Grover Cleveland, Leader of the Bourbon Democrats and Twice President of the United States

The Bourbon Democrats were a historic faction of Democrats who formed after the Civil War, and remained a major force in the Democratic Party until Franklin D. Roosevelt swept them away.  The Bourbon Democrats were mostly Libertarian in their view towards government, and they allowed the Dixiecrats to remain in power in The South and enact racist policies there.   Many of the Bourbon Democrats were more Conservative than the Republicans.  They strongly backed the Gold Standard. Their one redeeming factor was that they were less corrupt than the Republicans at the time.

Bourbon Democratic Nominees

The Bourbon Democrats managed to win control of the Democratic nomination many times before Roosevelt's 1932 nomination, and they were the dominant faction of the Democrats before the Populists merged with them in 1896.   The Bourbon Democrats had a bad habit of losing elections.   Some people claim that they only lost 1876 and 1888 because of Republican corruption, but that view overlooks the fact that at the same time, the Democrats prevented black people from voting Republican, and had the elections been racially fair the Republicans could have won without stealing.

  • 1876: Samuel Tilden/Thomas Hendricks: Won popular vote, lost the Electoral College
  • 1880: Winfield S. Hancock/William H. English: Lost, Hancock went on to lead the NRA
  • 1884: Grover Cleveland/Thomas A. Hendricks: Won
  • 1888: Grover Cleveland/Allen G. Thurman: Won popular vote, lost the Electoral College
  • 1892: Grover Cleveland/Adlai Stevenson I: Won
  • 1904:Alton B. Parker/Henry G. Davis: Lost
  • 1924: John W. Davis/Charles W. Bryan: Lost

Third Party Tickets

The Bourbon Democrats did not have much sense of loyalty to the Democratic Party, and when people won the nomination who were too liberal for the Bourbon Democrats, they would break away and make a third party ticket.

  • 1872: Charles O'Conor/Charles Francis Adams, Jr.: Lost
  • 1896: John M. Palmer/Simon Bolivar Buckner: Lost

Fall of the Bourbon Democrats

In 1896, William Jennings Bryan and the Populists took over the Democratic Party.   They beat the Bourbon Democrats, because they had more supporters than a few rich businessmen.  The Populists, and later Progressive Democrats, dominated the Democratic Party after that.   When FDR came, he brought the New Deal, and Democrats who did not support it were mostly defeated, except for the Dixiecrats in the South.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.