Tuesday, February 21, 2012

US presidential election 1872 - To butter a watermelon

While we're waiting for the 2012 presidential election let's take a look at some of the previous races to the White House. This month's resident loser is Horace Greeley, a man with a remarkable hair style. The year is 1872.

There were three main parties involved in this election: The Republicans, The Democrats and The Liberal Republicans. The latter consisted of Republicans who were disappointed in the involvement of the incumbent president Ulysses Grant in corruption scandals.

Horace Greeley (1811-1872)

facts of interest:
  • The Democrats and the Liberal Republicans both nominated the same candidate: Horace Greeley. He was a news editor with no talent for campaigning.
  • Grant won easily, helped by his large funds, his Civil War stardom and the bad reputation of the job of news editor (what's new!). It didn't help that Greeley's vice-presidential candiate turned up drunk all the time (at a campaign picnic he once tried to butter a watermelon).
  • Horace Greeley died after the popular vote but before the Electoral College casted its votes. So far this has been the only election in which a candidate died during the process.
  • As a result of his death the electors who should have voted for Greeley now voted for four different candidates and eight different vice-presidental candidates.
  • This was the first election in which a female candidate competed: Victoria Woodhull from the Equal Rights Party. On Election Day she was in jail for indecency.
next episode: two sisters


  1. I nominate Greeley for the worst facial hair in history.

    Thanks for the anecdote about the buttered watermelon. I had not heard it until now. At first when I read your title, I thought it was a comment about Greeley's odd hair in combination with the bald head, but the actual story is even more interesting than the visual image. Thanks!


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