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Every school-boy knows how he fashioned his own fortunes, and founded one of the great newspapers of the world. His ambition was to make the best daily journal that ever existed. His industry and his genius, his simple life and his careless habits, his independence of thought and his promptness in action, his skill in reading character, and his peculiar wit, were all
matters of popular interest. He was a feature of the times. To many he was the New York Tribune in the flesh. He was, in short, Horace Greeley.
Many of the Democrats were greatly dissatisfied with the nomination of a Republican candidate, and the opposition to Mr. Greeley grew so strong that in September the discontents assembled in convention at Louisville, Kentucky, and nominated Charles O'Conor, the great lawyer, who had already received the nomination of the Labor Reformers. He declined by telegram, promptly. But not finding any other available candidate the convention left the ticket as originally arranged, and Mr. O'Conor received nearly thirty thousand popular votes. General Grant was elected by a larger majority than in his first election. The Union then
Vol. XII.–No. 6.-32
consisted of thirty-seven States, and every State on that occasion chose electors by a popular vote for the first time in the history of the Republic. Mr. Greeley sickened and died on the 29th of November, a few days after the election. Thus the Democratic electors cast their votes without regard to concentration. Grant received two hundred and eighty-six, Thomas A. Hendricks forty-two, B. Gratz Brown eighteen, Charles J. Jenkins two, and Judge Davis one.
An army of events swept the country during this administration, and paved the way for a season of unparalleled excitement over the choice of candidates for the Presidency of 1877. The money panic of 1873, which left its desolating effects upon institutions and industries of every character, Indian hostilities on the frontiers of civilization, and frauds of the first magnitude in high places, were not such aids to political harmony as wise leaders would naturally have chosen. An effort was made to give President Grant the nomination for a third term, and there was a strong, wellorganized endeavor to make James G. Blaine a candidate. When the Republicans met in convention at Cincinnati in June, 1876, each of the three largest States had a candidate of its own to offer. New York presented the name of Roscoe Conkling, and Ohio that of Rutherford B. Hayes. On the first ballot Mr. Blaine received much the larger number of votes. On the seventh ballot, Mr. Hayes, who had been steadily gaining ground, received five more votes than the number necessary for his nomination, which was immediately made unanimous. Mr. Blaine from Washington congratulated Mr. Hayes by telegram on the result. The “Prohibitionists” had already, in May, convened in Cleveland, Ohio, and nominated Green Clay Smith, of Kentucky, for the Presidency; and an “ Independent National Party " had also convened during the same month at Indianapolis, and nominated Peter Cooper* of New York for the highest place in the gift of the nation. The Democratic Convention was held at St. Louis a few days after the Republicans adjourned at Cincinnati, and divided public attention with the great International Exhibition of the products of the industries of nations, at Philadelphia. There were several candidates presented by the different States, but New York's eminent son, Samuel J. Tilden, was nominated on the second ballot with frantic enthusiasm. For Vice-President, Goveryor Hendricks, one of the unsuccessful candidates for nomination to the higher office, was unanimously chosen.
The Democrats were delighted with the outlook, and proud of their candidate. The text of their platform was “reform." The Republicans had been in power sixteen years, it was said, and the time had come for
* This Magazine published, in July, 1883 [X. 59), the portrait of Peter Cooper.
a change of rulers and a change of measures. A new broom must be introduced into the national housekeeping, and new economies inaugurated. Samuel J. Tilden was a successful reformer. He had found time amid his multifarious duties at Albany as Governor of the State of New York to stop the stealing and reduce the taxes. There was the ring of the true metal for the voter's ear in the very mention of reduction of taxes. He had also won the public respect and gratitude by his overthrow of the famous Tweed “ring" some years prior to this date—the details of which would form a chapter more thrilling than any fiction. Tweed's opinion of Tilden in 1869 was expressed in the following terse paragraph: “Sam Tilden wants to overthrow Tammany Hall. He wants to drive me out of politics. He wants to stop the pickings, starve out the boys, and run the government of the city as if 'twas a blanked little country store up in New Lebanon. He wants to bring the hay-loft and cheese-press down to the city, and crush out the machine. He wants to get a crowd of canting reformers in the Legislature, who will talk about the centrifugal force of the government, and cut down the tax levy below a living rate.”
Governor Tilden was a born financier. In his heroic battle with the “Canal Ring," standing alone and resisting friends as well as foes, he saved the State millions. He was born in 1814, and was in the same class in Yale College with Chief Justice Waite, William M. Evarts, and Edwards Pierrepont. He rose to eminence as a lawyer at an early age, and was connected with some of the most important civil and criminal cases of his time. Though always a politician he was such from a high sense of duty as a citizen, losing sight of personal interests in his overmastering desire to benefit the masses through the machinery of government. He may justly be styled a political philosopher-one who could reduce statesmanship to an exact science.
The election was conducted in a more quiet manner than any of its predecessors. The immediate returns indicated victory for the Democrats. But when double returns, showing differing results, came in from four of the Southern States, and Louisiana was in anarchy with her two governors and two electoral colleges, the cry of fraud became so loud and so general that official investigation was imperative. All of the crooked cases were complicated in their incidents, and thus for months the result of the election was in actual doubt. To count the electoral votes a tribunal was established, called the Electoral Cominission, as evenly divided politically as practicable. It was in session from the first day of February until four o'clock in the morning of the second of March, attracting the critical notice of the whole world. The result as then declared was one hundred and eighty-five votes for Hayes, and one hundred and eighty-four for Tilden. The decision was final, and Hayes was duly inaugurated two days afterward, although the Democrats claimed with caustic emphasis that Tilden was the rightful President.
Major-General Winfield S. Hancock had the honor to be the unsuccessful candidate for the Presidency of 1881. He was nominated on the second ballot of the Democratic Convention, that met at Cincinnati in June. Governor Tilden declined the nomination, as did also Governor Seymour. Senator Thomas F. Bayard was a favorite with many of the Southern members, but the nomination of Hancock was made unanimous with great good feeling.
The Republicans had already, some three weeks before, convened at Chicago, and nominated James A. Garfield for President, and Chester A.
Arthur for Vice-President. There had been numerous candidates in the field-General Grant, for a third term, the most prominent during the early balloting, and James G. Blaine close in his wake. On the thirty-fourth ballot Garfield had suddenly come into notice, and on the thirty-sixth ballot was chosen, to the intense satisfaction of the members. The Independent National or Greenback Party” convened at Chicago on the 9th of