1892 general election

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The 1892 general election was a statewide election for federal presidential electors and state and local offices, including the uncontested 1892 Birmingham municipal election.

The successful presidential campaign of Democrat Grover Cleveland over incumbent Benjamin Harrison was marked by Democrat opposition to the protectionist McKinley Tariff, which had passed during Harrison's term, and the Lodge Force Bill, a proposal to apply federal oversight in state elections to ensure compliance with the 15th amendment, which had been supported by Republicans. In heavily Democratic states like Alabama, Cleveland's victory was proclaimed as a glorious "defeat of the enemies of free government".

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".

References

  • "The Celebration Was A Great Success" (November 23, 1892) Birmingham Age-Herald