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This week in history: Dark horse James Garfield wins Republican nomination in Chicago

The newly published Chicago Daily News covered the 1880 Republican National Convention when James Garfield swept in and captured the Republican presidential nomination.

Photograph of James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States, lies amid various Garfield ephemera.
A photograph of James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States, lies amid various Garfield ephemera in the campaign house on the property of Lawnfield, the James A. Garfield National Historic Site, in Mentor, Ohio Aug. 24, 1998. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta) ORG XMIT: NY402

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

The Chicago Daily News covered its first Republican National Convention in 1880. Despite President Hayes not running for reelection and former President Grant seeking a third term, the convention had no favorite candidate.

The front page of the June 8, 1880 edition of the paper likely shocked many when it proclaimed, “Garfield Wins,” and described the day’s voting, starting with the 29th ballot.

“There were innumerable rumors concerning various combinations, but none of them could be traced to a reliable source,” the report said. Grant led nearly every vote, but he couldn’t get the 379 votes to clinch the nomination. On the 30th ballot, Garfield had just two votes.

On the 35th ballot, “a whirlwind of a sensation came on this ballot when Indiana gave Garfield 27 votes of which Grant lost,” the report said.

It was enough to spur other delegates to throw their support to Garfield to defeat Grant. So on the 36th ballot, the dark horse candidate won the nomination.