James G. Blaine, the Republican presidential candidate, was worn out, and he did not want to campaign in New York City. Nor did the Republican state chairman want him to. “Go up the line of the New York Central to Syracuse; stump the northern counties —they need it; and then go home to Portland.” Blaine was exhausted; the shortest road home looked sweetest to him; but New York City was New York City. He went.
Charming, cordial, and half-stupefied with fatigue, he moved through the usual ceremonies until October 29 when he fell into the hands of a welcoming committee whose spokesman was the Reverend Samuel D. Burchard. Blaine stood patiently while Burchard gave vent to a long, droning speech. Without any change of tone, the cleric muttered at one point, “We are Republicans and don’t propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion.” The barbed phrase slipped right past Blaine. But the shorthand reporter supplied by the Democrats caught it.
Rum-Romanism-Rebellion handbills were circulating through the East the next day; the Irish Catholic vote went to the Democrats; and on November 4 Grover Cleveland was elected President of the United States.