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Tilden’s Efforts Rewarded…

October 31, 2019

Samuel J. Tilden’s father was the proprietor of the general store at the crossroads in New Lebanon, New York.  This is around 20 miles from Kinderhook, the hometown of President Martin Van Buren.  Tilden was born in 1814 on William Henry Harrison’s 41st birthday, but he tried to prevent Harrison from becoming President by working for the re-election of Van Buren in 1840.  He devoted six months of labor to the campaign, writing pamphlets and newspaper articles and making speeches to Democratic groups.  Despite these efforts Van Buren was not re-elected.

When Horatio Seymour ran for President against General Grant in 1868, Tilden was his campaign manager.  Once again he gave a thorough and diligent effort.  Once again he was disappointed.

Tilden did not want to run for public office himself, but he was drafted for Governor of New York in 1874.  By the time 1876 came around, Governor Tilden was ready to be drafted for President of the United States.

Until 1936 the Democrat candidate needed two-thirds of the delegates to win.  This often led to numerous ballots before a nominee could be chosen.  The convention that nominated Seymour in 1868 had no fewer than 22 ballots.  Tilden’s 1876 convention had only two ballots.  He actually had enough votes on the first ballot, but a second ballot was taken for procedural reasons.

Tilden took a great interest in his own campaign, employing the latest scientific methods to reach prospective voters with his message.  He did not try to trick voters with empty promises.  He simply tried to communicate his vision for good government.  Tilden’s efforts were rewarded, for he received 51% of the vote.

But then something happened.


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