Was Your Relative a Blainiac?

1884 James G. Blaine Presidential campaign brass pin.

1884 James G. Blaine Presidential campaign brass pin.

Stored in a drawer, wrapped in tissue paper and pinned to a note-card, is this 1884 James G. Blaine Presidential campaign brass pin in the collection of the Wayne County Historical Society of Ohio. It was donated by Mrs. Jean (Stophlet) Flattery and originally belonged to her parents, Reverend Samuel W. Stophlet and Laura Stophlet.

History is often written by, and about the winners, and poor James G. Blaine was a Presidential candidate loser: of the nine men the Republican Party nominated for the Presidency of the United States from 1860 to 1912, Blaine is the only one who did not get elected and become President. Blaine was narrowly defeated by Grover Cleveland in 1884.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that Blaine fell into obscurity and is a largely forgotten political figure nowadays. However, he was one of the late 19th century’s leading Republican politians. He was an accomplished orator who had a rabid base of supporters referred to as the “Blainiacs” and many wore their “Blaine” pins proudly during the 1884 campaign.

A number of historians consider the Election of 1884 to be one of the dirtiest races in American history. Blaine had acquired a reputation associated with scandal and both candidates spent more time making personal attacks on each other about corruption and infidelity, than on debating the important issues of the day. Grover Cleveland’s Democrats were often heard singing during their torchlight parades, Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine. The continental liar from the State of Maine. While Blaine’s Republicans circulated reports that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child while he was a lawyer in Buffalo, New York, and chanted Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?.

Were any of your relatives a Blainiac?

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