Sunday, July 22, 2012

US presidential election 1880: W.S. Hancock

General Winfield Scott Hancock (leaning against the tree) and staff (photo by Mathew Brady, 1861-65) 

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 Winfield Hancock. The year is 1880.

Ulysses Grant soughed nomination to a third Presidential term at the Republican National Convention. James Garfield, leader of the Ohio delegation, did not seek a nomination, he supported John Sherman of Ohio. But after 35 indecisive ballots some delegates started voting for a dark horse to force a breakthrough. This dark horse was Garfield, and after the 36th ballot he had won.

James Garfield competed against the Democrat and Civil War General Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886). Hancock served with distinction in the Army for four decades and was noted in particular for his personal leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. He was know for his integrity, and his unselfish devotion to duty.

Some notes about W.S. Hancock:
  • According to the W.S. Hancock Society (yes he’s got his own society) the General is not related to John - let’s sign the Declaration of Independence with a large and stylish signature - Hancock.
  • He was named after Winfield Scott, a prominent general in the War of 1812.
  • He was known to his army colleagues as "Hancock the Superb" and to his adversaries as the “Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac”.
  • In 1870 he provided a military escort for an expedition which would finally lead to the creation of Yellowstone National Park.
Garfield gained to date the smallest victory in popular votes:  4.446.158 against 4.444.260. But he gained 369 against 214 electoral votes and was thereby easily elected.

Winfield Scott Hancock

next episode: Timbuktu


  1. The clarity of that group picture is remarkable, but don’t they all look so relaxed?

  2. I had not heard of Hancock; Garfield I knew about but not the closeness of his election.That's a remarkably clear photograph for such an old pictures.

  3. I do so enjoy Civil War pictures - I just recently bought a huge big full of stories and pictures on the War and have spent much time looking at it.

    Rob, I enjoy your blog so much, the diversity of your posts and the research and time you put into it I have nominated you for an Illuminating Blogger Award.

  4. The picture is very impressive indeed. But hom much time men did spend to adjust their moustaches, every day, at that time...


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