Election Excitement in 1884

In November of 1884, Grover Cleveland narrowly defeated Republican James G. Blaine to become the first Democrat to be elected President since 1856. The tumultuous national contest, as well as state and local races, were watched with intense interest in Nebraska, where crowds scanned newspaper bulletin boards for the latest election news. The Daily State Journal (Lincoln), on Thursday, November 6, 1884, published election results for Lancaster County amid great excitement as national returns trickled in.

The Journal, a Republican paper, reported: “The large number of doubtful states and the slowness with which the returns came in, made it impossible to gather any definite idea as to the result Tuesday night, so there was no abatement in the public interest in the returns yesterday. Besides the large number of people in the city, who thronged every place where any news was to be secured, every precinct in the county was represented by men who came in with returns from their precinct, or came simply to get the returns from the national contest. There were also many in from neighboring towns in quest of the latest news.

“THE JOURNAL kept its bulletin board ornamented all day with the latest returns, which were eagerly scanned by anxious crowds, who broke into enthusiastic cheers as the figures showed more and more favorable indications for the republicans. An occasional report of democratic gains elicited a feeble show of enthusiasm from the democratic members of the crowd, but it was doomed to a short life.

“At 4:30 p.m. THE JOURNAL issued an extra with the returns up to that hour. It had been announced beforehand and an immense crowd gathered around the doors as the hour approached. They rushed into the office as soon as the papers began to come up from the press room, and not less than 2,000 people probably passed in at one door and out the other as they secured their papers. Newsboys were sent out to distribute these and they were scattered broadcast over the city. The rush to get the latest news was ludicrous, and when the boys first appeared they were nearly pulled to pieces by the crowds that broke for them pell-mell as soon as they came in sight.

“The [StateDemocrat‘s bulletin board attracted a crowd that showed considerable enthusiasm and rent the air with bourbon yells as the early reports of democratic gains came in. But when the knight of the chalk and eraser came out and bulletined the probability that Blaine had carried New York [which proved false], the hungry horde lost its appetite for news and silently dropped to pieces and disappeared.” The Democrats’ disappointment was premature. Blaine carried Lancaster County, but his narrow loss to Cleveland in New York cost him the election. 

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.