The presidential election of Grover Cleveland



IN 1882 factional politics in New York became bitter once more. The administration candidate for Governor, Secretary Folger, was nominated after a bitter struggle. The Democratic nominee was Grover Cleveland, of Buffalo, who had made a reputation as a courageous reform mayor. The Blaine faction of the Republicans was incensed at what they considered the domination of the Convention by President Arthur and Mr. Conkling, and many refused to vote. As a result, Cleveland was elected by the unprecedented majority of nearly 200,000, and he became the logical candidate of his party for President in 1880.

The campaign that ensued was the most deplorable in our history. The personalities indulged in have never been exceeded. The private life of each of the leading candidates was assailed, and the general conduct of the campaign in this respect was so indecent that it shocked public sentiment, and has never since been indulged in. And now the result of the old Blaine-Conkling feud was fully shown. While every effort was made to heal the breach, it was not finally closed. The pivotal State was New York, and this was carried for Cleveland by slightly over 1,000 votes, though the Republicans claimed a fraudulent count in New York City of Butler votes for Cleveland, which would have elected Blaine. Butler, in his memoirs, also makes this claim. It took several days to complete the count, and a repetition of the contest of 1876-7 was feared, but Cleveland got the State and the Presidency. Blaine's managers made a number of tactical mistakes. A few days before the election Mr. Blaine was met by a party of clergymen with an address delivered by Dr. Burchard, who spoke of the Democracy as the party of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion." It is said Blaine did not understand the second term, but supposed it to be "Mormonism." At any rate he did not correct the statement, which angered many Roman Catholics, and is believed to have cost him the election. Mr. Cleveland had the support of many former Republicans, because they admired his conduct as Mayor and Governor, and for his professed devotion to civil service reform. These Republicans were called "Mugwumps," and the term was considered one of reproach.

The electoral vote stood: Cleveland, 219; Blaine, 182. The popular vote was: Cleveland, 4,911,017; Blaine, 4,848,-334; St. John, 151,809; Butler, 133,826; scattering, 11,362.

Grover Cleveland was the first Democrat to occupy the Presidency after the retirement of Buchanan, twenty-four years before. The House elected with him was Democratic, but the Senate was Republican, and this prevented any partisan legislation during his term of office. The Senate, however, confirmed nearly all of his appointments. The struggle for office at the opening of his term was the greatest in history. Democrats expected to get all the offices, but found the President very conservative. During the first two years his removals from office were comparatively few, and he extended the scope of the civil service law. In general, he allowed the Republicans in prominent offices to serve out their four-year terms, but the diplomatic and consular offices were generally filled with Democrats. Later in his term he was less faithful to his promises, and greatly disappointed the Independents, who looked upon him as the chief apostle of this reform. For his Cabinet, Mr. Cleveland chose: Thomas F. Bayard, of Delaware, Secretary of State; Daniel Manning, of New York, Secretary of the Treasury; Wm. C. Endicott, of Massachusetts, Secretary of War; William C. Whitney, of New York, Secretary of the Navy; L. Q. C. Lamar, of Mississippi, Secretary of the Interior; Augustus S. Garland, of Arkansas, Attorney-General, and W. F. Vilas, of Wisconsin, Postmaster-General.





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