1872

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1872

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OVERVIEW

Election Year: 1872

Election Day Date: November 5, 1872

Winning Ticket: Ulysses Grant (50, Methodist), Henry Wilson (60, Congregationalist), Republican 3,597,439 55.58% 286 81.3%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • Horace Greeley (61 Universalist), B. Gratz Brown (46)Democratic 2,833,710 43.78% 66 18.8%
  • Charles O’Conor (68, Roman Catholic), Charles F. Adams (65, )Straight-Out Democrat 23,054 0.36% 0 0.0%
  • Other (+) – – 17,780 0.27% 0 0.0%

Voter Turnout: 71.3%

Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes: Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1870, said “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged … on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

Aggressive Republican fundraising – assessed businesses to deploy as slush funds in states: $10,000 to North Carolina, Maine, Ohio; $40,000 to Indiana; $75,000 to Pennyslvania.

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:

Ulysses Simpson Grant, Schuyler Colfax, Republican, 1869-1873

Population: 1872: 42,066,000

Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $8.23 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $127.5
GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 6.46 Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $196 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $3,030

Number of Daily Newspapers: 574

Average Daily Circulation: 2,601,547

Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote (mostly General Ticket/Winner Take All)

Method of Choosing Nominees: National Party Conventions

Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries): “Grantism” the Grant administration; Reconstruction, treatment of the South;

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

Republican Party candidate:

  • Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States (Illinois)

Democratic Party candidates:

  • Horace Greeley, editor of New York Tribune (New York)
  • Jeremiah S. Black, former U.S. Secretary of State (Pennsylvania)
  • Thomas F. Bayard, U.S. senator (Delaware)
  • William S. Groesbeck, former U.S. representative (Ohio)

Liberal Republican Party candidates:

  • Horace Greeley,  editor of New York Tribune (New York)
  • Charles Francis Adams, former U.S. representative (Massachusetts)
  • Benjamin Gratz Brown, governor of Missouri
  • Salmon P. Chase, Supreme Court Chief Justice (Ohio)
  • David Davis, Associate Justice (Illinois)
  • Lyman Trumbull, U.S. senator (Illinois)

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Roscoe Conkling; Henry Adams; B. Gratz Brown; Horace Greeley;

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

  • In 1870, a group of Missouri Republicans opposing the Radical Republicans split and formed the Liberal Republican Party. Their candidate won the gubernatorial race.
  • In 1872, reform-minded Republicans took the Liberal Republican Party national, hosting a convention in May 1872 in Cincinnati, Ohio to nominate Presidential and vice presidential candidates.
  • “I could not aid in the reelection of Grant without sinning against decency and my own self-respect,” George Julian, a founder of the Republican Party.
  • In July 1872, the Democrats, at their convention in Baltimore, allied with the Liberal Republican Party by nominating Horace Greeley, long their arch-enemy.
  • One Southern Democrat said “if the party puts Greeley into our hymn book we’ll sing him through if it kills us.”

Conventions (Dates & Locations):

Republican National Convention June 5-6, 1872, Academy of Music, Philadelphia 1st ballot, Ulysses S. Grant (Illinois) Henry Wilson (Massachusetts)

Democratic National Convention July 9-10, 1872 Ford’s Opera House, Baltimore, James R. Doolittle (Wisconsin) 1st ballot, Horace Greeley (New York), B. Gratz Brown (Missouri)

Convention Turning Points:

Democratic National Convention:

    • Democrats nominated/endorsed the Liberal Republican Greeley/Brown ticket
    • Greeley received 686/724 delegate votes cast, while Brown received 713/724.
    • The convention lasted only six hours stretched over two days. It was the shortest major political party convention in history.

Republican National Convention:

o   Vice President Colfax was not renominated; Henry Wilson proved more popular.

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

Republican Party Nomination

The Balloting Presidential Ballot

  • Ulysses S. Grant 752

Vice Presidential Ballot

  • 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

Democratic Party Nomination

The Balloting Presidential Ballot

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

Liberal Republican Party nomination

Presidential Ballot

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

Vice Presidential Ballot 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

Third Parties Candidates & Nominations:

  • Equal Rights Party: President, Victoria Woodhull; Vice President, Frederick Douglass (Small percentage of the popular vote; no electoral votes)

Party Platform:

  • Republican Party: Women’s rights, abolish franking privilege; hard-money policy. At the behest of Grant’s supporter, the suffragette Susan B. Anthony, the Republican platform acknowledged “obligations to the loyal women of America.” equal rights regardless of “race, creed, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
  • Liberal Republicans: Universal amnesty to help heal the fissures of Civil War; local self-government; supremacy of civil order over military rule; civil service reform to stop corruption; opposition to land grants for railroads. Divided over the tariff they did not take a position
  • Democratic Party: Endorsed the Liberal Republican platform by a vote of 671 to 62

General Election Controversies/Issues: “Grantism” the Grant administration; Reconstruction, treatment of the South

Major Personalities (General Election): Jay Cooke, Cornelius Vanderbilt, A.T. Stewart, Henry Hilton, and John Astor

Campaign Tactics:  Mud-slinging

Republican Party:

  • Republicans mocked their old ally Horace Greeley, calling him eccentric; Ridiculed for his freethinking ideas in various editorials over the decades.
  • Republican: Negative campaigning; large campaign budget accumulated by donations from Jay Cooke, Cornelius Vanderbilt, A.T. Stewart, Henry Hilton, and John Astor
  • Political cartoons: Thomas Nast in Harper’s Weekly anti-Greeley cartoons; Matt Morgan in Leslie’s Illustrated anti-Grant cartoons.
  • Susan B. Anthony attended the conventions of the three major parties, but after the Republicans added a platform plank for women’s rights she stumped for Grant.

Democratic/Liberal Republican:

  • Grant called a drunkard; Accusations of corruption and incompetence in his administration
  • Greeley took two campaign tours. In August, Greeley toured New England and in September he toured the Midwest and upper South. Gave partisan speeches at each stop.

Turning Points (General Election):

  • Greeley was a poor campaigner, haunted by a lifetime of strong political and editorial views, often hostile to Democrats. Backtracking, he claimed he could accept secession under certain circumstances and that his prewar opposition to slavery “might have been a mistake.”
  • Greeley’s running mate Brown’s gaffes from his drunkenness at speeches and public events
  • Together, both candidates alienated so many voters, the Liberal Republican Party did not survive after they lost.

Popular Campaign Slogans:

Republican:

  • [The Working-Man’s Banner for President Ulysses S., Grant]: “The Galena Tanner”; [for Henry S. Wilson as Vice-President]: “The Natick Shoemaker.”
  •  “In God is our strength. Washington/Lincoln. Grant/Wilson.”

     “Gen. Grant Never has never been defeated, and he Never will be”;

Democratic:

  • “Anyone But Grant”
  • “Sage of Chappaqua.”
  • “The Flag of Chappaqua/The Flag of Victory.”

— “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Universal Amnesty/Impartial Suffrage”

Campaign Songs: “Grant is the Man”; “Horace Greeley’s March”.

Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:

Republicans attack Greeley as the “Gabbing Philosopher,” the “Garrulous Old Woman”

Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “This glorious record of the past is the party’s best pledge for the future. We believe the people will not intrust the Government to any party or combination of men composed chiefly of those who have resisted every step of this beneficent progress.” Republican Party Platform

Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):

  • “I was, in the days of slavery, an enemy of slavery, because I thought slavery inconsistent with the rights, the dignity, the highest well being of free labor. That might have been a mistake.” Horace Greeley
  • “I have been assailed so bitterly that I hardly knew whether I was running for the Presidency or the penitentiary.” Horace Greeley
  • Campaign Quotations:
  •  Frederick Douglass: “If the Republican party goes down, freedom goes down with it.”Ulysses Grant “made a better President than . . . we . . . had any right to expect, and he is a better President every day than he was the day before.” Roscoe Conkling New York Senator New York Republican boss
  • “That . . . a man like Grant should be called . . . the highest product of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous. One must be as commonplace as Grant’s own commonplaces to maintain such an absurdity.” Henry Adams
  • “Six weeks ago, I did not suppose that any considerable number of men, outside of a Lunatic Asylum, would nominate Greeley for President.” Thurlow Weed
  • Grant was “the second choice of most of our people, and they are not agreed on a first.” James Garfield Ohio Congressman

Election Issues:

  • On November 29, 1872, Liberal Republican candidate Horace Greeley died before the Electoral College cast its votes.
  • Electoral votes cast posthumously were invalid. Electors committed to Greeley distributed their votes among four candidates, with most going to Greeley’s running mate Brown. Three Georgia electoral votes were cast for Greeley, but Congress considered them invalid.

Further Reading:

  • Sproat, John G. Best Men: Liberal Reformers in the Gilded Age (1968)

Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • The only election in which a candidate died during the electoral process
  • The Liberal Republican Party dissolved after 1872 “but the Party’s political and ideological impact continued.
  • First election after the National Woman’s Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association were founded in 1869.
  • The first campaign with a woman running for President, Victoria Woodhull from the Equal Rights Party. She was ineligible, however, because she did not reach the Constitutional 35 years minimum age requirement until September 23, 1873
  • Woodhull’s running mate Fredrick Douglass, a former slave and abolitionist was the first African American candidate for Vice President.

 

CHRONOLOGY

  • September 24, 1869: “Black Friday” financial panic; gold plot by Jay Gould and James Fisk, Jr. (“The “Black Friday” financial panic takes place in New York City. The panic results from the efforts of two railroad entrepreneurs, Jay Gould and James Fisk, Jr., to corner the gold market. Gould and Fisk, along with President Grant’s brother-in-law, frame their argument by claiming that if the government refrains from selling gold, its value will increase and improve depressed farm prices. A suspicious Grant finally orders a large sale of $4 million in gold, ruining many speculators. The gold plot is the first of several scandals to take place during the Grant years.”)
  • 1869: Founding of the National Woman’s Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association.
  • January 11, 1870: “Grant vetoes the Private Relief Bill.”
  • January 26, 1870: “Virginia is readmitted to the Union.”
  • February 23, 1870: “Mississippi is readmitted to the Union.”
  • March 30, 1870: “Texas is readmitted to the Union.”
  • March 30, 1870?: The Fifteenth Amendment is ratified claiming “the right to vote could not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”
  • May 31, 1870: First of three Enforcement Acts, Congress makes it a federal crime to prevent a citizen from their right to vote.
  • 1870: Group of Missouri Republicans opposing the Radical Republicans split and form the Liberal Republican Party. Their candidate wins the gubernatorial race.
  • February 28, 1871: Second Enforcement Act, Congress passes the Federal Election Law to supervise elections with populations greater than 20,000.
  • April 20, 1871: The Ku Klux Klan Act passes to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment in the South and fight the Klan and their influence in the South.
  • September 4, 1871: Citizen’s commission forms in New York to investigate corruption at William M. “Boss” Tweed’s Tammany Hall.
  • October 12, 1871: “Grant issues a proclamation against the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina.”
  • February 22, 1872: Prohibition Party Convention nominates James Black for President.
  • February 22, 1872: Labor Reform Party Convention nominates David Davis for President.
  • May 2, 1872: Reunion and Reform Convention nominates Horace Greeley for President.
  • May 3, 1872: Liberal Republican Party Convention nominates Horace Greeley for President. Reform-minded Republicans take the Liberal Republican Party national, hosting a convention in Cincinnati, Ohio to nominate Presidential and vice presidential candidates.
  • May 10, 1872: Equal Rights Party Convention nominates Victoria Woodhull for President, and Frederick Douglass for Vice President.
  • May 23, 1872: National Workingmen Convention nominates Ulysses S. Grant for President.
  • May 23, 1872: Anti-Masonic Convention nominates Charles Francis Adams, Sr. for President.
  • June 5-6, 1872: Republican National Convention convenes at the Academy of Music, Philadelphia renominates on the 1st ballot, Ulysses S. Grant (Illinois) for President and nominates Henry Wilson (Massachusetts) for Vice President. Vice President Colfax is not renominated. Henry Wilson proves a more popular choice. George Julian, a founder of the Republican Party proclaims, “I could not aid in the reelection of Grant without sinning against decency and my own self-respect.”
  • June 6, 1872: Police arrest and fine Susan B. Anthony for attempting to vote at a state election.
  • June 22, 1872: Independent Liberal Republicans Convention nominates William Slocum Groesbeck for President.
  • July 9-10, 1872: Democratic National Convention convenes at Ford’s Opera House, Baltimore, Maryland. James R. Doolittle (Wisconsin) serves as chairman.  The convention nominates on the 1st ballot, Horace Greeley (New York) for President, and B. Gratz Brown (Missouri) for Vice President. Democrats ally with the Liberal Republican Party by nominating/endorsing the Liberal Republican Greeley/Brown ticket; Greeley receives 686/724 of the delegate votes cast, while Brown receives 713/724. Horace Greeley was long the Democratic regulars’ archenemy. The convention lasts only six hours, but is stretched over two days. It is the shortest major political party convention in history. One Southern Democrat says, “if the party puts Greeley into our hymn book we’ll sing him through if it kills us.”
  • September 5, 1872: Straight-Out Democratic Convention nominates Charles O’Conor for President.
  • August 1872: Horace Greeley tours New England.
  • September 1872: Greeley tours the Midwest and upper South, giving partisan speeches at each stop. Greeley claims he could accept secession under certain circumstances and that his prewar opposition to slavery “might have been a mistake.”  “I was, in the days of slavery, an enemy of slavery, because I thought slavery inconsistent with the rights, the dignity, the highest well being of free labor. That might have been a mistake.”
  • September 25, 1872: Liberal Colored Republican Convention nominates/endorses  Horace Greeley for President.
  • Greeley’s running mate Brown’s gaffes from his drunkenness at speeches and public events hinder the Democratic ticket’s campaign and chances at being elected.
  • November 5, 1872: Election Day, Republicans Ulysses Grant is reelected President and Henry Wilson is elected Vice President.
  • November 29, 1872: Liberal Republican candidate Horace Greeley dies before the Electoral College cast its votes.  Electoral votes cast posthumously are considered invalid. Electors committed to Greeley distribute their votes among four candidates, with most going to Greeley’s votes going to his running mate Brown. Three Georgia electoral votes are cast for Greeley, but Congress considers them invalid.
  • December 4, 1872: Presidential Electors cast their Electoral votes in their state capitols.
  • February 12, 1873: Joint session of Congress assembles to count the Electoral votes.
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