Drown your sorrows with Manhattans


January 20, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

If you're still angry at the outcome of the recent presidential election and don't know how you're going to get through today's inauguration, turn off the TV and raise a well-made Manhattan cocktail to the memory of Samuel J. Tilden.

The Manhattan will be forever associated with Tilden, the 1876 Democratic presidential candidate who, like Al Gore, won the popular vote but went on to lose the presidency, in this case to Republican Rutherford Birchard Hayes by a single electoral vote.

The election fracas continued from November until the wee hours of March 2, 1877, when the Republican-controlled Senate ratified the Electoral Commission's votes of 185 for Hayes and 184 for Tilden.

Because many citizens thought the Republicans had stolen the election, Hayes was thereafter called "His Fraudulency" by foes.

Tilden refused interviews on the congressional resolution and until his death believed he had been denied the presidency and was called "Mr. President" by friends.

"Thus passes away the Tilden campaign, and for the third time has the national democracy lost the presidency with a New York candidate. Governor Hayes, who succeeds General Grant by questionable agencies, is heralded as General Grant was, as a liberal and moderate man," said a Sun editorial.

Until the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1933, which fixed the end of the presidential term at noon on Jan. 20, followed by inauguration of the incoming president, inauguration day had been March 4. (Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president inaugurated under the new law in 1937).

Rumors, which were unfounded, swirled through Washington in March 1877 suggesting that Tilden would have himself sworn in as president on March 4. Grant, perhaps fearing a civil conflict, arranged to have Hayes sworn in the previous day.

Hayes arrived in Washington from Ohio aboard the steamcars of the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad and was taken to the Red Room of the White House, where he was secretly administered the presidential oath by Chief Justice Morrison R. White.

It was the only time in the nation's history that the country had two presidents at one time and that the new president was sworn in before the official ceremony.

Because March 4 was a Sunday in 1877, the inaugural ceremony was held the next day, Monday, when Hayes took the presidential oath standing on the East Portico of the Capitol.

"The pageant was an imposing one, though not so gorgeous as it might have been had the results of the presidential count been reached at an earlier day, and thus given sufficient time for more elaborate preparation," reported The Sun.

"It is worthy of remark that no presidential inauguration ceremony has been marked by more perfect good order. The absence of all cause for disquiet was conspicuous, and all the apprehensions, whether real or pretended, of those who have been foremost in attempting to excite fear or partisan feeling in others found not a breath upon which to float amidst the vast throngs that lined the streets and filled the capital," observed the newspaper.

Ironically, James A. Garfield, who later became president and was assassinated, wrote in his diary after viewing the inauguration, "There were many indications of relief and joy that no accident had occurred on the route for there were apprehensions of assassination."

Tilden, a highly respected corporate and railroad lawyer, had made his reputation as a reformer. He had led the effort at overthrowing and prosecuting William Marcy Tweed, Democratic boss of New York City, and was elected governor of New York on a reform platform in 1874.

And this is where the Manhattan cocktail comes in. It was Jennie Jerome, daughter of a successful New York businessman and later mother of Winston Churchill, who held a party at New York's Manhattan Club celebrating Tilden's victory as governor.

She asked the bartender to create a drink in honor of the occasion which became known as the Manhattan, taking its name from the club.

The recipe calls for two parts bourbon or rye, one part sweet vermouth and a dash of angostura bitters to be shaken over ice or stirred. The drink should then be served in a chilled cocktail glass and finished off with a cherry.

Tilden, a lifelong bachelor, missed out on being president but left perhaps a more enduring legacy in another institution. After his death in 1886, the bulk of his estate was used to establish the New York Public Library. An engraved stone on the library's Fifth Avenue fortress commemorates his philanthropy.

Hayes, a lackluster president, pledged to serve only one term, and after leaving office, devoted his energy to the Peabody Education Fund and the John F. Slater Fund, which promoted education for Southern blacks. He died in 1893.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.