Monday, March 3

Rum, Romanism and Rebellion

Here is a photograph of Sonnet's Great Grandmother Blaine. Stan tells me that both the grandparents were teachers and had four daughters and Grandfather Blaine was the Superintendent Of Schools in Glenwood Springs and was Supt in Longmont, CO when he died in the mid 1930s. The Blaines descended from James G. Blaine the corrupt U.S. Senator from Maine who almost became President. This last bit of treasure is too good to be left hanging so I spend some time today digging online.

Grandpa G. Blaine was born in West Brownsville, Washington County, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh. He was the great-grandson of Col. Ephraim Blaine (1741-1804), who during the American War of Independence served in the American army from 1778 to 1782 as commissary-general of the Northern Department.

After graduating Washington and Jefferson College, Blaine settled in Augusta, Maine, in 1854, becoming editor of the Kennebec Journal, and subsequently on the Portland Advertiser.

Editorial work was soon abandoned for a more active public career. Blaine served as a member in the Maine House of Representatives from 1859 to 1862, serving the last two years as Speaker of the House. He also became chairman of the Republican state committee in 1859 and for more than 20 years personally directed every campaign of his party. Among his adoring admirers, he was known as the "Plumed Knight." Blaine was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for President in 1884; he was the only nonincumbent Republican nominee to lose a presidential race between 1860 and 1912, and only the second Republican Presidential nominee to lose at all. Republican reformers, called "Mugwumps" supported Cleveland because of Blaine's reputation for corruption. After heated canvassing, during which he made a series of brilliant speeches, he was beaten by a narrow margin in New York. Many, including Blaine himself, attributed his defeat to the effect of a phrase, "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion", used by a Protestant clergyman, the Rev. Samuel Burachrd, on October 29, 1884, in Blaine's presence, to characterize what, in his opinion, the Democrats stood for. "Rum" meant the liquor interest; "Romanism" meant Catholics; "Rebellion" meant Confederates in 1861.

Blained refused to be a presidential candidate again in 1888 instead becoming Secretary of State in the Cabinet of President Benjamin Harrison fromm 1889 to 1892.

His service at State was distinguished by several notable steps. In order to promote the friendly understanding and cooperation of the nations on the American continents he projected a Pan-American Congress, which, after being arranged for and led by Blaine as its first president, was frustrated by his retirement. (Its most important conclusions were the need for reciprocity in trade, a continental railway and compulsory arbitration in international complications.) Shaping the tariff legislation for this policy, Blaine negotiated a large number of reciprocity treaties which augmented the commerce of his country.

He upheld American rights in Samoa, pursued a vigorous diplomacy with Italy over the lynching of 11 Italians accused of being Mafiosi who murdered the police chief in New Orleans in 1891, held a firm attitude during the strained relations between the United States and Chile over a deadly barroom brawl involving sailors from the USS Baltimore; and carried on with Britain a controversy over the seal fisheries of Bering Sea—a difference afterward settled by arbitration. Blaine sought to secure a modification of the Clayton-Bulwer, and in an extended correspondence with the British government strongly asserted the policy of an exclusive American control of any isthmian canal which might be built to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Blaine resigned on June 4, 1892, on the eve of the meeting of the Republican National Convention. His name, when once again submitted for consideration by the delegates, drew little support.