Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884

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Date: Dec. 2000
From: Presidential Studies Quarterly(Vol. 30, Issue 4)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Document Type: Book review
Length: 784 words

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Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884. By Mark Wahlgren Summers. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000. 377 + xv pp.

Few presidential elections stand so prominent in American political lore as the 1884 contest between Republican James G. Blaine and Democrat Grover Cleveland. Seldom have voters faced a choice between two such contrasting personalities: the charming yet tainted Plumed Knight from Maine, adored by legions of Blainiacs but detested by Mugwumps and other self-styled reformers, versus the plodding New York governor whose supporters construed his brief public career into an image of reform. Sensational allegations of disgraceful misdeeds haunted both candidates, and voters gorged on scandals whose main ingredients were those two staples of political turpitude, money and sex. Cleveland's razor-thin victory compounded the fabulous character of the tale. Yet, despite all that fascinates about this election, historians and others have routinely repeated a set of myths about it and the political context in which it was played out.

Until now, that is. Mark Wahlgren Summers's Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: The Making of a President, 1884 deserves attention as the first book-length scholarly examination of the contest that gave the...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A68207122