James G. Blaine

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James Gillespie Blaine (January 31, 1830 – January 27, 1893) was a U.S. Representative, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, U.S. Senator from Maine, two-time Secretary of State. He was nominated for president in 1884, but lost a close race to Democrat Grover Cleveland.

Blaine was a dominant Republican leader of the late 19th century, and champion of the "Half-Breed" faction of the GOP. Nickname "The Continental Liar From the State of Maine," "Slippery Jim," and "The Magnetic Man," he was a magnetic speaker in an era that prized oratory, and a man of charisma. As a moderate Republican he supported President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. As a major leader during Reconstruction he took an independent course in his advocacy of black suffrage, but opposed the coercive measures of the Radical Republicans during the administration of Ulysses S. Grant. He opposed a general amnesty bill, secured the support of the Union veterans who mobilized as the Grand Army of the Republic, worked for a reduction in the tariff and generally sought and obtained strong support from the western states. Railroad promotion and construction were important in this period, and as a result of his interest and support Blaine was charged with graft and corruption in the awarding of railroad charters. The proof or falsity of the charges was supposed to rest in the so-called "Mulligan letters," which Blaine refused to release to the public, but from which he read in his controversial defense in the House.


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