The Elections of 1884, 1888, and 1892


Grover Cleveland (219 Electoral Votes)
James Blaine (182 Electoral Votes)

Benjamin Harrison (233 Electoral Votes)
Grover Cleveland (168 Electoral Votes)

Grover Cleveland (277 Electoral Votes)
Benjamin Harrison (145 Electoral Votes)
James Weaver (22 Electoral Votes)

For the first time since the end of the Civil War, neither of the major party nominees in 1884 was a Union veteran: Democrat Grover Cleveland and Republican James G. Blaine had both purchased substitutes to take their places in the draft.  The campaign was one of the dirtiest ever.  The Republicans publicized the fact that Cleveland had fathered a child out of wedlock.  Cleveland honestly admitted it.  The Republicans probably lost when a Blaine supporter denounced the Democrats as the party of “rum, Romanism, and rebellion,” which angered Catholic voters in New York and swung the state’s 36 electoral votes to Cleveland.  Cleveland pursued traditional Democratic policies of limited government and careful control of expenditures, in the process alienating important constituencies like farmers and Civil War veterans by vetoing bills for drought relief and veterans’ pensions.  (Cleveland vetoed more legislation than all previous presidents combined.)   In his 1888 reelection bid, Cleveland won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to the undistinguished grandson of “Tippecanoe,” Benjamin Harrison of Indiana.  Harrison’s unsurprisingly mediocre performance in office allowed Cleveland to return to the presidency in the 1892 election, making him the only president to serve non-consecutive terms in office.  The new People’s Party won four farming states with a platform promising to relieve the burden of farm debt by means of an inflationary monetary policy (free coinage of silver to increase the money supply).  In his second term, Cleveland used the army to break up a strike against the Pullman Company and insisted on maintaining the gold standard despite the Panic of 1893.

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