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1880 Republican Convention - History

1880 Republican Convention - History


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1880 republican Convention

Exposition Hall Chicago, ILL

June 2 to 8, 1880

Nominated: James Garfield of Ohio for President

Nominated: Chester Arthur of New York for Vice President

The Republican convention opened with three candiates, there was a draft movement to nominate Grant for the third term after a four year absence. Many opposed the breaking of the two term tradition established by Washington. They supported either Blaine or Secretary of the Treasury John Sherman. The convention deadlocked for thirty five ballots. Grant remianed 66 votes short of the nomination. On the 36th ballot the anti- Grant vote switched to James Garfield and he was nominated.

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Major Players

Prior to 1880, Ulysses S. Grant had won renown as a brilliant general during the Civil War. Shortly after the war, in 1868, he had been elected President and won re-election in 1872. During his time in office, his administration had become notorious for its corruption, though Grant himself was never implicated in any wrongdoing. After leaving office in 1877, he embarked on a world tour where he was, according to Treasury Secretary John Sherman, “received in every country though which he passed…with all the honors that could be conferred upon a monarch.” 1 Grant was accompanied by New York Tribune correspondent John Russell Young, whose coverage of his trip “would burnish his credentials at home during his extended stay abroad,” according to Grant biographer Ron Chernow. As fresh memories of Grant’s shortcomings as President receded into the background, to be replaced by “lingering affection from Appomattox” and portraits of his success abroad, many came to view him as a possible Republican candidate in 1880, as President Rutherford B. Hayes had declined to seek another term. 2

Officially, Grant would write to friends that “I am not a candidate for anything,” but he did not stop them from working to organize his nomination at the 1880 Republican National Convention. 3 Grant definitely had his reasons for wanting the nomination. He was disturbed with the gains of “Lost Cause” Democrats in the south and believed that “he could be the means of ending the ‘miserable sectional strife’ between the North and South” while keeping power out the “hands of those who tried so hard…to destroy [the Union]” during the Civil War. In addition, his travels abroad had matured his foreign policy views. For instance, Grant believed that the US should “extend at least its moral support” to the Chinese, who had been bullied by European powers for much of the 19 th century. 4 Perhaps the most important factor in Grant’s decision to run again was his wife, Julia, who, Chernow claims, “goaded” him to run. By May 1880, Grant had dropped all pretensions of modesty and “declared his wish to nab the nomination.” 5

James G. Blaine:

James Gillespie Blaine of Maine was one of the most influential Republicans in Washington in 1880. He had served first in the House of Representatives and then the Senate since 1861, where he led the so-called “Half Breed” faction of moderates Republicans that opposed the pro-Grant and pro-machine Stalwarts led by Roscoe Conkling of New York. He first ran for President in 1876 but his candidacy was tarnished by allegations of corrupt railroad dealings shortly before the Republican convention, which played some role in his losing the nomination to Rutherford B. Hayes. In 1879, Blaine had somewhat restored his reputation by rallying the Maine Republican leadership to prevent a coalition of the Democrats and Greenback Party to falsify state legislature election returns to maintain their power in the statehouse. Historian Norman E. Tutorow claims that “Blaine was credited with this resounding Republican triumph, and his…friends hoped that this display of leadership would help wipe out memories of the railroad” scandal. 6 Therefore, Blaine again began to work to gain the Republican nomination in 1880.

Blaine was initially confident in his chances and did not think highly of his two chief rivals, Grant and John Sherman. In April 1880, James Garfield would report that “I think Blaine is now more confident of the nomination than I have ever known him.” However, by May 23, Blaine was less sanguine about his chances for success, telling Garfield that “he did not much expect the nomination…and would not have become a candidate but for the belief that he could more effectually prevent the nomination of Gen. Grant than any one else.” 7 While it makes sense that Blaine would oppose Grant due to the latter’s support of Blaine’s rival Roscoe Conkling, the ambitious Blaine likely did not confide his true aspirations with Garfield. His near success in 1876 indicates that Blaine likely understood that many Republicans thought highly of him, which explains his optimism in April. While Blaine certainly did not want his rivals to gain power, he believed that he had a decent chance of winning it for himself.

John Sherman:

John Sherman, the Secretary of the Treasury, was regarded as one of the foremost financial experts of the Republican Party. He had represented Ohio in first the House and then the Senate from 1855-1877, when he resigned to serve as Hayes’ Secretary of the Treasury. As early as 1879, Sherman began to seek the Presidency and was “regarded widely as the administration candidate.” He was also banking on the support of business interests to gain the nomination. 8 However, like Grant and Garfield, Sherman had to overcome a series of alleged missteps if he was to secure the nomination. First, it did not help him that many of his contemporaries viewed his personality as “not very attractive.” 9 In addition, Sherman was accused of being “under the influence of the Catholic church, and was giving Catholics an undue share of appointments” as Treasury Secretary, a very serious offence when anti-Catholicism was rampant. He also faced “another allegation…that [he] was using the patronage of [his] office to aid in [his] nomination.” For his part, Sherman vehemently denied both allegations. 10

Sherman biographer Theodore E. Burton claims that like Blaine, Sherman thought that a Grant “nomination would be disastrous to the party,” and entered the race partly to oppose his nomination. 11 Nonetheless, he realized that his only chance of winning the nomination was if both Grant and Blaine, the two frontrunners, failed to secure a majority of votes at the convention and he could emerge as a compromise candidate. 12

James A. Garfield:

James A. Garfield, a former Civil War general, had represented Ohio in the House of Representatives since 1863, where biographer Ira Rutkow asserts that he “was recognized as one of the ablest…legislators of his generation,” who “was viewed as a leader of national stature.” 13 Early in the 1880 election season, Sherman tried to recruit Garfield as his floor manager at the convention, likely to ward off the possibility of a Garfield candidacy. Though Sherman would later state that Garfield “expressed his earnest desire to secure my nomination and his wish to be a delegate at large, so that he might aid me effectively,” Garfield's friend were working to drum up support for his nomination in the background. 14 On February 18, 1880, Garfield reported in his diary that Wharton Barker, a Pennsylvania businessman, approached him and told Garfield that “he and his friends were in favor of nominating me.” Though Garfield replied by telling him that he “would not be a candidate and did not wish my name discussed in that connection,” he added that he may accept the nomination if “the Convention…should find that they could not nominate either of the candidates.” Then he added that “I was working in good faith for Sherman and should continue to do so.” 15 It is impossible to determine if Garfield really wanted the nomination or not, but a dark horse candidacy was undoubtedly lingering in the back of his mind. 16

Senator John Logan was Grant's foremost ally in Illinois

Grant's Stalwart Allies:

Senators Roscoe Conkling of New York, Donald Cameron of Pennsylvania, and John Logan of Illinois were Grant’s chief lieutenants. All three were machine politicians who were willing to do whatever was necessary to support Grant. Conkling was the leader of the trio and was selected to be Grant’s floor leader at the convention and was given a wide latitude to act as he saw fit. George Boutwell, another high-profile Grant supporter, would later write “General Grant had placed the matter of his candidacy in the hands of Conkling, Logan, Cameron and myself, with entire freedom to act as we saw wise.” 17 Conkling had a reputation as a ruthless politician who would engage in spiteful feuds with his rivals, including Blaine, and “was uninterested in the process of conciliation.” Nonetheless, Conkling was a brilliant orator and fiercely loyal to his friends. 18

Republican Factions:

On a broad scale, historian Allan Peskin argues that the delegates to the convention subscribed to two competing ideological factions. The Stalwarts were led by Conkling, Logan, and Cameron and were predominantly from areas such as New York and the South where there was intense competition with Democrats and reasoned that the best way to contend with this was by sticking with the machine politics and tried-and-true policies of Grant. The remaining delegates were from safe Republican districts and could adopt “risky” pro-business and reformist policies, but had no one leader. 19 Most supported Blaine, but a significant minority turned to Sherman or rejected both for minor candidates.

1 John Sherman, John Sherman’s Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate, and Cabinet: An Autobiography (Chicago: The Werner Company, 1895), Volume II, p. 766.

2 Ron Chernow, Grant, (New York: Penguin Press, 2017), 863, 890.

3 Grant to Washburne, 2 Feb. 1880. John Y. Simon, ed., The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant [hereafter abbreviated as PUSG] (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979), Volume 29, p. 352-53.

4 Young to Hay, 4 June 1880. PUSG, Vol. 29, 411 Grant to Corbin, 29 Mar. 1878. PUSG, Vol. 28, 369-70.

5 Chernow, Grant, 897.

6 Norman E. Tutorow, James Gillespie Blaine and the Presidency: A Documentary Study and Source Book (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1988), 3, 47.

7 James A. Garfield, The Diary of James A. Garfield: Volume IV, 1878-1881,ed. Harry James Brown and Frederick D. Williams (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1981), 397-98, 422.

8 W.T. Sherman to Grant, 17 July 1879. PUSG, Vol. 29, 138 Tutorow, James Gillespie Blaine and the Presidency, 46.

9 Tutorow, James Gillespie Blaine and the Presidency, 50.

10 Sherman, Recollections, 768-69.

11 Theodore E. Burton, John Sherman (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1972), 302.

12 Sherman, Recollections, 767.

13 Ira Rutkow, James A. Garfield (New York: Times Books, 2006), 47.

14 Sherman, Recollections, 771.

15 Garfield, The Diary of James A. Garfield, 369-70.

16 Rutkow, James A. Garfield, 49.

17 Boutwell to Fred. D. Grant, 28 May 1897. PUSG, Vol. 29, 419.

18 Rutkow, James A. Garfield, 51.

19 Allan Peskin, “Who Were the Stalwarts? Who Were Their Rivals? Republican Factions in the Gilded Age,” Political Science Quarterly 99, no.4 (1984): 705-706, 714-715


1880 Republican Nomination

Hello and welcome to the latest installment of my series of polls electing the nominees of parties throughout history. Today r/neoliberal decides the 1880 nominee of the Republican Party.

As usual, lack of information was an issue.

As a divided Republican party convenes, a former president seeks an unprecedented third term & leaders of the party scramble to stop him & further their own agenda. As this conflict leads to a deadlocked convention, a dark horse waits in the wings.

The Big Three

President Ulysses S. Grant

Less than three years after the conclusion of his second term in the office of the presidency, anti civil service reform “Stalwart” Republicans led by New York Roscoe Conkling plan to nominate Grant once more for an unprecedented third term. Conkling put forth Grant’s nomination with an eloquent speech declaring "When asked which state he hails from, our sole reply shall be, he hails from Appomattox and its famous apple tree."

If elected to a third term, Grant would presumably not act to reform the civil service & it is worried that corruption within his cabinet will once again become an issue. Aside from this, Grant is expected to attempt to aid in the quest for African American rights, & pursue an expansionist foreign policy.

Senator James G. Blaine

Maine Senator & former Speaker of the House James G. Blaine leads the “Half Breed” faction of the Republican Party. Blaine favors civil service reform, the “Blaine Amendment” prohibiting public funds from going to religious institutions, increasing the amount of federal troops in the south to ensure black voting rights, the preservation of the gold standard, & the expansion of the navy. The nominating speech given for Blaine was given by James Joy, who accidentally ended the speech by calling his “James S. Blaine”.

Secretary John Sherman

Many moderate Republicans who are neither “stalwarts” nor “half breeds” support Treasury Secretary & former Senator John Sherman of Ohio. Sherman is the brother of Civil War general & Georgia grill master William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman is a moderate Republican of note who advocated against such proposals as removing the suffrage of Confederates. Sherman opposed withdrawing greenbacks from the money supply as a senator & proposed keeping them in & waiting for the population to catch up to the money supply.

Sherman notably strongly advocated against the coinage of silver as a senator & for the Specie Payment Resumption Act which resurrected the gold standard. As Secretary of the Treasury he has fought for the gold standard & against the Bland-Allison Act. While Sherman is not a civil service reformer, he has aided President Hayes in his limited civil service reforms. A Ohio congressman named James Garfield gave Sherman’s nominating speech, a speech so good several delegates seem to desire to nominate Garfield himself.

Draft Candidates

Representative James A. Garfield

A former Major General & the de facto Republican leader in the House of Representatives, James A. Garfield has come to the convention to support John Sherman, but a few anti Grant delegates such as Indiana’s Benjamin Harrison have begun to support him to break the deadlock & a groundswell of draft support for a dark horse Garfield candidacy has been rumored.

Garfield’s political mentor was Salmon P. Chase, Governor, Senator, Treasury Secretary, & Chief Justice. Garfield favors the gold standard & breaks with his party on tariffs as Garfield is one of few Republicans to favor free trade, he also supports civil service reform & opposes land grants to railroads. Garfield supported a strict reconstruction policy but eventually became more moderate & while he attacked the Klan as “terrorists”, he opposed the Klu Klux Klan Act due to it’s suspension of habeus corpus.

Garfield is fluent in multiple languages, can write with both hands, & developed a trapezoidal proof of the Pythagorean Theorum in the 1860s.

Ambassador Elihu B. Washburne

Elihu B. Washburne served as a senator, Secretary of State for 11 days, & as Ambassador to France during the Grant Administration. Washburne was an early ally of Grant when Washburne was a Senator & Grant a general, & Washburne went on to become a Radical Republican & one of the early supporters of racial equality. Washburne has endorsed Grant & refused to stand as a candidate, but dozens of delegates have attempted to draft him.

Minor Candidates

Senator George F. Edmunds

Vermont Senator George F. Edmunds is minor contender of the nomination. Edmunds is a pro civil service reform Republican who was a leader of the effort to impeach President Johnson. Edmunds advocates for harsher laws against polygamy, anti monopoly legislation, & is famous as a senate contrarian. He is also known as a clever debater who can make Southern Democrats embarrass themselves by breaking the veil over their racism.


Access options

1. The academic literature on Reconstruction is, of course, voluminous. The standard, comprehensive account is Foner , Eric , Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 ( New York : HarperCollins , 1988 )Google Scholar . The politics of Reconstruction, specifically, is covered superbly in a clear and concise fashion in Valelly , Richard M. , The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement ( Chicago : University of Chicago Press , 2004 ).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

2. See Abbott , Richard H. , The Republican Party and the South, 1855–1877 ( Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press , 1986 ), 214 –18Google Scholar Barreyre , Nicolas , “ The Politics of Economic Crises: The Panic of 1873, the End of Reconstruction, and the Realignment of American Politics ,” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 10 ( 2011 ): 403 –23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

3. For a general discussion of the Republican Party's strategy vis-à-vis the South in the years after Reconstruction, see De Santis , Vincent , Republicans Face the Southern Question: The New Departure Years, 1877–1897 ( Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press , 1959 )Google Scholar Hirshson , Stanley , Farewell to the Bloody Shirt: Northern Republicans and the Southern Negro, 1877–1893 ( Bloomington : Indiana University Press , 1962 )Google Scholar Calhoun , Charles W. , Conceiving a New Republic: The Republican Party and the Southern Question, 1869–1900 ( Lawrence : University Press of Kansas , 2006 ).Google Scholar

4. See Valelly, The Two Reconstructions, 134–39.

5. The GOP would formally abdicate from any future Reconstruction efforts in 1909, as William Howard Taft made clear in his presidential inaugural address. See Sherman , Richard B. , The Republican Party and Black America From McKinley to Hoover, 1896–1933 ( Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia , 1973 )Google Scholar , 86 Valelly, The Two Reconstructions, 133.

6. We thank an anonymous reviewer for suggesting that we make this “Southern strategy” frame explicit.

7. For a pre–World War II example, see Jenkins , Jeffery A. , “ The First ‘Southern Strategy’: The Republican Party and Contested Election Cases in the Late-Nineteenth Century House ,” in Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress, Volume 2: Further New Perspectives on the History of Congress, ed. Brady , David W. and McCubbins , Mathew D. ( Stanford : Stanford University Press , 2007 ).Google Scholar

8. Much of the content of this section is based on Rosewater , Victor , “ Republican Convention Apportionment ,” Political Science Quarterly 28 ( 1913 ): 610 –26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

9. For coverage of the debate, along with key vote results, see Proceedings of the Republican National Convention Held at Chicago, May 16, 17, and 18, 1860 ( Albany, NY : Weed, Parsons , 1860 ), 44 – 70 .Google Scholar

10. For a lengthy discussion of the politics surrounding the Lodge Bill, see Valelly , Richard M. , “ Partisan Entrepreneurship and Policy Windows: George Frisbie Hoar and the 1890 Federal Elections Bill ,” in Formative Acts: American Politics in the Making , ed. Skowronek , Stephen and Glassman , Matthew ( Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press , 2007 ), 126 –52Google Scholar Welch , Richard E. Jr. , “ The Federal Elections Bill of 1890: Postscripts and Preludes ,” The Journal of American History 52 ( 1965 ): 511 –26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

11. See Kousser , J. Morgan , The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 1974 )Google Scholar Perman , Michael , Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888–1908 ( Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press , 2001 ).Google Scholar

12. Sundquist , James L. , Dynamics of the Party System: Alignment and Realignment of Political Parties in the United States ( Washington : The Brookings Institution , 1973 ).Google Scholar

13. Another way that the Republicans tried to maintain a foothold in the South—beyond statutory attempts like the Lodge Bill—was through contested (disputed) election cases. In the five Houses in which the GOP maintained majority control in the twenty-year period between 1881 and 1901, the Republicans flipped twenty seats in the former Confederate South from Democratic to Republican, based on charges related to fraud, intimidation, election irregularities, and so forth. The breakdown of those twenty is as follows: five seats in the 47th Congress (1881–83), five in the 51st (1889–91), four in the 54th (1895–97), three in the 55th (1897–99), and three in the 56th (1899–1901). In the five succeeding Congresses, the 57th–61st (1901–11), in which they maintained majority control of the House, the Republicans flipped no seats in the former-Confederate states. See Jenkins , Jeffery A. , “ Partisanship and Contested Election Cases in the House of Representatives, 1789–2002 ,” Studies in American Political Development 18 ( 2004 ): 112 –35CrossRefGoogle Scholar Jenkins, “The First ‘Southern Strategy.’” On the broader subject of disputed House seats and GOP strategy, see Valelly , Richard M. , “ National Parties and Racial Disenfranchisement ,” in Classifying By Race , ed. Peterson , Paul E. ( Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press , 1995 )Google Scholar .

14. The 1912 motion also would have provided two delegates each for Alaska, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines.

15. In implementing the change, the RNC followed the advice of a Committee on Representation that it had appointed earlier that year. See “Harmony the Note of Republican Talk,” New York Times, May 25, 1913 “Republicans Vote Delegate Reforms,” New York Times, December 17, 1913.

16. This account is confirmed in an examination of delegate lists included in the official proceedings of the 1916 Republican convention. See Official Report of the Proceedings of the Sixteenth Republican National Convention ( New York : The Tenny Press , 1916 )Google Scholar . Hanes Walton, however, states that the cuts in Southern delegates were not agreed to until the 1916 convention and did not go into effect until 1920. Walton's account appears to be based on an incorrect reading of W. F. Nowlin's The Negro in American National Politics, which states that the cuts went into effect in 1916 and were kept in place for the 1920 convention. See Walton , Hanes Jr. , Black Republicans: The Politics of the Black and Tans ( Metuchen, NJ : The Scarecrow Press , 1975 )Google Scholar , 152 Nowlin , W. F. , The Negro in American National Politics ( Boston : The Stratford Company , 1931 ), 72 – 73 Google Scholar .

17. “Republicans Cut Quota From South,” New York Times, June 9, 1921.

18. Under this reapportionment scheme, the South maintained a roughly similar percentage of the total number of delegates in 1924 as it had held in 1920. See “South Wins Back Delegates Dropped by 1920 Convention,” New York Times, December 13, 1923.

19. De Santis , Vincent P. , “ President Hayes's Southern Policy ,” The Journal of Southern History 21 ( 1955 ): 476 –94CrossRefGoogle Scholar .

20. On Sherman's patronage-based advantage, see Clancy , Herbert John , The Presidential Election of 1880 ( Chicago : Loyola University Press , 1958 ), 30 – 31 Google Scholar Calhoun, Conceiving a New Republic, 170.

21. Ackerman , Kenneth D. , Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield ( New York : Carroll and Graf , 2003 ), 32 – 33 .Google Scholar

22. See Richardson , Leon Burr , William E. Chandler: Republican ( New York : Dodd, Mead , 1940 )Google Scholar , 256.

23. See “Republican Representation,” New York Times, December 7, 1883 “Republican Representation,” Washington Post, December 7, 1883. Note that both newspapers, in characterizing “southern states,” also include Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and West Virginia. Only Kentucky, of these four, would have lost Convention delegates under the Frye plan.

24. “A Convention Called,” Washington Post, December 13, 1883 “Republican Plans for ’84,” New York Times, December 13, 1883.

25. De Santis , Vincent P. , “ President Arthur and the Independent Movements in the South in 1882 ,” The Journal of Southern History 19 ( 1953 ): 346 –63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

26. De Santis, “President Arthur and the Independent Movements in the South in 1882,” 354.

27. On these efforts by Arthur and Chandler across the various Southern states, see Doenecke , Justin D. , The Presidencies of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur ( Lawrence : University Press of Kansas , 1981 ), 114 –23Google Scholar .

28. For coverage of the debate on the apportionment of delegates, see Proceedings of the Eighth Republican National Convention, Held at Chicago, June 3, 4, 5, and 6, 1884 ( Chicago : Rand, McNally , 1884 ), 84 – 91 .Google Scholar

29. Richardson, William E. Chandler, 346–48.

30. As Leon Richardson notes, “Arthur did not have the national appeal of Blaine his strength, so far as he had any, aside from his creditable record as President was derived from his control of patronage.” See Richardson, William E. Chandler, 347.

31. Calhoun, Conceiving a New Republic, 204.

32. See Reitano , Joanne R. , The Tariff Question in the Gilded Age: The Great Debate of 1888 ( University Park : Pennsylvania State University Press , 1994 )Google Scholar Calhoun , Charles W. , Minority Victory: Gilded Age Politics and the Front Porch Campaign of 1888 ( Lawrence : University Press of Kansas , 2008 )Google Scholar .

33. Calhoun notes that one of Sherman's “lieutenants” was former Illinois congressman Green R. Raum, who was “long an ardent advocate of blacks' civil rights [and] was particularly proficient at persuading southern delegates to enlist in Sherman's cause.” Calhoun, Minority Victory, 95.

34. Calhoun, Minority Victory, 85.

35. Kehl , James A. , Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania ( Pittsburgh : University of Pittsburgh Press , 1981 )Google Scholar , 87.

36. Sherman , John , Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate, and Cabinet: An Autobiography , Vol. II ( Chicago : The Werner Company , 1895 )Google Scholar , 1129. Sherman, in discussing whether he harbored any resentments toward those who may have contributed to his defeat in 1888, said the following: “The only feeling of resentment I entertained was in regard to the action of the friends of General Alger in tempting with money poor negroes to violate the instructions of their constituents.” Ibid., 1032.

37. See “Alger Makes a Reply,” Washington Post, November 22, 1895 “Ire of Alger Aroused,” Chicago Tribune, November 22, 1895 “Alger Answers Sherman,” New York Times, November 22, 1895. According to Alger, William T. Sherman is to have said: “You made a good show of votes, and if you bought some, according to universal usage, I don't blame you. I laughed at John for trying to throw off on anybody. He was fairly beaten at the convention.”

38. As president, Harrison was an advocate of black civil rights and supported congressional efforts to pass a new voting-rights enforcement bill (i.e., the Lodge Bill). See De Santis , Vincent , “ Benjamin Harrison and the Republican Party in the South, 1889–1893 ,” Indiana Magazine of History 51 ( 1955 ): 279 – 302 .Google Scholar

39. For an overview of Republican preconvention politics, see Knoles , George Harmon , The Presidential Campaign and Election of 1892 ( Stanford : Stanford University Press , 1942 ), 34 – 48 Google Scholar Dozer , Donald Marquand , “ Benjamin Harrison and the Presidential Campaign of 1892 ,” The American Historical Review 54 ( 1948 ): 49 – 77 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

40. This outcome of this dispute resulted in the seating of an all-white delegation, rather than a mixed delegation of whites and blacks. See Nathanson , Iric , “ African Americans and the 1892 Republican National Convention, Minneapolis ,” Minnesota History 61 ( 2008 ): 76 – 82 Google Scholar . This was the first hint of the lily-white versus black & tan dispute that would plague the Southern GOP for the next several decades. For a detailed history of this internal Republican dispute in the South, see Walton, Black Republicans.

41. Quoted in Kehl, Boss Rule in the Gilded Age, 172.

42. Quotes from Kehl, Boss Rule in the Gilded Age, 174.

43. Horner , William T. , Ohio's Kingmaker: Mark Hanna, Man and Myth ( Athens, OH : Ohio University Press , 2010 )Google Scholar , 141.

44. Kehl, Boss Rule in the Gilded Age, 198. For more on the Thomasville rental strategy, see Bocote , Clarence A. , “ Negro Officeholders in Georgia under President McKinley ,” The Journal of Negro History 44 ( 1959 ): 217 –39CrossRefGoogle Scholar Jones , Stanley L. , The Presidential Election of 1896 ( Madison : The University of Wisconsin Press , 1964 ), 112 –13Google Scholar Walton, Black Republicans, 57–60 Horner, Ohio's Kingmaker, 142–43.

45. Quoted in Kehl, Boss Rule in the Gilded Age, 197.

46. Valelly, “National Parties and Racial Disenfranchisement,” 209.

47. For example, Valelly recounts an incident in North Carolina in 1898 during which Republican Governor Daniel Russell “was nearly lynched by a Democratic mob that stopped his train he escaped death only because he managed to find a good hiding place on the train” (Valelly, The Two Reconstructions, 131).

48. Another reason for the GOP's shift away from contesting elections in the South was based on a shift in the racial and regional diversity of the party's voting base: “the black-white North-South coalition of 1867–1868 was supplanted by a new white-white North-West coalition,” which saw no value in continuing to contest Southern elections that the party was bound to lose. See Valelly, The Two Reconstructions, 134.

49. “The South Too Many for ’Em,” Columbus Enquirer Sun, November 28, 1899.

50. The Payne proposal was introduced around the same time that Republicans in Congress attempted to demand enforcement of Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which would result in a decrease of representation in Southern states in line with the number of black voters that were denied the right to vote. The first attempt to bring such a Fourteenth Amendment challenge against a Southern state came in October 1899, just two months before the RNC meeting that considered Payne's proposal to reapportion Southern delegates. See Jenkins , Jeffery A. , Peck , Justin , and Weaver , Vesla M. , “ Between Reconstructions: Congressional Action on Civil Rights, 1891–1940. ” Studies in American Political Development 24 ( 2010 ): 57 – 89 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

51. Cited in Wight , William Ward , Henry Clay Payne: A Life ( Milwaukee : Burdick and Allen , 1907 )Google Scholar , 102.

52. Wight, Henry Clay Payne, 118.

53. “To Reduce Southern Representation,” Charlotte Daily Observer, November 29, 1899.

54. “Opposed to Mr. Payne's Plan,” Washington Post, December 13, 1899.

55. “Cities in a Fight,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 1899.

56. “Quakers Make a Deal,” Washington Post, December 14, 1899.

57. Wight, Henry Clay Payne, 104 “Philadelphia June 19: Place and Date Fixed for Republican Convention,” Washington Post, December 16, 1899.

58. Wight, Henry Clay Payne, 105.

59. Croly , Herbert , Marcus Alonzo Hanna: His Life and Work ( Hamden, CT : Archon Books , 1965 )Google Scholar .

60. Kehl, Boss Rule in the Gilded Age, 225.

61. Official Proceedings of the Twelfth Republican National Convention , ( Philadelphia : Press of Dunlap Printing Company , 1900 )Google Scholar , 99.

62. “Hard Blow for Hanna,” Daily Picayune, June 16, 1900.

63. “Quay's Rap at the South,” New York Times, June 21, 1900.

64. Kehl, Boss Rule in the Gilded Age, 227.

65. “Theodore Roosevelt to be the Unanimous Choice for Vice-President,” Los Angeles Times, June 21, 1900.

66. Croly, Marcus Alonzo Hanna, 415–16.

67. Sherman, The Republican Party and Black America, 31.

68. Gould , Lewis L. , The Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt ( Lawrence : The University Press of Kansas , 1991 ), 118 –22Google Scholar .

69. Croly, Marcus Alonzo Hanna, 421 Merrill , Horace Samuel and Merrill , Marion Galbraith , The Republican Command, 1897–1913 ( Lexington : The University Press of Kentucky , 1971 )Google Scholar , 181.

70. Fowler , Dorothy Ganfield , The Cabinet Politician: The Postmasters General, 1829–1909 ( New York : Columbia University Press , 1943 )Google Scholar , 293.

71. “Civil Service Charges,” New York Tribune, April 5, 1909.

72. During a speech in Greensboro, North Carolina on July 9, 1906, Taft had warned that “as long as the Republican party in the Southern states shall represent little save a factional chase for federal offices in which business men and men of substance in the community have no desire to enter, we may expect the present political conditions of the South to continue” (“Civil Service Charges,” New York Tribune, April 5, 1909). Additionally, in a private letter written in January 1908, Taft stated that “the South has been the section of rotten boroughs in the Republican national politics and it would delight me if no southern votes were permitted to have a vote in the National Convention except in proportion to its Republican vote… . But when a man is running for the presidency, and I believe that is what I am now doing, he cannot afford to ignore the tremendous influence, however undue, that the southern vote has.” See Pringle , Henry F. , The Life and Times of William Howard Taft: A Biography , Vol. 1 ( New York : Farrar & Rinehart , 1939 )Google Scholar , 347.

73. Sherman, The Republican Party and Black America, 92.

74. Rosewater , Victor , Backstage in 1912: The Inside Story of the Split Republican Convention ( Philadelphia : Dorrance , 1932 ), 29 – 33 Google Scholar .

75. Milkis , Sidney M. , Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy ( Lawrence : The University Press of Kansas , 2009 )Google Scholar , 53.

77. Wilensky , Norman M. , Conservatives in the Progressive Era: The Taft Republicans of 1912 ( Gainesville : University of Florida Press , 1965 )Google Scholar , 17.

79. These numbers include the delegates the Roosevelt campaign contested (112 delegates, of which 66 were from the South). “Taft's Certain List Goes up to 325,” New York Times, June 9, 1912.

80. As Casdorph notes, Roosevelt outperformed Taft in the South during the 1912 presidential election. Casdorph , Paul D. , Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 1912–1916 ( University, Alabama : The University of Alabama Press , 1981 )Google Scholar , 151.

81. Wilensky, Conservatives in the Progressive Era, 33.

82. A more detailed analysis of “the 292 most politically active Old Guardsmen” also shows that Southern Taft supporters were more likely to have had prior political experience: 97.4 percent of Southern Taft men did, while in the Northeast, Midwest, and West these numbers were lower (respectively, 82.7 percent, 84.5 percent and 75.7 percent). See Wilensky, Conservatives in the Progressive Era, 33 and 38.

83. “A Naked Issue of Right and Wrong,” Outlook, June 14, 1912.

84. Cited in Clayton , Bruce L. , “ An Intellectual on Politics: William Garrott Brown and the Ideal of a Two-Party South ,” North Carolina Historical Review 42 ( 1965 ): 319 –34Google Scholar .

85. Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, 109.

86. Official Report of the Proceedings of the Fifteenth Republican National Convention ( New York : The Tenny Press , 1912 ), 61 – 88 Google Scholar .

87. Casdorph, Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 115 Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, 3rd ed. ( Washington, DC : Congressional Quarterly , 1994 )Google Scholar , 220.

88. Walton, Black Republicans, 156.

89. There is some disagreement as to whether the convention's decisions on the contested delegates were fair or not. Although Root's chairmanship helped Taft in this regard, Roosevelt's failure to successfully challenge Southern delegates may not have been entirely unjust. For one thing, as The Washington Times stated, the challenges of delegates that were selected before Roosevelt could build a campaign machine were largely intended for “psychological effects” so that “a tabulation of delegate strength could be put out that would show Roosevelt holding a good hand” by inflating the number of contested delegates (“Figures to Date Fail to Show Taft Victory,” The Washington Times, June 9, 1912). In his autobiography, Robert La Follette claims that the Roosevelt campaign picked up many delegates in the run up to the convention “because of the false claims put forth by his managers that he had a large lead in the contest, claims which they well knew to be false.” See Follette , Robert La , La Follette's Autobiography: A Personal Narrative of Political Experiences ( Madison, Wisconsin : The University of Wisconsin Press , 2013 )Google Scholar , 668. In addition, Casdorph notes that Roosevelt supporters voted with Taft supporters on many of the decisions regarding contested delegates because it was their strategy “not to stand by any cases from the South or elsewhere that did not have genuine merit” (Casdorph, Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 95). However, historian Lewis L. Gould presents a different view in his study of the delegate politics in Texas, arguing that a correct division should have given Roosevelt 24 delegates to Taft's 16. If this indeed had been the division, Taft's majority would have dropped to only a handful of votes above the 540 majority line. See Gould , Lewis L. , “ Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Disputed Delegates in 1912: Texas as a Test Case. ” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 80 ( 1976 ): 33 – 56 Google Scholar .

90. It is important to note, however, that during procedural votes on the first days of the convention, Taft's majority remained slim. Had La Follette and Roosevelt managed to overcome their intraprogressive squabbling, Taft would have lacked the votes necessary to select Root and to decide the contested delegate races. See Milkis, Theodore Roosevelt, the Progressive Party, and the Transformation of American Democracy, 114.


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Photo, Print, Drawing Republican National convention at Chicago, June 2, 1880 Independent America -- the home of the freeman, where the humblest citizen can attain the highest honors in the gift of her people.

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Will This Year's Republican Convention Be Like 1880?

1880 Republican National Convention at Chicago, Illinois. A view inside the Interstate Exposition Building (known as the "Glass Palace") during the convention James Garfield (center, right) is on the podium, waiting to speak. | (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In July of this year approximately 50,000 people will attend the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus gavels the 2012 Republican National Convention into session during the opening session in Tampa, Florida, August 27, 2012. | (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Current Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is presently leading his opponents in the race to get enough delegates to secure the party nomination.

However, many have expressed concern over the controversial Trump becoming the nominee and have looked for an anti-Trump to get the nomination in spite of lacking a larger share of votes and delegates.

As a result, there is a chance that this year's GOP Convention will resemble the party's 1880 convention, which had a brokered result.

In the race for the White House, the Republican Party found itself divided from within between two factions, the Stalwarts and the Half-Breeds.

Stalwarts were the "crony capitalist" or "machine politics" wing of the party and were led by New York Senator Roscoe Conkling.

Half-Breeds wanted to reform the "spoils system" that kept the Stalwarts in power. They were led by Maine Senator James E. Blaine.

While the Stalwarts put forth former president and general Ulysses S. Grant as their candidate, the Half-Breeds chose Blaine.

Because of the divide, neither candidate entered the 1880 convention with a clear majority of delegates to secure the nomination. The contested convention became a brokered one as several ballots were cast without a clear victor.

"Although nearly two-thirds of the delegates had been pledged to either Grant or his Half-Breed opponent Blaine when the Republican National Convention convened, securing a majority of 370 proved impossible for either candidate," noted Ashley Portero of Demand Media.

The voting continued for three days with the delegates eventually backing someone who wasn't even a candidate.

"After more than 30 ballots resulted in a stalemate, James Garfield emerged as a compromise candidate. At the 36th ballot, when Grant still had the support [of] 309 delegates, the party's moderate and liberal factions joined forces behind Garfield, sweeping him to victory with the support of 399 delegates," Portero noted.

Garfield went on to win the presidential election in November, only to be assassinated the following year.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in De Pere, Wisconsin, United States, March 30, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)

Despite the controversial nature of his rhetoric and background, Trump has successfully led a crowded Republican field in the number of primaries won and delegates accrued.

Nevertheless, Republican opponents U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich continue to put up a sincere enough struggle that some believe Trump may fail to get the majority of delegates necessary to win on the first ballot (1,237).

Some have spoken openly of a "contested convention" in which a compromise figure may become the nominee.

In a brokered convention, the nominee selected to represent the party in the national election does not have to have been a candidate during the primary season.

Hence, former House Speaker John Boehner and the Koch brothers have suggested current House Speaker Paul Ryan become the nominee.

"Charles Koch is confident House Speaker Paul Ryan could emerge from the Republican National Convention as the party's nominee if Donald Trump comes up at least 100 delegates shy, he has told friends privately," reported The Huffington Post.

"People close to Ryan continue to insist publicly that he has no interest in the nomination. And one associate of the speaker said he "guarantees" there has been no conversation with Charles Koch about the possibility …."

In this respect, Ryan is similar to Garfield, who insisted he was not a candidate until the moment he became the nominee.

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks as rival candidate Ted Cruz (R) winces at the U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young)

At the start of April, Trump holds a strong lead in the GOP primary season, having gotten 737 of the necessary 1237 delegates to secure the nomination his nearest opponent, Sen. Cruz, has 470.

While many have talked or advocated for a brokered convention come July, others, including Daniel Klinghard of Fortune, have stated that no such scenario will play out.

In a column published last month, Klinghard noted that a brokered Republican convention has not occurred since 1920, when Warren G. Harding got the nomination.

"The convention turned to Garfield because two major blocks were deadlocked, unable to beat one another and unwilling to compromise. It turned to Harding because there were no standout candidates who came to the convention with a clear following," wrote Klinghard.

"Rejecting a popular candidate today — particularly one who has as enthusiastic a following as Trump — means rejecting that candidate's supporters, who expect that the convention will represent their will."


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1 Stalwart Republicans

Stalwart Republicans opposed the civil service reform measures advocated by the Hayes administration. Instead, the group favored a patronage system – known as as a "spoils system" – that awarded political supporters with jobs in the federal government. At that time the Stalwarts had a base of conservative support in the South, an area where Republicans relied specifically on the patronage system to obtain posts in the heavily Democratic region. The Stalwarts were also adamantly opposed to the Hayes policies that abetted the end of Reconstruction, particularly his decision to remove troops from Louisiana and South Carolina.


Conspectus of the History of Political Parties and the Federal Government/1880 Independent Republican Party Principles

I. Independent Republicans adhere to the republican principles of national supremacy, sound finance, and civil service reform, expressed in the Republican platform of 1876, in the letter of acceptance of President Hayes, and in his message of 1879 and they seek the realization of those principles in practical laws and their efficient administration. This requires,

1. The continuance on the statute-book of laws protecting the rights of voters at national elections. But national supremacy affords no pretext for interference with the local rights of communities and the development of the south from its present defective civilization can be secured only under constitutional methods, such as those of President Hayes.

2. The passage of laws which shall deprive greenbacks of their legal-tender quality, as a first step toward their ultimate withdrawal and cancellation, and shall maintain all coins made legal tender at such weight and fineness as will enable them to be used without discount in the commercial transactions of the world.

3. The repeal of the acts which limit the terms of office of certain government officials to four years the repeal of the tenure-of-office acts, which limit the power of the executive to remove for cause the establishment of a permanent civil service commission, or equivalent measures, to ascertain, by open competition, and certify to the President or other appointing power the fitness of applicants for nomination or appointment to all non-political offices.

II. Independent Republicans believe that local issues should be independent of party. The words Republican and Democrat should have no weight in determining whether a school or city shall be administered on business principles by capable men. With a view to this, legislation is asked which shall prescribe for the voting for local and for state officers upon separate ballots.

III. Independent Republicans assert that a political party is a co-operation of voters to secure the practical enactment into legislation of political convictions set forth as its platform. Every voter accepting that platform is a member of that party any representative of that party opposing the principles or evading the promises of its platform forfeits the support of its voters. No voter should be held by the action or nomination of any caucus or convention of his party against his private judgment. It is his duty to vote against bad measures and unfit men, as the only means of obtaining good ones and if his party no longer represents its professed principles in its practical workings, it is his duty to vote against it.

IV. Independent Republicans seek good nominations through participation in the primaries and through the defeat of bad nominees they will labor for the defeat of any local Republican candidate, and, in co-operation with those holding like views elsewhere, for the defeat of any general Republican candidate whom they do not deem fit.


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