At the end of episode seven, President Ulysses S. Grant declares martial law and wages war against the Ku Klux Klan, a decision that sets the table for the upcoming presidential election. Coming up in episode eight, the story jumps forward in time past the election of 1872.
But there is some important history in between. This week, we’re again going to fill in those gaps with an episode from the podcast American Elections: Wicked Game. Hosted by 1865 executive producer Lindsay Graham, it’s an in-depth look at all 59 U.S. presidential elections.
In 1872, the Reform Republicans, properly known as the Liberal Republicans, turned on President Grant, abandoned the Republican Party and united with the Democrats. To defeat Grant at the ballot box, the Democrats nominated a New York newspaperman, a Republican named Horace Greeley. Like he had done in 1868, Grant took his cues from George Washington and stayed silent during the contest. But Horace Greeley launched an aggressive campaign, attacking Grant's policies, assailing his character and accusing him of corruption. Once again, the election was a referendum on Reconstruction: would the American people stand by the Hero of Appomatox? Or would they vote to turn back the clock on social progress?
Please enjoy Episode 22 from the podcast American Elections: Wicked Game: 1872, Greeley vs Grant: Progress Under Siege.