Bourbon Democrat

1884 cartoon illustrating the decline of the "Democrat Bourbonism" (represented as an empty jug) by Joseph Keppler
President Grover Cleveland (1837–1908), a conservative who denounced political corruption and fought hard for lower tariffs and the gold standard, was the exemplar of a Bourbon Democrat

Term used in the United States in the later 19th century to refer to members of the Democratic Party who were ideologically aligned with conservatism or classical liberalism, especially those who supported presidential candidates Charles O'Conor in 1872, Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, President Grover Cleveland in 1884, 1888, and 1892 and Alton B. Parker in 1904.

- Bourbon Democrat
1884 cartoon illustrating the decline of the "Democrat Bourbonism" (represented as an empty jug) by Joseph Keppler

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History of the Democratic Party (United States)

Oldest voter-based political party in the world and the oldest existing political party in the United States.

Oldest voter-based political party in the world and the oldest existing political party in the United States.

Andrew Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party and the first president it elected.
1837 cartoon shows the Democratic Party as donkey
Martin Van Buren
August Belmont: DNC Chair for 12 years during and after the Civil war
To vote for Stephen A. Douglas in Virginia, a man deposited the ticket issued by the party in the official ballot box
Thomas Nast's January 1870 depiction of the Democratic donkey
Typewriters were new in 1893 and this Gillam cartoon from Puck shows that Grover Cleveland can not get the Democratic "machine" to work as the keys (key politicians) will not respond to his efforts
William Jennings Bryan at age 36 was the youngest candidate, October 1896
Thomas Woodrow Wilson
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the longest-serving president of the United States (1933–1945)
Adlai Stevenson warns against a return of the Republican policies of Herbert Hoover, 1952 campaign poster
President John F. Kennedy with his brothers, Attorney General and later New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy
President Lyndon Johnson foresaw the end of the Solid South when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
President Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976 and defeated in 1980
Representative Thomas "Tip" O'Neill was Speaker of the House (1977–1987) and was the highest ranking Democrat in Washington, D.C. during most of Reagan's term
During Bill Clinton's presidency, the Democratic Party moved ideologically toward the center
Nancy Pelosi of California was the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives
On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president of the United States
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Senator Bernie Sanders
Nancy Pelosi, the current House Speaker (2019–present), was highly visible adversary for President Trump.
Joe Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump on November 3, 2020.

Furthermore, the Democratic Party was split between the Bourbon Democrats, representing Eastern business interests; and the agrarian elements comprising poor farmers in the South and West.

William Jennings Bryan

American lawyer, orator and politician.

American lawyer, orator and politician.

Bryan's birthplace in Salem, Illinois
Attorney Mary Baird Bryan, the wife of William Jennings Bryan
A young Bryan
"UNITED SNAKES OF AMERICA" "IN BRYAN WE TRUST" political satire token of 1896, known as "Bryan Money"
Bryan campaigning for president, October 1896
1896 electoral vote results
The United States and its colonial possessions after the Spanish–American War
Conservatives in 1900 ridiculed Bryan's eclectic platform.
1900 electoral vote results
William J Bryan in 1906 as Moses with new 10 commandments; Puck 19 sept 1906 by Joseph Keppler. Tablet reads: l-Thou shalt have no other leaders before me. II—Thou shalt not make unto thyself any high Protective Tariff. Ill—Eight hours, and no more, shalt thou labor and do all thy work. IV—Thou shalt not graft. V—Thou shalt not elect thy Senators save by Popular Vote. VI—Thou shalt not grant rebates unto thy neighbor. VII—Thou shalt not make combinations in restraint of trade. VIII—Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's income, but shall make him pay a tax upon it. IX—There shall be no more government by injunction. X—Remember Election Day to vote it early. P.S.— When in doubt, ask Me.
Bryan speaking at the 1908 Democratic National Convention
Presidential Campaign button for Bryan
1908 electoral vote results
Bryan attending the 1912 Democratic National Convention
Bryan served as Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson
Cartoon of Secretary of State Bryan reading war news in 1914
Villa Serena, Bryan's home built in 1913 at Miami, Florida
Charles W. and William J. Bryan
At the Scopes Trial, William Jennings Bryan (seated, left) being questioned by Clarence Darrow (standing, right).
Statue of Bryan on the lawn of the Rhea County courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee

In a repudiation of incumbent President Grover Cleveland and his conservative Bourbon Democrats, the Democratic convention nominated Bryan for president, making Bryan the youngest major party presidential nominee in U.S. history.

1896 United States presidential election

The 28th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1896.

The 28th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1896.

McKinley/Hobart campaign poster
Bryan's famous "cross of gold" speech gave him the presidential nomination and swung the party to the silver cause
The National "Gold" Democratic Convention
Palmer/Buckner campaign button
Conservatives said that Bryan (the Populist snake) was taking over (swallowing) the Democratic Party (the mule). Cartoon from "Judge" magazine, 1896.
Bryan's imposing voice and height made a deep impression on many who thronged to hear him.
Bryan traveled 18,000 miles in 3 months, concentrating on the critical states of the Midwest.
The National "Gold" Democratic Party undercut Bryan by dividing the Democratic vote and denouncing his platform.
Map of presidential election results by county
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Results by county, shaded according to winning candidate's percentage of the vote
Map of Republican presidential election results by county
Map of Democratic presidential election results by county
Map of "other" presidential election results by county
Cartogram of presidential election results by county
Cartogram of Republican presidential election results by county
Cartogram of Democratic presidential election results by county
Cartogram of "other" presidential election results by county
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In opposition to Bryan, some conservative Bourbon Democrats formed the National Democratic Party and nominated Senator John M. Palmer.

John M. Palmer/Simon B. Buckner campaign button (1896)

National Democratic Party (United States)

John M. Palmer/Simon B. Buckner campaign button (1896)

The National Democratic Party, also known as Gold Democrats, was a short-lived political party of Bourbon Democrats who opposed the regular party nominee William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election.

The ruins of Richmond, Virginia, the former Confederate capital, after the American Civil War; newly-freed African Americans voting for the first time in 1867; office of the Freedmen's Bureau in Memphis, Tennessee; Memphis riots of 1866

Reconstruction era

Period in American history following the American Civil War ; it lasted from 1865 to 1877 and marked a significant chapter in the history of civil rights in the United States.

Period in American history following the American Civil War ; it lasted from 1865 to 1877 and marked a significant chapter in the history of civil rights in the United States.

The ruins of Richmond, Virginia, the former Confederate capital, after the American Civil War; newly-freed African Americans voting for the first time in 1867; office of the Freedmen's Bureau in Memphis, Tennessee; Memphis riots of 1866
The Southern economy had been ruined by the war. Charleston, South Carolina: Broad Street, 1865
The distribution of wealth per capita in 1872, illustrating the disparity between North and South in that period
A political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865, entitled "The Rail Splitter At Work Repairing the Union". The caption reads (Johnson): "Take it quietly Uncle Abe and I will draw it closer than ever." (Lincoln): "A few more stitches Andy and the good old Union will be mended."
Monument in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic, organized after the war
Freedmen voting in New Orleans, 1867
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (1861–1865)
Celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation in Massachusetts, 1862
Northern teachers traveled into the South to provide education and training for the newly freed population.
Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States (1865–1869)
An October 24th, 1874 Harper's Magazine editorial cartoon by Thomas Nast denouncing KKK and White League murders of innocent Blacks
The debate over Reconstruction and the Freedmen's Bureau was nationwide. This 1866 Pennsylvania election poster alleged that the bureau kept the Negro in idleness at the expense of the hardworking white taxpayer. A racist caricature of an African American is depicted.
1868 Republican cartoon identifies Democratic candidates Seymour and Blair (right) with KKK violence and with Confederate soldiers (left).
"This is a white man's government", Thomas Nast's caricature of the forces arraigned against Grant and Reconstruction in the 1868 election. Atop a black Union veteran reaching for a ballot box: the New York City Irish; Confederate and Klansman Nathan Bedford Forrest; and big-money Democratic Party chairman August Belmont, a burning freedmen's school in the background. Harper's Weekly, September 5, 1868.
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States (1869–1877)
Grant's Attorney General Amos T. Akerman prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan, believing that the strong arm of the federal Justice Department could pacify the South.
Eastman Johnson's 1863 painting The Lord is My Shepherd, of a man reading the Bible
Atlanta's rail yard and roundhouse in ruins shortly after the end of the Civil War
$20 banknote with portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch
Winslow Homer's 1876 painting A Visit from the Old Mistress
A Republican Form of Government and No Domestic Violence, by Thomas Nast, a political cartoon about the Wheeler Compromise in Louisiana, published in Harper's Weekly, March 6, 1875
White Leaguers attacking the New Orleans integrated police force and state militia, Battle of Liberty Place, 1874
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States (1877–1881)
A poster for the 1939 epic film Gone with the Wind, which is set during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras

Meanwhile, white "Redeemers", Southern Bourbon Democrats, strongly opposed Reconstruction.

Grover Cleveland

American lawyer and politician who served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States from 1885 to 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897.

American lawyer and politician who served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States from 1885 to 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897.

Caldwell Presbyterian parsonage, birthplace of Grover Cleveland in Caldwell, New Jersey
An early, undated photograph of Grover Cleveland
Statue of Grover Cleveland outside City Hall in Buffalo, New York
Gubernatorial portrait of Grover Cleveland
An anti-Blaine cartoon presents him as the "tattooed man", with many indelible scandals.
An anti-Cleveland cartoon highlights the Halpin scandal.
Results of the 1884 election
Cleveland portrayed as a tariff reformer
Henry L. Dawes wrote the Dawes Act, which Cleveland signed into law.
Frances Folsom Cleveland circa 1886
Cleveland's first Cabinet.
Front row, left to right: Thomas F. Bayard, Cleveland, Daniel Manning, Lucius Q. C. Lamar
Back row, left to right: William F. Vilas, William C. Whitney, William C. Endicott, Augustus H. Garland
Chief Justice Melville Fuller
Poster President Cleveland and Vice-President of the United States, Allen G. Thurman of Ohio (1888).
Results of the 1888 Election
Results of the 1892 election
Caricature of Cleveland as anti-silver.
Cleveland's humiliation by Gorman and the sugar trust
John T. Morgan, Senator from Alabama, opposed Cleveland on Free Silver, the tariff, and the Hawaii treaty, saying of Cleveland that "I hate the ground that man walks on."
His Little Hawaiian Game Checkmated, 1894
Official portrait of President Cleveland by Eastman Johnson, c. 1891
Cleveland's last Cabinet.
Front row, left to right: Daniel S. Lamont, Richard Olney, Cleveland, John G. Carlisle, Judson Harmon
Back row, left to right: David R. Francis, William Lyne Wilson, Hilary A. Herbert, Julius S. Morton
Cleveland in 1903 at age 66 by Frederick Gutekunst
Outgoing President Grover Cleveland, at right, stands nearby as William McKinley is sworn in as president by Chief Justice Melville Fuller.
$1000 Gold Certificate (1934) depicting Grover Cleveland
Cleveland postage stamp issued in 1923

He was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans.

John M. Palmer (politician)

Illinois resident, an American Civil War general who fought for the Union, the 15th governor of Illinois, and presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party in the 1896 election on a platform to defend the gold standard, free trade, and limited government.

Illinois resident, an American Civil War general who fought for the Union, the 15th governor of Illinois, and presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party in the 1896 election on a platform to defend the gold standard, free trade, and limited government.

John McAuley Palmer
Palmer made a deal to make Russell his running mate in the event he received the Democratic presidential nomination.
The National "Gold" Democratic Convention

He became in turn an anti-Nebraska Democrat (against state sovereignty on slavery), a Republican, a Liberal Republican, returned to being a Democrat, then ended as a Bourbon Democrat.

Nominees Bryan and Sewall

1896 Democratic National Convention

The scene of William Jennings Bryan's nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate for the 1896 U.S. presidential election.

The scene of William Jennings Bryan's nomination as the Democratic presidential candidate for the 1896 U.S. presidential election.

Nominees Bryan and Sewall
The convention was held at the Chicago Coliseum
Seating arrangement for delegates at the convention
Former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska
Former Representative Richard P. Bland of Missouri
Former Governor Robert E. Pattison of Pennsylvania
Senator Joseph Blackburn of Kentucky
Governor Horace Boies of Iowa
Newspaper Publisher John R. McLean of Ohio
Governor Claude Matthews of Indiana
Former Governor Sylvester Pennoyer of Oregon
Former Governor William E. Russell of Massachusetts
Senator John W. Daniel of Virginia
Former Representative Joseph C. Sibley of Pennsylvania
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<center>2nd Presidential Ballot</center>
<center>3rd Presidential Ballot</center>
<center>4th Presidential Ballot</center>
<center>5th Presidential Ballot</center>
President of the Maine Central Railroad Arthur Sewall of Maine
Former Representative George F. Williams of Massachusetts
State Associate Justice Walter Clark of North Carolina
Representative Nominee J. Hamilton Lewis of Washington (Ineligible, not yet 35 years of age)
Former Representative George W. Fithian of Illinois
<center>1st Presidential Ballot</center>
<center>2nd Presidential Ballot</center>
<center>3rd Presidential Ballot</center>
<center>4th Presidential Ballot</center>
<center>5th Presidential Ballot</center>

President Grover Cleveland, a Bourbon Democrat was pro-business and a staunch supporter of conservative measures such as the gold standard; he was strongest in the Northeast.

Portrait by Harris & Ewing, 1919

Woodrow Wilson

American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921.

American politician and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921.

Portrait by Harris & Ewing, 1919
Wilson, c. undefined mid-1870s
Ellen Wilson in 1912
Wilson in 1902
Prospect House, Wilson's home on Princeton's campus
Governor Wilson, 1911
Results of the 1910 gubernatorial election in New Jersey. Wilson won the counties in blue.
1912 electoral vote map
Woodrow Wilson and his cabinet (1918)
Wilson giving his first State of the Union address, the first such address since 1801
Map of Federal Reserve Districts–black circles, Federal Reserve Banks–black squares, District branches–red circles and Washington HQ–star/black circle
In a 1913 cartoon, Wilson primes the economic pump with tariff, currency and antitrust laws
Official presidential portrait of Woodrow Wilson (1913)
Uncle Sam entering Mexico in 1916 to punish Pancho Villa. Uncle Sam says "I've had about enough of this."
Wilson and "Jingo", the American War Dog. The editorial cartoon ridicules jingoes baying for war.
The Wilson family
Wilson accepts the Democratic Party nomination, 1916
1916 electoral vote map
Map of the great powers and their empires in 1914
Liberty Loan drive in front of City Hall, New Orleans. On City Hall is a banner reading "Food will win the war—don't waste it".
Women workers in ordnance shops, Pennsylvania, 1918
The "Big Four" at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, following the end of World War I. Wilson is standing next to Georges Clemenceau at right.
Several new European states were established at the Paris Peace Conference
Wilson returning from the Versailles Peace Conference, 1919.
June 3, 1919, Newspapers of the 1919 bombings
Republican nominee Warren G. Harding defeated Democratic nominee James Cox in the 1920 election
The final resting place of Woodrow Wilson at the Washington National Cathedral
Quotation from Woodrow Wilson's History of the American People as reproduced in the film The Birth of a Nation.
World War I draft card, the lower left corner to be removed by men of African background to help keep the military segregated
Political cartoon published in New York Evening Mail about the East St. Louis riots of 1917. Original caption reads "Mr. President, why not make America safe for democracy?"
1934 $100,000 gold certificate depicting Wilson.
Stamps memorializing Wilson
Woodrow Wilson Monument in Prague

Clark found support among the Bryan wing of the party, while Underwood appealed to the conservative Bourbon Democrats, especially in the South.

Political cartoon from 1877 by Thomas Nast portraying the Democratic Party's control of the South.

Redeemers

In United States history, the Redeemers were a political coalition in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction Era that followed the Civil War.

In United States history, the Redeemers were a political coalition in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction Era that followed the Civil War.

Political cartoon from 1877 by Thomas Nast portraying the Democratic Party's control of the South.

In the 1890s, William Jennings Bryan defeated the Southern Bourbon Democrats and took control of the Democratic Party nationwide.