The 1883 election campaign began on 11 October 1882, when Governor-General John McDowell of the Liberal Party gave the Age of Renewal speech in New York. In his speech, McDowell declared that "every North American has the right to hold a job, to a fair wage, to a fair return on his investment, to a decent place in which to live, to security in his home, to the knowledge that his government knows of his needs, and is prepared to help him help himself." Over the next three months, McDowell went on to give more speeches in the Northern Confederation, the Southern Confederation, and Indiana on the subject of reform, while introducing a series of bills in the Grand Council to implement his programs. All of these bills were defeated by the Conservatives and Coalitionists, and McDowell responded by attacking them in a speech in Burgoyne on 8 January 1883, referring to "men of the past and radicals who would destroy our future, who have hindered every attempt at justice I have made in the past five years." Shortly afterward, at the Liberal Party's national convention, McDowell was chosen as party leader by acclimation, pledging himself to the "creation of the Age of Renewal in North America, one that will bring benefits for all citizens, in every part of the nation."
The Conservative Party was still in shock from the defeats it had suffered in the 1878 Grand Council elections and in later confederal and local elections. Of the four main condenders for the party leadership at their national convention in New York City, three were Grand Council members over the age of 65, while the fourth was Theodore Lindsay, the 38-year-old publisher of the New York Herald, the C.N.A.'s leading Conservative newspaper. In desperation, the Conservative convention delegates nominated Lindsay for Governor-General, and in his acceptance speech he swore "to carry the message of the New Conservatism to every part of the Confederation, and before I am done, the people will know of our dangers and how McDowell has deceived them, of their own hidden resources, and of the government's attempts to steal them from their rightful owners."
At the People's Coalition's national convention in Boston, a new generation of leaders appeared, led by Northern Confederation Councilman Scott Ruggles and recently-elected Michigan City Mayor Ezra Gallivan. Under Gallivan's guidance, the Coalition abandoned the Dietrich system of each confederation nominating its own candidate for Governor-General, and instead nominated Ruggles.
On election day, 15 February 1883, the Liberals won an outright majority of 82 Grand Council seats. Equally important was the fact that the People's Coalition won 45 seats to the Conservatives' 23, thereby becoming the official opposition. As the Coalitionists' party leader, Ruggles was elevated to the position of Minority Leader and chief critic of the McDowell administration.
|Confederation||Conservative Party||Liberal Party||People's Coalition|
Sobel's sources for the 1883 Grand Council election are Worthington Fowler's John McDowell and the Fruits of Reform (New York, 1899), Harvey Connery's The Early Life of Ezra Gallivan (New York, 1909), Frederick Powell's Theodore Lindsay: The Black and the Blue (New York, 1956), and Milton Hull's The Politics of 1883: McDowell and His Campaign (New York, 1970).
|C.N.A. Grand Council Elections|
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