National Geographic : 1988 Jan
An election year, 1888 saw all the hoopla of a presi dential campaign and lived up to James Bryce's obser vation: "In American elections everything is held to depend on organization." The Democratic Convention selected incumbent Grover Cleveland by acclamation, while the Republicans wrangled through eight ballots before choosing Benjamin Harrison. The rotund Cleveland, running with Allen G. Thurman, made an issue of reducing the protective tariff, thereby alienating big business. The bearded Harrison and his running mate, Levi P. Morton, sided with the magnates. Harrison's campaign commit tee raised money, put out cam paign literature, and kept him at home in Indianapolis while the organization did its work. Harri son's friend Lew Wallace author of Ben Hur-was brought in to pen a biography. The candi date himself gave more than 80 extemporaneous speeches from his front porch and a nearby park to nearly 300,000 people. Although Cleveland won the popular vote by 90,000 votes, Harrison was the victor in the electoral college. Because of the close election, the era has been called the "period of no decision."