United States presidential election, 1884
|Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Blaine/Logan, Blue denotes those won by Cleveland/Hendricks. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.|
The United States presidential election of 1884 was the 25th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1884. It saw the first election of a Democrat as President of the United States since the election of 1856. The campaign was marred by exceptional political acrimony and personal invective.
New York Governor Grover Cleveland narrowly defeated Republican former United States Senator James G. Blaine of Maine to break the longest losing streak for any major party in American political history: six consecutive presidential elections.
New York decided the election, awarding Governor Cleveland the state's 36 electors by a margin of just 1,047 votes out of 1,171,312 cast.
Republican Party nomination 
The 1884 Republican National Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois, on June 3–6, with former United States Senator and former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine of Maine, President Chester A. Arthur, and Senator George F. Edmunds of Vermont as the frontrunners. Though he was still popular, Arthur did not make a serious bid for re-nomination, knowing that his increasing health problems meant he would probably not survive a second term (he ultimately died in November 1886). Blaine led on the first ballot, with Arthur second, and Edmunds third. This order did not change on successive ballots as Blaine increased his lead, and he won a majority on the fourth ballot. After nominating Blaine, the convention chose Senator John A. Logan of Illinois as the vice-presidential nominee.
Famed Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman was considered a possible Republican candidate, but ruled himself out with what has become known as the Sherman pledge: "If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve." Robert Todd Lincoln, son of past President Abraham Lincoln, was also strongly courted by politicians and the media of the day to seek the presidential or vice-presidential nomination. Lincoln however was as adverse to the nomination as Sherman was.
|James G. Blaine||334||341||375||541|
|Chester A. Arthur||278||270||274||207|
|George F. Edmunds||93||85||69||41|
|John A. Logan||63||61||58||7|
|Joseph R. Hawley||13||13||13||15|
|Robert T. Lincoln||4||4||8||2|
|William T. Sherman||2||3||2||0|
|Vice Presidential Ballot|
|John A. Logan||780|
|Walter Q. Gresham||6|
|Joseph B. Foraker||1|
Democratic Party nomination 
The Democrats convened in Chicago on July 8–11, 1884, with New York Governor Grover Cleveland as clear frontrunner, the candidate of northern reformers and sound-money men (as opposed to inflationists). Although Tammany Hall bitterly opposed his nomination, the machine represented a minority of the New York delegation. Its only chance to block Cleveland was to break the unit rule, which mandated that the votes of an entire delegation be cast for only one candidate, and this it failed to do. Daniel N. Lockwood of New York placed Cleveland's name in nomination. But this rather lackluster address was eclipsed by the seconding speech of Edward S. Bragg of Wisconsin, who roused the delegates with a memorable slap at Tammany. "They love him, gentlemen," Bragg said of Cleveland, "and they respect him, not only for himself, for his character, for his integrity and judgment and iron will, but they love him most of all for the enemies he has made." As the convention rocked with cheers, Tammany boss John Kelly lunged at the platform, screaming that he welcomed the compliment.
On the first ballot, Cleveland led the field with 392 votes, more than 150 votes short of the nomination. Trailing him were Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, 170; Allen G. Thurman of Ohio, 88; Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania, 78; and Joseph E. McDonald of Indiana, 56; with the rest scattered. Randall then withdrew in Cleveland's favor. This move, together with the Southern bloc scrambling aboard the Cleveland bandwagon, was enough to put him over the top of the second ballot, with 683 votes, to 81.5 for Bayard and 45.5 for Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana. Hendricks was nominated unanimously for vice-president on the first ballot after John C. Black, William Rosecrans, and George Washington Glick withdrew their names from consideration.
|Ballot||1st||2nd Before Shifts||2nd After Shifts|
|Thomas F. Bayard||170||151.5||81.5|
|Allen G. Thurman||88||60||4|
|Samuel J. Randall||78||5||4|
|Joseph E. McDonald||56||2||2|
|John G. Carlisle||27||0||0|
|Russell P. Flower||4||0||0|
|Thomas A. Hendricks||1||123.5||45.5|
|Samuel J. Tilden||1||2||0|
|Vice Presidential Ballot|
|Thomas A. Hendricks||816|
Prohibition Party nomination 
The 4th Prohibition Party National Convention assembled in Lafayette Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There were 505 delegates from 31 states and territories at the convention. The national ticket was nominated unanimously: John St. John for president and William Daniel for vice-president. The straightforward single-issue Prohibition Party platform advocated the criminalization of alcoholic beverages.
|John St. John||505|
Greenback Party nomination 
The 3rd Greenback Party National Convention assembled in English's Opera House in Indianapolis, Indiana. Delegates from 28 states and the District of Columbia were in attendance. The convention nominated Benjamin F. Butler for president on the first ballot. Absolom M. West was nominated unanimously for vice-president.
|Benjamin F. Butler||323|
|Edward Phelps Allis||2|
Anti-Monopoly Party nomination 
The Anti-Monopoly National Convention assembled in the Hershey Music Hall in Chicago, Illinois. The party had been formed to express opposition to the business practices of the emerging nationwide companies. There were delegates present from 16 states, but half of the delegates came from Michigan and Illinois.
Alson Streeter was the temporary chairman and John F. Henry was the permanent chairmen.
Benjamin F. Butler was nominated for president on the first ballot. Delegates from New York and Maryland bolted the convention when it appeared that no discussion of other candidates would be allowed.
The convention chose not to nominate a candidate for vice-president, hoping that other conventions would endorse a similar platform and name a suitable vice-presidential nominee.
|Benjamin F. Butler||124|
|Allen G. Thurman||7|
American Party nomination 
The American (Prohibition) Party held its national convention in the YMCA building in Chicago, Illinois. There were 150 delegates, including many non-voting delegates. The party sought to merge the reform movements of anti-masonry, prohibition, anti-polygamy, and direct election of the president into a new party.
Jonathan Blanchard was a leader of the party. He traveled throughout northern states in the spring and gave an address entitled "The American Party - Its Principles and Its Claims."
During the convention, the party name was changed from the American Party to the American Prohibition Party. The party name had been the Anti-Masonic Party in 1880.
Equal Rights Party nomination 
Dissatisfied with resistance by the men of the major parties to women's suffrage, a small group of women announced the formation in 1884 of the Equal Rights Party.
The Equal Rights Party held its national convention in San Francisco, California on September 20. The convention nominated Belva Ann Lockwood, an attorney in Washington, D.C., for President. Chairman Marietta Stow, the first woman to preside over a national nominating convention, was nominated for vice-president.
Lockwood agreed to be the party's presidential candidate, even though most women in the United States did not yet have the right to vote. She said, "I cannot vote but I can be voted for." She was the first woman to run a full campaign for the office (Victoria Woodhull conducted a more limited campaign in 1872). The Equal Rights Party had no treasury, but Lockwood gave lectures to pay for campaign travel. She won fewer than 500 votes.
General election 
The issue of personal character marked was paramount in the 1884 campaign. Blaine had been prevented from getting the Republican presidential nomination during the previous two elections because of the stigma of the "Mulligan letters": in 1876, a Boston bookkeeper named James Mulligan had located some letters showing that Blaine had sold his influence in Congress to various businesses. One such letter ended with the phrase "burn this letter", from which a popular chant of the Democrats arose - "Burn, burn, burn this letter!" In just one deal, he had received $110,150 (over $1.5 million in 2010 dollars) from the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad for securing a federal land grant, among other things. Democrats and anti-Blaine Republicans made unrestrained attacks on his integrity as a result. Cleveland, on the other hand, was known as "Grover the Good" for his personal integrity; in the space of the three previous years he had become successively the mayor of Buffalo, New York, and then the governor of the state of New York, cleaning up large amounts of Tammany Hall's graft.
It came as a tremendous shock when, on July 21, the Buffalo Evening Telegraph reported that Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock, that the child had gone to an orphanage, and that the mother had been driven into an asylum. Cleveland's campaign decided that candor was the best approach to this scandal: they admitted that Cleveland had formed an "illicit connection" with the mother and that a child had been born and given the Cleveland surname. They also noted that there was no proof that Cleveland was the father, and claimed that, by assuming responsibility and finding a home for the child, he was merely doing his duty. Finally, they showed that the mother had not been forced into an asylum; her whereabouts were unknown. Blaine's supporters condemned Cleveland in the strongest of terms, singing "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa?" (After Cleveland's victory, Cleveland supporters would respond to the taunt with: "Gone to the White House, Ha, Ha, Ha.") However, the Cleveland campaign's approach worked well enough and the race remained close through Election Day. In fact, many Republican reformers, put off by Blaine's scandals, worked for the election of Cleveland; these reformers were known as "Mugwumps".
In the final week of the campaign, the Blaine campaign suffered a catastrophe. At a Republican meeting attended by Blaine, a group of New York preachers castigated the Mugwumps. Their spokesman, Reverend Dr. Samuel Burchard, made this fatal statement: "We are Republicans, and don't propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion." Blaine did not notice Burchard's anti-Catholic slur, nor did the assembled newspaper reporters, but a Democratic operative did, and Cleveland's campaign managers made sure that it was widely publicized. The statement energized the Irish and Catholic vote in New York City heavily against Blaine, costing him New York state and the election by the narrowest of margins.
In addition to Rev. Dr. Samuel Burchard's statement, it is also believed that John St. John's campaign was responsible for winning Cleveland the election in New York. Since Prohibitionists tended to ally more with Republicans, the Republican Party attempted to convince John St. John to drop out. When they failed, they resorted to slandering him. Because of this, he redoubled his efforts in upstate New York, where Blaine was vulnerable on his prohibition stance, and took votes away from the Republicans.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote||Electoral
|Count||Pct||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Elect. vote|
|Grover Cleveland||Democratic||New York||4,914,482||48.85%||219||Thomas A. Hendricks||Indiana||219|
|James G. Blaine||Republican||Maine||4,856,903||48.28%||182||John A. Logan||Illinois||182|
|John St. John||Prohibition||Kansas||147,482||1.50%||0||William Daniel||Maryland||0|
|Benjamin Franklin Butler||Greenback/Anti-Monopoly||Massachusetts||134,294||1.33%||0||Absolom M. West||Mississippi||0|
|Needed to win||201||201|
Results by state 
|States won by Cleveland/Hendricks|
|States won by Blaine/Logan|
|John St. John
Close states 
Margin of victory less than 5% (172 electoral votes):
- New York, 0.10%
- Michigan, 0.82%
- Connecticut, 0.94%
- Indiana, 1.32%
- New Jersey, 1.67%
- Virginia, 2.15%
- West Virginia, 3.19%
- Tennessee, 3.72%
- Illinois, 3.73%
- Ohio, 4.05%
- Oregon, 4.28%
- Wisconsin, 4.59%
- New Hampshire, 4.80%
Margin of victory between 5% and 10% (104 electoral votes):
- Iowa, 5.24%
- Maryland, 5.98%
- Florida, 6.23%
- California, 6.64%
- North Carolina, 6.66%
- Missouri, 7.47%
- Massachusetts, 8.03%
- Pennsylvania, 9.52%
Geography of Results 
Cartographic Gallery 
See also 
- American election campaigns in the 19th century
- History of the United States (1865–1918)
- President of the United States
- Third Party System
- An American Almanac and Treasury of Facts, Statistical, Financial, and Political, for the year 1886., Ainsworth R. Spofford, http://books.google.com/books?id=1ZcYAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false (pg. 241)
- William DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Gramercy 1997
- "1884 Presidential General Election Data - National". Retrieved May 7, 2013.
- Hirsch, Mark. "Election of 1884," in History of Presidential Elections: Volume III 1848-1896, ed. Arthur Schlesinger and Fred Israel (1971), 3:1578.
- Josephson, Matthew (1938). The Politicos: 1865–1896.
- Keller, Morton (1977). Affairs of State: Public Life in Late Nineteenth Century America.
- Kleppner, Paul (1979). The Third Electoral System 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures.
- Lynch, G. Patrick "U.S. Presidential Elections in the Nineteenth Century: Why Culture and the Economy Both Mattered." Polity 35#1 (2002) pp 29–50. in JSTOR, focus on voting behavior in 1884
- Norgren, Jill. Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would be President (2007). online version, focus on 1884
- Morgan, H. Wayne (1969). From Hayes to McKinley: National Party Politics, 1877–1896.
- Rhodes, James Ford (1920). History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the Roosevelt-Taft Administration (8 vols.).
- Mark Wahlgren Summers. Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884 (2000) online version
- "1884 Election Cleveland v. Blaine Overview", HarpWeek, July 26, 2008.
- Roberts, North (2004). Encyclopedia of Presidential Campaigns, Slogans, Issues, and Platforms.
Primary sources 
- The Republican Campaign Text Book for 1884. Republican Congressional Committee. 1882.
- Presidential Election of 1884: A Resource Guide from the Library of Congress
- 1884 popular vote by counties
- How close was the 1884 election? — Michael Sheppard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.