Mudslingers: The Top 25 Negative Political Campaigns of All Time : Countdown from No. 25 To No. 1

By Kerwin C. Swint | Go to book overview

6
GRANTISM AND MR. GREELEY

Ulysses S. Grant v. Horace Greeley, President, 1872

The choice between Grant and Greeley is like a choice between hem-
lock and strychnine
.

—U.S. Senator Alexander Stephens, Georgia

This presidential campaign, like so many in this particular era of American history, is known as one of the nastiest, most personally vicious political campaigns ever. It deteriorated into what the New York Sun called "a shower of mud."1 Indeed, President Grant's opponent, Horace Greeley, died a few short weeks after the campaign, purportedly from exhaustion and depression.

Aside from Richard Nixon, no American president was more associated with scandals than Ulysses S. Grant, president from 1869 to 1877. Actually, the sheer number of Grant's scandals probably outnumbered Nixon's, but unlike Tricky Dick, Grant himself was not personally implicated in any wrongdoing.

But apparently Grant was such a poor judge of character and so lacking in the political skills of many of his peers that he set the stage for what became known as one of the most corrupt eras in American politics. He appointed cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking officials who generated numerous political and financial scandals, dragging Grant's name through the mud in the process.

It was surprising to many—and disappointing to all—that the most distinguished military leader of the Civil War and a national hero should be so tainted by scandal and incompetence. In the post–Civil War/Reconstruction

-173-

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