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Election of 1872

President Grant was generally popular in 1872. The major scandals of his administration were not yet exposed and the public had reacted favorably to the settlement of the Alabama claims against Britain. Nevertheless, unrest was developing among Republican party ranks. The rising Liberal Republicans were critical of the president's inability to achieve civil service reform or moderate the high protective tariff.

Grant received the Republican nomination without opposition. His running mate was the outspoken Radical Republican, Henry Wilson of Massachusetts.

The Liberal Republicans, growing ever more critical of the Grant administration, nominated the editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, one of the great eccentrics of American history. The Liberal platform called for "more honest government."

The badly fractured Democrats decided to extend their nomination to Greeley and a series of regional vice-presidential candidates. This was a strange marriage. Greeley's newspaper had regularly excoriated Southern Democrats and his support for the tariff matched the views of few in the party.

In November, Grant won an overwhelming victory. The Democratic/Liberal Republican results were muddled, however: Greeley died after the election, but before the electoral votes were counted.* Only three electors remained loyal to the deceased candidate; the remainder scattered their votes among a number of candidates. The electoral votes of Louisiana and Arkansas were rejected because of Reconstruction irregularities.

Election of 1872
Candidates

Party

Electoral Vote

Popular Vote

U.S. Grant (IL)
Henry Wilson (MA)

Republican

286

3,597,132

Thomas A. Hendricks (IL)(Various vice-presidential)

Democratic and Liberal Republican

42

Benjamin Gratz Brown (MO)

Democratic and Liberal Republican

18

Horace Greeley (NY)

Democratic and Liberal Republican

*3

2,834,079

Charles Jones Jenkins (GA)

None

2

David Davis (IL)

Liberal Republican

1


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