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Predictions for 1876

October 3, 2019

Congressman James Garfield won a seventh term in 1874.  He was planning to run again in 1876.  Since President Grant would be retiring after two terms, there would be no incumbent at the top of the Republican ticket.  Garfield and three associates discussed this after Sunday dinner on April 16, 1876.

Two thought Benjamin Bristow would be the Republican nominee.  He was the current Treasury Secretary and had recently broken up the Whiskey Ring, a tax evasion scheme involving many government agents across the country.  Earlier, as the first Solicitor General of the United States, he had successfully prosecuted the KKK.  But his nomination was not to be.  Although he would receive votes on all seven ballots, his peak support at the 1876 Republican Convention was just shy of 17%.  After failing to receive the Presidential nomination, Bristow retired from politics.

Garfield thought James Blaine would be the Republican nominee.  He had been Speaker of the House for six years and was currently the junior Senator from Maine.  When Robert Ingersoll gave Blaine’s nominating speech at the Convention, he announced: “Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight, James G. Blaine from the state of Maine marched down the halls of the American Congress and threw his shining lance full and fair against the brazen foreheads of every traitor to his country and every maligner of his fair reputation.”

Blaine would lead on the first six ballots.  On the seventh ballot he would receive even more delegates, but it would not be enough.  The nomination would go to the person predicted by the fourth gentleman.





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