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James G. Blaine (1830–1893)

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0James G. Blaine (1830–1893)

Blaine was the colorful Republican politician, presidential candidate, and secretary of state during the Gilded Age.

Blaine married his wife secretly because she was a schoolteacher who was supposed to remain single. She came from a well-off Maine family, and they helped him get his start in politics there.

Although he had the grand platform manner of earlier politicians, Blaine excelled at personal contact and humorous banter. He could easily remember thousands of names and connect each of them with an anecdote about the person.

By dramatically producing and reading the “Mulligan letters,” which supposedly proved his involvement in railroad corruption, he convinced many people of his innocence. Although never charged with crime, he became wealthy by trading favors with the owners of railroads and other interests.

Quote: “This letter requires no answer. After reading it file it away in your most secret drawer or give it to the flames.… Do not say a word…no matter who may ask you.” (Letter to Sherman, 1884)

REFERENCE: R. Hal Williams, Years of Decision (1978).

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