In the 1888 Presidential election, tariffs remained an issue of high importance as the Democrats unanimously re-nominated President Grover Cleveland and the Republicans nominated Indiana Senator Benjamin Harrison. Cleveland’s argument to radically reduce tariffs, as well as his stance against Civil War pensions and inflated currency, made him unpopular with veterans and farmers even as he retained high support in Southern and border states. Furthermore, a crisis for the Democrats broke out when British Ambassador Lord Lionel Sackville endorsed Cleveland under the pseudonym Charles Murchison, awakening anti-British sentiment. Meanwhile, Harrison dealt with the scandal of Republican National Convention treasurer W. W. Dudley, who wrote a letter to Republican workers including instructions bribing voters in the state of Indiana. On November 6, 1888, Benjamin Harrison became the third President to lose the popular vote but win the electoral college and therefore the Presidency. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|June 5-7, 1888
|The Democratic National Convention is held in St. Louis, incumbent President Grover Cleveland is nominated by acclamation. Former senator Allen G. Thurman wins the nomination for Vice President.
|June 19-25, 1888
|The Republican National Convention is held in Chicago, former senator Benjamin Harrison wins the nomination on the eighth ballot. Levi P. Morton is chosen as his running mate
|September 13, 1888
|British Ambassador Lord Lionel Sackville-West endorses President Cleveland in response to a letter from a purported “Charles F. Murchison.” This causes a scandal among voters with anti-British sentiments.
|October 24, 1888
|Republican National Convention treasurer W. W. Dudley writes a letter to Republican workers including instructions bribing voters in the state of Indiana.
|November 6, 1888
|Harrison is elected, becoming the third president to lose the popular vote but win the electoral vote.