1888 Republican National Convention

1888 Republican National Convention
1888 presidential election
RP1892.png Levi Morton - Brady-Handy portrait - tight 3x4 crop.jpg
Harrison and Morton
Date(s)June 19–25, 1888
CityChicago, Illinois
VenueAuditorium Theatre
ChairMorris M. Estee
Presidential nomineeBenjamin Harrison of Indiana
Vice presidential nomineeLevi P. Morton of New York
Other candidatesJohn Sherman
Russell A. Alger
Walter Q. Gresham
Total delegates832
Votes needed for nomination417
Results (president)Harrison (IN): 544 (65.38%)
Sherman (OH): 118 (14.18%)
Alger (MI): 100 (12.02%)
Gresham (IN): 59 (7.09%)
Blaine (ME): 5 (0.60%)
McKinley (OH): 4 (0.48%)
Others: 1 (0.12%)
Results (vice president)Morton (NY): 592 (71.15%)
Phelps (NJ): 119 (14.3%)
Bradley (KY): 103 (12.38%)
Bruce (MS): 11 (1.32%)
Abstaining: 6 (0.72%)
Walter S. Thomas: 1 (0.12%)

The 1888 Republican National Convention was a presidential nominating convention held at the Auditorium Building in Chicago, Illinois, on June 19–25, 1888. It resulted in the nomination of former Senator Benjamin Harrison of Indiana for president and Levi P. Morton of New York, a former Representative and Minister to France, for vice president. During the convention, Frederick Douglass was invited to speak and became the first African-American to have his name put forward for a presidential nomination in a major party's roll call vote; he received one vote from Kentucky on the fourth ballot.

The ticket won in the election of 1888, defeating President Grover Cleveland and former Senator Allen G. Thurman from Ohio.


The convention was held in Chicago's Auditorium Theatre. Since the construction on the theater had not been completed in time for the convention, a tent canvas was utilized as a temporary roof during the convention.[1] Controversy was generated, with labor movement supporters taking issue with the non trade union labor utilized in the construction of the Auditorium Building (which the theater is a component of).[2]

Issues addressed

Illustration of the convention
Illustration of the convention

Issues addressed in the convention included support for protective tariffs, repeal of taxes on tobacco, support for the use of gold and silver as currency and support for pensions for veterans. The party also expressed its opposition to polygamy.[3]

Presidential nomination


Not Nominated

The early favorite for the nomination was James G. Blaine.[4] After he disclaimed interest, several candidates vied for the prize, with the frontrunners being Russell A. Alger, Walter Q. Gresham, Chauncey Depew, and John Sherman.[4] After several ballots, none of the leading candidates was able to obtain a majority. Benjamin Harrison, who had served in the U.S. Senate from 1881 to 1887, but had lost reelection after the Democrats gained control of the Indiana legislature, was a dark horse candidate.[4][5] Republicans were dispirited after losing the presidency in 1884 and were attracted to Harrison because of the speech announcing his presidential candidacy, in which he described himself as a "living and rejuvenated Republican."[5] Harrison won the nomination on the eighth ballot and "Rejuvenated Republicanism" became the party's campaign slogan.[5]

Presidential Ballot
Benjamin Harrison859194216212231279544
John Sherman229249244235224244230118
Russell A. Alger84116122135143137120100
Walter Q. Gresham1071081239887919159
William B. Allison727588889973760
Chauncey Depew99999100000
James G. Blaine353335424840155
John James Ingalls2816000000
Jeremiah McLain Rusk25201600000
William Walter Phelps2518500000
Edwin Henry Fitler240000000
William McKinley238111412164
Joseph R. Hawley130000000
Robert Todd Lincoln32210020
Samuel Freeman Miller00200000
Joseph B. Foraker00010110
Creed Haymond00000010
Frederick Dent Grant00000100
Frederick Douglass00010000

Vice Presidential nomination

Blaine, who had recommended Harrison for the presidential nomination, suggested former Representative and Minister to Austria-Hungary William Walter Phelps of New Jersey for vice president. Thomas C. Platt, an influential political boss in New York State, supported fellow New Yorker Levi P. Morton, a former Representative and Minister to France. He had been asked in 1880, but declined.[6] This time Morton decided to accept.[4] He was easily elected on the first ballot as Platt's support of Morton helped him defeat Phelps by a margin of five to one.[4]

Vice Presidential Ballot
Levi P. Morton591
William Walter Phelps119
William O'Connell Bradley103
Blanche K. Bruce11
Walter F. Thomas1

Accusation of delegate vote-buying

Illustration of the convention

Nearly a decade later, Ohio candidate John Sherman accused Michigan candidate millionaire Russell A. Alger of buying the votes of Southern delegates who had already confirmed their vote for Sherman. In Sherman's 1895 two-volume book "Recollections" he asserted, "I believe, and had, as I thought, conclusive proof, that the friends of Gen. Alger substantially purchased the votes of many of the delegates from the Southern States who had been instructed by their conventions to vote for me." Once accused, Alger submitted correspondence to the New York Times, who published one letter from 1888, written after the convention to Alger, where Sherman states, "if you bought some [votes], according to universal usage, surely I don't blame you." Later in the same New York Times article, Alger insisted neither he or friends bought a single vote. The article also quotes another delegate, James Lewis, who claimed that "the colored delegates of the South will unite on a Union soldier in preference" instead of a civilian.[7]

When Sherman introduced his antitrust legislation two years later, his main example of unlawful combination drew from a Michigan Supreme Court case involving Diamond Match Company and Alger's participation as president and stock holder.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Brewer, Carole Kuhrt (May 27, 2014). "Auditorium Theatre Chicago: 25 Things You Should Know About "The Eighth Wonder of the World"". Chicago Now. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  2. ^ "A PARTY BOYCOTT FEARED.; THE AUDITORIUM AND THE REPUBLICAN CONVENTION". The New York Times. 23 April 1888. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  3. ^ Official Proceedings of the Republican National Convention Held at Chicago, June 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 25, 1888 Archived 2008-08-29 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c d e Girard, Jolyon P. (2019). Presidents and Presidencies in American History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. pp. 700–701. ISBN 978-1-4408-6591-6.
  5. ^ a b c Spetter, Allan B. (2019). "Benjamin Harrison: Campaigns and Elections". U.S. Presidents. Charlottesville, VA: Miller Center, University of Virginia. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  6. ^ Historian of the U.S. Senate. "Levi Parsons Morton, 22nd Vice President (1889-1893)". Senate.gov. Washington, DC: United States Senate. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  7. ^ Alger Answers Sherman; Denial that Southern Delegates Sold Their Votes. The Senators Charges Refuted In an Autograph Letter He Practically Withdrew His Charge of Unfairness -- Gen. Sherman Not Opposed to the Purchase of Votes.[1]
  8. ^ Sherman to Alger.

External links

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Republican National ConventionsSucceeded by

Media files used on this page

Former Senator Benjamin Harrison of Indiana.
Oval portrait in red of President Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, nominee of the Republican Party in 1892
Photograph of Chauncey Depew.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 1st Ballot for the 1888 Republican Party Presidential Nomination.
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 2nd Ballot for the 1888 Republican Party Presidential Nomination.
Illustration of the 1888 Republican National Convention in session.png
Illustration of the 1888 Republican National Convention in session
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 3rd Ballot for the 1888 Republican Party Presidential Nomination.
Walter Q. Gresham - Brady-Handy.jpg
Walter Q. Gresham. Library of Congress description: "Gresham, Walter Quintin"
William McKinley. seated facing left
William Walter Phelps - Brady-Handy.jpg
William Walter Phelps. Library of Congress description: "Phelps, Hon. Wm Walter of N.J. Rep".
Levi Morton - Brady-Handy portrait - tight 3x4 crop.jpg
Republican Levi Parsons Morton of N.Y., the 22nd Vice President of the United States under Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893); also Representative for New York's 11th district (1879-1881), United States Minister to France under James A. Garfield (1881-1885), and, after his Vice-Presidentship, Governor of New York (1895–1896). Photograph from the Brady-Handy collection of the Library of Congress, restored by Adam Cuerden
Author/Creator: Tilden76, Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Results by State Delegation of the 4th Ballot for the 1888 Republican Party Presidential Nomination.
John James Ingalls - Brady-Handy.jpg
John James Ingalls. Library of Congress description: "Ingalls, Hon. John J. Sen of Kansas (photographed March 12, 1873)".
Edwin H. Fitler (Philadelphia Mayor).jpg
Edwin H. Fitler (Philadelphia Mayor)
Jeremiah McLain Rusk - Brady-Handy.jpg
Jeremiah McLain Rusk. Library of Congress description: "Rusk, Hon. J.M. Secty of Agriculture"
1888 Republican National Convention in session in the Auditorium Building Chicago Ill (cropped).jpg
View of a crowd of politicians during a session of the 1888 Republican National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, 1888. Illustration published in Harper's Weekly.
The lives of Benjamin Harrison and Levi P. Morton (1888) (14780070521) (cropped).jpg
Author/Creator: Internet Archive Book Images, Licence: No restrictions

Identifier: livesofbenjaminh01harn (find matches)
Title: The lives of Benjamin Harrison and Levi P. Morton
Year: 1888 (1880s)
Authors: Harney, Gilbert L Pierce, Edwin C
Subjects: Harrison, Benjamin, 1833-1901 Morton, Levi P. (Levi Parsons), 1824-1920 Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- )
Publisher: Providence, R.I., J. A. & R. A. Reid
Contributing Library: The Library of Congress
Digitizing Sponsor: Sloan Foundation

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Part Third. THE REPUBLICAN PARTY — ITS RECORDAND ITS PRESENT POSITION. Chapter I. ITS GLORIOUS ACHIEVEMENTS. REPEAL OF THE MISSOURI COMPROMISE POLITICAL BREAK-UP FOR-MATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY ELECTION OF 1S56 — FREE-DOM OR SLAVERY IN THE TERRITORIES LINCOLN AND DOUGLAS DEBATE—ELECTION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN—SECESSION WAR FOR THE UNION — UNPATRIOTIC ATTITUDE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY — THE REPUBLICAN PARTY THE DEFENDER OF NATIONALITY EMANCIPATION ENFRANCHISEMENT OF THE COLORED RACE. In 1852, Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, was electedPresident by the Democratic party, receiving the electoralvotes of twenty-seven states. Four States only, Massachusettsand Vermont in the North, and Kentucky and Tennessee in theSouth, cast their votes for General vScott, the Whig candidate. The Democratic platform, upon which Mr. Pierce waschosen, was framed in entire subserviency to the interests andthe wishes of the Southern slave-holders. The DemocraticConvention resolved that all eftbrts

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Joseph Roswell Hawley - Brady-Handy.jpg
Joseph Roswell Hawley. Library of Congress description: "Hawley, Hon. Joseph Roswell of Conn. Senator. General in Union Army. Capt in 1st Regt Conn. Vol. Inf. USA Lt. Col. Of 7th Regt Conn. Vol Inf."
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Russell Alexander Alger (February 27, 1836 – January 24, 1907) Governor and U.S. Senator of Michigan, Secretary of War during the Presidential adminisration of William McKinley.