1872 = Ulysses S. Grant -VS- Horace Greeley
In 1872, the Republicans re-nominated President Ulysses S. Grant for President. Grant's administration had been plagued by charges of corruption, and many of these charges were true although Grant himself was an honest man. The decisiveness that served him so well as the commanding general of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War deserted him in his Presidency, as he appointed many men who were incompetent, or crooked, and then stood by them for too long. But still he was very popular as the man who defeated the Confederacy. His opponent was the celebrated journalist and U.S. Representative from New York, Horace Greeley. Greeley (below) is described thus by
Women were given the right to vote in 1920, an activity in which my great grandmother would take quite an interest. Grant wound up easily winning the election with nearly 56% of the popular vote. Greeley died on November 29 of that same year, well after the election, but before the Electoral College met. Therefore, Greeley's rivals on his side took the liberty of dividing his electoral votes among themselves, making Greeley's posthumous defeat even worse.
1912 = Woodrow Wilson -vs- Theodore Roosevelt & President W.H. Taft
This election was a huge win for the Democratic Nominee, New Jersey Governor, and former Princeton University President Woodrow Wilson. This was mainly because of a rancorous split in the Republican party. William Howard Taft, was elected President in 1908 with the blessing and support of his predecessor, the irrepressible Theodore Roosevelt. T.R. could easily have been re-elected himself that year, but the two-term tradition of
"Click" on the image to enlarge.
1940 = Franklin D. Roosevelt -vs- Wendell Willkie
In 1940, the whole world seemed to be catching fire around an America which up to that point had been desperately trying to stay out of the war in Europe. But by election day of that year, today's date, most of Europe had been overrun by the forces of Adolf Hitler's Nazis. The Battle of Britain was in full swing as Hitler's air forces tried to bomb England into submission. The democratic nominee, President Franklin D. Roosevelt who had already served two terms was breaking a two-term tradition in a way that his relative, Theodore Roosevelt (who was the Uncle of FDR's wife, Elanore) had been unable to try. FDR said that with the world closing in on the U.S. like it was in a way that would probably involve America, it was his duty to stay on. His opponent was a maverick businessman (ala Donald Trump??) named Wendell Willkie (below) who managed to outmaneuver Senator Robert A. Taft (the son of William Howard Taft)
before succumbing to a stroke in April of 1945. Wendell Willkie would die in 1944. But one small fragment of his spirited 1940 campaign has survived. It is the "1940 Psalm" which sarcastically sums up how the opposition felt about FDR's economic policies:
"Mr. Roosevelt is my Shepherd, I am in want.
He maketh me lie down on park benches
He leadeth me beside still factories.
He leadeth me in the path of destruction
Yea, tho I walk through the valley
His policies and diplomacies they frighten me.
He prepareth a reduction in my salary.
And in the presence of my enemies,
My expenses runneth over.
Truly unemployment shall follow all the days of my life.
And I shall live in a mortgaged home
"Presidential Campaigns" by Paul F. Boller Jr., Oxford University Press, New York, 1984
"The Life and Times of Teddy Roosevelt" by Stefan Lorant, Doubleday & Co., Garden City, N.Y., 1959