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Encyclopedia > American election campaigns in the 19th century

In the 19th century, the United States invented or developed a number of new methods for conducting American Election Campaigns. For the most part the techniques were original and were not copied from Europe or anywhere else. The nation was geographically huge and highly decentralized. The national capital was the small city of Washington D.C., which itself did not have a vote in national affairs. (Only states had electoral votes or members of Congress.) In every state the great majority of free adult men could vote by the early 19th century. (Slaves became free in 1863-65 and could vote between about 1870 and 1900.) Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Aerial photo (looking NW) of the Washington Monument and the White House in Washington, DC. Washington, D.C., officially the District of Columbia (also known as D.C.; Washington; the Nations Capital; the District; and, historically, the Federal City) is the capital city and administrative district of the United... A congress is a gathering of people, especially a gathering for a political purpose. ... The Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, London. ... 1863 (MDCCCLXIII) is a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar). ... 1865 (MDCCCLXV) is a common year starting on Sunday. ... 1870 (MDCCCLXX) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Monday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... 1900 (MCM) was an exceptional common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, but a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. ...


The system was characterized by two major parties who doiminated government at the local, state and national level, and enlisted most voters into a loyal "army" of supporters. There were numerous small third parties that usually were short-lived or inconsequential. The complex system of electing federal, state and local officials meant that election campaigns were both frequent and consequential in terms of political power. Nearly all government jobs were distributed on a patronage basis to party workers. The jobs were honorific and usually paid very well. The best way to get a patronage job was to work in the election campaign for the winning party, and volunteers were numerous. Elections provided Americans with much of their news. The interest levels were very high and can be compared to fans of professional sports in the 21st century, except that the "fans" were voters who in actual fact decided elections. The elections of 1828-32, 1854-56, and 1894-96 are usually considered Realigning elections. Obverse of the Great Seal of the United States. ... Generally, patronage is the act of a so-called patron who supports or favors some individual, family, group or institution. ... The 21st century is the present century of the Gregorian calendar. ... Realigning election or critical election or realignment are terms from political history and political science. ...

Contents

Army Style

Political parties in the 19th century thought of themselves as armies--as disciplined, hierarchical fighting organizations whose mission it was to defeat a clearly identified opponent. If defeated themselves, they knew how to retreat, regroup, and fight again another day. If they won, then the victory was sweet. In an era when many if not most political leaders had experience as militia officers, and perhaps had engaged in actual combat, structuring parties along a militaristic chain of command seemed logical enough. To fight a political battle, the party had to develop a chain-of-command. The heads of the state and national tickets were normally the acknowledged leaders. After the election leadership reverted to the state and county committees, or sometimes to state "bosses," with little power held by the national chairman. County committees sent delegates to the state convention, where state nominees were selected. In turn the county committees were based on local conventions--mass meetings that were open to any self-identified partisan. In the 1790s Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton created their supporting parties by working outward from the national capital, as did the Whigs in the 1830s. On the other hand, major third parties typically emerged from the state level, including the Anti-Masons, Democratic-Republicans, Know-Nothings and Populists. This article deals with the military concept. ... Events and Trends French Revolution (1789 - 1799). ... This article is 150 kilobytes or more in size. ... Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 — July 12, 1804) was an American politician, leading statesman, financier, intellectual, military officer, and founder of the Federalist party. ... The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. ... Events and Trends Electromagnetic induction discovered by Michael Faraday Dutch-speaking farmers known as Voortrekkers emigrate northwards from the Cape Colony Croquet invented in Ireland Railroad construction begins in earnest in the United States Egba refugees fleeing the Yoruba civil wars found the city of Abeokuta in south-west Nigeria... The Anti-Masonic Party (also known as the Anti-Masonic Movement) was a 19th century minor political party in the United States. ... GOP redirects here. ... The Know-Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1850s. ... Populism is a political ideology or rhetorical style that holds that the common person is oppressed by the elite in society, which exists only to serve its own interests, and therefore, the instruments of the State need to be grasped from this self-serving elite and instead used for the...


Recruiting Partisans

Voters argue the issues in 1854, neglecting their farm work
Voters argue the issues in 1854, neglecting their farm work

By 1800 the Democratic-Republicans had a well-developed system for recruiting troops throughout the country, and a correspondence system by which state and local party leaders could keep in touch. As a Boston Federalist complained, "The jacobins have at last made their own discipline perfect; they are trained, officered, regimented and formed to subordination in a manner that our own militia have never yet equaled." The Federalists began to imitate their opponents' tactics, but were always too aristocratic to appreciate the value of a grass roots movement. The Democratic-Republican caucus in Congress chose presidential candidates for the party, while the Federalists invented (in 1812) a much more flexible system of a national convention. Unlike the caucus, the convention represented voters in every district, and the delegates were chosen specifically for the task of selecting candidates. By the 1830s, the standard had been establish that participation in the convention identified the person with the party and required him to support the nominees selected at the convention. It was possible to bolt a convention before candidates were selected, as the southern Democrats did in 1860, and Roosevelt's supporters did in 1912. New York Democrats were perennially split into Hard and Soft factions, and the Whigs sometimes split as well. Typically, both factions claimed their ticket was the one true legitimate party ticket. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1587x1179, 306 KB) Summary 1854 US print Licensing This image is in the public domain in the United States. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1587x1179, 306 KB) Summary 1854 US print Licensing This image is in the public domain in the United States. ... 1800 (MDCCC) was an exceptional common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, but a leap year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. ... The Democratic-Republican party was a United States political party, which evolved early in the history of the United States. ... Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe)1, Athens of America, The Cradle of Revolution, Puritan City, Americas Walking City Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County Mayor Thomas M. Menino(D) Area    - City 232. ... The term federalist refers to a pooponent of one of several different ideologies, depending on the locale or subject matter. ... Aristocracy is a form of government in which rulership is in the hands of an upper class known as aristocrats. ... 1812 was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States; the other being the Republican Party. ... 1860 is the leap year starting on Sunday. ... Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. ... 1912 (MCMXII) was a leap year starting on Monday in the Gregorian calendar (or a leap year starting on Tuesday in the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Official language(s) English de facto Capital Albany Largest city New York City Area  Ranked 27th  - Total 54,520 sq mi (141,205 km²)  - Width 285 miles (455 km)  - Length 330 miles (530 km)  - % water 13. ...


William Jennings Bryan perfected the technique of multiple appeals in 1896, running simultaneously as a regular Democrat, a Silver Republican, and a regular Populist. Voters of all parties could vote for him without a crossing their personal party loyalty. Most states soon thereafter banned the same person running on different tickets--one man, one party, one platform became the usual rule (except in New York, where third, fourth and fifth parties have flourished since the 1830s.) William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was an American lawyer, statesman, and politician. ... 1896 (MDCCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...


Mobilizing Voters

Turnout soars after 1824.
Enlarge
Turnout soars after 1824.

The basic campaign strategy was the maximum mobilization of potential votes. To find new supporters politicians systematically canvassed their communities, talking up the state and national issues of the day, and watching which themes drew the best responses. In such a large, complex, pluralistic nation, the politicians discovered that citizens were especially loyal to their own ethno-religious groups. These groups, furthermore, had distinctive moral perspectives and political needs. The Whigs and Republicans were especially effective in winning support among pietistic and evangelical denominations. During Reconstruction (1866-1876), the Republicans dominated the South with their strong base among African-Americans, augmented by Scalawags. The Democrats on the other hand did much better among Catholics and other high-church (liturgical) groups, as well as among those who wanted minimal government, and among whites who demanded that African Americans not be granted political or social equality. As the parties developed distinctive positions on issues such as the modernization of the economy and westward expansion, voters found themselves attracted one way or the other. The Whigs and Republicans aggressively supporting modernizing the economy, supporting banks, railroads, factories, and tariffs, and promising a rich home market in the cities for farm products. The Whigs always opposed expansion, as did the Republicans until 1898. The Democrats, meanwhile, talked of agrarian virtues of the yeoman farmer, westward expansion, and how well rural life comported with Jeffersonian values. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1023x1102, 79 KB) Summary graph from Spreadsheet US turnout 19c Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1023x1102, 79 KB) Summary graph from Spreadsheet US turnout 19c Licensing I, the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. ... // Reconstruction was a period in United States history, 1863–1877, that resolved the issues of the American Civil War when both the Confederacy and its system of slavery were destroyed. ... African Americans, also known as Afro-Americans or black Americans, are an ethnic group in the United States of America whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Sub-Saharan and West Africa. ... The term scalawag or scallywag traces its origin to the post-Civil War era in the South of the United States. ... Social equality is a social state of affairs in which certain different people have the same status in a certain respect, minimally at least in voting rights, freedom of speech and assembly, and property rights. ... Modernization is closely linked to classical liberalism. ... The First Provincial Bank of Taiwan in Taipei, Republic of China was formerly the central bank of the Republic of China and issued the New Taiwan dollar. ... This is the top-level page of WikiProject trains Rail tracks Rail transport refers to the land transport of passengers and goods along railways or railroads. ... A factory worker in 1940s Fort Worth, Texas. ... A tariff is a tax on foreign goods. ... 1898 (MDCCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Monday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Agrarian has two meanings: It can mean pertaining to Agriculture It can also refer to the ideology of Agrarianism and Agrarian parties. ...


Both parties set up campaign clubs, such as the Wide Awakes where young men paraded in torchlight processions wearing special uniforms and holding colorful banners. By the late century the parties in the Midwest combined to turn out over 90 percent of the eligible electorate in entire states, reaching over 95 percent in 1896 in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio. Some counties passed the 100-percent mark not because of fraud but because the parties tracked people down whom the census missed. Fraud did take place in municipal elections in large cities, where the ward-heelers could expect tangible rewards. Apart from some Reconstruction episodes in the South, there was little fraud in presidential elections because the local workers were not in line for presidential rewards anyway. The best way to build enthusiasm was to show enthusiasm. The parties used rallies, parades, banners, buttons and insignia to display partisanship and promote the theme that with so much strength victory had to be inevitable. The side that lost was usually surprised, and tended to ascribe defeat to preternatural factors, such as bad weather or treachery. The Wide Awakes were a paramilitary organization affiliated with the Republican Party during the 1860 election and American Civil War. ... In politics, an electorate is the group of people entitled to vote in an election. ... 1896 (MDCCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Official language(s) English Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Area  Ranked 25th  - Total 0 sq mi (149,998 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 390 miles (629 km)  - % water 4. ... Official language(s) English Capital Indianapolis Largest city Indianapolis Area  Ranked 38th  - Total 36,418 sq mi (94,321 km²)  - Width 140 miles (225 km)  - Length 270 miles (435 km)  - % water 1. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Official language(s) None (English, de-facto) Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  Ranked 11th  - Total 97,990 sq mi (253,793 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 491 miles (790 km)  - % water 41. ... Official language(s) None Capital Columbus Largest city Columbus Largest metro area Cleveland Area  Ranked 34th  - Total 44,825 sq mi (116,096 km²)  - Width 220 miles (355 km)  - Length 220 miles (355 km)  - % water 8. ... 1870 US Census for New York City A census is the process of obtaining information about every member of a population (not necessarily a human population). ... // Reconstruction was a period in United States history, 1863–1877, that resolved the issues of the American Civil War when both the Confederacy and its system of slavery were destroyed. ...


Internal Communications

The parties created an internal communications system designed to keep in close touch with the voters. The set up volunteer organizations in every county and city, and townships or precincts as well, charged with visiting every potential supporter, especially in the critical last days before the election. These workers, of course, comprised the activists who attended conventions and ultimately selected the candidates. This intensive face-to-face networking provided excellent information in both directions--the leaders immediately found out what the rank-and-file liked and disliked. Rank-and-file refers to the ordinary members of an organisation, excluding the officers or managers. ...


The second communications system was a national network of partisan newspapers. Nearly all weekly and daily papers were party organs until the early 20th century. Thanks to invention of high-speed presses for city papers, and free postage for rural sheets, newspapers proliferated. In 1850, the Census counted 1630 party newspapers (with a circulation of about one per voter), and only 83 "independent" papers. The party line was behind every line of news copy, not to mention the authoritative editorials which exposed the stupidity of the enemy and the triumphs of the party in every issue. Editors were senior party leaders, and often were rewarded with lucrative postmasterships. Top publishers, such as Horace Greeley, Whitelaw Reid, Schulyer Colfax, Warren Harding and James Cox were nominated on the national ticket. After 1900, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Pulitzer and other big city politician-publishers discovered they could make far more profit through advertising, at so many dollars per thousand readers. By becoming non-partisan they expanded their base to include the opposition party and the fast-growing number of consumers who read the ads but were less and less interested in politics. There was less and less political news after 1900, apparently because citizens became more apathetic, and shared their partisan loyalties with the new professional sports teams that attracted larger and larger audiences. (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... 1850 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... Photographic portrait of Greeley Horace Greeley (February 3, 1811–November 29, 1872) was an American editor of a leading newspaper, a founder of the Republican party, reformer and politician. ... Whitelaw Reid Whitelaw Reid (October 27, 1837 - December 15, 1912) was a U.S. politician and newspaper editor, as well as the author of a popular history of Ohio in the Civil War. ... Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 - August 2, 1923) was the 29th (1921-1923) President of the United States and the sixth President to die in office. ... James Cox can refere to one of several different individuals in history. ... 1900 (MCM) was an exceptional common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar, but a leap year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. ... William Randolph Hearst (April 29, 1863 – August 14, 1951) was an American newspaper magnate, born in San Francisco, California. ... Joseph Pulitzer Joseph Pulitzer (April 18, 1847 – October 29, 1911) was a Hungarian-American publisher best known for posthumously establishing the Pulitzer Prizes and (along with William Randolph Hearst) for originating yellow journalism. ...


Financing Parties

Campaigns were financed internally for most of the century. Aspirants for office volunteered their services as speaker; wealthy leaders contributed cash, and patronage appointees not only worked for the party but also donated 2 to 5 percent of the salaries. The problem with the system was the winners curse: in a close election, campaign managers promise the same lucrative jobs over and over again. If they lost it made no difference; if they won they faced an impossible task, which was guaranteed to alienate supporters. Abraham Lincoln, for example, was a leading western supporter of Zachary Taylor in 1848, and wanted in return to be named Commissioner of the Land Office. Instead he was offered a job in Oregon which, while paying well, would terminate his career in Illinois. Lincoln declined, and dropped out of politics. After civil service reform ratcheted into place late in the century, new revenue sources were needed. Mark Hanna found the solution in 1896, as he systematically billed corporations for their share of the campaign. Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865), sometimes called Abe Lincoln and nicknamed Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, and the Great Emancipator, was an American politician who served as the 16th President of the United States (1861 to 1865), and the first president from the Republican Party. ... Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850) was an American military leader and the twelfth President of the United States. ... 1848 (MDCCCXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Official language(s) None Capital Salem Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 9th  - Total 98,466 sq mi (255,026 km²)  - Width 260 miles (420 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 2. ... Official language(s) English Capital Springfield Largest city Chicago Area  Ranked 25th  - Total 0 sq mi (149,998 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 390 miles (629 km)  - % water 4. ... Mark Hanna Mark A. Hanna (September 24, 1837–February 15, 1904), born Marcus Alonzo Hanna, was an industrialist and Republican politician from Ohio. ... 1896 (MDCCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...


The Crusade

The most exciting--even passionate--campaign was the crusade. A new body of intensely moralistic politicians would suddenly discover that the opposition was ensconced in power, was thoroughly corrupt, and had plans to utterly destroy republicanism. Americans were profoundly committed to the principle that republicanism could never be allowed to perish from the earth, so crusades roused their emotional intensity. The American Revolution itself had followed this formula, as did Jefferson's followers in 1800. Jackson in 1828 crusaded against the "corrupt bargain" that had denied him the White House in 1824, and again against the Bank of the United States in 1832. Republicans crusaded against slavery in 1856 (but not in later years), while Greeley rang the charges against Grant's corruption in 1872. The most dramatic crusade was that of William Jennings Bryan in 1896, as he identified the gold and monied interests as responsible for depression, poverty and plutocracy. The way to deal with crusaders was not to defend the status quo but to launch a counter-crusade, attacking the crusaders as crazy extremists. Thus Jefferson was attacked as an atheist, Jackson as a murderer and duelist, Fremont as a disunionist, and Bryan as an anarchist. In a broad definition, a republic is a state or country that is led by people whose political power is based on principles that are not beyond the control of the people of that state or country. ... John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress The American Revolution was a political movement during the last half of the 18th century that resulted in the creation of... 1800 (MDCCC) was an exceptional common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, but a leap year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. ... This article is 45 kilobytes or more in size. ... 1828 was a leap year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... 1824 was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... There were two organizations known as the Bank of the United States First Bank of the United States (1791-1811) Second Bank of the United States (1816-1841) Categories: Defunct banks ... 1832 was a leap year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... 1856 was a leap year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... 1872 (MDCCCLXXII) was a leap year starting on Monday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a leap year starting on Wednesday of the 12-day-slower Julian calendar. ... William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was an American lawyer, statesman, and politician. ... 1896 (MDCCCXCVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ...


Democracy in Practice

In world comparison, the United States stood for democracy. Every government office was elected, or chosen by elected officials. After 1848 many states revised their constitutions so that judges were elected to fixed terms, and had to campaign before the voters like everyone else. Unlike other countries, many different offices were elected, with election days staggered so there was little respite from constant campaigning. As the politicians discovered more and more potential blocs of voters, they worked to abolish the traditional property standards for suffrage. The principles of republicanism seemed to require that everyone be eligible, and indeed actually vote. Several states allowed immigrants to vote before they took out citizenship papers; elsewhere the parties facilitated the naturalization process. By mid-century, practically every adult white male was a potential voter--or indeed, an actual voter, as turnout nationwide reached 81 percent in 1860. America stood in stark contrast with Europe, where the middle classes, peasants and industrial workers had to mobilize to demand suffrage. Late in the century Americans did create farmer and labor movements, but most were nonpartisan, and those which fielded candidates rarely lasted more than an election or two. 1848 (MDCCCXLVIII) was a leap year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Citizenship is membership in a political community (originally a city but now usually a country) and carries with it rights to political participation; a person having such membership is a citizen. ... Naturalization is the act whereby a person voluntarily and actively acquires a nationality which is not his or her nationality at birth. ... 1860 is the leap year starting on Sunday. ...


See also

Jacksonian democracy refers to the political philosophy of United States President Andrew Jackson and his followers in the new Democratic Party. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Realigning election or critical election or realignment are terms from political history and political science. ...

References

  • Baker, Jean. Affairs of Party: The Political Culture of Northern Democrats in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Cornell University Press, 1983.
  • Clubb, Jerome M., William H. Flanigan, Nancy H. Zingale. Partisan Realignment: Voters, Parties, and Government in American History (1990)
  • Dinkin, Robert J. Campaigning in America: A History of Election Practice 1989.
  • Ellis, Richard J. and Kirk, Stephen. "Presidential Mandates in the Nineteenth Century: Conceptual Change and Institutional Development" Studies in American Political Development 1995 9(1): 117-186. Issn: 0898-588x
  • Gerring, John. Party Ideologies in America, 1828-1996 1998.
  • William E. Gienap, The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852-1856. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987.
  • Lewis L. Gould, Grand Old Party: A History of the Republicans Random House, 2003.
  • Jensen, Richard J. The Winning of the Midwest: Social and Political Conflict, 1888-1896 (1971)
  • Richard P. McCormick, The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era University of North Carolina Press, 1966.
  • Maisel, L. Sandy. Political Parties and Elections in the United States: An Encyclopedia. Garland, 1991.
  • Rosenof, Theodore . Realignment: The Theory That Changed the Way We Think about American Politics (2003)
  • Shafer, Byron E. and Anthony J. Badger, eds. Contesting Democracy: Substance and Structure in American Political History, 1775-2000 (2001), long essays by specialists on each time period:
    • includes: "State Development in the Early Republic: 1775–1840" by Ronald P. Formisano; "The Nationalization and Racialization of American Politics: 1790–1840" by David Waldstreicher; "'To One or Another of These Parties Every Man Belongs;": 1820–1865 by Joel H. Silbey; "Change and Continuity in the Party Period: 1835–1885" by Michael F. Holt; "The Transformation of American Politics: 1865–1910" by Peter H. Argersinger; "Democracy, Republicanism, and Efficiency: 1885–1930" by Richard Jensen; etc.
  • Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed. History of American Presidential Elections. 4 vols. New York: Chelsea House, 1971.
  • Silbey, Joel. The American Political Nation, 1838-1893. Stanford University Press, 1991.

See also


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