From Robert McNamara, your Guide to 19th Century History
There have been, and will be, many gaffes in American presidential campaigns. And a last-minute stumble in 1884 probably did the most damage.
The long tradition of scandals and gaffes in American politics reached a highpoint in the presidential election of 1884. One candidate, Grover Cleveland, was mired in a paternity scandal, and seemed to be on his way to losing the race. His opponent, James G. Blaine, was on his way to victory, but a week before the election disaster struck. While attending a campaign event, Blaine sat silently while a minister denounced the Democratic Party as the party of "rum, Romanism, and rebellion." The obvious slam at Catholic, and particularly Irish, voters, resonated. The gaffe cost... Read more
The Union could claim a military victory after the epic bloodshed of Antietam, and President Abraham Lincoln took the opportunity to announce his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln had been working on his proclamation during the summer of 1862. And on September 22, 1862, Lincoln announced that slaves in the rebellious states would be declared free as of January 1, 1863. Even after Lincoln signed his executive order on New Year's Day, the proclamation would be something of a symbolic gesture... Read more