Log in

When a sitting President find himself in a tough race for his own party's nomination, it almost always means that his days in the White House are numbered. That was the position that Gerald Ford found himself in when he tried to win the 1976 election. Ford had become Vice-President following the resignation of Spiro Agnew, and then he became President following the resignation of Richard Nixon. Ford hoped to bring a breath of political fresh air into the nation following the Watergate hearings which led to Nixon's resignation. He began his presidency with the support of many in his party and in the nation, but when pardoned Nixon on September 8, 1974, his image became tarnished.

The nation was in the mood for change and many interpreted this as meaning that it was time for a Washington outsider. The Democrats reacted by nominating Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter as their candidate and some in the Republican Party believed that they too needed a Washington outsider at the top of their ticket.

These Republicans found their Washington outsider in former California Governor Ronald Reagan. Reagan was especially popular among the party's conservative wing. Reagan and many of his conservative supporters faulted Ford for failing to do more to assist South Vietnam, which had finally collapsed in April 1975 with the fall of Saigon. They also disliked him for signing the Helsinki Accords, which they interpreted as acceptance of Soviet domination over Eastern Europe. They also disliked Ford's negotiations with Panama to hand over the Panama Canal.

Reagan began to criticize Ford openly as early in the summer of 1975. That fall he formally launched his campaign. At first, it appeared that Reagan would not attract much support and that Ford would easily win the nomination. Ford narrowly defeated Reagan in the New Hampshire primary, and then beat Reagan in the Florida and Illinois primaries by larger margins. By the time of the North Carolina primary in March 1976, Reagan's campaign was nearly out of money, and it was believed that another defeat would force Reagan out of the race.

Reagan found an ally in U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, whose organization helped Reagan to defeat Ford in the North Carolina primary. This was followed by a string of impressive victories for the Reagan campaign, including in Texas, where he carried all twenty-four congressional districts and won all ninety-six delegates at stake in the state's first binding primary. Ford bounced back to win in his home state of Michigan. From then on the two candidates engaged in an increasingly bitter contest for delegates. By the time the Republican Convention opened in August 1976, pundits said that the race was still too close to call.

The 1976 Republican National Convention took place from August 16 to August 19, 1976, and was held in Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. Going into the convention, Ford had won more primary delegates than Reagan, but Ford did not have enough delegates to secure the nomination. Ford and Reagan arrived in Kansas City before the convention hoping to convince the remaining uncommitted delegates to their cause in an effort to secure the nomination. The Texas delegation and other conservative Western and Southern delegates worked hard for Reagan to persuade delegates from other states to support their candidate. Ford used all of the perks of the Presidency to win over uncommitted delegates, including offering trips aboard Air Force One and personal meetings with the President himself.

Reagan had promised, if nominated, to name Senator Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his running mate, in a bid to attract liberals and centrists in the party. This move backfired, however, as many conservatives, including Senator Jesse Helms, were put off by Reagan's choice of the "liberal" Schweiker. Only a few moderate delegates switched to Reagan. Helms promptly began a movement to draft Conservative Senator James L. Buckley of New York as the presidential nominee.

Reagan's managers proposed a rules change that would have required Ford to publicly announce his running mate before the presidential balloting. They hoped that when Ford announced his choice of running mate, it would anger one of the two factions of the party and help Reagan. The proposed rules change was defeated by a vote of 1180 to 1069, and Ford gained momentum as a result.

These results were very close to the final results of the first ballot for the party's nominee for president. Ford won the nomination with 1187 votes to 1070 votes for Reagan. Conservatives succeeded in inserting several key planks into the party platform, including a "Human Life Amendment to the Constitution", which the conservatives wanted in response to the 1973 US Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.

Ford chose Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate. After giving his acceptance speech, Ford asked Reagan to come and say a few words to the convention. Reagan proceeded to give a very eloquent address which overshadowed Ford's acceptance speech.

The battle for the nomination injured Ford in his bid for re-election, though likely not as much as his pardon of Nixon. Ford managed to close the remaining gap in the polls and by election day the race was judged to be even. On election day it took most of that night and the following morning to determine the winner. It wasn't until 3:30 am EST that NBC pronounced Carter the winner. Carter defeated Ford by two percentage points in the national popular vote. The electoral vote was the closest since 1916. Carter carried 23 states with 297 electoral votes, while Ford won 27 states and 240 electoral votes.
By the time the 1868 Presidential Election came around, the Radical Republicans had been waiting for almost four years to be rid of their nemesis Andrew Johnson, who had become President following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in April of 1865. Elected in 1864 under the unity banner of the National Union Party, Johnson had been a Democrat all of his life, and was selected to run with Lincoln because he was a Senator from a Confederate state who had chosen to remain in Congress and oppose secession. But by 1868, Johnson had alienated many in Congress. He had been impeached and had narrowly survived being thrown out of office in a Senate trial. Although Johnson remained in office for the remainder of his term, he was the lamest of lame ducks.

For the Republicans, it was almost a foregone conclusion that their candidate in 1868 would be General Ulysses Grant, the famed Union General during the civil war. Grant announced that he was indeed a Republican, and he was nominated unanimously as the party's candidate at its convention held in Chicago on May 20 and 21. But what about the Democrats? Nominating a candidate who could defeat Grant was a daunting and almost impossible task, especially with Reconstruction in effect in the former Confederate states, where Republicans now controlled the ballot box and limited who could and couldn't vote.

When the Democrats met for their convention at Tammany Hall in New York City on Independence Day, their convention had a slogan which would be unthinkable today in all but the most racist of parties. Banners with the slogan proclaimed: "This is a white man's country, Let a white man rule". The convention marked the return of Democratic Party politicians from the southern states.

The front-runner in the early balloting was George H. Pendleton of Ohio. He was a former Congressman who was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 1864, running as a peace Democrat with war Democrat George B. McClellan when the pair lost to Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. He later became known as the principal author of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act of 1883.

Others seeking the nomination included incumbent president Andrew Johnson, Union General Winfield Scott Hancock of Pennsylvania, former Lieutenant Governor Sanford Church of New York, former Representative Asa Packer of Pennsylvania, former Governor Joel Parker of New Jersey, Governor James E. English of Connecticut, Senator James Rood Doolittle of Wisconsin, and Senator Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana.

Pendleton led on the first fifteen ballots, but his vote total ranged between 104 and 156 votes, nowhere near the 212 needed for a two-thirds majority. His support declined gradually after the eighth ballot. On the sixteenth ballot he was passed by Hancock, who led for the next six ballots, but Hancock could not get more than 144 votes, and by the twenty-first ballot, Hancock and Hendricks were less than three votes apart, with neither candidate nearing the two-thirds required.

The convention chairman was Horatio Seymour, former governor of New York. He had received 9 votes on the fourth ballot from the state of North Carolina, but no votes in any of the the other of the first twenty-one ballots. When Seymour received his nine votes, this had caused what was described as "loud and enthusiastic cheering". Seymour told the convention that he was not interested in being the party's candidate. He said: :"I must not be nominated by this Convention, as I could not accept the nomination if tendered. My own inclination prompted me to decline at the outset; my honor compels me to do so now. It is impossible, consistently with my position, to allow my name to be mentioned in this Convention against my protest. The clerk will proceed with the call."

After numerous indecisive ballots, a number of compromise candidates were proposed, including New York City Mayor John T. Hoffman, former Missouri Congressman Francis P. Blair, and US Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Johnson Field, but none of these candidates, however, gained any support. On the thirteenth ballot one delegate even voted for former President Franklin Pierce.

For twenty-one ballots, the no candidate could gain a majority. The party was divided regionally, east versus West, as well as ideologically, conservatives battling radicals. No compromise seemed reachable between supporters of Hancock and Hendricks and each was determined that the other should not receive the nomination. Because of the two-thirds rule of the convention, a compromise candidate was needed. Seymour wanted it to be Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, but this did not occur.

On the twenty-second ballot, the chairman of the Ohio delegation announced, "at the unanimous request and demand of the delegation I place Horatio Seymour in nomination with twenty-one votes-against his inclination, but no longer against his honor." The delegates once again cheered loudly at this prospect and Seymour had to wait for the rousing cheers to die down before he could address the delegates and once again decline. He told the crowd: "I have no terms in which to tell of my regret that my name has been brought before this convention. God knows that my life and all that I value most in life I would give for the good of my country, which I believe to be identified with that of the Democratic party."

When someone from the crowd shouted "Take the nomination, then!" Seymour continued to resist. He said "but when I said that I could not be a candidate, I mean it! I could not receive the nomination without placing not only myself but the Democratic party in a false position. God bless you for your kindness to me, but your candidate I cannot be."

Seymour left to platform. The Ohio chairman announced that his delegation would not accept Seymour's declination. Utah's chairman rose to add his delegation's support for Seymour and while Seymour was waiting off stage, the convention nominated him unanimously. It was with considerable reluctance that Seymour accepted the role his party had thrust upon him. While some candidates have coyly pretended that they never had presidential aspirations, in Seymour's case the sentiment appears to be very genuine.

The delegates unanimously nominated General Francis Preston Blair, Jr. for vice-president on the first ballot after General John A. McClernand, former Senator Augustus C. Dodge of Iowa, and Major General Thomas Ewing, Jr. all withdrew their names from consideration. Blair's nomination reflected the party's desire to balance the ticket east and west as well as north and south.

Seymour committed himself to the campaign. He knew that he faced considerable challenges. His opponent, General Grant, enjoyed the support of a unified Republican party and most of the nation's press. Despite the tradition that presidential nominees did not actively campaign, Seymour took a tour of the Midwest and the mid-Atlantic states in mid-October. He campaigned on a promise of conservative and limited government, and he opposed the Reconstruction policies of the Republicans in Congress.

Seymour's campaign was also marked by undisguised appeals to racism. Grant was branded as the candidate of the black man while Seymour was the "White Man's" candidate. The Republicans campaign by what was known as "waving the bloody shirt", that is claiming that if the Democrats were elected, all that was gained during the civil war from the deaths of union soldiers, would be lost.

Seymour ran a much better campaign than expected, and by October many Republicans were afraid of defeat. He was vigorously attacked by pro-union newspapers, who likened him to the inept James Buchanan. They also alleged that insanity ran through the Seymour family, citing as evidence the suicide of his father. The Democrats also got down in the mud in their criticism of Grant and the Republicans. Blair went on a national speaking tour in which he warned that electing Grant would result in the rule of "a semi-barbarous race of blacks who are worshipers of fetishes and poligamists" and wanted to "subject the white women to their unbridled lust." Seymour's rhetoric was more restrained. He emphasized his idea that change in the South should be accomplished at the state level, without national interference. He said that state civil authority should take precedence over military action.


Grant was victorious on election day, but not by as large a margin as many had predicted. Seymour was defeated decisively in the electoral vote by a count of 214 to 80. Grant received 3,013,650 votes (52.7%) compared to 2,708,744 (47.3%) for Seymour.
A century ago, Woodrow Wilson was running for re-election. He had won the presidential election in 1912, benefiting from a schism in the Republican Party and in the friendship of incumbent President William Howard Taft and his predecessor and former mentor Theodore Roosevelt. Wilson might have been able to defeat a united opponent, but it was much easier for him to gain victory when the other major party was badly divided between its conservative wing (for Taft) and its progressive wing (for Roosevelt).

The election took place against a backdrop of a world in turmoil. Close to home, Mexico was going through the Mexican Revolution, while in Europe World War I was in its third year. Public sentiment at home was split between those who wanted their nation to remain neutral in the European conflict, and those who leaned towards the British and French (Allied) forces, due to the harsh treatment of civilians by the German Army in large parts of Belgium and northern France. It appeared that the majority of American voters wanted to avoid involvement in the war, and preferred the policy of neutrality. Wilson's campaign used the popular slogan "He kept us out of war" to appeal to those voters who wanted to avoid a war in Europe or with Mexico.

For the Republicans, the first order of the day was reuniting their party and heal the bitter split that had occurred in the 1912 presidential campaign. Several candidates were openly competing for the 1916 nomination as the Republican convention approached. Two of the most prominent candidates were conservative Senator Elihu Root of New York and liberal Senator John W. Weeks of Massachusetts.

Root had an impressive resume. He had served as the Secretary of War from 1899 to 1904 under Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He was elected by the state legislature as a U.S. Senator from New York and served one term, 1909–1915. During that time Root was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912. Root had been a supporter of William Howard Taft during the previous election. Although he was considered by many as a Washington "wise man", Root was 71 years of age at the time of the convention, and his age and his ties to one faction were both seen as impediments to his nomination.

Weeks had been the the Mayor of Newton, Massachusetts from 1902 to 1903, a United States Representative for Massachusetts from 1905 to 1913, as a United States Senator since 1913. Like Root, the knock on Weeks was that he was acceptable only to one faction of the party and could not unite the Republicans in their fight against Wilson. Party bosses wanted a moderate who would be acceptable to both factions of the party.

The one name the party bosses could agree on was Supreme Court Justice Charles Evan Hughes. He was widely seen having the ability to unite the party. He had served as the 36th Governor of New York from 1907 to 1910, when he was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States by Taft. Other potential dark horse candidates included Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge or General Leonard Wood, though both men had close ties to Roosevelt. Many Republicans saw this as a good strategy because they believed that if they could nominate a candidate acceptable to Roosevelt, this would averting another third party run by progressive Republicans. Former Vice President Charles Fairbanks also saw himself as a viable candidate and he attempted to curry Roosevelt's support, but Roosevelt refused to support Fairbanks.

When the convention met in Chicago from June 7 to 10 of 1916, Hughes led on every ballot. On the first ballot he led by 253.5 votes, with Weeks in second with 105, Root in third with 103, Roosevelt in fourth with 85, Congressman Theodore Burton of Ohio in fifth with 77.5 and Fairbanks in sixth with 74.5. Hughes gained votes on the second ballot and on the third he won the nomination, receiving 949.5 votes.

Fairbanks, who had served as Vice-President under Roosevelt, claimed he was not interested in holding the office again, but when the party nominated him as Hughes' running mate, he accepted the position.

The Progressive Party re-nominated former President Theodore Roosevelt and nominated John Parker of Louisiana as his running-mate. However, Roosevelt telegraphed the convention and declared that he could not accept their nomination and would be endorsing Hughes for the Presidency. When the Progressive Party National Committee met in Chicago on June 26, those in attendance reluctantly endorsed Hughes.

During the election campaign that followed, the Democrats used the pro-Wilson slogan, "He Kept Us out of War," and told voters that a Republican victory would mean war with both Mexico and Germany. Hughes opted to downplay the war as an issue. He advocated a program of greater preparedness. Wilson was believed to have successfully pressured the Germans to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare, making it difficult for Hughes to attack Wilson's peace platform. Instead, Hughes attacked Wilson for his support of various "pro-labor" laws, such as limiting the workday to eight hours, on the grounds that they were harmful to business interests. His criticisms gained little support, especially among factory workers who supported such laws.

Hughes was helped by the vigorous support of popular former President Theodore Roosevelt, but he made a key mistake in California when, just before the election, Hughes made a campaign swing through the state, but never met with the powerful Republican Governor Hiram Johnson to seek his support. Johnson took this as a snub and did not campaign for Hughes. Wilson ended up winning the state, which made all the difference in the final result.

The result was exceptionally close and the outcome remained in doubt for several days, partially because of the wait for returns from California. The electoral vote was one of the closest in history. 266 votes were needed to win. In the end Wilson won 30 states for 277 electoral votes, while Hughes won 18 states and 254 electoral votes.

Remembering Grover Cleveland

On June 24, 1908 (108 years ago today) Steven Grover Cleveland, who was both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States and the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, died at his home in Princeton, New Jersey at the age of 71. Cleveland ended a 16 year string of Republican Presidents by winning the presidential election of 1884 and in 1892 he won back the White House after losing it in 1888. Although he lost his bid for re-election in 1888, he still won the popular vote for president all three times that he ran for President. He and Woodrow Wilson are the only two Democrats to be elected to the presidency in the era of Republican political domination dating from 1861 to 1933.

no title

Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837, in Caldwell, New Jersey to Richard Falley Cleveland and Ann Neal Cleveland. His father was a Presbyterian minister, originally from Connecticut and his mother was from Baltimore. Grover Cleveland, the fifth of nine children. He was admitted to the New York state bar in 1859. When the Civil War broke out he hired a substitute to serve in his place, as was permissible at the time. He served as Sheriff of Erie County, Mayor of Buffalo and Governor of New York before winning his party's nomination for president.

Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans. His fiscal conservatism made popular with other conservatives of the time. He won election in 1884 in spite of a scandal that alleged that he had fathered a child out of wedlock, something he never admitted to, even though he paid the child's mother to support the child. (He claimed he did this to protect his good friend Oscar Folsom, who may have been the child's father.) In spite of this, he attracted support that crossed party lines because his opponent James G. Blaine was the subject of suspected financial scandals.

During his first term in office, Cleveland married Francis Folsom, the daughter of his friend Oscar Folsom and a woman 28 years younger than him. He lost his bid for re-election in 1888 in a very close election with Benjamin Harrison, and when the Clevelands were leaving the White House, his wife promised the staff there that they would be back. That is in fact what happened, as Cleveland won the rematch with Harrison, getting elected President in the 1892 election.

In the summer of 1893, Cleveland had surgery aboard the yacht Oneida to remove a cancerous tumor inside of his mouth. The surgery was successful but was kept from the public until after his death.

Cleveland intervened in the Pullman Strike of 1894 to keep the railroads moving. This angered labor unions. His support of the gold standard and opposition to Free Silver also alienated the agrarian wing of the Democratic Party. When his second term began, the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression, which Cleveland was unable to reverse. The crisis divided the Democratic Party between gold and silver supporters, and the Republicans captured the White House.

After leaving the White House on March 4, 1897, Cleveland retired to his estate, Westland Mansion, in Princeton, New Jersey. For a time he was a trustee of Princeton University, and was one of the majority of trustees who preferred Dean West's plans for the Graduate School over those of Woodrow Wilson, then president of the university. Cleveland consulted occasionally with President Theodore Roosevelt but turned down an offer to chair the commission handling the Coal Strike of 1902. Cleveland remained vocal on some political issues. In a 1905 article in The Ladies Home Journal, Cleveland criticized the women's suffrage movement, writing that "sensible and responsible women do not want to vote. The relative positions to be assumed by men and women in the working out of our civilization were assigned long ago by a higher intelligence."


Cleveland's health had been declining for several years, and in the autumn of 1907 he became seriously ill. On June 24, 1908, he suffered a heart attack and died. His last words were "I have tried so hard to do right." He is buried in the Princeton Cemetery of the Nassau Presbyterian Church.
Nationwide support between the two major political parties was very evenly divided in the latter part of the 19th century as the years from 1876 to 1888 produced a series of very close election. Since 1860, the Republican party had controlled the White House, but that almost changed in 1876 in what many termed the "stolen election" of that year. In that election, Republican Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio defeated Democrat Samuel J. Tilden of New York in what was perhaps the most controversial presidential election in the nation's history. The results initially indicated a Democratic victory, but the electoral votes of several states were disputed until just a few days days before the new president was to be inaugurated. Members of both parties in Congress agreed to convene a bipartisan Electoral Commission, which ultimately decided the contest in Hayes' favor.

no title

For the Democrats, this "stolen election" became an issue for them to rally around, and the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives spent much of 1878 investigating it. Although they failed to turn up any incriminating evidence against their Republican opponents, it was a continuing sore point for them.

Having lost the 1876 election so narrowly, Tilden was seen as the front-runner for the party's nomination heading into 1880. Hayes had pledged not to run for a second term, leaving the path to the White House open in 1880. The Republican party was very divided, between the segment loyal to New York Senator Roscoe Conkling (known as the Stalwarts) and those loyal to Maine Senator James G. Blaine (nicknamed the "Half-Breeds"). This division in the Republican Party led many Democrats to believe that 1880 would be the year that they took back the White House.

Debate over tariffs was a significant issue of the day. During the Civil War, Congress raised protective tariffs significantly, in part to pay for the war, but also because high tariffs were popular in the North. A high tariff meant that foreign goods were more expensive, which made it easier for American businesses to sell goods domestically, and almost all the manufacturing was done in the north. Republicans supported high tariffs as a way to protect American jobs. Democrats generally considered high tariffs as making goods unnecessarily expensive and adding to the growing federal revenues unnecessarily.

Tilden had been a long time New York Democrat who was first elected to the New York State Assembly in 1846. Tilden followed former President and fellow New York Democrat Martin Van Buren to the 1848 Free Soil Party convention before returning to the Democratic party after the election. He remained with his party during the 1850s and when the Civil War began, he remained loyal to the Union and considered himself a War Democrat. He had been affiliated with Tammany Hall, the New York City political machine of William "Boss" Tweed, but the two men had a falling out. As Tammany's corruption became more rampant, Tilden took up the cause of reform. He formed a rival faction that captured control of the party and led the effort to uncover proof of Tammany's corruption and remove its men from office. Tweed was indicted and convicted as part of the Reform. Tilden was elected as Governor of New York in 1874. He ran as the Democratic candidate for President in 1876, losing to Hayes. He spent the next four years as the presumptive Democratic candidate in 1880 and in 1879, he declined to run for another term as governor and focused instead on building support for the 1880 presidential nomination.

For ten months beginning in May 1878, the Potter Committee, chaired by Democratic Congressman Clarkson Nott Potter of New York, investigated allegations of fraud and corruption in the states which had contested electoral votes in 1876. This was done with Tilden's urging, but this had an undesired effect on his candidacy. The committee exonerated Tilden of wrongdoing, but uncovered evidence that cast state election officials of both parties in an unfavorable light. This made many Democrats leery about his candidacy. In addition, Tilden's health was not good. Even so, Tilden's presumed ability to carry New York, combined with his political organization and personal fortune, made him a serious contender. As the New York delegation left for the national convention in Cincinnati, Tilden gave a letter to one of his chief supporters, Daniel Manning, suggesting that his health might force him to decline the nomination. The letter was vaguely worded, but it convinced the delegation to consider Tilden's candidacy to be at an end.

With Tilden out of the race, Senator Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware presented as a possible nominee. Bayard had represented his state in the United States Senate since 1869. He had been a vocal opponent of the Republican majority's Reconstruction plan, and he had a reputation for honesty. At the 1876 convention, Bayard had placed fifth in the balloting, and supported Tilden in the general election, speaking on his behalf around the country. The political friendship between the two quickly soured after the 1876 election because Bayard supported the Electoral Commission and Tilden opposed it. Bayard believed the commission was the best alternative to civil war, and served as one of the Democratic members. Tilden took this as a personal betrayal.

Since that election, Bayard worked to build support for another run at the nomination. He and Tilden competed for support among Eastern conservatives because of their support for the gold standard. He believed he could attract support in the South because of his support in the Senate of pro-Southern conservative policies. But in February 1880, the New York Sun, a newspaper friendly to Tilden, published a transcript of a speech Bayard made in Dover, Delaware in 1861, in which he urged that the South be permitted to withdraw from the Union in peace. While this gained some support for Bayard in the south, it weakened his chances generally, as many feared that a former Peace Democrat would never be acceptable to Northerners.

Although Bayard was considered the front runner going into the convention, former General Winfield Scott Hancock became an attractive alternative for many Democrats. He believed in the Democratic Party's principles of states' rights and limited government, but his anti-secessionist credentials were unimpeachable. He was a native of Pennsylvania, Hancock graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1844 and began a forty-year career as a soldier. He served with distinction in the Mexican–American War and in the antebellum peacetime army. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Hancock remained loyal to the Union. He was promoted to brevet brigadier general in 1861 and placed in command of a brigade in the Army of the Potomac. He commanded in the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, and at the Battle of Antietam, where he led a division in the Union victory and was promoted to major general. At the Battle of Gettysburg he organized the scattered troops and was wounded on the third day as his troops turned back Pickett's Charge.

Since 1864, Hancock had been a perennial candidate mentioned at Democratic Party conventions. He served as military governor of Louisiana and Texas in 1867, and he had won the respect of the white conservative population by issuing his General Order Number 40, in which he stated that if the residents of the district conducted themselves peacefully and the civilian officials performed their duties, then "the the civil administration resume its natural and rightful dominion." At the 1868 convention, he finished as high as second place in some rounds of balloting. In 1876, Hancock again attracted considerable support, but never finished higher than third place at that year's convention. In 1880, the New Orleans Picayune ran an editorial that called for Hancock's nomination. As Tilden and Bayard lost support among Democratic voters, Hancock's prospective nomination gained momentum.

Several other candidates arrived in Cincinnati with delegates pledged to them. These included former Representative Henry B. Payne, an Ohio millionaire, who had attracted a number of former Tilden supporters. Payne was a corporate lawyer who was relatively unknown outside of Ohio. In April 1880, the New York Star published a report that Tilden had instructed some of his supporters to back Payne for the presidency. Tilden never confirmed the rumor, but after his letter of June 1880 to the New York delegation, many of his supporters considered Payne as their candidate. Payne, like Bayard, had served on the Electoral Commission of 1876, but had managed to keep Tilden's friendship.

Payne's fellow Ohioan, Senator Allen G. Thurman, controlled their home state's delegation. He had his own presidential aspirations but he, like Bayard, had earned Tilden's contempt for serving on the Electoral Commission. Another potential candidate was Samuel J. Randall, a congressman from Philadelphia. Randall supported high tariffs to protect American industry and pressed for legislation to reduce the power of monopolies. He now hoped for the support of the former Tilden delegates.

Former Governor Thomas A. Hendricks of Indiana, Tilden's 1876 running mate, also sought the previous nominee's support. He came from a crucial swing state that the Democrats had narrowly carried in 1876 and had some support in the Midwestern states.

William Ralls Morrison of Illinois had served in Congress since 1873 also had his eyes on the nomination prize, bit he commanded little support outside his home state, and was seen as only a favorite son. Justice Stephen Johnson Field of the United States Supreme Court was better known, but also had little backing.

The delegates assembled on June 22, 1880 at Cincinnati's Music Hall. William Henry Barnum of Connecticut, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called the convention to order at 12:38 p.m. and George Hoadly, a Tilden associate and future governor of Ohio, was elected temporary chairman. At the start of the second day, June 23, the Committee on Credentials had to rule on delegate disputes in Massachusetts and New York, the latter being a contest between Tammany Hall and Tilden's delegation. Tammany lost that battle.

During the nomination speeches, one of the speakers was Senator Wade Hampton III of South Carolina, a former Confederate general, who said of Hancock, "we of the South would feel safe in his hands", but said that Bayard was his choice "because we believe he is the strongest man".

On the first ballot the delegates had scattered their ballots to a variety of candidates, with no one close to the required two-thirds majority for nomination (which at this convention amounted to 492 votes). Hancock led with 171 votes, followed by Bayard, with 158½. These two were far ahead of the rest of the pack. Payne was third with 81. The delegates voted to adjourn for the day, hoping for off-site negotiations that would influence the next day's ballot. When the delegates assembled the next day, June 24, to resume the balloting, Rufus Wheeler Peckham of the New York delegation produced Tilden's letter and read it to the crowd. Peckham announced that, with Tilden's withdrawal, New York now supported Samuel J. Randall. On the second ballot, more than one hundred delegates followed Peckham in voting for Randall, boosting his total to 128½, putting Bayard in third place with 112. Hancock had gained strength and now had 320 delegates. This led to a shifting of votes and when enough changed their vote to give Hancock the needed tally for a majority, the convention ultimately agreed to make the vote unanimous. Even Tammany Hall's leader, John Kelly, pledged his faction's loyalty to the nominee, saying, "Let us unite as a band of brothers and look upon each other kindly and favorably."


Susan B. Anthony later addressed the convention with a plea for women's suffrage, but the delegates took no action, and moved on to the platform. They then nominated William Hayden English, a banker and former representative from Indiana, to be Hancock's running mate.

Keeping with the custom at the time, neither candidate campaigned personally. Hancock stayed at his post at Fort Columbus on Governors Island, in New York Harbor and met with visitors there. Both parties focused on their candidates rather than the issues. Democratic newspapers attacked the Republican nominee, James A. Garfield of Ohio, over rumors of corruption in the Crédit Mobilier scandal while Republicans characterized Hancock as uninformed on the issues. Both parties knew that, with the end of Reconstruction, the South would be solid for Hancock, netting 137 electoral votes of the 185 needed for victory. Democrats focused on New York (with 35 electoral votes) and Indiana (with 15) as two of their main targets, but also looked to New Jersey and to some of the mid-western states.

Republicans used the tactic of "waving the bloody shirt". They told voters in the north that if the Democratic Party was elected, they would reverse the gains earned in the Civil War with the blood of union soldiers, they would dishonor Union veterans, and would pay Confederate veterans pensions out of the federal treasury. By this point however, fifteen years had passed since the end of the war, and Union generals were at the head of both tickets, so this tactic was less effective than it had been in the past.

As the campaign neared the finish line, the Republicans changed tactics and addressed the issue of the tariff. The Democratic platform had called for a tariff for revenue only. Republicans told Northern workers that if Hancock won the election, the would lose the tariff protection that kept them in good jobs. Hancock made matters worse for himself when, while attempting to appear to be moderate on the issue, he said "the tariff question is a local question". The answer played into the Republicans' strategy of portraying hancock as someone how was ignorant of the issues and not smart enough to be President.


This change in strategy may have saved the day for Garfield and the Republicans. Hewer than two thousand votes (out of almost nine million cast) separated the two candidates, but in the Electoral College, Garfield scored a victory over Hancock, 214 to 155. Garfield received 4,446,158 votes (48.3%) compared to 4,444,260 (48.3%) for Hancock. After the election, Hancock remained on duty as commander of the US Army's Division of the Atlantic. He attended Garfield's inauguration and served loyally under him and under Garfield's successor, Chester Alan Arthur.
In 1936, for the Republican Party, it wasn't so much as if they were selecting a presidential candidate, it was more like they were selecting a sacrificial lamb. The Great Depression entered its eighth year and much of the population still blamed the Republicans, who had been in power for three terms leading into the depression. They especially blamed Herbert Hoover, the last Republican president and the man who was still seeking to wield influence in the party. Incumbent President and Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt was still working to implement the provisions of his New Deal economic policy through Congress and the courts. The New Deal policies he had already enacted, such as Social Security and unemployment benefits, had proven to be highly popular with most Americans, so popular in fact that even many Republicans supported them.

Roosevelt faced only token resistance in his own nomination fight. Henry Skillman Breckinridge, an anti-New Deal lawyer from New York, ran against Roosevelt in four primaries. Breckinridge's opposition to Roosevelt's "New Deal" failed miserably. Breckinridge's best showing was 15% in Maryland. Overall, Roosevelt received 93% of the primary vote, and Breckinridge received only 2%. When the Democratic Party held its convention in Philadelphia between July 23 and 27, the delegates unanimously re-nominated incumbents President Roosevelt and Vice-President John Nance Garner. At Roosevelt's request, the two-thirds rule, which had given the South a veto power, was repealed.

Despite the unlikelihood of victory, a number of candidates sought the Republican Party nomination for President. Potential candidates included future Ohio Senator Robert A. Taft, New York Congressman James W. Wadsworth, Jr., Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg, Iowa Senator Lester Dickinson, New York Congressman Hamilton Fish III, New Jersey Governor Harold Hoffman, Delaware Governor C. Douglass Buck, Supreme Court Justice Owen Roberts, Michigan Auto magnate Henry Ford, aviator Charles Lindbergh, former President Herbert Hoover, Oregon Senator Frederick Steiwer, Senate Minority Leader Charles McNary, former Treasury Secretary Ogden L. Mills and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., cousin of Democratic incumbent Franklin D Roosevelt. Ultimately however, these men would withdraw from consideration, either because they lacked sufficient support and means to merit serious consideration for the nomination or because they viewed the incumbent president as too formidable.

By the time the Republican convention came around, only five candidates remained. Among these, the leading contenders were Governor Alf Landon of Kansas, Senator William Borah of Idaho and Publisher Frank Knox of Illinois. Republicans held primaries in twelve states. Landon scored victories in Massachusetts and New Jersey, but lost his neighboring state of Nebraska to Borah, who also won in Oregon, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Knox won his home state of Illinois and also in New Hampshire. Two "favorite son" candidates, Governor Warren Green of South Dakota and lawyer Steven Day of Ohio, won the primaries in their home states.

Borah was 71 years of age at the time and was at odds with much of the party establishment. He had not supported Hoover in the 1932 election and would not support his party's candidate in 1936. The party establishment backed Landon, a wealthy businessman and centrist. Landon's campaign manager John Hamilton mobilized the younger elements of the party against the faction led by Herbert Hoover. Hoover's choice was Knox. When it became apparent that Landon had the support of most of the party, a "Stop Landon" coalition was formed a coalition led by Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg, and which included Borah and Knox. But the movement failed and Landon was nominated overwhelmingly on the first ballot by a vote of 984 (for Landon) to 19 (for Borah). Knox had withdrawn from the race, and had agreed to run as Landon's running mate. A petulant Borah complained, "Unless the Republican party is delivered from its reactionary leadership and reorganized in accord with its one-time liberal principles, it will die like the Whig party of sheer political cowardice. The people are offered the Constitution. But the people can't eat the Constitution."

Landon proved to be an ineffective campaigner who spent little time on the road. Most of his attacks on FDR and Social Security were developed by Republican campaigners, and not by Landon himself. Personally, he actually liked many of the aspects of the New Deal, which were beneficial to his state. In the two months after his nomination he didn't make any campaign appearances. This prompted columnist Westbrook Pegler to wryly observe, "Considerable mystery surrounds the disappearance of Alfred M. Landon of Topeka, Kansas. The Missing Persons Bureau has sent out an alarm bulletin bearing Mr. Landon's photograph and other particulars, and anyone having information of his whereabouts is asked to communicate direct with the Republican National Committee."

Personally. Landon respected and admired Roosevelt and bore him no personal animosity. His only complaint about much of the New Deal legislation was that it was hostile to business and involved too much waste and inefficiency. But late in the campaign, Landon changed tactics and began to attack the President in his rhetoric. He accused Roosevelt of becoming so powerful that he was subverting the Constitution. In one campaign address, Landon told his audience:

"The President spoke truly when he boasted 'We have built up new instruments of public power.' He spoke truly when he said these instruments could provide 'shackles for the liberties of the people and enslavement for the public'. These powers were granted with the understanding that they were only temporary. But after the powers had been obtained, and after the emergency was clearly over, we were told that another emergency would be created if the power was given up. In other words, the concentration of power in the hands of the President was not a question of temporary emergency. It was a question of permanent national policy. In my opinion the emergency of 1933 was a mere excuse. 'National economic planning', the term used by this Administration to describe its policy, violates the basic ideals of the American system. The price of economic planning is the loss of economic freedom. And economic freedom and personal liberty go hand in hand."

For a time, the election appeared closer than it actually turned out. The Literary Digest, a magazine, ran a poll, which was based on 10 million questionnaires mailed to readers and potential readers. Of these, 2.3 million were returned. The Literary Digest, which had correctly predicted the winner of the last 5 elections, announced in its October 31 issue that Landon would be the winner with 370 electoral votes. This turned out to be horribly incorrect. The poll demonstrated the problems with erroneous polling methodology. More Republicans subscribed to the Literary Digest than Democrats, skewing the results. Also, the Literary Digest relied on voluntary responses. In another poll taken that year, pollster George Gallup, an advertising executive, predicted that Roosevelt would win the election, based on a quota sample of 50,000 people. He also predicted that the Literary Digest prediction would be wrong. His accuracy would cause the Gallup Poll to become a staple of future presidential elections.


On election day Gallup was right and the Literary Digest was wrong, very wrong in fact. Roosevelt won by a landslide. He won 46 of the 48 states and increased the number of Democratic members of Congress. Roosevelt's 60.8% of the popular vote is the second-largest percentage in U.S. history since the nearly unopposed election of James Monroe in 1820 (second only to Lyndon Johnson in 1964), and his 98.5% of the electoral vote is the highest in two-party competition. Roosevelt won the largest number of electoral votes ever recorded at that time, so far only surpassed by Ronald Reagan in 1984, when 7 more electoral votes were available.

Following his defeat, Landon finished out his term as governor of Kansas and returned to the oil industry. Landon did not seek elected office again. He lived to the ripe old age of 100, passing away 33 days after his centennial birthday.
In 1952 the question on some people's minds was whether or not incumbent President Harry Truman would seek re-election to another term in office. He had surprised everyone with his epic come-from-behind victory in 1948, despite heading a divided party and despite near unanimous predictions of his defeat. The newly passed 22nd Amendment did not apply to Truman, so he was eligible to run again. Truman entered 1952 with his popularity dropping in the polls. The indecisive Korean War was dragging into its third year. Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist crusade was stirring up public fears about the "Red Menace" which, according to McCarthy, had its tentacles in many branches of government, and the disclosure of widespread corruption among federal employees all combined to diminish Truman's chances at another political miracle. Polls showed that his disapproval rating at 66%.

A Gallup poll of February 15 showed Truman to be the choice of only 36% of Democrats. Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, who had earned a reputation as a champion against crime and corruption by chairing a nationally televised investigation of organized crime in 1951, came second in the poll with 21% support. Among independent voters, Truman had only 18% while Kefauver led with 36%.

Truman let his name stand in the New Hampshire primary, but Kefauver upset Truman, winning 19,800 votes to Truman's 15,927 and capturing all eight delegates. Kefauver was gracious in victory. He told reporters that he did not consider his victory to be a repudiation of administration policies, but Truman knew that this wasn't the case. Eighteen days later, Truman announced that he would not seek re-election.

With Truman's withdrawal, Kefauver became the front-runner for the nomination. He won most of the primaries, winning in Oregon, California, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New jersey and Maryland. Other primary winners were Senator Hubert Humphrey, who won his home state of Minnesota, Senator Richard Russell Jr., of Georgia won the Florida primary and U.S. diplomat W. Averell Harriman, who won West Virginia.

Most states still chose their delegates to the Democratic Convention via state conventions. This meant that party bosses (mainly mayors and governors of large northern and midwestern cities and states) were able to control the delegates who would choose the Democratic nominee. Many of these people strongly disliked Kefauver because his investigations of organized crime had revealed connections between organized crime figures and many of the big-city Democratic political organizations. Most refused to support Kefauver for the nomination.

Truman was directly involved in the search for other, more acceptable, candidates. But many of these candidates had various weaknessed. Russell had a lot of support in the south, but his support of racial segregation and opposition to civil rights for African-Americans make him unacceptable to most northern and mid-western liberal Democrats. Truman's favorite was W. Averell Harriman of New York, but he had never held an elective office and was inexperienced in politics. Truman next turned to his vice-president, Alben W. Barkley, but at 74 years of age he was seen as being too old by many, including labor union leaders. Other possibilities included Oklahoma Senator Robert S. Kerr, Governor Paul A. Dever of Massachusetts, Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, and Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. Many of these were not seen as acceptable because they lacked support either in the north or south.

One candidate soon who seemed to have few political weaknesses was Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson. he was the grandson of former Vice-President Adlai E. Stevenson. Besides having a distinguished pedigree, he was a good speaker, an intellectual, and a political moderate. In the spring of 1952, Truman tried to convince Stevenson to seek the presidential nomination, but Stevenson refused, stating that he wanted to run for re-election as Governor of Illinois. But as the convention approached, many in the party hoped that he could be drafted to run.

By this point in time, popular General Dwight Eisenhower had been persuaded to run for the Republican Party as their candidate. Eisenhower was seen as a very strong candidate and he scored a major victory in the New Hampshire primary, when his supporters wrote his name onto the ballot. Eisenhower was involved in his own primary fight with Ohio Senator Robert Taft, but went on to win the nomination of his party as expected.

The 1952 Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago in the same coliseum the Republicans had gathered in several weeks earlier. Since the convention was being held in his home state, Governor Stevenson, who still claimed that he was not a candidate, gave the welcoming address to the delegates. He gave a witty and stirring address that led his supporters to begin a renewed round of efforts to nominate him. After meeting with Jacob Arvey, the "boss" of the Illinois delegation, Stevenson agreed to let his name stand as a candidate for the nomination. Kefauver led on the first ballot, but had far fewer votes than necessary to win. Stevenson gradually gained strength until he was nominated on the third ballot.

Delegates chose Senator John Sparkman, a segregationist from Alabama, as Stevenson's running mate.

During the campaign, Eisenhower campaigned by attacking "Korea, Communism, and Corruption" as the three failures of the Truman administration. Eisenhower accused the Truman administration of neglecting Latin America and letting it fall into Communist influence. Republicans made accusations that Soviet spies had infiltrated the government. The Republicans also blamed the Democrats for the military's failure to be fully prepared in Korea and they criticized the Truman Administration for the numbers of officials who had been accused of various crimes of corruption.

In response, the Democrats criticized Senator Joseph McCarthy and other Republican conservatives as "fearmongers" who were trampling on the civil liberties of government employees. Stevenson criticized Eisenhower, who was on a scheduled campaign visit to Wisconsin, for not criticizing McCarthy's methods, and then allowing himself to be photographed shaking hands with McCarthy. Truman said of Eisenhower's actions, "he has betrayed almost everything I thought he stood for."

Eisenhower retained his enormous personal popularity and huge crowds turned out to see him during his campaign stops. His campaign slogan, "I Like Ike," was one of the most popular in American history. Stevenson also drew large crowds, giving a series of policy speeches around the nation which were praised by intellectuals and academics, but seemed to betoo deep for most of his listeners. His critics called him an "egghead" because of on his bald head and his professorial demeanor.

It looked like the Democrats caught a break when a scandal emerged concerning Richard Nixon, Eisenhower's running mate. Nixon was accused by several newspapers of receiving $18,000 in undeclared "gifts" from wealthy donors. Nixon had been accusing the Democrats of covering up for crooks, and now found himself on the defensive. Eisenhower and his aides considered dropping Nixon from the ticket and picking another running mate. Nixon saved his political bacon with a dramatic half-hour speech, the "Checkers speech," on live television. In this speech, Nixon denied the charges against him, gave a detailed account of his modest financial assets, and offered a glowing assessment of Eisenhower's candidacy. The most memorable moment of the speech came when Nixon stated that a supporter had given his daughters a gift, a dog named "Checkers", and that he would not give it back because his daughters loved the dog. The "Checkers speech" led a groundswell of supporters to wire the Republican National Committee urging the Republican Party to keep Nixon on the ticket. Eisenhower did so.


On election day, Eisenhower won a decisive victory, winning over 55% of the popular vote and carrying 39 of the 48 states. He took three Southern states that the Republicans had won only once since Reconstruction: Virginia, Florida, and Texas. Four years later, Eisenhower and Stevenson would have their rematch.
In 1996 the Republican Party hoped to regain the White House. They had made huge gains in the 1994 mid-term elections, in which the the Republicans, led by whip Newt Gingrich, captured the majority of seats in the House for the first time in forty years and the majority of seats in the Senate for the first time in eight years. Gingrich became Speaker of the House, while Bob Dole became the Senate Majority leader.

In the 104th Congress, Gingrich and the Republicans pursued an ambitious agenda. They pursued their "Contract with America", but often forged compromises with President Bill Clinton, who still held his veto power. A budget impasse between Congress and the Clinton Administration eventually resulted in a government shutdown. Clinton compromised by signing the GOP's welfare reform and other bills, but was forced to abandon his own health care plan.

Heading into the election, Clinton was renominated by the Democratic Party with virtually no opposition. For the Republicans, a number of candidates considered seeking their party's nomination. Former General Colin Powell was sought after as a potential Republican nominee, but on November 8, 1995, Powell announced that he would not seek the nomination. Former Secretary of Defense and future Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney was also considered by many as a possible candidate, but he also declared his intentions not to run in early 1995. Texas Governor George W. Bush was also urged by some party leaders to seek the Republican Party nomination, but he also opted not to do so.

Senate Majority Leader and former vice-presidential nominee Bob Dole of Kansas was generally seen as the front runner for the Republican nomination. Dole had ran for his party's nomination in 1980 and in 1988. Also seeking the nomination were conservative Senator Phil Gramm of Texas and centrist Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. The field of candidates also included journalist and former Nixon speechwriter Pat Buchanan (who had run for President in 1992) and magazine publisher Steve Forbes.

On January 29, Buchanan won a non-binding straw poll in Alaska. This was viewed as insignificant, but on February 6, Buchanan won the Louisiana caucus, a state that Gramm was expected to win. Dole won the Iowa Caucus with 26% of the vote, a considerably smaller margin of victory than was expected. Gramm's poor showing in Louisiana and his 5th place finish in Iowa's caucuses resulted in his withdrawal from the contest on the Sunday before the New Hampshire primary. In the New Hampshire Primary, Buchanan recorded a surprising victory over Dole, who finished in second place.

Buchanan's early victories and Forbes' victories in Delaware and Arizona put Dole's expected victory in doubt at first. But Dole's campaign recovered and he won every primary after including North and South Dakota. This gave him enough delegates to regain his status as the GOP presidential presumptive nominee.

Buchanan collected just 21 percent of the total votes in Republican primaries and won only 4 states. He suspended his campaign in March. He threatened to run as a third-party candidate if Dole chose a pro-choice running mate. Forbes also withdrew in March having won only two states.

On June 11, Dole resigned his Senate seat in order to focus more intently on his presidential campaign. The delegates at the Republican National Convention formally nominated Dole on August 15, 1996 as their candidate for President. Dole was the oldest first-time presidential nominee at the age of 73 years, 1 month (Ronald Reagan was 73 years, 6 months in 1984, for his second presidential nomination). Former Congressman and Cabinet secretary Jack Kemp was nominated by acclamation as Dole's running mate the following day.

For the second election in a row, Ross Perot ran as a third party candidate, for the United States Reform Party, the party he founded. Economist Pat Choate was nominated as the party's candidate for Vice President.

Without having to face any real challenge for his own party's nomination, Clinton was able to focus on the general election early and attack Dole. Political adviser Dick Morris urged Clinton to raise campaign funds for an unprecedented early TV blitz of swing states promoting Clinton's agenda and record. Clinton was able to run a campaign before the conventions, in which he defined his opponent as an aged conservative far from the mainstream. Dole was unable to fight back because he was battling for his own nomination. Dole's age became an issue, especially after an embarrassing fall off a stage during a campaign event. Dole made a further gaffe in which he talked about a no-hitter thrown the day before by Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Hideo Nomo. Dole referred to the team as the "Brooklyn Dodgers". The team had left Brooklyn for Los Angeles four decades earlier.

Dole promised a 15% across-the-board reduction in income tax rates and made former Congressman and supply side advocate Jack Kemp his running mate. Clinton called Dole a clone of unpopular House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was seen by many as the cause of the government shutdown. Clinton warned that Dole and the Republican Congress would slash popular social programs, like Medicare and Social Security. Clinton referred to his opponents as "Dole-Gingrich". Clinton also said that Dole's tax-cut plan would "blow a hole in the deficit" which had been cut nearly in half during Clinton's first term. Clinton maintained comfortable leads in the polls leading up to election day. The televised debates featured only Dole and Clinton, locking out Perot and the other minor candidates from the discussion.

In late September 1995, questions arose regarding the Democratic National Committee's fund-raising practices. In February pf 1996, the Washington Post published a story stating that a U.S. Department of Justice investigation had discovered evidence that agents of China sought to direct contributions from foreign sources to the DNC before the 1996 presidential campaign. The paper wrote that intelligence information had showed the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. was used for coordinating contributions to the DNC in violation of U.S. law forbidding non-American citizens from giving monetary donations to U.S. politicians and political parties. Seventeen people were eventually convicted for fraud or for funneling Asian funds into the U.S. elections.

One of the more notable events involved Vice President Al Gore and a fund-raising event held at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California. The Temple event was organized by DNC fund-raisers John Huang and Maria Hsia. It is illegal for religious organizations to donate money to politicians or political groups due to their tax-exempt status. The U.S. Justice Department alleged Hsia facilitated $100,000 in illegal contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign through her efforts at the Temple. Hsia was eventually convicted by a jury in March 2000.

The Democratic Party's illegal fundraising did not come to light until after election day. When the ballots were counted, Clinton won a decisive victory over Dole, becoming the first Democrat to win two elections since Franklin Roosevelt. In the popular vote, Clinton out-polled Dole by over 8.2 million votes. The Electoral College map did not change much from the previous election, with the Democrats winning 379 votes to the Republicans' 159.
Foreign policy was the dominant issue in the election campaign of 2004. The election was to be a referendum on incumbent President George W. Bush's conduct of the War on Terrorism that followed the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on US soil, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Domestic issues were also a matter of concern as the economy, jobs, health care, and so-called "family values" were debated by the candidates. Bush had won a very narrow and controversial victory in 2000, when he finished second in the popular vote and won the electoral vote only after the US Supreme Court had stopped a recount of ballots in the state of Florida, awarding the state's electoral votes to Bush and giving him a majority in the Electoral College.

Many Democrats saw Bush as very vulnerable, but many of them had weaknesses as well, since many had voted to support the war of Iraq, which had later become a very unpopular war at home. Ten candidates vied for the Democratic Party's nomination of President, including retired four-star general Wesley Clark, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and Senators John Edwards and John Kerry. For most of 2003, Dean had been the apparent front-runner for the nomination, in large measure due to his early opposition to the Iraq war. He performed strongly in most polls and was leading the pack in fund-raising.

Despite being characterized by many as an election on Iraq, the economy and jobs ranked highly in polling of voters during the course of the primary season. In Iowa, of those who cited the economy as their most important issue, 34% supported Kerry, while 33% supported Edwards, with Dean trailing at 16%. Kerry advocated tax-cuts for the middle class, increased spending for Social Security, assistance to small businesses and higher corporate taxes. Kerry strongly supported the creation infrastructure-related jobs.

John Edwards campaigned promoting support for the middle class as well as budget caps. He opposed Social Security privatization. His main economic theme was support for the middle class and told voters how he had grown up as the son of a poor mill worker in South Carolina.

Howard Dean took a different approach on the issue of Social Security and tax cuts. On taxes, Dean favored repealing the Bush Tax cuts not only for the wealthiest of Americans as Edwards and Kerry proposed, but for everyone.

After the 9/11 attacks, Bush had argued for the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. He argued that Saddam's regime had tried to acquire nuclear material and had not properly accounted for biological and chemical material it was known to have possessed, potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in violation of U.N. sanctions. He assembled a group of about forty nations, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Poland, which Bush called the "coalition of the willing", to invade Iraq. The coalition invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. Most contenders for the Democratic nomination were supportive of the effort. Only Dean and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich had questioned the aims and tactics of the administration. The invasion was swift, with the collapse of the Iraq government and the military of Iraq in about three weeks. On May 1, Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in a Lockheed S-3 Viking, where he gave a speech announcing the end of major combat in the Iraq war. Clearly visible in the background was a banner stating "Mission Accomplished". The banner was criticized as premature. Nonetheless, Bush's approval rating in the month of May rose to 66%.

On May 3, 2003, Democrats met at the University of South Carolina in the first formal debate between the nine challengers for the nomination. The candidates disagreed on the war against Iraq, health insurance, and even President Bush's tax cuts, but united in criticizing Bush's handling of the economy. Howard Dean declared his candidacy on June 23, 2003. He led in most polls and his campaign raised the most money in the latter part of 2003.

Former Vice President and 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore announced on the CBS program 60 Minutes that he would not seek election to the presidency in 2004. Gore had recently wrapped up a nationwide book tour and had been widely expected to run. Many potential candidates were waiting to see what Gore's plans were. Senator Joe Lieberman, Gore's 2000 vice presidential running mate, had previously promised not to run should Gore seek their party's nomination. Freed from that obligation, Lieberman announced his intention to run. Additionally, many other candidates announced their intention to form committees (a formality usually indicating an official run). These included Edwards, Congressman "Dick" Gephardt of Missouri, and Reverend Al Sharpton of New York. In February, more candidates announced their intentions: former Senator from Illinois Carol Moseley Braun, Kucinich, and Senator Bob Graham of Florida.

There were other potential candidates who chose not to run. These included United States Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, and former U.S. Senator Gary Hart from Colorado.

In April, Democratic fund-raising totals for the first quarter of 2003 were reported. John Edwards raised $7.4 million, John Kerry raised $7.0 million, Dick Gephardt raised $3.5 million, Joe Lieberman raised $3.0 million, Howard Dean raised $2.6 million, Bob Graham raised $1.1 million, and Dennis Kucinich and Carol Moseley Braun raised less than $1 million each. In June 2003, Howard Dean aired the first television advertising of the 2004 campaign. During that time, he formally announced his run for president.

Later in June of 2003, the liberal advocacy website MoveOn held the first ever online Democratic "primary", which lasted just over 48 hours. It was an unofficial and nonbinding straw poll, but nonetheless influencial. Of 317,647 votes, Howard Dean received 44%, Dennis Kucinich 24%, and John Kerry 16%.

In July, the Democratic fund-raising numbers for the second quarter of 2003 were reported and announced. Howard Dean surprised many raising $7.5 million, John Kerry raised $6 million, while John Edwards and Joseph Lieberman raised roughly $5 million each. Dean's strength as a fund-raiser was attributed to his innovative use of the Internet for campaigning. By the fall of 2003, Dean had become the apparent front-runner for the Democratic nomination, performing strongly in most polls. He was regarded as a pragmatic centrist and a populist, denouncing the policies of the Bush administration (especially the 2003 invasion of Iraq) as well as his fellow Democrats, who, in his view, failed to strongly oppose them.

Over the summer of 2003, several organized groups began a nationwide campaign to draft retired four-star general Wesley Clark for the Democratic Party's nomination. On September 17, 2003, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Clark announced his intention to run in the presidential primary election for the Democratic Party nomination. He told his audience: "My name is Wes Clark. I am from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I am here to announce that I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America. We're going to run a campaign that will move this country forward, not back." Many Democrats joined his campaign, drawn by his military background, and saw such foreign policy credentials as a valuable asset in challenging President Bush. Despite this burst of enthusiasm for Clark, Dean maintained a strong lead in the polls for the latter half of 2003. Clark stumbled in the first few days of his candidacy. His supporters argued that this was due to lack of experience with the media and their insistence on short "sound bite" answers.

Throughout the early campaigning between all candidates, the 2004 Iowa Caucuses appeared to be a two-way contest between Dean and Gephardt. Dean was able to spend a lot of money into the first contest state of Iowa as well as the second in New Hampshire. In total, Dean spent nearly $40 million in Iowa and New Hampshire. But polling released by the Des Moines Register days before the caucus was held showed Dean and Gephardt had lost theur lead in Iowa. In the poll, John Kerry led with 26%, Edwards came in second with 23%, Dean came in third with 20% and Gephardt came in fourth with 18% of surveyed. On caucus night, as results were being tallied, it became evident that Kerry and Edwards were in a battle for first and Dean and Gephardt were in a battle for third in the Iowa caucuses.After all votes were tallied, John Kerry received 38% of the votes, John Edwards received 32%, Howard Dean received 18%, and Richard Gephardt received 11%.

After poor showings, Gephardt dropped out of the race. Kerry and Edwards claimed newfound momentum, while Dean attempted to down-play the results.During the New Hampshire Primary, Kerry was able to defeat Dean once again, beating him 38%-26%. Clark and John Edwards and Joe Lieberman competed for third place during the New Hampshire primary. Clark came in third with 12%, Edwards in fourth with 12%, and Lieberman in fifth with 9%.

Edwards gained some late stage momentum. He was seen as refusing to participate in negative campaigning. His second-place finish in Iowa and his third-place tie with Clark in New Hampshire, followed by his victory in his neighboring state of South Carolina added to his momentum.

Meanwhile, Dean had lost momentum and support badly. Dean, who had been suffering with a severe bout of the flu for several days, attended a post-caucus rally for his volunteers at the Val-Air Ballroom in West Des Moines, Iowa and delivered his concession speech, aimed at cheering up those in attendance. Dean was shouting over the cheers of his enthusiastic audience, but the crowd noise was being filtered out by his unidirectional microphone. His speech came across as loud, strange and unpresidential. A quote from the speech was aired repeatedly in the days following the caucus in which Dean said:

"Not only are we going to New Hampshire, we're going to South Carolina and Oklahoma and Arizona and North Dakota and New Mexico, and we're going to California and Texas and New York. And we're going to South Dakota and Oregon and Washington and Michigan, and then we're going to Washington, D.C., to take back the White House! Yeah!"

This "yeah" became known as "the scream". Dean later referred to it on talk shows as "my crazy red-faced rant". Dean withdrew from the Democratic race on February 18, 2004, following poor showings in the Wisconsin primary. Dean dropped out of the race at a rally in Burlington, Vermont, saying "I am no longer actively pursuing the presidency".

After Dean's withdrawal from the contest, Edwards became the major challenger to Kerry for the nomination. But Kerry continued to dominate the race, winning in Michigan, Washington, Maine, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Nevada, Wisconsin, Utah, Hawaii, and Idaho. Many other candidates dropped out during this time, leaving only Kerry, Edwards, Sharpton and Kucinich in the running. Dean, though not officially running, did not release his delegates.

Edwards maintained a positive campaign and largely avoided attacking Kerry until a February 29, 2004, debate in NYC, where he attempted to put Kerry on the defensive by characterizing the front-runner as a "Washington insider". But on Super Tuesday, March 2, Kerry won decisive victories in the California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island primaries and the Minnesota caucuses. Dean, despite having withdrawn from the race two weeks earlier, won his home state of Vermont. Edwards finished only slightly behind Kerry in Georgia but, failing to win a single state. Following these defeats, Edwards chose to withdraw, making Kerry the presumptive nominee. President Bush called Senator Kerry to congratulate him that evening.

On March 11, Kerry accumulated the 2,162 delegates required to clinch the nomination. The DNC's website acknowledged him as the party's nominee at that time, four and a half months prior to the Convention.

On July 6, Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate shortly before the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, held later that month. Senators Kerry and Edwards were formally nominated by the Democratic Party at the convention. Defining moments of the 2004 Democratic National Convention included the featured keynote speech of Barack Obama, then a candidate for the United States Senate from Illinois, and Bill Clinton's opening night speech. Kerry made his Vietnam War experience a prominent theme. In accepting the nomination, he began his speech with "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."

Kerry and Edwards faced incumbents George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for the Republican Party in the 2004 presidential election. Kerry received only a small bounce in the polls and remained running close with Bush throughout much of the campaign. On October 29, four days before the election, excerpts of a video of Osama bin Laden addressing the American people were broadcast on al Jazeera. In his remarks, bin Laden mentions the September 11, 2001 attacks and taunted Bush over his response to them. In the days following the video's release, Bush's lead over Kerry increased by several points


The general election was won by Bush, who defeated Kerry. The election was fought primarily on the issue of the conduct of the War on Terror. Bush defended the actions of his administration, while Kerry contended that the war had been fought incompetently, and that the Iraq War was a distraction from the War on Terror, not a part of it. Bush received 62,040,610 votes (50.73%) and 286 electoral votes, while Kerry received 59,028,444 votes (48.27%) and 251 electoral votes.
Tomorrow will mark the 161st anniversary of what some consider to be the birth of the national Republican Party. On June 19, 1855, a small gathering of prominent individuals who were opposed to the expansion of slavery met in Washington, D.C. where they passed a resolution about the recent abrogation of "all compromises, real or imaginary" by the opening up of the state of Missouri and the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to the possible institution of slavery. This group called itself the "Republican Association of Washington, District of Columbia". They passed a four plank platform which included the following: "There should be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for the punishment of crime, in any of the Territories of the United States."

no title

Following the meeting, a number of state organizations were soon established along similar lines. On January 17, 1856 representatives of Republican Party organizations in Ohio, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin all issued a joint call for a convention" to be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 22, 1856 to formalize the national organization and to call a properly delegated national convention to nominate candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States for the November 1856 election. They elected a governing National Executive Committee and passed resolutions calling for the repeal of laws enabling slaveholding in free territories. They also resolved to resist the spread of slavery in any territory and for the defense of anti-slavery individuals in Kansas who were being attacked by supporters of slavery. They also resolved to "resist and overthrow the present National Administration of President Franklin Pierce, as it is identified with the progress of the Slave power to national supremacy."

The 22-member Republican National Committee included one representative per state attending the Pittsburgh Convention, and it met in plenary session on March 27, 1856 at Willard's Hotel in Washington, DC and issued a call for a formal presidential nominating convention. The convention was set to begin on June 17, 1856 in Philadelphia (160 years ago yesterday). Each state organization was to be allocated six at-large delegates, plus three delegates for each congressional district.

The first Republican National Convention was held in the Musical Fund Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 17 to 19, 1856. The convention approved an anti-slavery platform that called for congressional sovereignty in the territories, an end to polygamy in Mormon settlements, and federal assistance for a transcontinental railroad.

Next it turned to selection of a candidate. Those considered as candidates included John C. Frémont, a former military officer, explorer, and Senator from California. He was also the son-in-law of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton. He had been sought out as a potential Democratic Party candidate but he supported those opposed to slavery in Kansas and was also against the enforcement of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. Republican leaders convinced him that he was more at home in their party.

Other candidates for the nomination included John McLean of Ohio, an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, New York Senator William Seward, Ohio Governor Salmon Chase, and Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner. All but McLean requested that their names be withdrawn. Three others were considered by the delegates: Speaker Nathaniel P. Banks of Massachusetts, former Commodore and Military Governor Robert F. Stockton of New Jersey, and Governor William F. Johnston of Pennsylvania.

Frémont was nominated for president overwhelmingly on the first ballot. He received 359 votes, and McLean received 190. After some shifting in the ballots, Frémont received 520 votes and McLean received 37. William L. Dayton, a former Senator from New Jersey, was nominated for vice-president over former Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln.

The Democratic Party nominated James Buchanan of Pennsylvania, the former Secretary of State. The American Party (known as the "Know Nothing Party") nominated former President Millard Fillmore on an anti-slavery platform. In the campaign for president, none of the candidates campaigned themselves, having surrogates to campaign for them. The Republican Party opposed the extension of slavery into the territories. Its slogan was "Free speech, free press, free soil, free men, Frémont and victory!" They told voters that the Slave Power was destroying republican values. They opposed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise through the Kansas–Nebraska Act. The Republicans also accused the Pierce administration of allowing a fraudulent territorial government to be imposed upon the citizens of the Kansas Territory, leading to the violence that had raged in "Bleeding Kansas." They called for the immediate admittance of Kansas as a free state. They were also opposed to the annexation of Cuba from Spain.

The Democrats supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act and popular sovereignty. They supported the pro-slavery territorial legislature elected in Kansas, opposed the free-state supporters in Kansas, and called the Topeka Constitution (passed by anti-slavery Kansans) as an illegal document written during an illegal convention. The Democrats also supported the plan to annex Cuba. The Democratic campaign warned that a Republican victory would lead to the secession of numerous southern states.

Fillmore was considered to lack enough support to secure the presidency. Whigs were urged to support Buchanan. But Fillmore supporters insisted that their party was the only "national party" since the Democrats were supported mainly by southerners and slaveholders, while the Republicans were the party of northerners and abolitionists. They tried to make an issue by starting a rumor that Frémont was a Roman Catholic. The Democrats also spread the rumor and the Republicans were unable to get the message out that the statements were false.


On election day, the vote turned out differently in the free states and the slave states. In the free states, Frémont won with 45.2% of the vote to 41.5% for Buchanan and 13.3% for Fillmore Frémont received 114 electoral votes to 62 for Buchanan. In the slave states however, the contest was mainly between Buchanan and Fillmore. Buchanan won 56.1% of the vote to 43.8% for Fillmore and 0.1% for Frémont. Buchanan received 112 electoral votes to 8 for Fillmore. Nationwide, Buchanan won 174 electoral votes, Frémont received 114 and Fillmore 8. Frémont received no votes in 10 of the 14 slave states.

Democratic Party predictions of a civil war didn't happen on Frémont's watch, secession in fact began on Buchanan's.


Presidential History Geeks

Latest Month



RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner