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Fall 2019

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Continental Liar

CONTINENTAL LIAR, by Neil Rolde, explores how, In 1884, Republican James G. Blaine came within 1,047 votes of becoming the President of the United States. This was the margin by which he lost New York State—and thus the election—to Grover Cleveland in what has been called “the dirtiest campaign in American history.” Yet his career—arguably the most sensational of any American politician of the so-called Gilded Age—did not end there. He was twice U.S. secretary of state, credited with having started our country on the path to acting like a world power, a powerful speaker of the house in Congress, and a United States senator from his adopted State of Maine. He was also, in the eyes of his opponents, “The Continental Liar From the State of Maine” or “Slippery Jim”—a sort of “amiable Tricky Dick Nixon,” as he’s been later called. He was hated by certain members of his own party, yet loved by millions of others, including some of his enemies in the Democratic Party. The press called him “The Magnetic Man,” due to his charisma, and another nickname was the “Plumed Knight.” Blaine and his wife, the former Harriet Stanwood of Augusta, knew most of the important Americans of the time—Lincoln, Harrison, Garfield, Carnegie, Roosevelt, and many others. This is the fascinating biography of a man who dominated the American political stage, starting just before the Civil War and continuing almost until the twentieth century.

 

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