MUD, MUGWUMPS, AND MOTHERHOOD
Grover Cleveland v. James G. Blaine, President, 1884
The 1870s and the 1880s gave us some of the most bitter and hateful political campaigns ever. America's Gilded Age was indeed a golden age for negative campaigning. The 1884 presidential contest between the Democrat, Grover Cleveland, and his Republican opponent, James G. Blaine, was one of the nastiest, most intensely personal campaigns ever.
In some ways, this campaign pitted scandal against scandal. Would voters prefer "Slippery Jim" Blaine, as his enemies called him, who was accused of financial wrong-doing and telling a boatload of lies, or Cleveland, the governor of New York, accused of every moral failure in the book by his opponents?
Since the Civil War, the Republican Party had pretty much run the show, controlling the presidency and Congress for most of the 1860s and 1870s. But by the 1880s, the Democrats were staging a comeback. In the midterm elections of 1882, the Democrats took a majority in the House of Representatives and nearly did so in the Senate. The Republicans were divided and lacked effective leadership.
The economy was unstable, prone to boom periods in the industrial North followed by recession. Because they were in power, Republicans received most of the criticism. The incumbent president, Chester Arthur, was a Republican, but was seen by most as a caretaker president. Arthur had sue-