Ulysses S. Grant: Politician

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

Chapter XXV A Disturbed Exit

On June 14, 1876, the Republican convention met in Cincinnati. Bristow reformers, independents, third term advocates, supporters of favorite sons and of national candidates, mingled with carpetbaggers, scalawags, and Negroes from the South. On the second day the platform, calling for resumption, protection of labor and Negroes, non-sectarian schools, and civil-service reform, and endorsing Grant's services in war and peace, was adopted. Immediately the convention turned to the nomination of a candidate. One after another, Morton, Bristow, Blaine, Hayes, Conkling, Hartranft of Pennsylvania, and Marshall Jewell were presented to the convention. For most of these men there was little enthusiasm. Neither Conkling nor Bristow moved the delegates, and the favorite sons inspired no feeling outside of their States. Such applause as the convention had was reserved for Morton, in whose honor the Southern delegates made a demonstration, and for Blaine, whose nomination by Robert G. Ingersoll caused the convention to cheer long minutes for the "plumed knight" who had so recently snatched "the mask of Democracy from the face of rebellion." With enthusiasm for Blaine still running high, the convention was ready to ballot, but darkness interrupted their labors. In the cool of a June evening, pulses which had run high with Ingersoll's oratory resumed their normal pace.

Whether, as the Blaine men charged, Bristow's friends had cut the gas pipes leading to the convention hall so that a delay might be gained, will never be known. But that night the reformers worked diligently, and many were the understandings arrived at before morn. When the balloting recommenced, feeling was tense. On the first ballot, Blaine had 285 votes, Morton 124, Bristow 113, Conkling 99, Hayes 61, Hartranft 58, Jewell 11, and William A. Wheeler of Louisiana-Compromise fame, 3. A vote of 378 was necessary to nominate.

On the five succeeding ballots there was little change. Blaine and Bristow each gained, but the most remarkable increase was shown by Hayes. Michigan swung to the Ohio Governor on the fifth ballot, and his count rose to 104. Morton's vote steadily declined. On the sixth ballot Blaine had 308 votes, and Hayes had risen to 113. Blaine's

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