MAINE 200 — A nearly forgotten figure today, James G. Blaine is typically remembered due to the politically weaponized rhyme,“ James G. Blaine, Continental Liar from the State of Maine.”
Blaine was once considered a titan of the political arena in the late 1800s and only narrowly defeated by Grover Cleveland.
Although not born in Maine, Blaine married native Mainer Harriet Stanwood, and eventually found his way to make a living in newsprint and politics in Augusta.
Enjoying a meteoric rise in political stature, Blaine was favored by many in the Republican party to one day ascend to the presidency. Having become friends with James Garfield, Blaine was appointed secretary of state in 1881 and was walking beside President Garfield on July 2nd, 1881, when assassin Charles Guiteau fired two fatal shots, catapulting vice president Chester Arthur into office.
After several unsuccessful bids for the presidency, Blaine finally became the Republican nominee for 1884, but was plagued with stories of a railroad corruption scandal. The dirty campaign of 1884 featured personal and political scandals for both candidates, but ultimately harmed Blaine more than Cleveland.
Clever nicknames can be politically deadly, and “Continental Liar” was one Blaine could not escape.
(Vintage Photo Credit: Collections of Maine Historical Society, courtesy of VintageMaineImages.com, Item No. 6427, 9737, 15546)