Parades, Protests and Politics


The 1884 Democratic National Convention

Cheering the nomination of Grover Cleveland at the 1884 Democratic National Convention.

Cheering the nomination of Grover Cleveland
at the 1884 Democratic National Convention. (CHS)

The Democrats met in Chicago one month after the Republican convention nominated James Blaine. The convention began with talk of Republican corruption and the need for reform. The favored candidate was Grover Cleveland, a reform governor of New York. He had a reputation as a honest, courageous man who did what he thought was right.

Not everyone thought so highly of Cleveland. He had strong opponents in former congressman "Honest" John Kelly and Thomas Grady of Tammany Hall in New York City. They were the heirs to a powerful political machine and were against reform. They also had no candidate and the New York delegation was evenly split in its support of Cleveland.

Cleveland was nominated by Daniel Lockwood of Buffalo and seconded by Chicago mayor Carter Henry Harrison, Sr. Grady and other Tammany leaders spoke up after the nomination and attempted to make Cleveland look incompetent. Their speeches incited the crowd and loud arguments broke out.

The platform adopted by the Democrats was very similar to that of the Republicans-reduced tariffs, protection of American abroad, civil service reform and free common education.

Cleveland gained momentum with the first presidential roll call, receiving 392 votes before the convention was adjouned due to the lateness of the hour. Tammany hall supporters were on the phone all night long trying to make deals to defeat Cleveland, but their efforts proved futile. Cleveland won the nomiinatoin with 683 second ballot votes and went on to win the general election with running mate Thomas Hendricks.


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