The Elections of 1868 and 1872

Candidates:
1868
Ulysses Grant (214 electoral votes)
Horatio Seymour (80 electoral votes)

1872
Ulysses Grant (286 electoral votes)
Horace Greeley (42 electoral votes)

The election of 1868 took place in the aftermath of the impeachment of Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, and a close vote acquitting him in the Senate.  Some Senators apparently voted to acquit Johnson in order to clear the way for Ulysses S. Grant: Senate president pro tempore Benjamin F. Wade would have sought the Republican nomination as the incumbent president if Johnson had been removed from office.  The reunited Democratic Party won a respectable portion of the popular vote for former New York governor Horatio Seymour, but the party’s identification with secession and opposition to the war was too strong to be competitive against the Union’s greatest military leader.  In his inaugural address, Grant endorsed the pending Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting exclusion from suffrage on the basis of race.  Grant supported the Republican governments in the South that depended on black suffrage and promoted legislative action against Ku Klux Klan violence.  But he fell out with “reform” Republicans who desired less partisanship in government and criticized corruption in his administration.  Reform Republican and newspaper editor Horace Greeley ran against Grant on the Democratic ticket in 1872.  Greeley lost badly despite his appeals to southern and border-state racist sentiment.  At the end of his second term, Grant offered an apology to the country for the corruption in his administration.

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