‹ 1876 Flag of the United States 1884 › ›
United States presidential election, 1880
November 2, 1880
149px-WinfieldSHancock 158px-James Abram Garfield, photo portrait seated
Nominee Winfield Scott James Garfield
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Pennsylvania Ohio
Running mate William Hayden English Chester A. Arthur
Electoral vote 215 154
States carried 23 15
Popular vote 4,628,481 4,261,937
Percentage 50.2% 46.3%
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Hancock/English, Red denotes those won by Garfield/Arthur. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.
President before election
Rutherford Hayes
Elected President
Winfield Hancock

The United States presidential election of 1880 was largely seen as a referendum on the Republicans' relaxation of Reconstruction efforts in the southern states. There were no pressing issues of the day save tariffs, with the Republicans supporting higher tariffs and the Democrats supporting lower ones.

Incumbent President Rutherford Hayes did not seek re-election, keeping a promise made during the 1876 campaign. The Republican Party eventually chose another Ohioan, James A. Garfield, as their standard-bearer. The Democratic Party meanwhile chose Civil War General Winfield S. Hancock as their nominee. Hancock would be elected with a comfortable margin of victory, defeating Garfield by over 400,000 votes, and captured 215 electoral votes.


Republican Party nomination

Republican candidates:

  • James A. Garfield, U.S. Senator-Elect from Ohio
  • Ulysses S. Grant, former President of the United States from Ohio
  • James G. Blaine, U.S. senator from Maine
  • John Sherman, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury from Ohio

While Hayes didn't seek renomination, former President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) openly sought nomination to a third term. Going into the Republican Party convention in Chicago, he was the front-runner, but opponents supported a number of other candidates, including James Gillespie Blaine of Maine and Ohio's John Sherman. James Garfield, who was representing the Ohio delegation, gave a major speech in support of Sherman but soon found himself among those receiving delegate votes. On the 36th ballot, Garfield garnered 399 delegate votes, outlasting Grant (who had 306), Blaine (42) and Sherman to win the nomination. After Levi P. Morton backed out of the nomination to avoid a dispute, Chester A. Arthur (a close friend to U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling) was subsequently chosen as Garfield's running mate by a large margin over Elihu B. Washburne. The convention is also noteworthy as it was the first at which delegates cast votes for an African-American, Blanche Kelso Bruce. This convention took the most ballots to choose its party's nominee for President.

Vice Presidential Ballot
Chester A. Arthur 468
Elihu B. Washburne 193
Marshall Jewell 44
Horace Maynard 30
Blanche Kelso Bruce 8
[[James L. Alcorn 4
Edmund J. Davis 2
Thomas Settle 1
Stewart L. Woodford 1

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic candidates:

  • Winfield Scott Hancock, U.S. Major General from Pennsylvania
  • Thomas F. Bayard, U.S. senator from Delaware
  • Samuel J. Randall, U.S. representative from Pennsylvania
  • Henry B. Payne, former U.S. representative from Ohio
  • Allen G. Thurman, U.S. senator from Ohio

At the Democratic national convention in Cincinnati in June 1880, Winfield S. Hancock emerged the leading candidate after Samuel J. Tilden of New York withdrew his name from consideration. On the first ballot, Hancock led with 171 votes to 153.5 for Thomas F. Bayard of Delaware, 81 for Henry B. Payne of Ohio, 68.5 for Allen G. Thurman of Ohio, and the rest scattered. On the next ballot, Tilden supporters pushed Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania to second place with 128.5 votes, but Hancock held such a commanding lead with 320 votes that masses of delegates bolted to him before the second ballot was recorded, giving him 705 votes and the nomination. William H. English was nominated for vice president.

The Pennsylvanian who nominated Hancock said, "I present to the Convention one who on the battlefield was styled 'the superb,' yet whose first act when in command of Louisiana and Texas was to salute the Constitution by proclaiming that, 'the military rule shall ever be subservient to the civil power.' I nominated one whose name will suppress all faction and thrill the republic."

Presidential Ballot
Ballot1st 2nd Before Shifts 2nd After Shifts
Winfield S. Hancock 171 320 705
Thomas F. Bayard 153.5 112 2
Samuel J. Randall 6 128.5 0
Henry B. Payne 81 0 0
Allen G. Thurman 68.5 50 0
Others 247.5 124.5 31
Abstaining 10.5 3 0

Greenback Party nomination

Dissatisfied with the fiscal policies of both parties, the Greenback Party, a minor force in the 1876 election, returned with James B. Weaver as its Presidential nominee and Benjamin J. Chambers as his running mate.

American Party nomination

The mistrust of the Masonic movement had led to the creation of a new nativist political party, reusing the old name of the American Party. Former Civil War general John W. Phelps, the head of the Vermont Anti-Masonic movement, was nominated for President and former Kansas senator Samuel C. Pomeroy was nominated for Vice President.

General election


Democrats began by attacking the contested 1876 election, with Republicans bringing up the Civil War again, but the campaign soon shifted to personality. Garfield campaigned as a hard-working, self-made man. Republicans avoided direct attacks on Hancock, who was widely-respected for his service at Gettysburg, but claimed that the general would act as a figurehead for corrupt Democrats, which was largely unfounded. The Democrats campaigned on Republican corruption, attacking Garfield and especially his running mate Arthur.

The end of the effects of the Panic of 1873 combined with a well-funded and well-run campaign, while giving some momentum to Garfield, did not push him over the top.


Presidential Candidate Candidate Home State PV Count PV % Electoral Count Running Mate Running Mate's Home State Running Mate's Electoral Vote
Winfield S. HancockDemocraticPennsylvania4,628,48150.2%255William Hayden EnglishIndiana255
James GarfieldRepublicanOhio4,261,93746.3%154Chester A. ArthurNew York154
James Baird WeaverGreenback LaborIowa305,9973.3%0Benjamin J. ChambersTexas0
Neal DowProhibitionMaine10,3050.1%0.0%Henry Adams ThompsonOhio0
John Wolcott PhelpsAmericanVermont70000.0%Samuel Clark PameroyKansas0
Others 3,6310.0% -Others -
Total 9,211,051100%369 369
Needed to Win 185 185

Georgia's vote

According to Article II, Section 1, clause 3 of the Constitution, "The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States." In 1792, Congress had set the date for the Electoral College to vote at the first Wednesday in December, and it was still set to that day in 1880, when it fell on December 1. However, Georgia's electors failed to cast their ballots on December 1, instead voting on the following Wednesday, December 8. Congress chose to count Georgia's vote in the official tally, but it is arguable that Georgia's electoral vote was constitutionally invalid, and thus that Hancock's electoral vote should be 204, not 215.

Links to other Pages

The Presidency of Winfield Scott Hancock - Continuation of this timeline, overviewing the presumed Presidency of the said candidate.

1884 Presidential Election - Enough Said

1888 Presidential Election - Enough Said