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1896 Election Results


William McKinley, next president

The Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates, McKinley and Hobart, won a sweeping victory in the electoral college, with 271 electoral votes to Bryan's 176. The popular vote was much closer: 7,102,246 to 6,492,559. Most of the votes cast for Bryan were Silver Democratic, and endorsed Sewall rather than Watson.

The Gold Democratic and Prohibition tickets did not win any electoral votes.

National maps of the support for McKinley and Bryan, and a state-by-state breakdown of votes are below.

Historians have seen 1896 as a "realigning election," though it confirmed results that had already been apparent in the 1894 congressional races: by 1897, Republicans had won sweeping control of the White House and both houses of Congress. The 1896 election showed a sharp differentiation between voters in the economic "metropole"--the Northeast and industrial areas--and those in the "periphery"--the South and West. Most historians believe this disagreement stemmed from different reactions to the massive depression, though voters' loyalties reflected a mix of racial attitudes, memories of the Civil War, and other motivations. It is possible to show how men (and a few women) voted, but impossible to prove with certainty why each individual voted as he did.

William McKinley was inaugurated on March 4, 1897, as the 25th president of the United States. His inaugural address promised solutions to the nation's economic woes--and he was lucky enough to preside over an economic recovery during the years of his first term. Thus, it was even more difficult by 1900 for Democrats and a few Populists to claim that Republican policies spelled the nation's economic doom.


____________________________________________________



McKinley and Hobart. A LAND-SLIDE FOR REPUBLICAN PRINCIPLES.

The Republicans of this county were well organized and repaired to the polls early Tuesday morning.... There were many pleasing incidents around the polls. Besides the quietness of the large crowd and the good nature prevailed, the unusual thing of many Democrats voting the straight Republican ticket was seen, all of which go to show that the white citizens are ridding themselves of their prejudice and are allowing common sense and good judgment to rule their actions.

About a half dozen colored men were around the polls working for the Democrats. This work was to no avail. They were hooted and jeered and had to keep very quiet. In all not ten colored men were traitorous enough to vote against the Republican candidates. The colored Republicans remained true to their colors and voted solidly for the party of freedom.

—Savannah Tribune (African-American), November 7

ON THIS APPEAL WAS HE ELECTED.

Fellow Citizens: We the people of the United States are not now in a state of prosperity. Furnaces have blown out, mills and factories shut down, merchants and traders are bankrupt, millions are out of work and have no means of livelihood. Poverty and misery prevail in the land.

The cause is distrust. Moneyed men have lost confidence. There can be no prosperity for you until confidence is restored. Capitalists must be confident that they see a chance to make money. You are completely in their power. You can do nothing without capital. When capitalists find it in their interest they will give you prosperity. Capitalists are the masters in this land, the arbiters of your fate.... These, your masters, demand two thinks of you as the condition of allowing you to enjoy prosperity: First--Sound money; that is, money which is scarce and dear, of high purchasing power.

Second--Protection; that you buy your goods of them and give up your right to buy in any market which they do not control.

... Elect me! I will see that their demands are met. I WILL OPEN THE MILLS! Money shall be scarce and dear, and you shall buy only of them. I have no doubt that this will conciliate them and that they will allow you to have prosperity.


On This Appeal He Was Elected

Twenty-fifth President of the United States.

IS THIS A NATION OF SLAVES?

—The Coming Nation, December 12, 1896


from Inter Ocean, Chicago, 4 November 1896.


McKINLEY AND HOBART WIN.

A Magnificent Victory for the Republican Ticket
and the National Honor.
New York Puts Up a Wonderful Majority of Three Hundred Thousand, and Illinois is Well in Front.
GREAT GAINS MADE IN SOUTHERN AND WESTERN STATES.

—Los Angeles Times, November 4


BRYAN BELIEVED TO HAVE WON.

Intense Excitement in New York City Early This Morning.

Exaggerated Hanna Claims Part of a Scheme to Steal the Election.

At 5:30 This Morning Chairman Jones Insists that Bryan Has Been Successful.


Mr. Bryan leads in the electoral college. While there are still thirty-six votes in doubt, The News believes that the final returns may give him a majority of the electoral votes....—Rocky Mountain News, November 4


To all unprejudiced and manly men, regardless of party, I submit the statement that never before has any party, so badly needed as ours, been so badly treated.... A reform party has no right to exist if it has no valid complaint to make. Populists cannot denounce the sins of the two old parties, and yet go into political coparternership with them.... If we represent nothing but a contest of the "outs" against the "ins," we are a lot of humbugs, parading as reformers.... By listening to the overtures of the Democratic managers our party has been torn into factions, our leaders deceived and ensnared, and the cause we represent permanently endangered, if not lost. The labor of many years is swept away, and the hopes of thousands of good people are gone with it. —People’s Party Paper, November 13


It is to be hoped that those persons who have objected to equal suffrage on the ground that women were "too excitable: have been following the incidents of the presidential campaign just closed. The "storm centre" was in the doubtful States, but even in the comparatively quiet East a number of men have committed suicide or gone insane in consequence of political excitement. The Boston Globe cites a series of cases. In Philadelphia, for instance, a tailor, believing that the "gold bugs" were pursuing him, ended his life with a carving-knife. In Brooklyn an unemployed man, becoming convinced that there would be no work for him unless McKinley should be elected, and that Bryan was likely to win, shot himself.... A Populist leader at Rome, Ga., has been immured in an asylum, while a Kentucky convict has gone raving mad under the hallucination that his services were imperatively needed on the stump. At least six fatal or serious shooting affrays marked the State election in Georgia, and in Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri and elsewhere, murders have occured at political meetings....

But from the three States where women voted for President this week, it is not reported that any woman has gone insane through political excitement, or has committed suicide, or has drawn a bowie knife or revolver upon a political opponent. After women had had full suffrage for ten years in Wyoming, the census reported that in all Wyoming there were only three lunatics, and those three were all of them men. —A.S.B. [Alice Stone Blackwell], Woman’s Journal, November 7, 1896


Candidate Party Popular Votes Electoral Votes

Candidate Party Popular Votes Electoral Votes
Bryan Silver Democratic, Populist, Silver 6,502,685 176
McKinley Republican 7,106,199 276
Palmer Gold Democratic 132,871 ---
Levering Prohibitionist 131,757 ---
Matchett Socialist Labor 36,258 ---

POPULAR AND ELECTORAL VOTE FOR PRESIDENT IN 1896

From The World Almanac Encyclopedia, 1897 NY: Press Publishing Co, Vol. IV, No. 40

State Bryan McKinley Palmer Levering Matchett Bryan
(Electoral Vote)
McKinley
(Electoral Vote)
Alabama 130,307 54,737 6,462 2,147 --- 11 ---
Arkansas 110,103 37,512 --- 839 --- 8 ---
California 143,373 146,170 1,730 2,573 1,611 1 8
Colorado 161,153 26,271 1 1,717 159 4 ---
Connecticut 56,740 110, 285 4,334 1,808 1223 --- 6
Delaware 13,424 16,804 877 355 --- --- 3
Florida 32,736 11,288 654 1,778 --- 4 ---
Georgia 94, 232 60, 091 2,708 5613 --- 13 ---
Idaho 23,192 6,324 --- 179 --- 3 ---
Illinois 464,632 607,130 6,390 9,796 1147 --- 24
Indiana 305,573 323,754 2,145 3,056 324 --- 15
Iowa 223,741 289,293 4,156 3,192 453 --- 13
Kansas 171,810 159,541 1,209 1,921 --- 10 ---
Kentucky 217,890 218,171 5,114 4,781 --- 1 12
Louisiana 77,175 22,037 1,834 --- --- 8 ---
Maine 34,688 80,465 1,870 1,570 --- --- 6
Maryland 104,735 136,959 2,507 5,918 587 --- 8
Massachusetts 105,711 278,976 11,749 2,998 2,114 --- 15
Michigan 236,714 293,582 6,879 5,025 297 --- 14
Minnesota 139,626 193,501 3,202 4,343 867 --- 9
Mississippi 63,859 5,130 1,701 485 --- 9 ---
Missouri 363,667 304,940 2,355 2,169 596 17 ---
Montana 42,190 9,998 --- 91 --- 3 ---
Nebraska 115,762 102,292 2,798 1,193 170 8 ---
Nevada 8,377 1,938 --- --- --- 3 ---
New Hampshire 21,650 57,444 3,520 779 228 --- 4
New Jersey 133,675 221,637 6,373 5,614 3,985 -- 10
New York 551,369 819,838 18,950 16,052 17,667 -- 36
North Carolina 174,488 155,222 578 675 --- 11 ---
North Dakota 20,686 26,335 --- 358 --- --- 3
Ohio 477,494 525,991 1,857 5,068 1,667 -- 23
Oregon 46,662 48,779 977 919 --- --- 4
Pennsylvania 433,228 728,300 11,000 19,274 1,683 --- 32
Rhode Island 14,459 37,437 1,166 1,160 558 --- 4
South Carolina 58,798 9,280 828 --- --- 9 ---
South Dakota 41,205 41,022 --- 691 --- 4 ---
Tennessee 166,268 148,773 1,951 3,098 --- 12 ---
Texas 370,434 167,520 5,046 1,786 --- 15 ---
Utah 64,851 13,461 --- --- --- 3 ---
Vermont 10,637 51,127 1,331 733 --- --- 4
Virginia 154,709 135,368 2,129 2,350 108 12 ---
Washington 51,557 39,124 1,499 805 --- 4 ---
West Virginia 92,927 104,414 677 1,203 --- --- 6
Wisconsin 165,523 268,135 4,584 7,509 1,314 --- 12
Wyoming 10,665 10,072 --- 136 --- 3 ---

map of mckinley wins

Maps courtesy the Great American History Machine, University of Maryland. gahminfo@umail.umd.edu


© 2010 Rebecca Edwards, author of New Spirits: Americans in the Gilded Age, 1865-1905 by Rebecca Edwards, Oxford University Press


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Chronology

Major events of the campaign,
in cartoon and story. (Click date)


  • Feb 27: People’s Advocate: Reading Tillman's Speech
  • Mar 19: People’s Advocate: Pitchfork
  • Apr 4: The Ram’s Horn: Rescued
  • Apr 15: Sound Money: History Repeats Itself
  • Apr 25: The Ram’s Horn: The Stranger at Our Gate
  • May 28: Prohibitionist’s convention, Pittsburgh, PA
  • June 16: Republican convention, St. Louis, MO
  • June 21: Denver New Road: Cleveland's Romance
  • June 28: L.A. Times: Bucking a Wall
  • July 4: Socialist convention, New York, NY
  • July 11: Democratic convention, Chicago, Illinois
  • July 9: Rocky Mountain News: A Soliloquy
  • July 11: Harper’s Weekly: Gold Bugs
  • July 12: L.A. Times: The Old Lady and Her New Wheel
  • July 16: People’s Advocate: McKinley's Evil Sprit
  • July 18: Harper’s Weekly: Altgeld and Bryan
  • July 22: Silver convention, St. Louis, MO
  • July 25: People’s Party convention, St. Louis, MO
  • July 22: Rocky Mountain News: Wall Street's Private Studio
  • July 25: Harper’s Weekly: Farmer McKinley
  • July 25: Judge: The Silver Candle
  • July 27: Chicago Record: Bryan's Tightrope
  • Aug 5: Rocky Mountain News: The Plain English of It
  • Aug 6: Sound Money: Spain and Rothschilds
  • Aug 8: McKinley accepts Republican nomination
  • Aug 9: Denver New Road: Bryan's Romance
  • Aug 12: Bryan accepts Democratic nomination
  • Aug 13: American Non-Conformist: Farmer Hanna
  • Aug 15: Rocky Mountain News: Bryan the Lion
  • Aug 16: L.A. Times: Aesop's Fox
  • Aug 18: Rocky Mountain News: Hanna the Wizard
  • Aug 20: Sound Money: The Cross of Gold
  • Aug 20: L.A. Times: Popocratic Witches
  • Aug 22: The Ram’s Horn: A Double Burden
  • Aug 29: Harper’s Weekly: McKinley the Veteran
  • Aug 29: Labor Advocate: Look at This
  • Aug 30: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Dime Museum
  • Sept 2: National (Gold) Democratic convention, Indianapolis, IN
  • Sept to Nov 1: McKinley front-porch campaign, Canton, OH
  • Sept 3: New York Journal: Li Hung Chang
  • Sept 5: Harper’s Weekly: The Crown of Thorns
  • Sept 5: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Just the Bare Facts
  • Sept 6: L.A. Times: Comrades in Arms
  • Sept 6: St. Paul Pioneer Press: A Bryan Dollar
  • Sept 8: Early election day in Arkansas and Vermont
  • Sept 9: Rocky Mountain News: John Bull
  • Sept 10: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Arkansas and Vermont
  • Sept 11 to Nov 1: Bryan travels 13,000 miles by train, stump-speaking around the nation.
  • Sept 11: St. Paul Pioneer Press: The Divorcee
  • Sept 11: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Uncle Sam Diagnoses
  • Sept 12: Labor Advocate: Their Argument Misses Fire
  • Sept 12: The Ram’s Horn: Building Up His Business
  • Sept 12: Harper’s Weekly: Populist Supreme Court
  • Sept 12: New York Journal: Hanna's Funds
  • Sept 13: Boston Globe: The Silver Dog
  • Sept 13: L.A. Times: Uncle Sam's Circus
  • Sept 14: L.A. Times: Populist Pandora
  • Sept 14: Rocky Mountain News: Playing Upon a Single String
  • Sept 17: Rocky Mountain News: Chinese Immigration
  • Sept 18: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Against Turkey
  • Sept 18: Rocky Mountain News: A Horrible Suspicion
  • Sept 19: Judge: Bryan's Cross
  • Sept 19: Labor Advocate: How They Love The Farmers
  • Sept 19: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Election-Year Friend
  • Sept 20: Boston Globe: Writ of Replevin'
  • Sept 20: L.A. Times: Populist Delilah
  • Sept 20: L’Abeille de Nouvelle Orleans: The Sultan Laughs
  • Sept 20: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: John Bull's Theft
  • Sept 21: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Robber And His Victim
  • Sept 24: L.A. Times: Resurrecting Secession
  • Sept 24: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Treachery
  • Sept 25: Daily Inter-Ocean: Democratic Jonah
  • Sept 26: Harper’s Weekly: Silver Bullfight
  • Sept 26: L.A. Times: For Sale
  • Sept 26: National Reflector: Rings On The Hog
  • Sept 26: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Bicyclist Bryan
  • Sept 29: L.A. Times: Poor Circulation
  • Oct 1: Pioneer Press: Silver Trust Hog
  • Oct 3: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Workingman's Friend
  • Oct 4: Raleigh New and Observer: Hanna and Dixon
  • Oct 6: Election Day in the state of Florida (not all states voted on the first Tuesday in Nov).
  • Oct 6: Chicago Times: X-Ray of Bryan's Brain
  • Oct 6: Pioneer Press: Silver Conversation
  • Oct 6: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Florida's Lifeline
  • Oct 8: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Democratic Florida
  • Oct 8: New York Journal: Confident Hanna
  • Oct 10: Harper’s Weekly: Three Witches
  • Oct 10: The Coming Nation: The Worker's Treadmill
  • Oct 11: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Resurrection
  • Oct 13: New York Journal: Hanna and Workers
  • Oct 13: St. Louis Globe Democrat: Bryan as Jack Cade
  • Oct 13: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: The Gold Balloon
  • Oct 15: Coxey's Sound Money: Uncle Sam Enslaved
  • Oct 15: Rocky Mountain News: Elected McKinley
  • Oct 16: Boston Globe: Bryan the Salesman
  • Oct 17: Coming Nation: Labor Exploitation
  • Oct 20: L.A. Times: Burning Cross of Gold
  • Oct 21: The Coming Nation: Socialism
  • Oct 22: Sound Money: The Old Party Scale
  • Oct 22: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna's Crown of Thorns
  • Oct 24: Harper’s Weekly: Altgeld and Guiteau
  • Oct 25: Daily Inter-Ocean: Bryan's Balloon
  • Oct 25: Omaha World Herald: Getting Women to Register
  • Oct 27: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna, Trusts, and Morgan
  • Oct 28: Puck: A New Civil War
  • Oct 30: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Hanna in Lehigh Valley
  • Oct 31: Republicans announce “Flag Day,” then argue with Democrats and Populists over meaning of the flag
  • Oct 31: Harper’s Weekly: Democratic Wind-Up Toys
  • Oct 31: New York Journal: Buncombe Brigade
  • Oct 31: The Ram’s Horn: Ignorance, Stupidity, and Fraud
  • Nov 2: McKinley wins presidential election
  • Nov 2: L.A. Times: Clown Bryan
  • Nov 4: L’Abeille de Nouvelle Orleans: Knock-Out Punch
  • Nov 4: St. Paul Pioneer Press: Elephant on the Silver Pillow
  • Nov 5: Sound Money: Prediction for 1900
  • Nov 14: Judge: Republican Tam O'Shanter
  • Nov 14: Coming Nation: Our Farmers Situation
  • Dec: Overland Monthly: Uncle Sam Looks Abroad
New Spirits
New Spirits
Perceptions and Realities: The Victorian Age Inventions of the era Tramps and Millionaires Yellowstone Park Journals of the era White City/1893 Worlds Fair The Civil War President McKinley