1892

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1892

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OVERVIEW

Election Year: 1892

Election Day Date: November 8, 1892

Winning Ticket:

  • Grover Cleveland (55, Presbyterian), Adlai Stevenson (57), Democratic, 5,553,898 46.02% 277 62.4%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • Benjamin Harrison (59, Presbyterian), Whitelaw Reid (55), Republican, 5,190,799 43.01% 145 32.7%
  • James Weaver (59), James Field (66,, Populist 1,026,595 8.51% 22 5.0%
  • John Bidwell (63), James Cranfill (34), Prohibition 270,889 2.24% 0 0.0%
  • Simon Wing (65), Charles Matchett (49), Socialist Labor 21,173 0.2% 0 0.0%

Other (+) – – 4,673 0.0% 0 0.0%

Voter Turnout: 74.7%

Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters: Very little campaigning; Populist Party only party to actively campaign, stumping, speaking tour.

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:

Benjamin Harrison, Levi P Morton, Republican, 1889-1893

Number of Daily Newspapers: 1,610 (1890)

Average Daily Circulation: 8,387,188 (1890)

Population: 1892: 65,920,000

GDP 104 Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $16.4 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $339.3 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 4.82
Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $248 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $5,147

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

Method of Choosing Nominees: National Party Conventions (State convention pledging delegates)

Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries):

  • Fifty-first Congress 1889-1891 is the spendthrift “Billion Dollar Congress”
  • McKinley Tariff – more protectionist
  • Sherman Silver Purchase Act – to increase currency circulation

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

Republican Party candidates:

  • Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States (Indiana)
  • James G. Blaine, former U.S. Secretary of State (Maine)
  • William McKinley, governor of (Ohio)

Democratic Party candidates:

  • Grover Cleveland, Former President of the United States (New York)
  • David B. Hill, U.S. senator (New York)
  • Horace Boies, governor of Iowa
  • Arthur P. Gorman, U.S. senator (Maryland)
  • John M. Palmer, U.S. senator (Illinois)

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries): Matthew Quay; Thomas Platt; Thomas Reed (former Speaker of the House, Republican); James Blaine; William McKinley;

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

  • Agrarian anger in the Midwest and South at Eastern bankers fed the Populist movement.
  • Just before the Republican Convention, Secretary of State James Blaine resigned, making one last play for nomination, supported by enthusiastic “Blainiacs.”
  • Democratic Party: Fearing a President Cleveland comeback, the bosses of Tammany Hall called a “snap” state convention – called to make a quick decision – and nominated anti-Cleveland delegates pledged to David B. Hill. The reformist backlash against Tammany’s power play mobilized pro-Cleveland delegates across the country.
  • Iowa Democrats pushed Governor Horace Boies as the champion of the Midwestern farmers. At the convention 10,000 people rallying for Boies faced down the “Tammany braves” supporting David Hill.

Conventions (Dates & Locations):

  • Democratic National Convention: June 21-23, 1892 Wigwam; Chicago William L. Wilson (West Virginia) 1st ballot Grover Cleveland (New York) Adlai E. Stevenson I (Illinois)
  • Republican National Convention: June 7-10, 1892 Industrial Exposition Building; Minneapolis 1st ballot, Benjamin Harrison (Indiana) Whitelaw Reid (New York)

Convention Turning Points:

Democratic National Convention:

  • Cleveland won on the first ballot with a slim majority
  • New York delegation filled with Tammany Hall men opposed Cleveland’s nomination, supported instead New York Governor David B. Hill
  • Cleveland supporters wanted Isaac P. Gray of Indiana for the Vice Presidential slot; he lost to convention, party choice Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, former representative and assistant postmaster general.

Republican National Convention:

  • Levi P. Morton, the incumbent Vice President was dropped from the ticket
  • Replaced Morton with Whitelaw Reid, ambassador to France and the former editor of the New York Tribune
  • Reid was nominated by acclamation, the first time this method was used to vote on a nominee at a Republican convention

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

Republican Party nomination

Presidential 1st Ballot

  • Benjamin Harrison 535.17
  • James G. Blaine 182.83
  • William McKinley 182
  • Others 6

Vice Presidential 1st Ballot

  • Whitelaw Reid 906

Democratic Party nomination

Presidential 1st Ballot

  • Grover Cleveland 617.33
  • David B. Hill 114
  • Horace Boies 103
  • Arthur P. Gorman 36.5
  • Adlai E. Stevenson 16.67
  • John G. Carlisle 14
  • William R. Morrison 3
  • James E. Campbell 2
  • Robert E. Pattison 1
  • William E. Russell 1
  • William C. Whitney 1
  • Abstaining 0.5

Vice Presidential 1st Ballot After Shifts

  • Adlai E. Stevenson 402 652
  • Isaac P. Gray 343 185
  • Allen B. Morse 86 62
  • John L. Mitchell 45 10
  • Henry Watterson 26 0
  • William B. Cockran 5 0
  • Horace Boies 1 0
  • Lambert Tree 1 0
  • Abstaining 1 1

Third Parties Candidates:

  • Populist Party candidates: James B. Weaver, former U.S. representative (Iowa), James H. Kyle, U.S. senator (South Dakota)
    • Presidential 1st Ballot: James B. Weaver 995, James H. Kyle 265, Others 3
    • Vice Presidential 1st Ballot: James G. Field 733, Ben Stockton Terrell 554
  • The Prohibition Party: Presidential, John Bidwell; Vice Presidential, James Cranfill
  • The Socialist Labor Party: Simon Wing, Charles Matchett

Nominating Speech Speakers (President): Republican: Chauncey Depew

Convention Chairmen:

  • Republican Party: Temporary Chairman: J. Sloat Fassett (NY); Permanent Chairman: William McKinley (OH)

Party Platform/Issues:

  • Republican Party: Pro-tariff plank, canal in Nicaragua; bi-metallic currency; sympathy for home rule in Ireland; sympathy for prohibition; reaffirmed the Monroe doctrine, “achievement of the manifest destiny of the Republic in its broadest sense.”
  • Democratic Party: Central American canal through Nicaragua; opposition to  prohibition; antitrust laws; federal aid to education; Mississippi River improvements; statehood for New Mexico and Arizona; opposed Chinese immigration; unrestricted  immigration from the “industrious and worthy of foreign lands”; stable money, gold and silver coinage; tariff for revenue only: “denouncing Republican protection as a fraud, a robbery of the great majority of the American people for the benefit of the few. … a fundamental principle of the Democratic party that the Federal Government has no constitutional power to impose and collect tariff duties, except for the purpose of revenue only, and we demand that the collection of such taxes shall be limited to the necessities of the Government when honestly and economically administered.”
  • Populist Party: Restore government “to the hands of the plain people.” Omaha Platform details many reforms that would be enacted over the next half century; direct election of Senators; income tax; antitrust legislation; railroads public ownership; currency expansion, free silver plank, unlimited coinage of silver (ratio: sixteen ounces of silver : one ounce of gold)

General Election Controversies/Issues:

    • Tariff, McKinley Tariff of 1890;
    • Economy
    • Farmers abandoned the Republican Party for the Populist Party.
    • Factory workers furious about the bloody “Homestead Strike” also abandoned the Republicans.

Campaign Innovations (General Election): 

  • Elaborate notification ceremonies for Grover Cleveland at Madison Square Garden

Major Personalities (General Election ): William McKinley; Mary Lease of Kansas (campaign for the populists); Ignatius Donnelly

Campaign Tactics:

  • Quiet campaign among the major parties: very few comments from the candidates except for their formal nomination acceptance letters, very few torchlight parades, processions, and brass bands, bloody shirt played minor role
  • Democratic Party: Cleveland did very little campaigning to be respectful of Harrison wife’s illness
  • Republican Party: Harrison did not have a front-porch campaign or speeches as he did in 1888, because of his wife’s illness, did not campaign at all personally
  • Populist Party: Only party with active campaigning, stumping tour

Turning Points (General Election):

  • Matt Quay the architect behind Harrison’s successful campaign in 1888, quit after Harrison claimed he got to his position because of god, Quay’s response; “Let God re-elect you then.”
  • Democrats used the Republican Party’s inconsistencies on tariffs and labor against them to garner the labor vote in the election. Republicans insisted high tariffs meant high wages, however with Homestead, Carnegie’s general manager Henry Clay Frick wanted cut wages by 22% while the company prospered from the high tariffs.
  • On October 25, 1892 First Lady Caroline Harrison died. The candidates stopped campaigning out of respect.

Popular Campaign Slogans:

Democrats:

  • “Baby Ruth/The Prophet/The People.”
  • “Our choice: Cleve and Steve.”
  • “Tariff Reform/No Force Bill.”

Republicans:

  • “Harrison and Protection.”
  • “Protection-Reciprocity-Honest Money.”

Southern Democrats:

o   “No Force Bill! No Negro Domination!”

Campaign Song:

  • Republicans: “Let every honest fellow, unless he’s a son-of-a-gun/Be sure and vote for Benjamin Harrison”;
  • Democrats: “Grover, Grover, four more years of Grover. In we’ll go, out they’ll go, Then we’ll be in clover,” “Hurrah! Hurrah! For Cleve and Steve.”

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “The tender mercy the workingman receives from those made selfish and sordid by unjust governmental favoritism.” Grover Cleveland

Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):

  • “For me there is no sting in it. Indeed, after the heavy blow the death of my wife dealt me, I do not think I could have stood the strain a re-election would have brought.” Benjamin Harrison
  • “Cleveland Democracy is no better than the enemy.” North Carolina Democrat

Campaign Quotations:

  • “The two candidates were singular persons, of whom it was the common saying that one of them had no friends; the other only enemies.” Henry Adams
  • “Each side would have been glad to defeat the other if it could do so without electing its own candidate.” Robert Ingersoll
  • “It was a religious revival, a crusade, a pentecost of politics in which a tongue of flame sat upon every man, and each spoke as the spirit gave him utterance.” An observer of the Populist Party campaign
  • “All hail the power of the People’s name, Let autocrats prostrate fall, Bring forth the royal diadem And crown the people sovereign, all.” Populist Party delegates at the Populist Party National Convention
  • “Wall Street owns the country… it is no longer a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street.” Mary Lease for the Populist Party

Further Reading: : 

  • George Knoles,  The Presidential Campaign and Election of 1892.  (1942)

Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • The only time, so far, a former President returned to the Presidency, becoming the only person elected to non-consecutive presidential terms.
  • Populist James B. Weaver, became the only third-party nominee between 1860 and 1912 to carry a single state.

 

CHRONOLOGY

  • 1889-1891: Fifty-first Congress is the spendthrift “Billion Dollar Congress.”
  • July 2, 1890: The Sherman Anti-Trust Act is enacted.
  • July 14, 1890: Harrison signs into the law the Sherman Silver Purchase Act to increase currency circulation. Agrarian anger in the Midwest and South at Eastern bankers feeds the growing Populist movement.
  • October 1, 1890: Congress passes the McKinley Tariff, a more protectionist tariff Senator William McKinley introduces; the tariff increases Presidential power giving the president the ability to negotiate reciprocity agreements for some items.
  • November 7, 1890: Mid-term elections, Democrats gain the majority in the House, Republican Senate majority shrinks to eight; due largely to the McKinley Tariff.
  • May 23, 1892: Harrison announces his intention to run for re-election; party basses oppose his renomination.
  • 1892: Fearing a President Cleveland comeback, the bosses of Tammany Hall called a “snap” state convention – called to make a quick decision – and nominate anti-Cleveland delegates pledged to David B. Hill. The reformist backlash against Tammany’s power play mobilizes pro-Cleveland delegates across the country.
  • June 4, 1892: Secretary of State James Blaine resigns just prior to the Republican Convention, making one last play for nomination, supported by enthusiastic “Blainiacs.” Blaine also resigns because of growing disagreements with Harrison, and increasingly ill health; Blaine dies within eight months.
  • April 27, 1892: Portland Morning Oregonian reports that a Silver Party was being formed.
  • June 7-10, 1892: Republican National Convention convenes in Industrial Exposition Building; Minneapolis, Minnesota and renominate on the 1st ballot  Benjamin Harrison (Indiana) for President and nominates Whitelaw Reid (New York) for Vice President. Levi P. Morton, the incumbent Vice President is dropped from the ticket; Whitelaw Reid, the ambassador to France and the former editor of the New York Tribune replaces Morton on the ticket. Reid is nominated by acclamation, the first time this method was used to vote on a nominee at a Republican convention.
  • June 21-23, 1892 Democratic National Convention convenes at the Wigwam in Chicago, Illinois. William L. Wilson (West Virginia) serves as chairman. The convention nominates on the 1st ballot Grover Cleveland (New York) for President and Adlai E. Stevenson I (Illinois) for Vice President. Cleveland wins on the first ballot with a slim majority. Elaborate notification ceremonies for Grover Cleveland at Madison Square Garden. New York delegation is filled with Tammany Hall men who oppose Cleveland’s nomination, and instead support New York Governor David B. Hill. Iowa Democrats push Governor Horace Boies as the champion of the Midwestern farmers. At the convention the 10,000 people rally for Boies face down the “Tammany braves” supporting David Hill. Cleveland supporters want Isaac P. Gray of Indiana for the Vice Presidential slot; he loses to convention party choice Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois, former representative and assistant postmaster general.
  • June 25, 1892: Nevada silverites held a state convention since neither the Republican or Democratic party is concerned about the silver issue that affects the western states. They officially form the “Silver Party of Nevada.” They endorse Populist candidate James B. Weaver.
  • June 30, 1892: Prohibition Party Convention convenes for 6th convention at the Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio and nominates John Bidwell for President and James Cranfill for Vice President.
  • July 5, 1892: Populist Party Convention convenes first convention in Convention Hall Coliseum, Omaha, Nebraska and nominates James B. Weaver, former U.S. representative (Iowa) for President, and James H. Kyle, U.S. senator (South Dakota) for Vice President; The party’s platform focuses on protecting  agriculture from the encroachment of the railroads.
  • July 6, 1892: Steel workers are locked out of the Homestead plant (Carnegie Steel) in Pennsylvania; Workers strike in protest over wage cut and union recognition; they fire on Pinkerton detectives there to break the strike. Seven Pinkertons and nine workers die.
  • July 9, 1892: Governor of Pennsylvania sends 8,000 state troopers/militiamen to restore and maintain order and accompany the Pinkertons; they remain on guard for three months until the strike is over.
  • July 11, 1892: Silver miners at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, go on strike. Violence erupts and thirty miners are killed fighting strike breakers. Marshall Law is invoked to restore order. Strikes and violence also breaks out in Wyoming and Tennessee. In Tennessee, the strikers are protesting convict labor. In both cases Harrison sends federal troops and court injunctions to end the strikes.
  • July 30, 1892: “Harrison privately supports mediation in the Homestead Steel Strike.” He sends Whitelaw Reid to be an emissary to Henry Clay Frick, who had been in charge of Homestead when the strikes and violence erupts. Mediation does not resolve the issue.
  • August 28, 1892: Socialist Labor Party Convention convenes their first convention in New York and nominates Simon Wing for President and Charles Matchett for Vice President.
  • Matt Quay the architect behind Harrison’s successful campaign in 1888, quits after Harrison claims he got to his position because of god, Quay’s response; “Let God re-elect you then.”
  • 1888: Populist Party actively campaign with a stumping tour
  • October 25, 1892: First Lady Caroline Harrison dies of Tuberculosis. The candidates stop campaigning out of respect.
  • November 8, 1892: Election Day, Grover Cleveland is elected President for second nonconsecutive term, and Adlai Stevenson is elected Vice President. Factory workers furious about the bloody “Homestead Strike” abandon the Republicans
  • November 20, 1892: Homestead strike ends; steel union destroyed by the strike, takes 40 years to rebuild the union, workers return to the mill as non-union men.
  • December 14, 1892: Presidential Electors cast the electoral vote in their state capitols.
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