (2004). Encyclopedia of Presidential Campaigns, Slogans, Issues, and Platforms.  

Primary sources

Dance card cover depicting the candidates

External links



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