United States presidential election, 1872
|Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Grant/Wilson, blue denotes those won by Greeley, yellow denotes those won by Hendricks, and the various shades of green denote those won by Brown, Jenkins and Davis; this reflects the posthumous scattering of Greeley's electoral votes. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.|
The United States presidential election of 1872 was the 22nd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 5, 1872. The incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant was easily elected to a second term in office, with Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts as his running mate, despite a split within the Republican Party that resulted in a defection of many Liberal Republicans to opponent Horace Greeley of the Democratic Party, which also nominated the candidates of the Liberal Republican ticket that year.
On November 29, 1872, after the popular vote, but before the Electoral College cast its votes, Greeley died. As a result, electors previously committed to Greeley voted for four different candidates for president, and eight different candidates for vice-president. Greeley himself received three posthumous electoral votes, but these votes were disallowed by Congress. The election was the first in which every competing state used a popular vote to determine its electors; since 1832, South Carolina had been the lone state to decide electors by the state legislature. Florida's legislature had decided its electors in 1868. Also, it is so far the only election in which a presidential candidate died during the electoral process.
- 1 Nominations
- 2 General election
- 3 See also
- 4 Notes
- 5 Further reading
- 6 External links
Liberal Republican Party nomination
Liberal Republican candidates:
- Horace Greeley, former U.S. representative from New York
- Charles Francis Adams, former U.S. representative from Massachusetts
- Lyman Trumbull, U.S. senator from Illinois
- Benjamin Gratz Brown, governor of Missouri
- David Davis, Associate Justice from Illinois
- Andrew Curtin, former governor of Pennsylvania
- Salmon P. Chase, Supreme Court Chief Justice from Ohio
An influential group of dissident Republicans split from the party to form the Liberal Republican Party in 1870. At the party's only national convention, held in Cincinnati in 1872, New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley was nominated for President on the sixth ballot, defeating Charles Francis Adams. Missouri Governor Benjamin Gratz Brown was nominated for vice-president on the second ballot.
The Liberal platform called for an end to the hatreds of the American Civil War and Reconstruction (sections 2 and 3), demanded civil service reform to curb corruption (section 5), and hedged on the tariff issue (section 6).
We, the Liberal Republicans of the United States in National Convention assembled at Cincinnati, proclaim the following principles as essential to just government.
- First: We recognize the equality of all men before the law, and hold that it is the duty of Government in its dealings with the people to mete out equal and exact justice to all of whatever nativity, race, color, or persuasion, religious or political.
- Second: We pledge ourselves to maintain the union of these States, emancipation, and enfranchisement, and to oppose any re-opening of the questions settled by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
- Third: We demand the immediate and absolute removal of all disabilities imposed on account of the Rebellion, which was finally subdued seven years ago, believing that universal amnesty will result in complete pacification in all sections of the country.
- Fourth: Local self-government, with impartial suffrage, will guard the rights of all citizens more securely than any centralized power. The public welfare requires the supremacy of the civil over the military authority, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus. We demand for the individual the largest liberty consistent with public order; for the State, self-government, and for the nation a return to the methods of peace and the constitutional limitations of power.
- Fifth: The Civil Service of the Government has become a mere instrument of partisan tyranny and personal ambition and an object of selfish greed. It is a scandal and reproach upon free institutions and breeds a demoralization dangerous to the perpetuity of republican government. We therefore regard such thorough reforms of the Civil Service as one of the most pressing necessities of the hour; that honesty, capacity, and fidelity constitute the only valid claim to public employment; that the offices of the Government cease to be a matter of and patronage, and that public station become again a post of honor. To this end it is imperatively required that no President shall be a candidate for re-election.
- Sixth: We demand a system of Federal taxation which shall not unnecessarily interfere with the industry of the people, and which shall provide the means necessary to pay the expenses of the Government economically administered, the pensions, the interest on the public debt, and a moderate reduction annually of the principal thereof; and, recognizing that there are in our midst honest but irreconcilable differences of opinion with regard to the respective systems of Protection and Free Trade, we remit the discussion of the subject to the people in their Congress Districts, and to the decision of Congress thereon, wholly free of Executive interference or dictation.
- Seventh: The public credit must be sacredly maintained, and we denounce repudiation in every form and guise.
- Eighth: A speedy return to specie payment is demanded alike by the highest considerations of commercial morality and honest government.
- Ninth: We remember with gratitude the heroism and sacrifices of the soldiers and sailors of the Republic, and no act of ours shall ever detract from their justly-earned fame or the full reward of their patriotism.
- Tenth: We are opposed to all further grants of lands to railroads or other corporations. The public domain should be held sacred to actual settlers.
- Eleventh: We hold that it is the duty of the Government, in its intercourse with foreign nations to cultivate the friendship of peace, by treating with all on fair and equal terms, regarding it alike dishonorable either to demand what is not right, or to submit to what is wrong.
- Twelfth: For the promotion and success of these vital principles and the support of the candidates nominated by this Convention, we invite and cordially welcome the co-operation of all patriotic citizens, without regard to previous affiliations.
|Ballot||1st||2nd||2nd Revised||3rd||4th||5th||6th||6th Revised|
|Charles Francis Adams||203||243||243||264||279||309||324||187|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||95||2||2||0||0||0||0||0|
|Andrew Gregg Curtin||62||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Salmon P. Chase||2.5||1||1||0||0||24||32||0|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||237||435|
|George Washington Julian||134.5||0|
|Gilbert Carlton Walker||84.5||75|
|Cassius Marcellus Clay||34||0|
|Jacob Dolson Cox||25||0|
Republican Party nomination
At the Republican National Convention held in Philadelphia on June 5–6, 1872, President Grant was unanimously re-nominated for a second term by the convention's 752 delegates. Vice-President Schuyler Colfax was for some time considered a potential rival to Grant for the nomination, and had declared himself open to the prospect should Grant decide against running for a second term, a move that alienated him from both the President and his many supporters. Further damage was caused when a small movement within the Liberal Republicans sought to enter his name for their presidential nomination. While neither amounted to more than speculation, it likely cost him his chances for renomination. Colfax narrowly missed the mark, garnering 321.5 delegates to Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson's 399.5, President Grant being among those many notables that remained on the sidelines as the balloting had taken place.
|Presidential Ballot||Vice-Presidential Ballot|
|Ulysses S. Grant||752||Henry Wilson||399.5|
|John F. Lewis||22|
|Edmund J. Davis||16|
|Edward F. Noyes||1|
|Joseph Roswell Hawley||1|
The platform, significantly so in the first section, boasted of the party's achievements since it had attained power in 1861:
The Republican party of the United States, assembled in National Convention in the city of Philadelphia, on the 5th and 6th days of June, 1872, again declares its faith, appeals to its history, and announces its position upon the questions before the country:
- First: During eleven years of supremacy it has accepted with grand courage the solemn duties of the time. It suppressed a gigantic rebellion, emancipated four millions of slaves, decreed the equal citizenship of all, and established universal suffrage. Exhibiting unparalleled magnanimity, it criminally punished no man for political offenses, and warmly welcomed all who proved loyalty by obeying the laws and dealing justly with their neighbors. It has steadily decreased with firm hand the resultant disorders of a great war, and initiated a wise and humane policy toward the Indians. The Pacific railroad and similar vast enterprises have been generously aided and successfully conducted, the public lands freely given to actual settlers, immigration protected and encouraged, and a full acknowledgment of the naturalized citizens' rights secured from European Powers. A uniform national currency has been provided, repudiation frowned down, the national credit sustained under the most extraordinary burdens, and new bonds negotiated at lower rates. The revenues have been carefully collected and honestly applied. Despite large annual reductions of the rates of taxation, the public debt has been reduced during General Grant's Presidency at the rate of a hundred millions a year, great financial crises have been avoided, and peace and plenty prevail throughout the land. Menacing foreign difficulties have been peacefully and honorably composed, and the honor and power of the nation kept in high respect throughout the world. This glorious record of the past is the party's best pledge for the future. We believe the people will not in trust the Government to any party or combination of men composed chiefly of those who have resisted every step of this beneficent progress.
- Second: The recent amendments to the national constitution should be cordially sustained because they are right, -not merely tolerated because they are laws, -and should be carried out according to their spirit by appropriate legislation, the enforcement of which can safely be entrusted only to the party that secured those amendments.
- Third: Complete liberty and exact equality in the enjoyment of all civil, political, and public rights should be established and effectually maintained throughout the Union by efficient and appropriate state and federal legislation. Neither the law nor its administration should admit any discrimination in respect of citizens by reason of race, creed, color, or previous condition of servitude.
- Fourth: The national government should seek to maintain honorable peace with all nations, protecting its citizens everywhere, and sympathizing with all peoples who strive for greater liberty.
- Fifth: Any system of the civil service, under which the subordinate positions of the government are considered rewards for mere party zeal, is fatally demoralizing, and we therefore for a reform of the system by laws which shall abolish the evils of patronage, and make honesty, efficiency, and fidelity the essential qualifications for public positions, without practically creating a life-tenure of office.
- Sixth: We are opposed to further grants of public lands to corporations and monopolies, and demand that the national domain be set apart for free homes and people.
- Seventh: The annual revenue, after paying current expenditures, pensions, and the interest on the public debt, should furnish a moderate balance for the reduction of the principal, and that revenue, except so much as may be derived from a tax upon tobacco and liquors, should be raised by duties upon importations, the details of which should be so adjusted as to aid in securing remunerative wages to labor, and to promote the industries, prosperity, and growth of the whole country.
- Eight: We hold in undying honor the soldiers and sailors whose valor saved the Union. Their pensions are a sacred debt of the nation, and the widows and orphans of those who died for their country are entitled to the care of a generous and grateful people. We favor such additional legislation as will extend the bounty of the government to all our soldiers and sailors who were honorably discharged, and who, in the line of duty, became disabled, without regard to the length of service or the cause of such discharge.
- Nine: The doctrine of Great Britain and other European powers concerning allegiance- "once a subject always a subject" -having at last, through the efforts of the Republican party, been abandoned, and the American idea of the individual's right to transfer allegiance having been accepted by European nations, it is the duty of our government to guard with jealous care the rights of adopted citizens against the assumption of unauthorized claims by their former governments, and we urge continued careful encouragement and protection of voluntary immigration.
- Tenth: The franking privilege ought to be abolished, and the way prepared for a speedy reduction in the rates of postage.
- Eleventh: Among the questions which press for attention is that which concerns the relations of capital and labor, and the Republican party recognizes the duty of so shaping legislation as to secure full protection and amplest field for capital, -and for labor, the creator of capital, the largest opportunities and a just share of the mutual profits of these two great servants of civilization.
- Twelfth: We hold that congress and the President have only fulfilled an imperative duty in their measures for the suppression of violent and treasonable organizations in certain lately rebellious regions, and for the protection of the ballot-box, and therefore they are entitled to the thanks of the nation.
- Thirteenth: We denounce repudiation of the public debt, in any form or disguise, as a national crime. We witness with pride the reduction of the principal of the debt, and of the rates of interest upon the balance, and confidently expect that our excellent national currency will be perfected by a speedy resumption of specie payment.
- Fourteenth: The Republican party is mindful of its obligations to the loyal women of America for their noble devotion to the cause of freedom. Their admission to wider fields of usefulness is viewed with satisfaction, and the honest demand of any class of citizens for additional rights should be treated with respectful consideration.
- Fifteenth: We heartily approve the action of congress in extending amnesty to those lately in rebellion, and rejoice in the growth of peace and fraternal feeling throughout the land.
- Sixteenth: The Republican party proposes to respect the rights reserved by the people to themselves, as carefully as the powers delegated by them to the state and to the federal government. It disapproves of the resort to unconstitutional laws for the purpose of removing evil, by interference with rights not surrendered by the people to either the state or national government.
- Seventeenth: It is the duty of the general government to adopt such measures as may tend to encourage and restore American commerce and shipbuilding.
- Eighteenth: We believe that the modest patriotism, the earnest purpose, the sound judgement, the practical wisdom, the incorruptible integrity, and the illustrious services of Ulysses S. Grant have commended him to the heart of the American people, and with him at our head we start to-day upon a new march to victory.
- Nineteenth: Henry Wilson, nominated for the Vice-Presidency, known to the whole land from the early days of the great struggle for liberty as an indefatigable laborer in all campaigns, an incorruptible legislator, and a representative man of American institutions, is worthy to associate with our great leader, and share the honors which we pledge our best efforts to bestow upon them.
Democratic Party nomination
- Horace Greeley, former U.S. representative from New York
- Jeremiah S. Black, former U.S. Secretary of State from Pennsylvania
- James A. Bayard, former U.S. senator from Delaware
- William S. Groesbeck, former U.S. representative from Ohio
The 1872 Democratic National Convention met in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 9–10. Because of its strong desire to defeat Ulysses S. Grant, the Democratic Party also nominated the Liberal Republican's Greeley/Brown ticket and adopted their platform. Greeley received 686 of the 732 delegate votes cast, while Brown received 713. Accepting the Liberal platform meant the Democrats had accepted the New Departure, which rejected the anti-Reconstruction platform of 1868. They realized that to win the election they had to look forward, and not try to re-fight the Civil War. Also, they realized they would only split the anti-Grant vote if they nominated a candidate other than Greeley. However, Greeley's long reputation as the most aggressive attacker of the Democratic party, its principles, its leadership, and its activists cooled enthusiasm for the nominee, and there was a sizable minority lead by James A. Bayard which had sought to act independent of the Liberal Republican ticket. The convention, which lasted only six hours stretched over two days, was the shortest major political party convention in history.
|Jeremiah S. Black||21|
|James A. Bayard||15|
|William S. Groesbeck||2|
Source: Official proceedings of the National Democratic convention, held at Baltimore, July 9, 1872. (September 3, 2012).
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||713|
|John W. Stevenson||6|
Source: Official proceedings of the National Democratic convention, held at Baltimore, July 9, 1872. (September 3, 2012).
Labor Reform Party
Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from Illinois
(Nominee - Withdrew on June 24, 1872)
The Labor Reform Party had only been organized in 1870, with the first (and only) National Convention meeting in St. Louis Missouri on February 22, 1872. Initially there was a fair amount of discussion as to whether the party should actually nominate anyone for the presidency at that time, or if they should wait at least for the Liberal Republicans to nominate their own ticket first; every motion to that effect lost, and a number of ballots were taken resulting in the nomination of David Davis for the Presidency, who was the frontrunner for the Liberal Republican nomination at that time. Joel Parker, the Governor of New Jersey, was nominated for the Vice Presidency.
While Davis did not decline the nomination of the Labor Reform party, he decided to hinge his campaign in large part on the success of attaining the Liberal Republican nomination so that he might at least have their resources behind them. After their convention, in which he failed to attain the nomination, Davis telegraphed the Labor Reform party and informed them of his intention to withdraw from the presidential contest entirely. Joel Parker soon followed suit.
A second convention was called on August 22 in Philadelphia, where it was decided, rather than making the same mistake again, the Party would cooperate with the now fledgling "Straight-Out Democrat" movement that had recently formed and nominate their candidate as soon as it was known whom. Unfortunately that movement's nominee, Charles O'Conor, declined to run as well. Figuring that it was now too late to nominate a ticket of their own, the Party leadership decided to continue the campaign under O'Conor's name, even if he were not actually running. The various state affiliates grew less and less active, and by the following year the party ceased to be.
People's (Equal Rights) Party
The National Woman's Suffrage Association held it annual convention in New York City on May 9, 1872. Some of the delegates had been supporting Victoria Woodhull, who had spent the year since the previous NWSA annual meeting touring the New York City environs and giving speeches on why women should be allowed to vote. A year earlier, she had announced her intention to run. Also in 1871, she spoke publicly against the government being composed only of men; she proposed developing a new constitution and a new government a year thence. Five hundred delegates from 26 states and four territories who had attended the convention met in Apollo's Hall in New York City as the People's (Equal Rights) Party National Convention on May 10.
The delegates selected Victoria Woodhull to run for President, and nominated the former slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass for Vice President. He did not attend the convention and never acknowledged the nomination, though he would serve as a presidential elector in the United States Electoral College for the State of New York.
The Equal Rights Party operated under a serious disadvantage, its prime constituency being unable to vote. At the time, no state specifically allowed women the right to vote.
Woodhull gave a series of speeches around New York City during the campaign. Her finances were very thin, and when she borrowed money from supporters, she often was unable to repay them. As a result, most of the newspaper coverage of her campaign dealt largely with her financial woes. On the day before the election, Woodhull was arrested for "publishing an obscene newspaper" and so was unable to cast a vote for herself.
Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to be nominated for the presidency. However, Woodhull was ineligible to be president on Inauguration Day, not because she was a woman (the Constitution and the law were silent on the issue), but because she would not reach the constitutionally prescribed minimum age of 35 until September 23, 1873. Woodhull and Douglass are not listed in "Election results" below, as the ticket received a negligible percentage of the popular vote and no electoral votes.
Grant's administration and his Radical Republican supporters had been widely accused of corruption, and the Liberal Republicans demanded civil service reform and an end to the Reconstruction process, including withdrawal of federal troops from the South. Both Liberal Republicans and Democrats were disappointed in their candidate Greeley. As wits asked, "Why turn out a knave just to replace him with a fool?" A poor campaigner with little political experience, Greeley's career as a newspaper editor gave his opponents a long history of eccentric public positions to attack. With memories of his victories in the Civil War to run on, Grant was unassailable. Grant also had a large campaign budget to work with. One historian was quoted saying, "Never before was a candidate placed under such great obligation to men of wealth as was Grant." A large portion of Grant's campaign funds came from entrepreneurs, including Jay Cooke, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Alexander Turney Stewart, Henry Hilton, and John Astor. In addition, Greeley's running mate, Benjamin Gratz Brown, committed several gaffes due to his drinking problem. For instance, at one campaign picnic he became so drunk that he tried to butter a watermelon.
This was the first election after the formation of the National Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. As such, protests for women's suffrage became more prevalent. In addition to the afore-mentioned nomination of Victoria Woodhull to the presidency, several suffragettes would attempt to vote in the election. Susan B. Anthony was arrested and fined $100 for attempting to vote. Woodhull herself was in jail on Election Day for indecency.
Results and disputed votes
Grant won an easy re-election over Greeley by a margin of 56% to 44%. Grant garnered 286 electoral votes to what would have been 66 electoral votes for Greeley—but Greeley died on November 29, 1872, just 24 days after the election and before any of the electors from the states Greeley won (Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Maryland) could cast their votes. Most of Greeley's electors cast their votes for other Democrats.
Of the 2,171 counties making returns, Grant won in 1,335 while Greeley carried 833. Three counties were split evenly between Grant and Greeley.
During the joint session of Congress for the counting of the electoral vote on February 12, 1873, numerous objections were raised to some of the results. However, unlike the objections which would be made in 1877, these had no impact on the outcome of the election.
- The electors of Arkansas and Louisiana were rejected due to irregularities. They were not included in the total number of electors. Both states had voted for Grant.
- Three Georgia electors had voted for Greeley for president. Their votes for Greeley were rejected because Greeley was dead at the time the electors had cast their ballots. Their votes for B. Gratz Brown for vice-president were not affected. The electors were included in the total number of electors.
- Protests were raised against the votes of Texas, Mississippi, and of Mississippi elector J. J. Spellman. These electoral votes were ultimately accepted.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote||Electoral
|Count||Pct||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Elect. vote|
|Ulysses S. Grant (Incumbent)||Republican||Illinois||3,598,235||55.6%||286||Henry Wilson||Massachusetts||286|
|Horace Greeley||Liberal Republican/ Democratic||New York||2,834,761||43.8%||3(b)||Benjamin Gratz Brown||Missouri||3(b)|
|Thomas A. Hendricks||Democratic||Indiana||—(a)||—||42||—(c)||42|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||Liberal Republican/ Democratic||Missouri||—(a)||—||18||—(c)||18|
|Charles J. Jenkins||Democratic||Georgia||—(a)||—||2||—(c)||2|
|David Davis||Liberal Republican||Illinois||—(a)||—||1||—(c)||1|
|Charles O'Conor||Bourbon Democratic||New York||18,602||0.3%||0||John Quincy Adams II||Massachusetts||0|
|James Black||Prohibition||Pennsylvania||5,607||0.1%||0||John Russell||Michigan||0|
|Needed to win||177(d)|
(a) These candidates received votes from Electors who were pledged to Horace Greeley.
(b) Horace Greeley received three electoral votes for president, but these votes were disqualified.
(c) See Breakdown by ticket below.
(d) The 14 electoral votes from Arkansas and Louisiana were not counted, and are not included in this count. If these electoral votes were included, there would be 366 electoral votes total, and 184 would be needed to win.
Results by state
|States won by Grant/Wilson|
|States won by Greeley/Brown|
|Ulysses S. Grant
Red font color denotes states won by Republican Ulysses S. Grant; blue denotes those won by Democrat/Liberal Republican Horace Greeley.
States where the margin of victory was under 5% (51 electoral votes)
- Maryland 0.69%
- Virginia 0.98%
- Delaware 4.23%
- Tennessee 4.32%
- Arkansas 4.35%
- West Virginia 4.46%
- Connecticut 4.81%
Margin of victory between 5% and 10% (133 electoral votes):
- Kentucky 5.87%
- Alabama 6.38%
- Indiana 6.41%
- New York 6.46%
- Florida 7.04%
- Ohio 7.09%
- New Hampshire 8.33%
- New Jersey 9.04%
- Wisconsin 9.16%
- Georgia 9.94%
|Vice Presidential Candidate||Party||State||Electoral Vote|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||National Union Party||Missouri||47|
|Alfred H. Colquitt||Democratic||Georgia||5|
|George Washington Julian||Liberal Republican||Indiana||5|
|Thomas E. Bramlette||Democratic||Kentucky||3|
|John M. Palmer||Democratic||Illinois||3|
|Nathaniel P. Banks||Liberal Republican||Massachusetts||1|
|William S. Groesbeck||Democratic/Liberal Republican||Ohio||1|
|Willis Benson Machen||Democratic||Kentucky||1|
|John Quincy Adams II||Bourbon Democratic||Massachusetts||0|
|Needed to win||177|
Breakdown by ticket
|Presidential Candidate||Running Mate||Electoral Vote(a)|
|Ulysses S. Grant||Henry Wilson||286|
|Thomas Andrews Hendricks||Benjamin Gratz Brown||41 .. 42|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||Alfred Holt Colquitt||5|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||George Washington Julian||4 .. 5|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||Thomas E. Bramlette||3|
|Horace Greeley||Benjamin Gratz Brown||3 (b)|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||John McAuley Palmer||2 .. 3|
|Charles J. Jenkins||Benjamin Gratz Brown||2|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||Nathaniel Prentiss Banks||1|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||Willis Benson Machen||1|
|Benjamin Gratz Brown||William Slocum Groesbeck||0 .. 1|
|David Davis||Benjamin Gratz Brown||0 .. 1|
|David Davis||William Slocum Groesbeck||0 .. 1|
|David Davis||George Washington Julian||0 .. 1|
|David Davis||John McAuley Palmer||0 .. 1|
|Thomas Andrews Hendricks||William Slocum Groesbeck||0 .. 1|
|Thomas Andrews Hendricks||George Washington Julian||0 .. 1|
|Thomas Andrews Hendricks||John McAuley Palmer||0 .. 1|
(a) The used sources had insufficient data to determine the pairings of 4 electoral votes in Missouri; therefore, the possible tickets are listed with the minimum and maximum possible number of electoral votes each.
(b) Greeley was disqualified, having previously died and thus become ineligible for the Presidency, but the Brown vice-presidential votes were counted.
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