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Thomas Adams Upchurch

One of the most polarizing political figures in American history, James Gillespie Blaine, “the Plumed Knight of Maine,” was the most prominent presidential candidate of the late nineteenth century never to be elected. His chameleon-like character kept him at the top of the Republican Party machinery during both Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. He supported the Union during the Civil War and the Radical cause in the late 1860s, took a conciliatory view of the southern question in the early 1870s, and ultimately all but abandoned the African American civil rights agenda in the late 1870s and thereafter. As much as any other Republican, he influenced the course of the party in selling out African Americans after Reconstruction for the joint benefits of sectional reconciliation and national business interests. He did so, however, without necessarily alienating black voters or friends. Frederick Douglass for instance supported him throughout his career ...

Article

Patricia E. Canson

U.S. congresswoman, was born Shirley St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest daughter of Charles St. Hill, a laborer born in British Guiana (now Guyana), and Ruby Seale, a seamstress born in Barbados. Shirley's first three years were spent in Brownsville, a predominantly Jewish area of Brooklyn. Finding the wages for unskilled factory work insufficient to care for three children properly, the St. Hills sent their three daughters to Barbados, where they lived with their maternal grandparents on the family farm. Shirley credits her grandmother Emily Seale with instilling in her a strong character and determination.

The girls returned to Brownsville in 1934 after their mother gave birth to another daughter Despite the social and financial hardships of the Depression Ruby encouraged her children to respect the values of civility thrift poise humility education and spirituality though the sisters endured a substantial amount of teasing in the ...

Article

Lois Kerschen

Clinton Bowen Fisk, the sixth son of Benjamin and Lydia Fisk, was born in Livingston County, New York. His father had been a captain in the army, and his grandfather served as a major general under George Washington. The Fisk family moved to a settlement they called Clinton in Lenawee County, Michigan, while Clinton Bowen was still an infant. Benjamin Fisk died when Clinton was six, however, and Lydia was not able to hold onto the property. At age nine, Clinton Fisk apprenticed himself to a local farmer, but one year later he had to return home because his younger brother died. When Fisk was thirteen, his mother married William Smith, a successful farmer from Spring Arbor, who sent Fisk to Albion Seminary, a Methodist school in Michigan.

Fisk later went into business as a clerk for L. D. Crippen of Coldwater Michigan and married Crippen s ...

Article

Martha I. Pallante

Horace Greeley's formidable editorial, journalistic, and oratorical skills in espousing abolition, temperance, and other reform causes influenced audiences at the national level. According to his biographer Don C. Seitz, “No rival American journalist ever created an influence that penetrated so deeply.”

Greeley was born on 3 February 1811 and during his sixty-one years pursued a life that remains something of a study in contradictions. The son of the failed New England farmers Zaccheus and Mary Woodburn Greeley, he rose from his poverty-stricken roots to the top of the journalistic profession in a manner that marks him as an archetype for Horatio Alger's rags-to-riches characters. Like the title character of Alger's Paul Prescott's Charge, Greeley “battled bravely with the difficulties and the discouragements that beset him in early life” to attain the pinnacle of his profession.

In contrast to his professional success disappointment marked Greeley s personal life As ...

Article

Heidi L. Scott Giusto

Victoria Woodhull was an advocate of humanitarian and social reform, free love, and spiritualism, positions that brought her considerable notoriety. She ran in the 1872 election on the ticket of the newly formed Equal Rights Party, with Frederick Douglass as her vice presidential running mate. Douglass, who was nominated without consent, did not attend the convention. Years later, in 1887, the two finally met in Rome and had a pleasant encounter.

Instability and turmoil marked Woodhull's life. Born in Homer, Ohio, she received only three years of education in her hometown's Methodist church. Public pressure forced Reuben Buckman Claflin, Woodhull's alcoholic father, to move his family from Homer after coming under suspicion for intentionally setting fire to a gristmill he owned. In 1853 Victoria Claflin wed Canning Woodhull, but the couple divorced in 1865 after having two children During her marriage to Canning Woodhull she became ...