Stalwart (politics)

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The "Stalwarts" were a faction of the United States Republican Party toward the end of the 19th century.

Led by U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling—also known as "Lord Roscoe"—Stalwarts were sometimes called Conklingites. Other notable Stalwarts include Chester A. Arthur and Thomas C. Platt, who were in favor of Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth President of the United States (1869–1877), running for a third term. They were the "traditional" Republicans who opposed Rutherford B. Hayes' civil service reform. They were pitted against the "Half-Breeds" (moderates) for control of the Republican Party. The only real issue between Stalwarts and Half-Breeds was patronage. The Half-Breeds worked to get civil service reform, and finally created the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. Stalwarts favored traditional machine politics.[1]

Characteristics[edit]

The group of Republican politicians known as the Stalwarts are mostly identifiable through their support of the presidency and reelection of Ulysses S. Grant.[2] Of the Stalwarts present at the 1880 Republican national convention, the event in which the group participated the most prominently, most were from former Confederate states, with others being from New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, home to prominent Republican leaders.[3] Along with being mostly Southern, the Stalwarts have been profiled as being more urban and less educated than non-Stalwart Republicans, placing them demographically closer to Democrats.[4] Due to these similarities to Democrats, the Stalwarts often had to challenge the policies of Democrats within the Democrats' base, working to prevent a rise in the popularity of the Democrats.[5] They were therefore more cautious in political policy than their fellow Republicans, preferring to maintain tradition rather than to assist in the creation of more precarious policies on social issues that were popular with other Republicans, such as tariff.[6] This tendency towards political caution led the Stalwarts to support the reelection of Grant, a popular figure of the Republican party who had already held office, during the 1880 Republican national convention.[7]

1880 Republican National Convention[edit]

During the Republican national convention in 1880, the Half-Breeds advocated the candidacy of James Blaine of Maine for President. The Stalwarts, in a bid for power within their own party in spite of their loss of power due to the rise in popularity of the Democratic party, stubbornly supported the nomination of Ulysses S. Grant, who, if elected, would be serving his third term.[8] A stalemate ensued between Half-Breeds and Stalwarts, and a compromise was struck by the Half-Breeds and supporters of John Sherman to nominate James Garfield, with Chester Arthur, former Collector for the Port of New York, as his running mate to satisfy the Stalwarts and ensure their support for the general election.

Decline[edit]

After the Republican victory in November 1880, Garfield and Conkling fought bitterly and publicly over patronage in Conkling's New York state. Garfield, with assistance and advice from Blaine, won the battle and Conkling and Platt resigned the Senate, figuring to be re-elected by the New York Legislature. However, Garfield was shot by a self-proclaimed "Stalwart of the Stalwarts," Charles J. Guiteau, on July 2, 1881, and Arthur became president upon Garfield's death on September 19, 1881. The shock of the assassination broke Conkling's and the Stalwarts' power and his former protege Arthur helped to create civil service reforms in his term in part because he felt that he had to follow up Garfield's work.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Stalwart (American political faction) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Britannica.com. Retrieved 2012-01-30. 
  2. ^ Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly 99 (4): 703–716. doi:10.2307/2150708. 
  3. ^ Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly 99 (4): 710. doi:10.2307/2150708. 
  4. ^ Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly 99 (4): 714. doi:10.2307/2150708. 
  5. ^ Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly 99 (4): 714. doi:10.2307/2150708. 
  6. ^ Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly 99 (4): 714. doi:10.2307/2150708. 
  7. ^ Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly 99 (4): 714. doi:10.2307/2150708. 
  8. ^ Peskin, Allan (1984–85). "Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age". Political Science Quarterly 99 (4): 715. doi:10.2307/2150708. 

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