In late October of 1884 a huge parade wended its muddy way in a heavy rain down the streets of New York City. A fascinated English visitor watched as a thousand lawyers chanted their ridiculous:
Blaine, Blaine, James G. Blaine
We don't care a bit for the rain,
The visitor knew they were celebrating the state of Ohio voting in favor of James G. Blaine for the presidency. Modern historians are just as amazed as was James Bryce, the first Viscount Bryce, when he described this unreal scene in his classic work, The American Commonwealth. Who was Blaine and what does he have to do with Ohio? Did Blaine ever do anything worth remembering? is the type of question the ordinary person might reasonably ask. Why did such an obvious scoundrel elicit such a fanatical following in the America of the 1880s asks the older historian. James G. Blaine was the best known and most enthusiastically supported American politician of his day. Only an inopportune sickness kept him from being the Republican presidential candidate in 1876. When he failed as front runner to gain the candidacy in 1880, he threw his votes to Garfield, assuring that Garfield would be president. In 1884 Blaine barely lost (1,047 votes in the crucial New York State tally) the presidential election. In 1888 he refused to run for president although his election seemed certain.
It should be profitable for historians to explore Blaine's connections with the politicians from "the great state of Ohio, which is fairly typical of the older Western or Middle States" (Lord Bryce's description). The focus here will be narrowed to the view on this subject then emanating from the leading comic journal of America, Puck magazine. Although Puck prided itself as a historian of the entire age, yet it is widely accepted that its greatest moments were its pictorial struggles against James G. Blaine and his friends.
Eid, Leroy V.
"The Fox and the Hyenas,"
University of Dayton Review: Vol. 12:
3, Article 6.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udr/vol12/iss3/6