United States presidential election, 1872

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While incumbent President Ulysses S. Grant was still quite popular, many members of his own party were angry at his policies and seeming indecisiveness in office. As a result, they split off and formed their own party, the Liberal Republicans, nominating Horace Greeley for President. The Democrats were still in total disarray from the aftermath of the American Civil War and so did not even bother to nominate their own candidate, backing Greeley instead. Grant was easily renominated for President on the Republican ticket, but as a concession to unhappy members of the party, corrupt Vice President Schuyler Colfax was dropped from the ticket and replaced by the more highly regarded Henry Wilson.

For all the hype over the split in the party, Greeley proved a completely ineffective opponent - the fact that his running mate B. Gratz Brown had a very public drinking problem did little to help matters - and was easily and heavily defeated by Grant in the election. In the end, Greeley died three weeks after the election, and the electoral votes that he was due were scattered among various Democrats and Liberal Republicans. Most of the Liberal Republicans returned to the main party afterwards, but some went to the Democrats, who began remarshalling themselves for the next election.[1]

candidates popular vote electoral vote
Ulysses S. Grant 3,598,235 286
Horace Greeley 2,834,761 0 [3 discounted]
Charles O'Connor 29,489 0
Thomas A. Hendricks 0 42
B. Gratz Brown 0 18
Charles J. Jenkins 0 2
David Davis 0 1
Non-Voters 0 17



  1. Encyclopedia of Presidents, Ulysses S. Grant, by Zachary Kent, Children's Press, 1989.
  2. A Pictoral History of the U.S. Presidents, by Clare Gibson, Gramercy Books, 2001, pp. 120-121.