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Election of 1880

The Republicans in the Election of 1880 were sharply divided by factional rivalries. The Stalwarts, headed by Roscoe Conkling of New York, were the party regulars who favored the restoration of U.S. Grant. The Half-Breeds were followers of James G. Blaine of Maine and were supporters of mild civil service reform.

On the 36th ballot the Republicans united, more or less, behind the candidacy of James A. Garfield of Ohio, who had ties to the Half-Breeds. Chester A. Arthur, a Stalwart and close ally of Conkling, was chosen for vice president to balance the ticket.

The Democrats gave their nomination for the Election of 1880 to Winfield Scott Hancock, a Civil War general with no known political views. Samuel J. Tilden was bypassed by the convention to avoid stirring up unpleasant memories of 1876.

The Greenback-Labor Party also selected a veteran, General James B. Weaver.

The campaign preceding the Election of 1880 yielded little discussion on the hard issues. Both major parties tip-toed around the currency issue, avoided civil service reform, supported immigration restriction and hefty pensions for Civil War veterans. Only on the tariff did they differ; the Republicans supported high protective duties and the Democrats a tariff for revenue only. The popular vote was very close (only about 10,000 votes' difference), but the electoral tally was decisively in favor of Garfield.

Election of 1880
Candidates

Party

Electoral
Vote

Popular
Vote

James A. Garfield (OH)
Chester A. Arthur (NY)

Republican

214

4,454,416

Winfield S. Hancock (PA)
William H. English (IN)

Democratic

155

4,444,952

James B. Weaver (IA)
Benjamin J. Chambers (TX)

Greenback-Labor

0

308,578


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