US Presidential Election of 1884 – Blog #2 by Edmund King

Posted on October 29th, 2012 by Amy

As we approach the end of the 2012 U.S Presidential Election,   predictions say there will be a close contest between Obama and Romney. There have been other narrow victories in the past.

There are thousands of newspaper articles for each of the 19th century U.S. Presidential elections. There was a close race in the presidential election of 1884, between Cleveland (Democrat) and Blaine (Republican). Reuter’s Telegrams were often quoted, as in Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Saturday 04 October 1884 (p.5 col. 6): “Governor Cleveland visited Buffalo last night, and, in spite of stormy weather and heavy rain, met with a great ovation. He made a short speech. Reuter’s Telegram.” Click here to view the article in full for FREE.

Ohio was seen as a key state to win, as the report stated, in the London Standard – Wednesday 15 October 1884 (p5. col.5) The statement that Blaine visited forty-eight counties and seventy cities in Ohio, “… to beg for votes” is not a phrase that would appear in newspaper reports today.

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000183/18841015/035/0005?_=1351196669369

London Standard – Saturday 18 October 1884
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Three days later, on the 18 October, the London Standard – Saturday 18 October 1884 (p.5 col.8) reported on the importance of the Irish voters in the New York State election: “…this in turn chiefly depending upon the Irish element, for whose support both parties are, of course, bidding. An an instance of this pandering to Irish sentiment, several journals to-day print nearly a column in Gaelic characters.”

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000183/18841018/045/0005

London Standard – Saturday 18 October 1884
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The campaign was marked by drama, when an assault on Governor Cleveland was reported by the London Standard – Tuesday 21 October 1884 (p.5. col. 5): Mr. Cleveland was struck several times, but was not seriously hurt…” and a party political note was inserted next: “Desperate measures are being resorted to by Mr. Blaine’s supporters to injure Mr. Cleveland’s chances of election to the Presidency, and the latest has been the sending of obscene pamphlets to ladies and others who have been working in his cause.”

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000183/18841021/034/0005

London Standard – Tuesday 21 October 1884
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

In 1884, as today, the candidates and their supporters tracked each other’s efforts closely, as is very evident in the report in the Western Daily Press – Saturday 25 October 1884 (p.7 col.4). “Mr. Blaine’s managers, regarding his chances of succeeding in New York as critical, have begun a special campaign in Indiana, New Jersey and Connecticut, in order to secure these three states is possible.”

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000264/18841025/040/0007

Western Daily Press – Saturday 25 October 1884
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Interest intensified as the counting neared its completion. The Shields Daily Gazette – Thursday 06 November 1884 (p.3 col.1) conveyed the atmosphere at the American Exchange with members, “…gathering in little knots to discuss the latest cablegrams.”  And: “There was betting on the contest, too, as there has been all along in America; and on the whole, Cleveland had slightly the best of it.”

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000286/18841106/003/0003

Shields Daily Gazette – Thursday 06 November 1884
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

On Friday 7 Nov 1884, at least twelve reports in different regional and London papers were printed about the Presidential Election with headings such as ‘The Presidential Election; The American Election, The American Presidential Election’:  Shields Daily GazetteGloucester Citizen, Liverpool Echo, Manchester Evening News, Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Dundee CourierGlasgow Herald, Belfast News-Letter, Nottinghamshire Guardian, Western Daily Press, Derby Daily TelegraphWestern Gazette,

The Nottinghamshire Guardian – Friday 07 November 1884 (p.6 cols. 3-5) excelled with a three column report, which gives state by state results that were ‘certain’ and those that were ‘doubtful’, with the overall result still in doubt, each party claiming success. There were also three portraits of Cleveland, Blaine and Butler:

http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000176/18841107/022/0006

Nottinghamshire Guardian – Friday 07 November 1884
Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

To read the full 3 column report for FREE please click here.

What is lucidly conveyed to us today about the 1884 U.S. Presidential Election, is the vibrancy, the passion and the huge geographical scope of this election – all features which prevail in October and November 2012, as the current election reaches its climax very soon.

Ed King

October 2012

Further reading:

How close were U.S. Presidential Elections?  http://www.mit.edu/~mi22295/elections.html#ranking

Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election

1884 presidential election.

http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1884

http://history1800s.about.com/od/presidentialcampaigns/a/electionof1884.htm

 

 

Many thanks to Ed for this fantastic post. We look forward to reading more in the coming months!

The British Newspaper Archive team

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