The National League (officially the National Electoral League) was a political party of the Confederate States, in existence from 1873 to 1893. It contested four presidential elections, and was successful in two, electing John C. Breckinridge in 1873 and P. G. T. Beauregard in 1879. Supporters of the party were known as Nationalists.


The National League was formed in the months leading up to the 1873 presidential election, as a vehicle to secure the election of John C. Breckinridge. Breckinridge was elected president by a wide margin over an independent candidate, Joseph E. Johnston, but died just over a year into his term. His vice-president, Zebulon B. Vance, saw out the rest of his term, and established the National League as a formal political organization, the first since the foundation of the Confederacy.

For the 1879 election, the Nationalists nominated P. G. T. Beauregard, the well-respected senator and former general from Louisiana. His running mate was Custis Lee of Virginia, a university president and the son of the late President Lee. Beauregard defeated John C. Brown, who was put forward by the newly formed Reform League. However, he came to be seen as out of touch during his presidency, and the Reformists won a surprise victory at the 1885 election, electing John H. Reagan of Texas. The unsuccessful Nationalist candidate was Edmund K. Smith of Florida (who had been Beauregard's Secretary of State), but he had little interest in campaigning.

The Nationalists controlled Congress throughout most of the Reagan presidency, hampering his policy ambitions. However, in 1889, Governor John B. Gordon of Georgia formed a populist breakaway group, the Citizens Party, taking many Nationalist supporters with him. For the 1891 election, the remaining Nationalists nominated Senator John T. Morgan of Alabama and Senator Lucius Lamar of Mississippi, and ran on an expansionist policy platform. The party recorded its worst ever result, winning only its candidates' homes states and placing third overall. Discomfort at the perceived radical nature of some of Gordon's policies led to the dissolution of both the National League and Reform League in 1893, with most of its supporters forming the new Democratic Party.

Presidential candidates

Successful tickets are highlighted in bold:
  • 1873: John C. Breckinridge (Kentucky) and Zebulon B. Vance (North Carolina)
  • 1879: P. G. T. Beauregard (Louisiana) and Custis Lee (Virginia)
  • 1885: Edmund K. Smith (Florida) and Jubal A. Early (Virginia)
  • 1891: John T. Morgan (Alabama) and Lucius Lamar (Mississippi)

See also

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