Straight-Out Democratic Party

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The Straight-Out Democratic Party was a conservative Southern faction that broke with the Democratic Party in the 1872 presidential election. (See Bourbon Democrats.) Dissatisfied with the Democratic nominee Horace Greeley, they held a convention on August 16 in Louisville, Kentucky and nominated for President Charles O'Conor, who informed them by telegram that he would not accept their nomination, and for Vice President John Quincy Adams II.[1]

In a letter accepting his nomination, Adams provided a lengthy description of the party’s philosophy:

I was of those who hoped that genuine and homogenous movement in the direction of a radical reform in the administration of the General [sic] Government, and a return to the simplicity of function and strictly circumscribed activity to which the Constitution seems to me to restrict the Federal Government, might have been concerted between a large part of the Democratic Party and a considerable body of Republicans, who were known to be dissatisfied and alarmed by the course of the Administration. There were several distinguished statesmen in that class who had debated with decency and differed with us with respect to measures rather than fundamental and essential principle, whom any honest and consistent Democrat could have followed naturally and cordially to such a path – men of tried and admitted fitness for the place.

But instead of such a man, a candidate was selected [Horace Greeley] whom no one had ever deemed peculiarly fitted for the Presidency – whom many thought curiously unfitted for it and a man, moreover, whose favorite style of controversy, as well as his cherished principles of government, rendered it almost impossible for any Democrat to support with self-respect, and whom no thoughtful Democrat could vote for without an apparent abandonment of the elementary and essential principles of his political faith. For either the Democrat party believes, first and last, and always, that the least possible interference of the Government with the free action of the people, which is consistent with preserving order and dispensing justice, is the crowning merit of such a system as we have adopted in America, or that party has become a mere office-seeking machine. But the candidate adopted at Baltimore [in the 1872 Democratic Party convention] is of all men in the United States the one who most vehemently believes and declares that this doctrine is of all political heresies the most heinoius; that it is held only by wicked men; and that the true sphere of government, on the contrary, is to try to make money for the people.[2]

Despite O'Conor’s refusal, lacking time to find a new candidate, the party ran the ticket anyway. They received 23,054 votes (0.36%) and no Electoral College votes.[3]


The Straight-Out Democrat was the name of a newspaper published in Columbia, South Carolina between 1878 and 1879.[4]

Florida Straightout Democrats[edit]

A faction within the Democratic Party of Florida in the early 1890s. See Napoleon Broward#Political beginnings.


  1. ^ Chronicler (pseudonym) (3 December 2008). "US President - Straight-Out Democratic Convention". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  2. ^ J. Q. Adams (October 3, 1872). "Letter to William C. Moreau, Chairman of a Committee of the Convention at Louisville". New York Times. p. 5. 
  3. ^ Leip, Dave. "1872 Presidential General Election Result, Atlas of U. S. Presidential Elections". Retrieved 7 October 2017. 
  4. ^ Library of Congress. "Chronicling America. Historic American Newspapers". Retrieved 7 October 2017. 

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