One classic example was the Democratic convention in late May 1844, at which Michigan's Lewis Cass and former president Martin Van Buren deadlocked. The convention ultimately picked the first dark horse candidate, James K. Polk.
Polk was home in Tennessee and only heard days later that he was running for president.
This week in Newspaper Sunday we take a look at how the rest of the country heard the news.
- New York Tribune, May 31, 1844: "A rather curious result has occurred," began the New York Tribune, which also referred to Polk as being the nomination of the "Loco-Foco Ticket," a derisive term applied to a faction of the Democratic Party that year.
- The Sunbury American, June 1, 1844: A Pennsylvania newspaper delayed its edition to relay the news from the Baltimore convention, and had to explain that Polk was "known as an able man."
- New York Tribune, June 6, 1844: As news of Polk's nomination sank in, the New York Tribune expressed the surprise of some: "Although Mr. Van Buren was a used up man, they had endeavored to place in his shoes a man who, compared with him, was but a pigmy beside a giant."
- The Boon's Lick Times, June 1, 1844:Incidentally, campaigns fabricating quotes is nothing new. This explosively headlined article debunked the charge that a revered figure, Henry Clay, the Whig nominee that year, had said something entirely out of character.
Note: The links above lead to excerpts at the Chronicling America site of the Library of Congress. Use the "persistent link" to view the entire page of the newspaper.
Illustration: James K. Polk, who prevailed, to everyone's surprise, at the 1844 Democratic convention/Library of Congress
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