James G. Blaine

Politics and Public Service, 1830-1893

James Blaine

James Gillespie Blaine was born in West Brownsville, Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh. His father was a large landowner who provided an excellent education for his son. Blaine graduated from Washington College (later Washington and Jefferson) in 1847 and spent several years as a teacher, first in a military academy and later a school for the blind. In 1854, Blaine moved to Maine to become part owner of a local newspaper.

In 1859, Blaine became chairman of the Republican state party organization, a position he would hold for more than 20 years. He served three terms in the Maine legislature and in 1863, was elected to Congress. Blaine developed a reputation as a skilled parliamentarian and later was elected speaker of the house.

He opposed the reconstruction plan of Andrew Johnson and later voted in favor of impeachment. In 1866, Blaine uttered remarks alluding to Roscoe Conkling as "the turkey gobbler member from New York," an obvious reference to Conkling's bearing as a physical fitness enthusiast; the two would remain bitter political rivals.

In 1876, Blaine was elected to the U.S. Senate where he was a firm supporter of hard money programs and protective tariffs. He was a backer of Rutherford B. Hayes and leader of the Half-Breed faction of the party; he was opposed by Conkling and the Stalwarts.

Blaine failed to win the Republican nomination in 1876 and again in 1880. He was politically hurt by apparent involvement in a railroad scandal. Blaine was rewarded for his support of James A. Garfield in 1880, by being named secretary of state; he resigned shortly after President Garfield's assassination.

In 1884, Blaine received the Republican nomination on the first ballot, but disaffected liberals – the so-called Mugwumps – objected to the candidate's questionable dealings and threw their support to the Democrat Grover Cleveland. The resulting campaign was exceptionally bitter and provided a narrow victory for the Democrats.

Blaine refused to seek the nomination in 1888, threw his support to Benjamin Harrison and later received an appointment as secretary of state. Blaine carried out his duties with relish and made contributions to Pan-Americanism and to U.S. expansionism.

Blaine resigned as secretary of state in 1892, to wrest the nomination from President Harrison, but was unsuccessful.

James G. Blaine was truly a master politician – an accomplished public speaker, bright, well-schooled on the issues, and a great behind-the-scenes operator. Despite being one of the most able figures of his day, Blaine's maneuverings with politicians and big business earned him powerful enemies.

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Quotes by James G. Blaine.

Regarding Fourth of July
The United States is the only country with a known birthday. All the rest began, they know not when, and grew into power, they know not how. If there had been no Independence Day, England and America combined would not be so great as each actually is. There is no "Republican," no "Democrat," on the Fourth of July — all are Americans. All feel that their country is greater than party.

Quotes regarding James G. Blaine.

By Robert G. Ingersoll
Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight, James G. Blaine marched down the halls of the American Congress and threw his shining lance full and fair against the brazen forehead of every traitor to his country and every maligner of his fair reputation.
Speech nominating Blaine for President, 1876 Republican convention

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James Blaine
... Links About Historycentral Advertise Contact US James Blaine - James Gillespie Blaine was born on January 31, 1830, in West Brownville, Pennsylvania. After graduating from Washington College in 1847, he taught school while studying law. He ...
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BLAINE
Tisdale on July 7, 1877.  The town was named for James G. Blaine.  The first Chairman of the Board of Supervisors was Moses Ripley.  Ripley was born in Maine and left there at the age of 15 with his family to settle in Minnesota.  James G. Blaine.  The first Chairman of the Board of Supervisors was Moses Ripley.  Ripley was born in Maine and left there at the age of 15 with his family to settle in Minnesota.  After three ...
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The Missouri Compromise by James Blaine
Visit HistoryShopping.com '); '); '); The Missouri Compromise (1820) BY JAMES G. BLAINE Sins years after Louisiana entered the Union, Missouri applied for admission as a slave state. A violent agitation at once arose, continued foJAMES G. BLAINE Sins years after Louisiana entered the Union, Missouri applied for admission as a slave state. A violent agitation at once arose, continued for two years ...
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