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1892 General Election

1892 General Election


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Political Parties

Total Votes

%

MPs

2,159,150

47.0

313

2,088,019

45.1

272

Irish Nationalists

311,509

7.0

81


Benjamin Harrison: Campaigns and Elections

In the Mugwump revolt of reform Republicans against the candidacy of Senator James G. Blaine of Maine in 1884, Benjamin Harrison carefully walked the middle ground. Refusing to put his hat in the presidential ring, he eventually supported Blaine with energy and enthusiasm. In February 1887, Harrison lost reelection to the United States Senate in the new Democrat-controlled state legislature. (At this time United States senators were selected by the state legislatures rather than by popular vote. Only after passage of the Seventeenth Amendment in 1913, which was part of the Progressive Era reforms, did this practice change.) One year later, Harrison announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, declaring himself (in reference to his lack of a power base) a "living and rejuvenated Republican." The words "Rejuvenated Republicanism" became the slogan of his presidential campaign.

At the Republican convention in Chicago in the summer of 1888, front-runner James G. Blaine, unable to secure the nomination for himself, threw his support to Harrison in the hope of uniting the party against the Democratic incumbent, Grover Cleveland. In the hotly contested nomination fight that followed, Harrison became everyone's second choice in a field of seven candidates. When Senator John Sherman of Ohio, the first choice, faltered in the balloting, Harrison's support surged ahead, winning him the nomination on the eighth ballot. The convention picked banker Levi P. Morton of New York as Harrison's running mate. The Democrats, at their national convention in St. Louis, rallied behind incumbent Grover Cleveland of New York and his running mate, Allen G. Thurman, the senator from Ohio.

The campaign of 1888 exhibited little of the hostility that had marked the 1884 race, when candidate Blaine had waged a whirlwind series of public appearances. President Cleveland made only one appearance in 1888. Harrison limited his speeches to front porch receptions in Indianapolis for a stream of carefully selected delegations and press reporters. While the two candidates did not personally campaign, their party organizations, in sharp contrast, did. The tone of the party-sponsored campaign was much more lively. There were posters, political cartoons, speeches, rallies, parades, brass bands, and torchlight demonstrations.

The race centered around the tariff issue, with Harrison speaking forcefully for a strong protective tariff, sound currency, pensions for Civil War veterans, and efficiency in office. A more emotional issue for the electorate was the bloody shirt legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction, which remained as an unhealed scar in the American consciousness. Cleveland's promise to return captured Confederate flags to Southern states as a show of national unity (in contrast with Harrison's Civil War career) sparked into flame the dry kindling of Civil War sectionalism.

The election outcome gave President Cleveland approximately 90,000 popular votes more than Harrison, but Harrison carried the electoral college 233 to 168. Harrison's victory was based upon two swing states: New York and Indiana. Cleveland probably lost New York because of the anti-Tammany Hall reform measures that he carried out as President. Harrison had failed to carry his home city of Indianapolis, and for years after the election, there was political talk suggesting that his supporters had purchased votes in Indiana to win the state. In any case, Republicans increased their membership in the House of Representatives by fourteen seats, and they continued to control the Senate by a narrow margin. With the appointments of Republican justices to the Supreme Court, Harrison's party dominated all branches of the federal government for the first time in many years.

The Campaign and Election of 1892

In 1892, incumbent Harrison lost to Grover Cleveland in a dramatic turnaround of historic importance. For the first time in the nation's history, the two presidential candidates had both been President. Cleveland's victory, moreover, returned a defeated President to the White House for a second term—a historic first that has never been repeated. The Democrats also regained control of both chambers of Congress.

The seeds of Harrison's defeat in 1892 had been planted early in his administration. The Democrats had surged to power in the 1890 off-year elections by capturing the House of Representatives. Two years later, at the 1892 convention, a major revolt of party regulars threatened to deny Harrison his party's nomination. This threat remained effective only until James G. Blaine, who had broken with Harrison while serving as the President's secretary of state, refused to accept a presidential draft. Although Harrison won the nomination on the first ballot, Blaine and William McKinley of Ohio showed significant strength in the nomination voting, thus denying Harrison a united party ballot.

Harrison's difficulties within the party stemmed from his arbitrary treatment of party bosses and even its rank-and-file supporters. His frozen demeanor, refusal to listen to advice, standoffish behavior, and insensitivity to style and convention alienated even members of his own cabinet. He probably would not have stood for reelection but for his anger at the revolt within his party in support of Blaine, with whom he had become embittered.

As in the election of 1888, both candidates conducted unspectacular and modest campaigns. Cleveland refused to engage in an active or personal campaign when he learned of Mrs. Harrison's serious illness—from which she died on October 25, 1892, just two weeks before the election. Harrison limited himself to a few appearances in New York and New Jersey, two crucial swing states. Both candidates tried to ignore the rebellious third party, the Populists, or People's Party. The Populists nominated Civil War General James Weaver of Iowa, a former Greenback Party candidate, three-term member of the House of Representatives, and advocate of the free coinage of silver.

In the final tally, voters handed Cleveland the most decisive victory of any presidential candidate in twenty years. Cleveland beat Harrison by a margin of approximately 375,000 popular votes. The electoral college vote outcome was more dramatic, allowing Cleveland to win by nearly a two to one margin over Harrison. The Populists drew one million voters and twenty-two electoral ballots. Cleveland swept the Solid South and all four swing states: New York, New Jersey, Indiana, and Connecticut. He also carried Illinois and Wisconsin—this was the first time these states had gone Democratic since the Civil War.

Harrison's defeat stemmed from a lack of backing by his own party as well as from his failure to resolve three national issues. First, Harrison's support for the high McKinley Tariff of 1890 enraged millions. In the public's mind, higher prices seemed directly related to government protection of special corporate interests. Second, agrarian discontent in the South and West led thousands of farmers to look to the Populist Party as a political alternative. Third, a series of bloody labor strikes—at the silver mines in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and at Andrew Carnegie's steel mill in Homestead, Pennsylvania—linked Harrison to monopoly industrialists and bankers. For these reasons and others, voters felt that the President was uncaring and did not act appropriately on their behalf.

Equally important in explaining Harrison's 1892 defeat was the public dissatisfaction with the burst of Republican legislation during Harrison's first year in office. Republican Party leaders had considered the party's sweep in 1888 as a mandate for change. The long 303-day first session of the Fifty-first Congress enacted nearly the entire Republican platform. Flush with over $100 million of surplus revenues, Congress pushed through generous pensions for Civil War veterans, expanding the list of eligible recipients to noncombatant soldiers and the children of veterans. Known thereafter as the first "Billion Dollar" Congress, its surge of controversial Republican activism laid the groundwork for the disastrous reverses in public support for Harrison's party in the midterm elections of 1890 as well as his defeat at the hands of Cleveland in 1892.


1892 General Election - History

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  • Electors from the state of Michigan were selected using the congressional district method (the winner in each congressional district wins one electoral vote, the winner of the state wins two electoral votes). This resulted in a split between the Republican and Democratic electors: nine for Harrison and five for Cleveland.
  • In Oregon, the direct election of Presidential Electors combined with the fact that one Weaver elector was endorsed by the Democratic Party and elected as a Fusionist, resulted in a split between the Republican and Populist electors: three for Harrison and one for Weaver.
  • In California, the direct election of Presidential Electors combined with the close race resulted in a split between the Republican and Democratic electors: eight for Cleveland and one for Harrison.
  • In Ohio, the direct election of Presidential Electors combined with the close race resulted in a split between the Republican and Democratic of electors: 22 for Harrison and one for Cleveland.
  • In North Dakota, two electors from the Democratic-Populist Fusion ticket won and one Republican Elector won. This created a split delegation of electors: one for Weaver, one for Harrison, and one for Cleveland.
  • Electoral Vote Map Note: there is no implied geographical significance as to the location of the shaded areas for states with split electoral votes.

© Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Elections, LLC 2019 All Rights Reserved

Note: The advertisement links below may advocate political positions that this site does not endorse.


Campaign and election

Neither Harrison nor Cleveland campaigned much, in part out of respect for Harrison’s wife, who was ill for much of the year and died two weeks before the election. As the Democrats’ primary stump speaker, Stevenson notably emphasized the party’s opposition to the Federal Elections Bill (1890)—a measure that aimed to protect voting rights for African Americans by allowing the federal government to monitor state and local elections—in an attempt to attract support from white Southerners who might otherwise have been drawn to the Populists. In addition, the race was undoubtedly affected by violent labour strikes in July at silver mines in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and at Andrew Carnegie’s steelworks in Homestead, Pennsylvania. (See Coeur d’Alene riots and Homestead Strike.) The incidents, which had been triggered by wage cuts for workers, were viewed by many as evidence that Harrison’s high-tariff policy was unfriendly to labour.

In the end, Cleveland won the popular vote by some 380,000 votes and managed 277 electoral votes to Harrison’s 145—the most decisive win in a presidential contest in two decades. Weaver, for his part, garnered 22 electoral votes, all from states west of the Mississippi River. Cleveland’s victory proved to be somewhat Pyrrhic, though, as the country soon plunged into an economic depression that he struggled to overcome.

For the results of the previous election, see United States presidential election of 1888. For the results of the subsequent election, see United States presidential election of 1896.


1892 General Election - History

Former President Cleveland was the front runner at the Democratic Convention in 1892. Cleveland was opposed by those from the West and the South who supported free coinage of silver. Despite the opposition, Cleveland won the nomination on the first ballot. Harrison also won the nomination at the Republican convention on the first ballot. During the 1880s, farmers faced economic difficulties in much of the United States. Many farmers were strong supporters in minting silver. They believed if silver were minted for producing money, it would increase the money supply and bring back prosperity. Radical farmers met in February 1892 to form the People's Party. The People's Party later became the Popular Party. The Popular Party nominated former Union General James Weaver to be their party's presidential nominee.

The issue of tariffs dominated the 1892 election campaign. Cleveland ran against the increase of the tariffs that Harrison had brought about. The Populist candidate, James Weaver, received strong support for his position promoting the minting of silver.

There was no active campaigning by any candidate. Harrison's wife was deathly ill. He did not even hold porch speeches. Cleveland, in deference to Harrison, did not campaign either.


Celebration

In Birmingham a city-wide "jollification" followed the announced returns. The Birmingham Age-Herald reported that more than 25,000 revelers from across the state packed into downtown to "hurrah for Grover" and make merry. On the evening of November 15 steam whistles from streetcars and industrial plants began to sound and were joined by cannons firing. Party activists gathered at 1st Avenue and 18th Street to begin a procession past offices, stores and houses bedecked with bunting and illuminated with Japanese lanterns. Colonel Louis Clark led a cavalry company of 800 horsemen, followed by Grambs' Military Band, then a parade of floats bearing these inscriptions:

  • "Grover, Frances, and Baby Ruth" (referring to the President-elect, his wife and 1-year-old daughter)
  • "Alabama Could Not Be Bought With Magee's Boodle" (Chris Magee of Pennsylvania was given funds from the Harrison campaign to sway Southern voters)
  • "The People Nominated Him, And The People Elected Him" (referring to Cleveland's prior electoral loss, though he had carried the popular vote in 1888)
  • "The Chickens Are Not So Small As They Used To Be"
  • "We Are The People. No More Hard Times"
  • "Down With Corruption And Force Bill" (from Woodlawn)
  • "A Public Office Is A Public Trust"
  • "The Election of Cleveland Means Four More Years Of Prosperity"
  • "We Have A Fox, And He Is A Runner" (referring to Mayor-elect David Fox)
  • "The World Is Ours. We Are In It By A Large Majority"
  • "Long Life To Them They Are Friends Of The People. The Italians." (with portraits of Cleveland and vice-president elect Adlai Stevenson)
  • "The Country Is Safe" (with a large iron safe drawn by six horses)
  • "Blount County Is Strictly In It, And Don't You Forget It."
  • "McKinley And His Little Bill Are Dead." (referring to the Lodge Force Bill)

Other floats advertised local businesses such as the Birmingham Brewing Company and specific political statements such as the Alabama Club's and Irish Democratic Club's campaigns for home rule. The parade also included a company of bicyclists.

The floats were followed by another band led by Professor Judge, and then the great mass of torch-bearing partisans. The procession marched from 18th to 22nd Street, then crossed over the viaduct to Southside, then around the block at 20th Street back to the 21st Street viaduct and up to the Courthouse on 3rd Avenue. Once the crowd had gathered a volley of Roman candles were loosed from the courthouse windows. Groups of miners from Pratt Mines and Blue Creek Mines wore their caps with oil-wick lamps aflame while they whooped it up.

At the grand-stand in front of the courthouse a telegraph line brought messages of congratulations from around the country. Its pole also supported an effigy of William McKinley which was set alight. An arch over the platform was inscribed "The Democracy is in the Saddle and Will Not be Unseated". Speakers included Rufus Rhodes, C. M. Shelley, Henry Clayton, A. G. Smith, L. W. Turpin, Patrick Brennan, W. P. Gorman, William Skaggs, J. J. Altman, B. Steiner, David Fox, Benjamin Carter, Oscar Underwood, Goldsmith Hewitt II, M. M. Boggan, Emmet O'Neal, D. C. Culbreath, A. P. Griffith, Ross Smith and R. F. Johnson. They speeches were preceded by a spirited playing of "Dixie" by the assembled bands, accompanied by "rebel yells". Rhodes read a statement from the President-elect saying, "Prosperity and happiness to the south, at once the cradle and guardian of civil liberty in America". After the speeches were concluded, the gathering sang "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" and left the streets to the younger revelers who carried on "until the small hours".


Footnotes

Where the term ‘Unionist’ is used, it refers to Conservative and Liberal Unionists collectively. I would like to thank Prof. Paul Readman, Dr. Joel Barnes and the Modern British History Reading Group at King’s College London for reading earlier drafts of this article, as well as Prof. John Bradley for his advice on databasing and the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments. I am also grateful to the following bodies for funding the research presented here: the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Catherine Mackichan Trust, the Chalke Valley History Trust, the Gilchrist Educational Trust, the Lynne Grundy Memorial Trust and the Sir John Plumb Charitable Trust.


Founding of the Irish National League

The Irish National League (INL), a nationalist political party, is founded on October 17, 1882 by Charles Stewart Parnell as the successor to the Irish National Land League after it was suppressed. Whereas the Land League had agitated for land reform, the National League also campaigns for self-governance or Irish Home Rule, further enfranchisement and economic reforms.

The League is the main base of support for the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), and under Parnell’s leadership, it grows quickly to over 1,000 branches throughout the island. In 1884, the League secures the support of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland. Its secretary is Timothy Harrington who organises the Plan of Campaign in 1886. The Irish League is effectively controlled by the Parliamentary Party, which in turn is controlled by Parnell, who chairs a small group of MPs who vet and impose candidates on constituencies.

In December 1890 both the INL and the IPP split on the issues of Parnell’s long standing family relationship with Katharine O’Shea, the earlier separated wife of a fellow MP, Captain William O’Shea, and their subsequent divorce proceedings. The majority of the League, which opposes Parnell, breaks away to form the “Anti-Parnellite” Irish National Federation (INF) under John Dillon. John Redmond assumes the leadership of the minority Pro-Parnellite (INL) group who remains faithful to Parnell. Despite the split, in the 1892 general election the combined factions still retain the Irish nationalist pro-Home Rule vote and their 81 seats.

Early in 1900 the Irish National League (INL) finally merges with the United Irish League and the Irish National Federation (INF) to form a reunited Irish Parliamentary Party under Redmond’s leadership returning 77 seats in the September 1900 general election, together with 5 Independent Nationalists, or Healyites, in all 82 pro-Home Rule seats.

(Pictured: A hostile Punch cartoon, from 1885, depicting the Irish National League as the “Irish Vampire”, with Parnell’s head)


Governor's Election of 1892

Reuben F. Kolb The Alabama governor's election of 1892 was one of the state's most corrupt electoral contests. The race pitted Reuben F. Kolb, the candidate of a coalition of Jeffersonian Democrats (anti-Bourbon Democrats), the People's Party (third-party members also known as Populists), and some Republicans, against Thomas Goode Jones, the incumbent Democratic governor. Jones ultimately won the election by stealing votes in the Black Belt counties. Kolb, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 1890, charged Jones and the conservative Bourbon Democrats with using illegal tactics to maneuver him out of that contest and again in 1892, but Alabama did not permit governors' races to be contested. Thomas Goode Jones In 1892, Kolb was State Commissioner of Agriculture and a leader in the Farmers' Alliance. He was unwilling to call himself a Populist, although he accepted the endorsement of the People's Party, and explained that he was the same Democrat he had always been. After losing the nomination to Jones and the Bourbon Democrats, Kolb accepted the call of the Jeffersonian Democrats. As a result, he was able to attract the support of both the Jeffersonian Democrats and third-party Populists who remained separate entities but shared many of the same views and were powerful voices for reform and democracy.

At the national and the congressional level, Democrat Grover Cleveland carried Alabama over the Populist James B. Weaver and the Republican Benjamin C. Harrison. The Democrats also carried all of the races for members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Many reformers saw 1892 as only a temporary setback, and the Populists and Jeffersonian Democrats moved toward becoming one party. In response, the Bourbon Democrats, fearful of resurgent populism, rewrote the state's Constitution in 1901, codifying grandfather clauses, property qualifications, and other measures to disfranchise most African Americans and many poor whites, preserving for themselves political power until civil rights legislation broke that hold in the 1960s.

Going, Allen. Bourbon Democracy in Alabama. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1951.


1892 General Election - History

The photograph opposite shows one of Thomas's election posters.

Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire

PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION, 1892

GENTLEMEN,-
Having been unexpectedly invited by a large and representative Meeting of Electors to become the Liberal Candidate for his Division at the approaching General Election, I take this early opportunity of recognising the confidence such a request indicates, and of making known the great pleasure which I have in accepting so cordial and so honorable an invitation.

In specifying to you the principles and measures which I shall support, should you do me the honour of returning me to Parliament for the division in which I reside, and in which I have a large commercial interest, I place foremost a properly safeguarded but thorough measure of Home Rule for Ireland, which should give to the Irish people complete control of exclusively Irish affairs.

My knowledge of the conditions under which miners pursue their daily calling, and of their wishes upon the question, will enable me to give hearty approval to a measure which shall limit their daily work to a statutory day of Eight Hours a similar reform I would extend, as far as practicable, to all who are engaged in dangerous and exacting occupations.

Although a churchman, I concede the justice of the demand for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales, and will vote for it.

Believing that the constitution of County Councils is only an initial step in the reform and healthy extension of Local Government, I am in favour of proceeding further on the same lines by the establishment of Parish Councils, such Councils to have jurisdiction over Common Lands, Charitable Bequests, Public Elementary Schools, Sanitary Arrangements, Highways, and all other local matters to possess powers of compulsory purchase of land for allotments, religious and educational purposes, public halls and building societies, and in whose hands should be placed the control of the constabulary.

I am also in favour of giving to the people free and untrammelled Control of the Liquor Traffic, and thus would leave to the popular voice the settlement of all questions arising therefrom.

I am also in favour of the equitable Taxation of Mining Royalties, Way-leaves, and Ground Rents and of a more just division of the burden of Rates between owners and occupiers of rateable hereditaments.

I am in favour of Cheapening the Transfer of Land and of the Abolition of the Laws of Primogeniture and Entail.

I desire to see the abolition of Plural Voting, the Shortening of the Residential Qualification, the appointment of a Public Registration Officer, an increase in the number of Polling Places, and in other facilities for recording votes the Shorter duration of Parliaments, the Payment of Members, the Revision of the Poor, Burial and Game Laws, and the general appointment of Stipendiary Magistrates.

I am in hearty sympathy with most of those recent proposals which aim at the amelioration of the condition of the working classes, such as the provision of Better Houses, Public Parks, and Recreation Grounds, improved sanitary conditions, and other means for brightening the homes and elevating the lives of the Poor.

I shall also vote for any measure calculated to improve the official Inspection of Mines by the appointment of inspectors from the ranks of the miners.

So many questions appear to me to be ripe for settlement that I cannot do more than give the above outline of my principles and aims, but I shall take an early opportunity of having such personal intercourse with the electors as will enable me more fully to explain my views.

Finally, whilst I am for extending to every part of the Empire the fullest and most effective system of Local Government, I desire to state that my vote and influence shall always be exercised for the uninjured preservation of' the British Empire in all its territorial and commercial integrity.

I have the honour to remain, Gentlemen, yours faithfully,

Thomas Parker, Newbridge House, Wolverhampton.

AN EVERGREEN MEMENTO OF
MR. THOMAS PARKER’S
REJECTION BY THE ELECTORS OF THE KINGSWINFORD DIVISION OF STAFFORDSHIRE,
JULY 14, 1892

"Aside for ever! It may sound-

After Thomas's defeat, the local Liberals held a meeting in the Agricultural Hall, Wolverhampton, on Wednesday, 16th November, 1892, to congratulate him on his efforts:

Kingswinford Division

Great Liberal Meeting in Wolverhampton

Presentation to Mr. Thomas Parker

On Wednesday night Mr. Thomas Parker, who contested the Kingswinford Division of Staffordshire at the General Election, was presented with an illuminated address and a handsome brougham in recognition of his gallant fight. The ceremony took place in the Agricultural Hall, Wolverhampton, where Liberals were present from all parts of the division.

The hall was filled long before the proceedings commenced, and the time was pleasantly passed by the singing of Liberal songs by the audience, and the performance of popular music on the organ by Mr. T. Clements. The Hon. Philip Stanhope, who presided, walked on the platform escorting Mrs. Parker, Mr. Parker himself escorting Miss Amy Mander. Amongst those present were Mr. C.E. Shaw, M.P. for Stafford Alderman T. Bantock, Messrs. J. Addison, C.C. (President of the Dudley Liberal Association), J. Skidmore (Chairman of the Brierley Hill Liberal Association), G. Green (Old Hill), G.R. Thorne, Major Walker, G. Armstrong, J.T. Homer, W. Thomas, T.P. Newbould, C. Boyes, G.M. Morgan, R. Willcock, B. Hadley, C.C. (Blackheath), S. Wilkes, C.C. (Sedgley), Councillor Baker, S. Ingram, G. Hodges, T.G. Greensill, S.M. Wright, G. Woodhall, T. Woodhall, C. Blackshaw, J.F. Bectett, Councillor Price Lewis, Z. Butler, W. Fithern etc.

The brougham was supplied by Mr. Clarke of Chapel Ash. Letters of apology were received from the Right Hon. H.H. Fowler, M.P., President of the Local Government Board, who said “The Liberal Party are deeply indebted to Mr. Parker for his gallant attempt to win the Kingswinford Division, and though he was unsuccessful I trust that as the representative in Parliament of a Liberal constituency he will ere long be enabled to render those public services for which he has so many valuable qualifications”. Apologies were also received from Mr. B. Hingley, M.P., Mr. G. King Harrison, and Mr. P. Pargeter.

It was an arduous duty, and they were at some pains to find a man who would unite in his own person that degree of popularity and merit that would entitle him to the confidence of his constituents. But they found in Mr. Thomas Parker, a man whom he might call a typical Liberal candidate, springing as he did from the people, proud as he was to ally himself with the people, and arriving as he had done by hard work and by his undoubted ability at a position of trust and confidence and eminence in the commercial world.

But it was only fair, to remember that the Kingswinford Division had in its electorate of 12,000 voters, no less than 4,800 plural voters property voters who resided outside, but pounced down upon the constituency on the day of the election.

That would be remedied by a Bill which they expected would shortly be presented to Parliament, requiring that a man should have but the only vote to which he was entitled. If that salutary change was introduced into their laws he thought the position in the Kingswinford Division would be modified to that extent that they would have Mr. Thomas Parker on the platform as their honourable member, and hear of a testimonial being presented to the defunct political representative, Mr. Staveley Hill.

Their Tory friends would tell them that the majority of 1,500 was an enormous one, but to come to a little question of subtraction, he should imagine that his friend Parker would not command much sympathy from people of property. Perhaps a proportion of one in ten, and of the number of plural voters, probably 500 would support the Liberal candidate, all the remainder going for the representative of vested interests. Let them take off those 4,000 votes, and where would Mr. Hill be then?

This evening, at all events, they could present to their opponents a more interesting object lesson. The last election was fought upon their present electoral system. If the Liberal party was true to its pledges, if it were resolute in Parliament, the next election would be fought upon a Radical system. And then they would see a very different condition of affairs throughout the whole of this district.

They all knew Mr. Parker’s defeat was only one of a long list of reverses which they unfortunately had all sustained in this district. He was not going to enter into the full particulars of those reverses. He was going to affirm boldly tonight as he had said before, and as he should continue to say, and as events would prove, that Unionism had little to do with it. Were they as a Liberal party, prepared to accept the position that they saw the Licensed Victualler’s Association hold, in which, as he read the account of their meeting at Burton, the chairman, boldly declared that the licensed victuallers had the fate of the country in their hands, that they could, if they wished it, transfer the government of the country from one party to the other, and until they were satisfied they would continue to hold the roost.

He also said that the Liberals were ready in this district to fight the battle over again. He did not see many downcast countenances before him, and for his own part he felt none of the premonitory symptoms of a dying candidate. They were as determined as they were before the General Election that the stain he could call it nothing else, which rested upon a great portion of this country, and which attached to a great industrial centre like this of being represented by a Tory, he could not find a worse word than that and that discredit should be removed as soon as possible.

Alderman Bantock, to whom the honour of making the presentation was entrusted, expressed the pleasure it gave him to be present. After reading the address accompanying the gift, he remarked that it did not make reference to the recipient’s character and the claims he had upon the constituency. Wolverhampton had a great appreciation of Mr. Parker. He might be spoken of as a great benefactor to the town, and was not only a man of ability, but of uprightness and honesty. During the election he was even called “Honest Tom Parker”. The people knew that what he said in one place, he would not turn his back on in another. And as regarded ability to represent a constituency, why the chief electrical advisor to the Government had spoken of Mr. Parker as the Edison of England, and his works, for excellence of mechanical arrangement, yet simplicity, were foremost in the country.

They were, indeed under great obligation to such a gentleman, who came and brought his industry among them. At no time, continued Alderman Bantock, had he more confidence in the success of Liberalism and in that connection they must remember what had happened in their kindred nation across the water. Liberalism and then principals of fair trade and free trade had had a splendid victory in America, and such a victory as would cement the English speaking races more and more together, and all the high protection notions of Tories and American citizens, who ought never to have held such views, would be thrown to the winds. They would stand happy and united, loving one another, and setting the rest of the world an excellent example.

Alderman Bantock then moved the following resolution: “That this meeting of Liberals desire to express their gratitude to Mr. Thomas Parker for his services to Liberalism in the Kingswinford Division.”

The illuminated address read as follows:

Kingswinford Division of the County of Stafford.

To Thomas Parker, Esq., of Wolverhampton

On behalf of the Liberals of the Kingswinford Division, we desire to acknowledge the great services you have rendered to the Liberal cause by your vigorous candidature at the General Election of 1892.

Although your candidature was unsuccessful, your example and efforts will have an abiding influence throughout the constituency, and will more firmly establish the spirit and teachings of Liberalism in the minds of its people.

We therefore ask you to accept this address, and the accompanying gift, as some slight token of our appreciation and gratitude, and of our undiminished faith in those Liberal principals which you have striven to maintain.

Thomas Graham, Chairman
John T. Homer, Vice-Chairman
November 16th, 1892.

Mr. J. Addison seconded and was followed by a speech of thanks given by Mr. Parker.

Mr. Parker, whose rising to receive the presentation was the signal for a renewed outburst of enthusiasm, returned thanks. It was a difficult thing he said to return thanks comfortably. The fight, he said, had been undertaken simply so that the people should have a champion for their cause, and as a feeling of duty not influenced by any other considerations. He knew the difficulties and was fully rewarded by the assurance that the people thought he had done all that it could reasonably expected of a man to do. The effects of that contrast, would be, he hoped, the education of the people of the constituency, many of whom, unless that election had been fought, would have remained strangers to political education. By that means, above all others, the great cause of the people was to be helped.

For years the people had been kept in that ignorance which the capitalists thought so necessary for their condition, and he looked forward to the time when the people should be educated, and so demand their fair share in the country’s prosperity, and fight for the privileges so selfishly held from them during their period of ignorance. It was the power of the vote which could set the people free from that tyranny.

He had felt rather sore during the election, that he should have had the Church so antagonistic to him, believing himself that he was on the side of righteousness and justice. He had felt that here was something about the Church that he could not exactly understand, but since then he had made careful investigation, and he thought, on future occasions, he would be able to tell the reason.

Mr. Parker, alluding to commercial subjects, said the electrical industry in the town was but a growing one, and he hoped that unlike the bicycle industry, it would continue growing there. In conclusion he paid a high compliment to the energetic work done during the election by Mr. Homer, than whom he never wished to have a better or more cheerful friend.

Further speeches were given by Mr. C.E. Shaw, M.P., Mr. G.R. Thorne, Mr. S. Wilkes and Mr. Green.

The Chairman closed the proceedings and the new brougham was wheeled out, and Mr. and Mrs. Parker drove home in it amid the hearty cheers of the crowd.

Mr. Thomas Parker said that he knew something of the pinch of a poor home. His father had never earned more than £1 a week in his life, and during the last twelve years he had had to keep him. Speaking of the House of Lords he said that they could excuse them as they were an accident and their accidents had been most carefully arranged and had been fenced round by every force that law could bring to bear. It was a peg upon which the aristocracy of the country could stand.


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