More Also-Rans

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Does anyone recognize this guy?  Rufus King, the final Federalist nominee for President.  Anyone remember what the Federalist Party was?  A big group of Alexander Hamilton’s followers who were for a strong central government and a national bank.  From Massachusetts, King was a representative to the Constitutional Convention in 1787; his hometown soon became part of the new state of Maine.

He was elected to serve in the United States Senate, and in 1812 was an “informal” candidate for the Presidency.  He got two percent of the vote.  James Monroe and Daniel D. Tompkins won that year (same guy from the psychiatrist’s quiz in the movie Miracle on 34th Street).  The Federalist Party’s last hurrah was in 1816, in which he upped his percentage to 30.  But one-third of the popular vote was not enough to win.  Senator King was reported to have a massive library of 3,500 volumes.  Another respected American who just didn’t quite make it to the top of Executive Branch.

Related imageThe name Henry Clay causes a flash of recognition in memories of most former history students.  But the details?  Clay was a charming orator from Kentucky who ran for President several times.  He gave his votes in one election to John Quincy Adams so that Andrew Jackson would not win, and subsequently was named U.S. Secretary of State, which caused a stir.   Some called him a hothead, while to colleagues in the Senate he was “The Dictator.”

He said, “I would rather be right than be President,” almost defeating James Polk in 1844.  His last accomplishment was to write The Great Compromise of 1850 with Daniel Webster, which delayed the start of the Civil War by ten years.  After he died, he was the first to lie in state in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

Photograph of Winfield Scott Hancock

Winfield Scott Hancock narrowly lost to James A. Garfield in the election of 1880, even though he carried all the southern states.  Responsible for stopping  “Pickett’s Charge” in the Battle of Gettysburg, the prolific general also led troops into battle at Antietam and Fredericksburg.  He presided over the execution of conspirators of Lincoln’s assassination.

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Horace Greeley is known to most journalism majors as the eccentric publisher of the New York Tribune, an anti-slavery weekly newspaper during the Civil War.  From a poor family in New Hampshire, his schooling had ended when he was 14.  He became the editor of the Log Cabin, a publication which helped William Henry Harrison get elected.  He himself ran unsuccessfully against Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, dying just three weeks after election day due to the shock of losing his wife, control of the Tribune, and the nation’s highest office.

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And lastly, for this time, a fast forward to the Twentieth Century and a witty man named Adlai Stevenson.  He was the grandson of Grover Cleveland’s vice president, and son of a publisher and Secretary of State of Illinois.  Admired by intellectuals, he was elected Governor of Illinois, once quoted as saying he would rather not be President.   As the Democratic candidate in 1952 and 1956, he lost both times to Dwight Eisenhower.

Later Stevenson was a delegate to the United Nations who helped ban above ground nuclear testing.

“When demagoguery and deceit become a national political movement,” he asserted, “we Americans are in trouble; not just Democrats, but all of us.”


What Happened to the Losers?

In American history, the most notable winners and losers have been presidents and their opponents.  Some elections were landslides; some were so close that a few votes made the difference, and in one the winner who was announced in bold headlines had his fortunes reversed the next morning.

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Thomas E. Dewey was the governor of New York before, during and after his failed 1944 and 1948 bids for the presidency, causing Alice Roosevelt Longworth to quip, “A soufflé doesn’t rise twice.”  The second campaign is the more remembered because the Chicago Tribune ran a story before the polls closed that he had beat Harry Truman.  Eventually Truman got 49.5 percent of the popular vote, and had his picture taken with the infamous front page.

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Dewey, who in his younger years couldn’t decide between a career in professional music or politics, served as district attorney and prosecutor for New York.  Known for his efforts to rid the state of organized crime, he was elected to one more term as governor after 1948, and then returned to private law practice.  He was instrumental in Dwight D. Eisenhower’s campaign in 1952 and the choice of Richard M. Nixon as his running mate.  Dewey was offered the nomination of Supreme Court Justice twice, but turned it down.

DeWitt Clinton

Does this man look like he’s got a headache?  DeWitt Clinton had plenty of things on his mind during his lifetime.  His first job was working for his Uncle George, New York’s longtime governor and twice the vice president of the United States.

The younger Clinton worked his way up through the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate and the United States Senate.  He ran for president in 1812 but James Madison had the edge.  The loss did not deter DeWitt Clinton from working to get the Erie Canal built in upstate New York, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.  He eventually accomplished his goal while serving as governor.  Had he been elected president in 1812, would the canal have been built so soon?  Our railway systems and subsequent economic progress depended on the trail blazed by the Erie Canal.

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Not many Americans live to their hundredth birthday.  Alfred Landon, the Republican candidate for president in 1936, did; the photo above shows President Ronald Reagan’s visit to him in 1987. Landon was a popular governor from Kansas whose party thought had the best chance against Franklin D. Roosevelt.   He carried just two states in the biggest defeat in 116 years.

Portrait of Alfred M. Landon, 1936

Alf Landon.  Kansas Historical Society.

Landon’s daughter, Nancy Kassebaum, served in the United States Senate from 1977 to 1997.  She was the first woman ever elected to a complete term in that office and now, at age 86, has been quoted as saying she couldn’t think of better coattails to have ridden on than her father’s.

The Library of Congress offers the list of presidential “Also Rans,” which I have copied below.  More than one ran again and was elected.   Which are new to you?  No telling what other stories are behind these determined men.   Well, wait a minute, there probably is.  And I will probably do it.

1796                                                                                                                            Thomas Jefferson

Aaron Burr
Charles C. Pinckney
Charles C. Pinckney

DeWitt Clinton
Rufus King
John Quincy Adams
Henry Clay
William H. Crawford
Andrew Jackson
John Quincy Adams
Henry Clay
William H. Harrison
Martin Van Buren
Henry Clay
Lewis Cass

Winfield Scott
John C. Fremont
John Bell
John C. Breckinridge
Stephen A. Douglas
George McClellan
Horatio Seymour
Horace Greeley
Samuel J. Tilden
Winfield S. Hancock
James G. Blaine
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
James B. Weaver
William J. Bryan

William J. Bryan
Alton B. Parker
William J. Bryan
Theodore Roosevelt
William H. Taft
Charles E. Hughes
James M. Cox
Robert M. Lafollette
Alfred E. Smith
Herbert Hoover
Norman Thomas
Alfred M. Landon
Wendell L. Willkie
Thomas E. Dewey
J. Strom Thurmond
Henry A. Wallace

Adlai E. Stevenson
Adlai E. Stevenson
Richard M. Nixon
Barry M. Goldwater
Hubert H. Humphrey
George C. Wallace
George S. McGovern
Gerald R. Ford
John Anderson
Jimmy Carter
Walter F. Mondale
Michael Dukakis

George Bush
H. Ross Perot
Robert J. Dole
H. Ross Perot
Al Gore
Ralph Nader
John Kerry
Ralph Nader
John McCain
Ralph Nader
The Library of Congress needs to update!  Can you name the losers in presidential elections since 2008?