The lasting effect of 1872 campaign rhetoric

Andrew L. Slap

in The Doom of Reconstruction

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print February 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227099
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823234998 | DOI:

Series: Reconstructing America

The lasting effect of 1872 campaign             rhetoric

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Political necessity drove the Liberal Republican Party's campaign rhetoric against Reconstruction, Grant, and the liberal republicans who returned to the Republican Party. Without civil service reform and free trade, the new party needed an issue, and attacking Reconstruction seemed best suited to Greeley's strengths and to attracting white Southerners and Democrats. The Liberal Republicans assailed Reconstruction's purported corruption, ignorant black voters, and tyranny. They also portrayed Grant as a lazy, incompetent, tyrannical drunkard unfit for the presidency. The Liberal Republican campaign speakers and newspapers tried to portray these issues and people in ways that would influence the voters in 1872, but the attempt failed miserably. However, they influenced generations of historians to accept their characterizations of Reconstruction as the Tragic Era, the practices of the Grant administration as Grantism, and the liberal republicans as the Best Men.

Keywords: campaign rhetoric; Greely; Grant; Reconstruction; Tragic Era

Chapter.  10600 words. 

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